July 27, 2015

3D @ San Antonio College

Often, nascent 3D (or 4K for that matter) hardware and software manufacturers simply push their wares at the wrong conferences. Dedicated community college conferences make for more fertile ground for 3D or 4K sales in education. It makes sense. Here's something I learned from a recent community college conference:

Aaron Ellis, the Senior Multimedia Specialist at San Antonio College, provided an in-depth session on “3D visualization for STEM disciplines.” In this session, he explained the efforts at San Antonio College to use 3D technology from the entertainment industry (film, television, games) to capture and deliver educational STEM content to students. “For some concepts and skills, lecture isn't always enough. And textbooks can't always explain and illustrate everything students need to understand,” explained Ellis, a former classroom and online instructor.

Ellis works closely with his STEM faculty to identify concepts that students consistently misconceive in their science classes. His group then evaluates that content for potential alternative methods of delivery to students. “Sometimes a well-built animation or video clip can meet the need,” he explains. “But other times interactive 3D is the only thing that can help students finally ‘get it’". Ellis also believes that the virtualization of artifacts and concepts is sometimes “the only way for online students to experience anything close to hands-on learning. “ Most of what Ellis tackles is at the direct request of their faculty, designed to enhance a specific instructional topic. However, sometimes opportunities arise that Ellis senses are too important to miss out on. For example, when dinosaur tracks were uncovered in limestone layers at a nearby state park, Ellis took their 3D scanning equipment out on the site in 100+ temperatures and collected data from over 50 footprints.

San Antonio College uses a variety of technologies to capture or create the rendered and stereo 3D content that they deliver to their STEM students. “The primary capture process we use is called photogrammetry”, explains Ellis. “Photogrammetry allows us to make digital 3D replicas of real objects by stitching together multiple photographs of that object from a variety of angles using specialized software.” He adds: “Recently, we began using a scanning electron microscope to image micro- and nano-scale objects and turn them into 3D models.” For more information, and an overview of their many projects, take time to survey Ellis’ blog
at http://stemviz.wordpress.com.

July 20, 2015

3D @ Wallace State

Often, nascent 3D (or 4K for that matter) hardware and software manufacturers simply push their wares at the wrong conferences. Dedicated STEM conferences—or conferences with strong STEM tracks—make for more fertile ground for 3D or 4K sales in education. It makes sense. Here's something I learned from a recent STEM conference:

Dr. Suhana Chikatla, an instructional learning designer with the Advanced Visualization Center in the Department of e-Learning at Wallace State Community College (AL), offered a session on their ongoing development of interactive 3D models. Wallace State is developing rendered-3D content in collaboration with other institutions in Alabama. Like many colleges, they are using students or in-house designers to develop their models. You can explore their work here: http://elearning.wallacestate.edu/3d-interactive-learning-activities/

July 13, 2015

Visualization Conference

Here’s a wonderful experience, if you are in the area.  So I have included your golden Wonka ticket to this event.

Rowan University (NJ) is hosting a worthwhile two-day free conference on July 22 and 23 this month. Aimed at K-20 educators and technologists, it is entitled Trends in Visualization Technology for Teaching, Learning, and Research. The conference includes a tour of Rowan University’s new 10-screen panoramic 2D/3D virtual environment along with some compelling discussions. The speakers are superstars and you will want to attend if you have the opportunity. See these registration details.

July 6, 2015

3D and Cost Avoidance

I attended a symposium session presented by Dr. David V. Lenihan (Ph.D., J.D., FRSM), the Chief Academic Officer of Arist Medical Education Corporation and past Dean of Preclinical Medicine with the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. His presentation was simple, short, and none-the-less brilliant. Describing “Tomorrow’s Medical School,” Dr. Lenihan quickly focused his talk on “monetizing 3d.” I like to call it cost avoidance with 3D.

A Worthy Case Study
The use of 3D instruction, asserts Lenihan, can help create monetary advantages for higher ed institutions. To Lenihan, this combination simply makes sense on a number of levels. Remember that:
  • Cadavers are costly and difficult to maintain
  • There is, of course, limited cadaver availability
  • Cadaver training sessions cannot be repeated easily (one and done)
  • Current cadaver availability offers little to no support for independent learning (since it’s one and done, there’s absolutely no room for second chances, more time or exposure, or repeated practice)

Lenihan adds: “Anecdotally, there are several limitations to cadavers, including surgeries/removal of organs prior to cadaver donation, the permanence of dissection itself, and a general “take what you can get” reality when accepting cadavers for study.” And the challenges do not stop there. Cadaver tissue is not the same as living tissue, he argues, cautioning that “in the case of human anatomy, the cadaver can only do so much.” Finally, he mentioned that cadavers are not the only resource in short supply. A severe shortage of anatomy instructors currently exists.

That’s where 3D comes in. His argument revolves around combining 3D simulation with smarter use of cadavers. He labels 3D sims + cadaver labs as a modified anatomy program (MAP); just cadavers, books and videos are considered the traditional anatomy program. By joining 3D simulation with lab-based cadaver instructional experiences, immense savings can be realized and quantified.

Comparing costs of traditional anatomy to MAP anatomy with 3D

Traditional anatomy costs over time versus MAP costs over time

By combining 3D visualization/simulation experiences with the cadaver lab (he uses the well-known Cyber-Anatomy program), Dr. Lenihan speculates that improved results for medical school are also possible. These include:
  •  Better understanding with respect to body relationships
  • Allowing the student to review material over again if they make a mistake
  • More frequent practice assuming a variety of clinical cases

Dr. Lenihan quantifies the benefits of monetization (our notion of cost avoidance) for medical schools:
  • Real cost savings for year one of medical school
  • Continued, although reduced, cost savings for the remaining years of medical school
  • Expansion of cadaver use to fields where cadavers are currently not available and/or financially feasible
  • Allowing the 3D recording of sessions for students (record once, use many times)
  • Enabling master teachers to deliver content anywhere in the world, while allowing the student to learn from the best

The message is really about cost avoidance. Identifying cost avoidance opportunities for educational settings is a praiseworthy strategy.