Is 3D Technology Moving From the Theater to the Classroom?
Movie studios have been successfully trying to incorporate 3D technology into their newest productions. Critical reception has been mixed, but the technology is getting enough attention that other industries are starting to consider using it as well. School districts across the globe are starting to look into 3D projectors to enhance the classroom experience.
3D at School
In 2010, public schools in Boulder County, Colorado received some new projectors that will be used to show educational videos and presentations. Projectors are a fairly normal part of a technologically advanced classroom, but these were no ordinary machines. The 1,000 projectors installed in Boulder County classrooms were equipped to display 3D images, taking what some people argue is the next step in classroom technology.
While these projectors are mostly being used to display 2D material for now, developers of the 3D technology that has been so trendy in movie theaters lately are eager to turn academia into the next frontier for their products. Proponents of the idea emphasize the technology's ability to make lessons come to life in vivid detail. Instead of looking at a flat image or video of the rainforest, for example, the new projectors could give students a more immersive experience. The technology could have applications in a variety of disciplines, from astronomy to art history and earth science to human anatomy.
However, for the time being, the projection technology is more readily available than educational 3D content. The technology is said to be affordable, and many schools, including those in Boulder County, see investing in the 3D projectors as a 'future-proofing' measure meant to avoid the necessity of purchasing new equipment later as more 3D material becomes available.
Is It Realistic?
Though the inclusion of 3D technology into the classroom would likely be entertaining and exciting for students, it's unclear whether this would be an advantage when it comes to effective education. Certainly, it's a good idea to engage students and hold their attention, but the ultimate goal should be to transmit information, not to provide a cinematic experience. Holding the students' attention is important, but it seems possible that students' attention will be focused on what they are seeing, rather than on what those images are supposed to be teaching.
3D technology isn't a universal favorite in theaters, either. Many people feel that 3D movies are a gimmick, and this sentiment could easily extend to teaching materials that use the same technology. Additionally, many theatergoers are made uncomfortable by 3D projections, getting headaches or feeling nauseous. Is this something teachers will really want to contend with, on top of trying to teach?
Another potential drawback to the incorporation of 3D technology in classroom settings is the fact that this technology is likely to be expensive. The equipment required for 3D displays in the classroom includes projectors, specific 3D media and glasses for students. Many school districts are already struggling to provide basic services to students. Is more expensive technology really the best area to focus on, considering that computer equipment is considered a luxury in some places? It's a fun idea, but given the current financial climate, particularly with respect to public education, it doesn't seem like 3D technology is likely to become a classroom staple anytime soon.
Students are pretty open to using new technology in the classroom, so 3D might be a welcome change.