How to use 3D in the classroom effectively

By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
October 3rd, 2011

The AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes.

Although some people report headaches or other problems from viewing 3D images, that’s not a reason for educators to shy away from using 3D in the classroom, optometrists say. In fact, the use of 3D images in school can help diagnose vision problems among students at an earlier age and can enhance teaching and learning.

That’s the conclusion of a new report on 3D use in K-12 schools, which says headaches that occur while or just after watching 3D video are one of the most common reasons why people opt not to experience 3D. This problem could indicate vision failure, optometrists say—something that 3D use in schools could help identify in children.

The report, titled “3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well Public Health Report,” published by the American Optometric Association (AOA), describes a series of recommendations that can help schools use 3D technology in a way that enables students to “thrive and learn more efficiently in [many] subjects; better preparing them for life and advancing career challenges ahead.”

“3D approaches to learning can serve as a fulcrum for enhanced teaching and improved assurance of school readiness,” says AOA President Dori Carlson.

Carlson says using 3D video or images in the classroom can help in two ways: First, children often learn faster and retain more information in a 3D environment; and second, the ability to perceive depth in a 3D presentation turns out to be a highly sensitive assessment tool, able to assess a range of vision health indicators with much higher sensitivity than the standard eye chart that has been in use for the last 150 years.

“The good news is that for the estimated one in four children who have underlying issues with overall vision, 3D viewing can unmask previously undiagnosed deficiencies and help identify and even treat these problems,” says Carlson. “This is because 3D viewing requires that both eyes function in a coordinated manner as they converge, focus, and track the 3D image.”

According to the report, one of the most common indicators of underlying vision problems is an adverse reaction to watching 3D, such as headaches, eyestrain, dizziness, or nausea. Excessive fidgeting, playing with 3D glasses, or covering one eye also can indicate problems in the 3D presentation environment, the report notes.

While viewing 3D images can alert experts to children’s eye problems, the AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes.

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2 Responses to “How to use 3D in the classroom effectively”

October 3, 2011

On the topic of 3D, as part of the STEM initiative, many schools are looking at 3D printers for their labs and classrooms. Check out this great 3D printer. Teachers can use Google Sketchup (free program) to create 3D objects, or download information on 3D objects that have been created, then print the objects for students on the printer they have in the classroom. The Solidoodle 3D printer comes already assembled and was recently featured at New York City’s prestigious Makerfaire!

October 6, 2011

Since I have 3d capable projector, I’ve experimented a bit with some 3d based lesson elements. Once the wow factor wears off, I was not impressed. Personally, I found the quality of the 3d materials available to be pretty lousy, but more importantly, my student’s reactions to the 3d picture was comparable to their reaction to the 3d movies they have seen, “a ripoff”, “terrible picture”, “too dark”, “gives me a headache”, “makes me throw up”.

Given that many school districts have neither the funding nor the training capability to even implement 2d digital projection, and given the dearth of usable, affordable materials in 3d format, it is a bit premature to be pressing schools to implement an even more expensive technology, particularly one that requires students to manage and maintain another easily lost, damaged, or misplaced item, 3d goggles.

We have a huge variety of amazing tech tools available to us, but we have not done anything about figuring out how to effectively use these tools for engaging instruction. Relying on ever more enticing “cool toys” does not replace quality instructional design.

3d has some some cool novelty appeal, but it is a long way from prime time. Unless and until the purveyors of these technologies begin funding the production of effective, flexible instructional materials to go with them, money spent on more, fancier hardware, is money down a rathole.