Exploring the 3rd dimension

Travelling to outer space from the comfort of a classroom or studying the human brain in three dimension is a new possibility for students.


Muaz Shabandri

Published: Tue 1 Nov 2011, 9:31 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

The development of 3D tools for education has caught on with educators as new research and studies point towards its benefits to students.

For students in the UAE, the technology is still in its early days. The challenge of creating lessons in Arabic language continues as shrinking education budgets also affect investment in new technology.

However, the makers of learning resources are not shying away from the prospects of bringing the new technology to schools in the Middle East region.

Aaron Fright, Area Manager for SMART Technologies Middle East, a company specialising in interactive whiteboards, says the scope for 3D education will increase in the coming months.

“There is a lot of interest from both schools and universities in the UAE. The development of a third dimension in education empowers teachers to make lessons even more interesting and enjoyable,” says Aaron.

Mixed reality and 3D enhancements are designed to make teaching and learning more interactive and engaging. Teachers can currently access thousands of digital resources from the Google 3D Warehouse and, they can also have access content produced by external developers.

Quite simply, students can see content in greater detail than before, remarks Aaron, as he showcased a 3D Smart whiteboard.

School students have also expressed a keen interest in the new learning tools. Mohammed Ismail, a grade 3 student at a public school in Dubai says: “I think it would be easier to understand a topic if I can see something in 3D. Looking at a photo in the textbook is boring when compared to seeing it on a screen.”

While 3D projection requires students to wear glasses to experience visual depth, simpler 3D tools offer teachers an option to rotate an object in 360 degrees. A science class on reptiles can be expanded to teach students the different parts of a crocodile, including the underside of the reptile.

“Teaching in 3D is a remarkable educational tool that enables students to enhance their learning capabilities by truly engaging and interacting with the subject criteria in a highly effective way,” says Kathryn Macaulay, Deputy Head of Data, Operations and Communications at The Abbey School, Reading, UK.

A research conducted across 15 schools with 740 students between the ages of 10 to 13 in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom and Sweden between December 2010 and May 2011 revealed new insights on the possibilities of 3D learning.

Students were tested before and after the lessons, with one group learning with 2D methods only, and the other receiving the same instruction, but with 3D content added into the lessons. On average, 92 per cent students were paying more attention during 3D lessons, while only 46 per cent were actively paying attention during non-3D lessons.

The endless possibilities of 3D technology will present new opportunities for educators but its implications on teaching pedagogy will become clearer with time. The early days of 3D will bring together an interesting mix of creativity, illustrative content and a new level of understanding.


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