April 27, 2015

What the College Students Say

In the last two posts we have been telling the story of the 3D teaching and learning initiative at Nevada State college. What has been missing thus far, however, is the student voice. What is it like to learn in 3D in the college setting? Here's what the college students say about how the 2D component of the lesson compared with the stereo 3D part of the lesson:
There is absolutely no comparison; to compare these is like comparing apples and oranges.

The technology behind this—the ability to see within, to see inside the structures is unparalleled.

I basically agree… we were able to go inside a smoker’s black lung a few weeks ago. This doesn’t compare with the PowerPoint [graphics] at all.It’s very good to have the ability to rotate an object, to get that 3D anatomical feel; if you have a ‘flat’ [2D] slide, you wonder what it really looks like.

Someone like me, who learns from touch, I identify better with the concept. [It’s like] I can almost touch it.

This last comment, uttered by a female student, is noteworthy. Dean Kuniyuki hears the same refrain from other students on campus: “The visualization through the 3D system allows you to feel as if you could touch something, enhancing their learning- it’s so rich”, echoes Dean Kuniyuki.

The student responses above evidence no hints of timidity. This is what visualizing and teaching in 3D is all about. I am glad I made this site visit. I had the chance to witness a deep and unparalleled learning experience. And since I know the classroom well, I know what that means.  Incidentally, an LA-based leader in the 3D entertainment industry joined me on this site visit with me and offered the same reaction. I hope the manufacturing industry never gives up on the unparalleled advantages of learning with 3D.

April 20, 2015

Unparalleled 3D Learning (2)

Nevada State College began a 3D project by purchasing and implementing a stereo 3D learning solution for their undergraduate science and nursing classes. (See last week's post.) Here is what I saw in Professor Patel’s classroom during my site visit:
Your basic 2D nephron illustration
The Lesson. The lesson involved a review of the nephron, the basic structural and functional unit of the kidney. What was unique was his side-by-side lesson approach: 2D, then stereo 3D. First, he explained how kidneys filter blood using the tiny nephrons to create filtrate. Using both his lecture and PowerPoint visuals, he showed how filtrate ended up becoming the final product, called urine. But then Professor Patel switched to a captivating stereo display, and took the students on a virtual field trip inside the kidney. He navigated inside the glomerulus, which is a tuft of blood vessels in the initial portion of the nephron where filtration specifically occurs. 
A 3D nephron
The Content. This stereo content was rich, remarkable, and simply unparalleled in quality. The textures, the colors, the closeness—all were simply striking. Part of the powerful effect of this lesson was created by the nature of simulation itself. The [Sensavis] 3D Classroom delivers what we have always expected and always wanted from 3D: the ability to go beyond superficial visualization. It offers the remarkable capacity to drill down, then go further down; to go inside, and then travel further inside. In short, to truly experience the long-desired “fantastic voyage” that 3D has always seemed to promise us.” I had seen the Sensavis software before, of course, but I had never seen its impact on a class full of students. It was all I had hoped for.
Andy Kuniyuki, Ph.D.,
Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Nevada State College

A Brewing Impatience. As stated previously, Nevada State College is using Sensavis’s flagship educational product, “The 3D Classroom.” This software offers an array of effective simulations. “But we want more”, insists Dean Kuniyuki. “We know that Sensavis is working on five more simulations. Still, we are rather impatient.” Dean Kuniyuki wants to aggressively push the envelope of content. “We want to be able to show a normal nephron, and then take a look at an unhealthy kidney (with five different diseases) that affect the functioning of the kidney in different ways-normal versus diseased state, if you will.” With his bias toward action, Dean Kuniyuki recently brought an experienced animator from Montreal on staff. So much for trickle down content.

April 13, 2015

Unparalleled 3D Learning (1)

After posting Nevada State College Flies High , I decided to pay a site visit to the venerable college. That’s because it’s always good to test one’s assumptions against hard reality. Wanting to see 3D in action, hoping to determine if these undergraduate classrooms were indeed using stereo 3D in unparalleled ways, I ventured forth. The site visit was well worth my time.

Nevada State College, which is located just outside of Las Vegas, began a high visibility 3D project this fall by purchasing and implementing a stereo 3D learning approach in all of their undergraduate science and nursing classes. This represents a significant step, because most stereo 3D projects at the college level take place in a single classroom of an interested professor—and not broadly across a curriculum.

Professor Vikash Patel
As I stealthily crept into the back of the classroom, the day’s lesson already underway, I took note of the physical lay of the land. The classroom was a typical college setting, with tabletops, whiteboards, a screen, projector, and significant digital lectern space. On the wall, above the whiteboard, a large 3D display monitor was mounted. The high-energy instructor, professor Vikash Patel, was busy cajoling, informing, and questioning a room full of mixed-gender nursing students. All in all, the scene remained quite unremarkable, at least from my higher-ed perspective.
Stereo 3D and 2D side-by-side at Nevada State College
What I witnessed next, however, was indeed quite remarkable and informative on many levels. Come back next week for the details and my concluding post on some very exemplary 3D teaching and learning.

April 6, 2015

Fireworks at ISTE 2015

The groundwork is just now being laid for the June-July ISTE 2015 educational technology conference, with the fireworks taking place in Philadelphia this year. Last year, this conference was enjoyed by more than 16,800 attendees. Last year’s conference evidenced a solid 3D in education presence (twenty one presentations plus fourteen 3D-related vendors), and this year’s program suggests the same positive trending. 
Inside sources reveal that the ISTE 2015 conference will offer twenty-three 3D related sessions: five in the arena of designing in 3D, including game design; five focusing on stereo 3D; four on visualization using rendered 3D; and nine sessions on 3D printing (3D printing gets the numbers edge this year, for the first time.) A sampling of the featured session titles includes:
  • Learn 3D Modeling in One Hour
  • Promising Technologies, Creativity & Teaching: Ten Solutions to Take Away
  • 3D Network Showcase: Designing, Visualizing, and Making in 3D
  • Virtual Reality in the Classroom: Simulations using the Oculus Rift
  • C-R-A-Z-Y New 3D Resources
  • Creating 3D virtual living spaces to promote sustainable development
  • Depth-defying Learning: Exploring the Top Ten 3D Developments
  • Teach 3D Game Design in One Week
  • 3D Print Your Classroom

 ISTE’s recently formed special interest group or personal learning network (PLN)—the 3D Network—will also continue its educational advocacy for all things 3D. Now pushing 2,500 members, this group is expected to raise the decibel level of 3D in education by again hosting their popular membership open house, offering an annual meet-and-greet demonstration event, and sponsoring a first-time panel presentation at the conference. The 3D Network is again expected to grow in numbers dramatically. (They are already one of the fastest growing PLNs in ISTE.)

No doubt, many 3D-related exhibitors will also make their presence known on the ISTE 2015 expo floor this year—newcomers and the familiar folks alike. Companies wishing to have a presence at the 3D Network meet-and-greet demonstration event—in person or with literature—should contact this blogger sooner rather than later.