January 30, 2017

New Tools

Here are two tools for your consideration:

Bubbli                           WhooshVR


January 23, 2017

NETP, zSpace, & VR

In last week's post, we highlighted some of future trends predicted in the National Education Technology Plan (NETP). Most notably to our blog readers, the interactive three-dimensional imaging software trend spotlights a well-known company frequenting U.S. educational conferences: zSpace. Quoting from page 16 of the 2016 NETP:

Interactive three-dimensional imaging software, such as zSpace, is creating potentially transformational learning experiences. With three-dimensional glasses and a stylus, students are able to work with a wide range of images from the layers of the earth to the human heart. The zSpace program’s noble failure feature allows students constructing a motor or building a battery to make mistakes and retry, learning throughout the process. Although the content and curriculum are supplied, teachers can customize and tailor lesson plans to fit the needs of their classes. This type of versatile technology allows students to work with objects schools typically would not be able to afford, providing a richer, more engaging learning experience.
It's important to realize that some visualization technologies, like zSpace, can multi-task in their purpose: they can serve several educational agendas at the same time.Take for example the NETP’s four categories for future technologies that offer educational promise (remembering that 3D visualization is mentioned in only the third category):
Increased use of games and simulations. The zSpace curriculum itself is designed around a rich collection of STEM-based games and simulations. 
New ways to connect physical and virtual interaction.   The “near-holographic” zSpace hardware platform makes the content appear not on a screen, but in the students’ own personal space, manipulated by a physical stylus. And the cooperative (paired) learning approach promoted by the zSpace STEM Lab also brings a physical presence and process to the visualized lesson. 
Interactive three-dimensional imaging software. ‘Interactive’ being the key word here, this tool is not just about viewing or watching—it’s mainly about doing, constructing, testing, evaluating, and rebuilding. 
Augmented reality. Interestingly, the zSpace zView enhancement lets an entire class—not just the students wearing passive glasses—see each simulation in starkly vivid augmented reality.
Although, in the 2016 NETP, the 3D visualization meme was positioned solely in the third category above, clearly some technologies work across lanes.  I am suggesting that some successful 3D visualization products, like zSpace, operate in all four of these domains.

January 16, 2017

NETP Meets 3D

The 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP), Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, by the U.S. Office of Educational Technology is already in motion. Past national education technology plans have been well received by U.S. K12 schools; their recommendations have slowly been adopted country wide, due to incentives and organic pressure from federal, state, local, and even foundation funding. Given the past impact of previous NETPs, this the 2016 NETP is due serious consideration.

Now—on to some interesting specifics. One of the chapters in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) is necessarily more forward looking than the other sections, spotlighting some upcoming areas in cyberlearning. “The Future of Learning Technologies” section of the 2016 NETP is an attempt to move the reader beyond an “understanding of the current state of educational technologies; it also [identifies] the research being done on early-stage educational technology and how this research might be applied more widely in the future to learning.” In fact, the NETP highlights four promising avenues for future learning technologies, based chiefly on the investigative work of the National Science Foundation in “researching opportunities offered by integrating emerging technologies with advances in the learning sciences.” These auspicious avenues include:
  • Increased use of games and simulations
  • New ways to connect physical and virtual interaction with learning technologies
  • Interactive three-dimensional imaging software
  • Augmented reality (AR) 

No surprise here, in our next post we will highlight the the third bullet above, one that predicts the growth of interactive 3D in education. More to come next week...

January 9, 2017

FETC Preview

The Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) is shaping up to be a must-attend event in Orlando, January 24-27. One of the largest and most innovative ed-tech conferences in the country, FETC has a long history of exceeding expectations. Here is a preview of what to expect in the arena of VR and 3D. I hope to see you there!
The exhibit hall this year will bring a number of players in both the 3D and VR fields to our attention. Samsung, Google, Nearpod, and Best Buy will likely be showing their popular VR solutions. Sensavis will return with their excellent 3D visualization content. A stalwart in the 3D and VR industry, Eon Reality will exhibit for the first time at FETC. And the venerable zSpace will be back in the house with their unique desktop virtual reality. (zSpace has won best of show at two consecutive ISTE conferences.)

Four workshops will be offered with a VR meme: two by Samsung, one focused on Google Expeditions, a do-it-yourself virtual reality content creation workshop by Eon Reality, and my own in-depth VR workshop, described below.

Concurrent sessions will offer a few interesting opportunities to learn about VR in education. One district will be presenting about their Nearpod immersive project, while innovators from North Carolina State University will do a deep dive into desktop virtual reality, focusing on zSpace technology. I will also be doing a session on Virtual Reality and a surprisingly positive connection to early learning/reading, entitled “See to Achieve: Virtual Reality, 3D, Vision, and Learning.”

My Sessions
Of course, I have to do a shameless plug for my own workshop. The FETC 3D VR Bootcamp (EDW070) is a distinctive experience, a very non-traditional workshop, to say the least. This workshop uses both a flipped learning model and a fishbowl approach to make for the ultimate in personalization. It will be offered from 5-7:30 pm on Thursday, January 26.  This highly popular
workshop will help you dig deeper, and go beyond the hype. We will explore 3D VR content, low cost options for VR headgear; teaching strategies; instructional weaknesses in the technology; how to deal with VR vision discomfort; managing VR in the classroom; disinfecting headgear; zSpace and their award-winning desktop VR; VR visualization spaces; and, of course, next-up developments to you can expect to see. Please join us!

January 2, 2017

Headaches Resolved!

In the last two posts I have both highlighted some recent Estonian Research and consulted international experts on the matter. (Please refer to the last two posts for background.) 

Now it's my turn to weigh in: so, what are we to make of this Estonian study? I would suggest three big takeaways:
  1. 3D cinema may be the stimulus, but it is not the etiology (cause).
  2. Anyone with difficulties viewing 3D cinema (such as headaches) has just received an informal vision test. It’s a lesson the industry still has not learned in its push for “the next big thing.” 
  3. What may be true about watching 3D cinema will also be true about content viewed with stereoscopic virtual reality headgear. (This helps explain why more than 20% of my undergrad students at the university experience headaches, dizziness, or nausea when viewing virtual reality content.)