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Thursday, January 28, 2010

3D: The Next Big Wave

The global financial success of James Cameron’s “Avatar” – already the top revenue producing movie of all time – clearly demonstrates that 3D is no longer a fad but big business. How might 3D affect your livelihood, your career, your business? Mark your calendar for Feb. 24. WRAL (NC) Local Tech Wire is assembling a program of global 3D leaders to discuss how the technology is changing the Internet, social media, entertainment, software development, product development, and much more. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Students Learn New Ways to Use Technology to Learn

According to Janet Copenhaver, director of technology for Henry County Schools (VA), 70% of children already own a portable device such as an iPod. Therefore, it is important to teach them how to use these devices to help them with their education. Dictionary and encyclopedia applications already are available, and in some cases, entire textbooks can be loaded onto the tiny device.

John Inman teaches an elective digital input technology class at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School in which students learn new ways to use technology for education or completing school work. Inman said about half the students in his class already owned an iPod Touch when they enrolled, but none of the teachers did. When the middle school received 24 of them to use in the classroom, a representative from Apple taught the teachers to use them during a two-day workshop.

Learning to use new technology in school not only teaches students a new way to learn, but it also prepares them for successful futures, Inman said. “Getting to use an iPod touch in class makes the lessons a lot more fun,” said Logan Huffman one of Inman's students.

Podcasts enhance math learning at Georgia school

Teachers at Georgia's LaFayette High School are enhancing math lessons with technology and helping students take ownership of their learning by asking them to prepare and record podcast lessons to be posted to a Web site and shared with the class. "We used it for an entire unit review," one teacher said. "I gave them a topic -- probability -- and they had to develop a lesson on that particular concept. The next day, we listened to everyone's lesson and critiqued each one." 

The Walker County system's other high school, Ridgeland, has received a grant that will focus on its Honors Academy. With $64,580 from the Georgia Department of Education, the school will buy 120 iPods for advanced placement classes and training for teachers to teach students how to make podcasts.   Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.) (1/26)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Video Games Help Students Learn Math

According to T.H.E. Journal, Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Texas recently expanded the use of the DimensionM educational video games to seven middle schools and 15 charter schools after receiving the results of a summer pilot program to help 350 students who had failed the math portion  of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test 3 or more times. All eighth-graders must pass the TAKS in order to advance to the ninth grade. Ocoee Middle School, in Orange County, FL, was one of Tabula Digita's first clients. Educators and students at Ocoee, a Florida State Demonstration School, have worked closely with all of the DimensionM games and have learned, and taught others, quite a bit. See more of their story by clicking here. Download the Case Study >> CaseStudy_OcoeeMS.pdf

DimensionM™is an immersive video game world that engages students in the instruction and learning of mathematics. Pre-algebra and algebra objectives are covered through a series of missions that bring math into a world that today's students understand. The games are research-based and linked to specific objectives. Download demos to try out this new phenomena.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Using Second Life in Education

You can date in Second Life. You can try out new marketing schemes. You can attend a play at the Globe Theatre. Second Life, an online virtual world, began in 2003 as a place to meet others and socialize. But an increasing number of colleges and universities are embracing it as a tool to reach students raised on computers and video games. Users can create avatars and interact in realistic spaces and communities.

According to an article in the Dallas News, the University of Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, and the Dallas County Community College District all have a presence in Second Life. Students don't necessarily sign up for a course in Second Life, but their professors may incorporate Second Life as an added dimension to the learning environment. Virtual campuses may replicate actual campus buildings or they may offer opportunities/facilities not available on campus. The possibilities are endless. One student even conducted a research project on human behavior in Second Life. One professor was able to bring business processes to life by allowing his students to virtually track an order. One theater major worked on a group project to build a theater and re-create scenes from Shakespeare. Matthew Campbell presented the results of the pilot study at the ascilite Auckland 2009 conference for using Second Life for an ethics course.



The medical field has long been involved in the use of simulations and other interactive programs to allow their students to practice skills. However, instructors are now venturing into the world of Second Life to provide an interactive 3D, participatory experience. According to Discover magazine, students can learn their way around an OR before they enter the real thing in the virtual copy of an operating room or they can test their knowledge in the Virtual Respiratory War--all part of Imperial College London’s virtual hospital. Clinical students at San Jose University can use the Heart Murmur Sim to listen to real cardiac sounds to identify heart murmurs.  Nursing students at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have been able to participate in a postpartum-hemorrhage sim since last January.

The MUVErs Medical Simulation, launched in early 2009 by John Miller, a nursing instructor at Tacoma Community College, involves an avatar patient operating with a set script who is experiencing chest pain and other symptoms. The student must interact with the patient, ask the right questions, and “use” equipment such as IV pumps, defibrillators, and medication to treat the problem. The Nursing Education SIM (NESIM) has been recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nurseweek Magazine, and many other publications and blogs. Check out the these videos on Youtube for a virtual walkthrough.

The program requires students wear a headset with a display similar to those used by pilots, which shows data like the patient’s blood pressure, heart rhythm, and medical history. They can click on objects such as the medication dispenser or the controls of an IV pump, which triggers another  display allowing students to make selections to use the machines. The patient avatar reacts realistically--if a students gives too much medication, the patient will exhibit the appropriate response, such as low blood pressure and shock.

While no studies have emerged about the benefits of using Second Life to educate students, it offers a richer set of resources, often with lower costs than training in a physical space such as an operating room. In addition, creating 3D models/simulations provides users with the opportunity of "treating" diseases and symptoms not often encountered in real life. Instead of purchasing expensive equipment, colleges and universities can have students use virtual versions. Second Life also offers the opportunity of bringing in experts from around the world to speak to students.

Friday, January 8, 2010

3DVinci Offers Resources for Students Creating 3D Designs

3DVinci, a producer of three-dimensional design project materials that blend left-brain analytical skills with right-brain creativity, recently announced the updated version of ModelMetricks, a series of books for ages 8 - 15 that use free software to teach K-12 students to visualize, create, and analyze in 3D. Projects are based on Google SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D design application. ModelMetricks' products help students learn to do 3D design projects for a variety of academic disciplines. The ModelMetricks project-based approach enables new users to create their first designs in SketchUp within a few minutes. The 3DVinci site has a variety of resources for K-12 as well as higher education teachers.

TV makers ready to test depths of market for 3-D

The biggest TV makers (Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, Vizio) began revealing their 3D models Wednesday before the official opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics Co.'s consumer division, said in an interview that 10 to 14 percent of the roughly 35 million TVs sold in the U.S. this year will be 3-D-capable.

Technically speaking, 3D viewing in the home has been possible for the past few years, but there has been no good way to get 3D movies and shows to watch. However, that obstacle was removed recently with plans for a 3D version of the Blu-ray disc. Viewing 3-D discs will require new Blu-ray players that could cost a few hundred dollars, to the possible annoyance of people who invested in regular Blu-ray players in the past several years. However, PlayStation 3 owners are in luck: Sony says that a free software upgrade will enable them to play 3D movies.

ESPN and Direct-TV recently announced they plans for 3D channels. Toshiba and Samsung aren't waiting for 3D programming. Instead, they indicated that their TVs will be able to convert 2D to 3D on the fly. Toshiba plans roll out a new line of five TVs this year that will perform the 2D to 3D conversion in a separate box with a powerful processor similar to one used in the Sony PlayStation 3.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ESPN to launch 3D network in June

USA Today reports that ESPN is going 3D. The sports network will launch ESPN 3D on June 11 with a World Cup soccer match, creating what it says will be the first all three-dimensional television network to the home.

ESPN 3D expects to showcase at least 85 live sporting events during the first year. There'll be no reruns initially, so the network will be dark when there's no 3D event. Among other events planned for 3D broadcast: the Summer X Games (extreme sports), NBA games, college basketball and college football. ESPN, which is part of Disney, has been testing 3D for more than two years.

Of course, as with all cutting edge technology, there will be challenges. Consumers will have to upgrade their TVs and may have to pay premium prices. There are reports that DirecTV will also launch a 3D channel.  Read the entire article here.