How to use 3D in the classroom effectively

Watch: Highlights from the 3D Vision and Eye Health Symposium, sponsored by the AOA and 3D@Home Consortium

Children with vision problems “typically do not know that their vision is impaired, nor do they think that they see differently from anyone else,” says the report. But in “nearly all cases, after a comprehensive eye exam, and appropriate treatment, normal levels of ‘stereopsis’ (the ability to see in 3D) can be achieved.”

The AOA says there are a few common causes of 3D viewing challenges, such as refractive problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness), lack of binocular vision, lazy eye, eye coordination difficulties, eye focusing difficulties, or dizziness and nausea caused by the balance system. More information can be found in the report.

Why 3D is important

“These 3D videos help me learn easier,” said one middle school student from Colorado who is quoted in the report, “because I’m a visual learner. Seeing what is going on is much more helpful than just talking about it. Because it’s in 3D, it’s literally in front of you.”

Quotes like these, scattered throughout the report, paint a picture of students’ preferences for visual learning—a type of learning that many 21st-century digital natives have come to appreciate.

But students aren’t the only fans: 3D “is an engaging and attractive introduction to new material,” said one teacher, and 3D “is a way to help students understand how complex systems work,” said another.

The report describes ways to manage the classroom environment for optimizing 3D use in the classroom, as well as how best to manage the 3D glasses, 3D content, and viewing difficulties.

Some examples include:

  • Always preview the 3D materials. This requires the teacher to have appropriate vision health as well.
  • Identify general student health issues in advance.
  • Ensure that students keep the glasses off until the 3D content is ready to view.
  • Keep the transitions within and between the 3D images smooth and slow.
  • If students are feeling dizzy or nauseous, take the glasses off immediately and have them close their eyes for 10 seconds or look at a distant object.
  • The teacher should avoid repeatedly looking from screen to class and back again. This can provoke uncomfortable effects for the teacher.

Many more tips are given in the report.

“There will come a time when being ‘stereo-capable’ will be an important component of a student’s eligibility for [his or her] chosen career path,” said Len Scrogan, director of instructional technology for Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District. “It will be our duty to ensure—as far as we can—that our students are stereo-capable.”

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Meris Stansbury

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