Tuesday, October 25, 2011

3D technology in the classroom

I have just been watching a video from Fox television about a school in Colorado where they are using 3D technology in the classroom.

This is a biology class where the students are full of praise for the technology e.g. "I think it's awesome! In my past biology classes I've always had a really hard time understanding what a molecule looks like and how it can be rotated and how it changes. But, with the 3D movie it shows it rotating," and "It makes me really interested in the topics that we are studying about. It's a new way to see things,".

That sounds like a gimmick however the teacher says her students have a better understanding of the subject and their test scores are up 10% which is pretty impressive. Obviously a serious drawback to the use of the technology is the expense - this report mentions that a projector and 30 pairs of glasses is about ten thousand American dollars!

For those interested to find out more about the benefits of 3D technology there is a white paper available. This paper suggests that benefits of using the technology are:

  • Test results
  • Higher retention rates
  • Enhanced learning experience and excitement

Frankly I seriously doubt that the technology will become available in many schools for some time and I would see limited use for it with primary aged pupils especially given the cost. Having said that another article discusses a pilot test third, fourth and fifth grade students. During this time the students participated in classes using the technology in maths (calculate the volume of unusual shapes through objects that could be viewed or moved around to show different angles), science (a tour of the solar system, life cycle of a plant, dissecting a frog) and health (going inside the human body to see how antibiotics work). Benefits of using the technology included:

Those who tended to be disruptive or inattentive during traditional instruction were so enamored they uttered nary a peep. Those with limited English proficiency suddenly had a visual that helped them grasp concepts where mere words had failed. Gifted kids were making so many new connections and asking such provocative questions that the lessons often mined territory far beyond teachers had anticipated.

I would be interested in what others feel about the technology and particularly if you have used it in the classroom.

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