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A Fantasy of Learning in 3D… 

“Just think – wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could enhance our children’s learning experiences by incorporating 3D technology into the classroom?   If only the manufacturers would get serious about this great opportunity, the world would be such a better and smarter place.  Of course it may take some effort to make this happen but isn’t it worth it?”

sculptureThis is a rough paraphrase of the message being touted by a few determined folks in the display industry.  While I admire their dedication and persistence, it makes me wonder what problem they are trying to solve – other than selling their 3D-based products and services. 

I thought back over my many years of attending various educational institutions.  I thought about my engineering and physics classes.  I thought back over my heavy doses of humanities and language classes.  I went back over my four years of high school and my eight years of grade school and middle school.  I thought long and hard about where the addition of 3D would have enhanced my learning abilities and/or my enthusiasm.   I couldn’t come up with even one small example. 

I can see the desire to make learning “fun”.  However, I think the reality is that learning is hard work.   To acquire understanding of new concepts demands that we stretch ourselves as much as we possibly can.  It requires that we try and try again until we succeed.   It is of course best if we can enjoy the process while challenging ourselves and have a sense of personal reward for doing it. 

For me the reward was sometimes getting some small bit of recognition from a teacher I respected.  If a teacher set a high standard for me, I did not want to disappoint.  It caused me to work extra hard. 

When learning the sciences, there is great value in live demonstrations and doing experiments that verify what is described in textbooks.  And in the same way, learning a language can only be accomplished by actually trying to use it just as learning to write requires actually doing it.  There is no substitute for these actual hands-on experiences.

Even with good teachers there is value in making the supporting presentation material of good quality.  But in stereoscopic 3D?  What possible unique value can this enhancement provide?   There may be some entertainment value.  And perhaps entertainment can be a sneaky way to get some students to learn.  However, no matter how many examples I try to think up, I just don’t see where stereoscopic 3D can add value to the typical grade school, high school, or college curriculum.   Of course if you are studying to be a medical technician who will be reading CAT scans, then the understanding of 3D can be of vital importance.  But that is not my understanding of what is being promoted.  At the general education level, I can’t think of one useful example where 3D would be beneficial – beneficial in the sense of enhancing the understanding of the concept being taught.    

It is fascinating, but also somewhat sad, to see the self-delusion of some dedicated champions of a technology that has no logical reason to be.   I suppose when ones career and/or self-image may depend on pushing an idea no matter how marginal and flimsy, then it is hard to step back and look at the real world.  Perhaps we all would like to live in a bit of a fantasy – a fantasy where we are able to accomplish great things of our choosing. 

I would be interested in hearing from you – especially if you have some ideas on how 3D could enhance the education experience for children of any or all ages.  You may reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.        

  

19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117 FAX 425.898.1727 Email

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