Knowledge Bank - Digital Learning

3D Technology

How does 3D technology work and how can it help student understand complex topics?

Unlike a textbook, 3D is able to add many layers and brings unprecedented depth to what is being learnt.

If you were to draw a diagram of a plant cell, what would it look like? For decades, teachers have taught children the structure of a plant cell using a twodimensional illustration, a plan view of the cell cut in half. How much better to understand complex subjects by turning two dimensional topics into an engaging 3D learning experience?

3D projection is enabled by DLP (digital light processing) technology within modern 3D ready projectors. It uses millions of microscopic digital mirrors that reflect light in order to create a picture. The technology is so fast that it appears to produce two images on the screen at the same time: one for the left eye and one for the right eye. These images are then combined by active shutter stereoscopic glasses to create one complete 3D image.

In a recent trial, two classes of the same age group and ability were asked to create a model of a plant cell; one class had been taught using the traditional 2D illustration and the other class had been taught using a DLP-equipped 3D projector. The difference between the two classes’ models was marked. The first class – having seen only a flat cutaway of a cell – created simple twodimensional structures. The second set of students, taught using 3D, produced complete models showing the plant cell in three dimensions.

These pupils successfully understood the structure of the cell and recreated a more accurate model. In a further test, four classes of year eight pupils (age 12 to 13) were taught the structure and function of the human ear. In multiple-choice tests conducted the week following the lessons, the 3D-taught students produced significantly higher marks compared with the groups taught using traditional methods. The mean score in the 3D lessons was 8.33 out of a possible 10, while the traditionally taught children returned a mean score of 7.00.

Separate research also indicates that a typical lesson which would normally require two to three class periods to complete in 2D, can be taught in just one class period in 3D. Comparing two groups of children, one taking 2D and the other a 3D lesson, in the first classroom (normal lesson), the control group test scores increased 9.7 percent. But the group that received its lesson in 3D saw a 35 percent increase. The reasons for this can be summarised as:

  • 3D brings excitement to learning;
  • 3D lessons are captivating and engaging;
  • Many of the abstract subjects become tangible for students;
  • The understanding of complex ideas improves;
  • Knowledge retention increases.

Adopting 3D in the classroom need not be a complicated process, and there are now numerous education packages available.

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