Saturday, June 10, 2006

Learning, experience and 3D

I attended the Kan-Ed conference in Wichita this past week, and it had a number of good sessions focused on current and future technologies for education. The one that blew me away was a presentation by representatives of a company called 3DH. 3dh Communications is a Georgia company that has developed a software for creating ultra realistic 3D "holographic - like" images.

I wasn't expecting much as I walked into the presentation and was handed 3D glasses to wear(just like you see from 50's movies!) But what I saw had revolutionary implications for how we could "experience" education in the future. The speaker emphasized the importance of experience in education, and the example he gave was of a parent telling a his child 30 times to be careful not to trip on a cord in the living room; it is only after the child experiences a fall as a result of that cord that learning takes place.

The presentation - using what the speaker called "standard" PC equipment (it's all in the software!) - had the audience experiencing tornadoes and an unbelievable tour of the Golan Heights in Israel. The visuals were so real that many of us flinched as a sleek airplane nearly flew into our faces! It was pointed out that there are as many education applications with 3D as can be conceived, from presenting ultra-real information on planets to demonstrating coaching principles. The applications for medicine are also tremendous and provide new visualization for medical diagnoses.

Implications for libraries? I can't quite get my mind around that yet, but I'm sure that training for staff and library users could be enhanced with 3D. And there may be other uses we discover as more applications for education are developed. It's an exciting prospect for learning...but I hope they can ditch the 3D glasses!

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