This 3D thing in the classroom is going to be big. It took most of my attention at Infocomm and has been the subject of some of the most fascinating discussions I have had since with numerous educators who have had questions about various projectors’ 3D capabilities. It augments my personal research on attention issues in middle school boys and my secret hope that somewhere there is a classroom technology solution that will offer some small relief to anxiety ridden parents seeking help for their academically struggling children.
A colleague sent me a piece by Mission 3D Publishing (and I also read the iReport referencing the research) regarding 3D in the classroom. It started by stating that if you ask the best students why they always sit in the front of the class, the majority will answer that it is so they can pay attention. But researcher Sam Ramadan, a leading expert on Stereo 3D Vision and 3D Photography technologies suggests that they actually do pay more attention when sitting up front because of the way our brain perceives imagery and the effect of depth perception on our own state of awareness and attentiveness.
One of the main reason for humans’ stereoscopic vision, which is the ability for our right eye to view a right-eye angle image and our left eye to view a left-eye angle image and our brains’ mixing and angling of the two to create a stereo image is to give us depth perception information that probably kept us from being eaten way back in the day and still is necessary for survival.
Most humans have a distance of 6.5 cm between their eyes so when we look at close objects we perceive heightened depth perception because of the larger angle of view. When objects are further away our depth perception is reduced. According to Mr. Ramadan, our eyes have radar like capabilities and there is a correlation between our state of awareness and the amount of depth we perceive in our brain. Therefore, when an object is closer, we perceive more depth and raise our attention. Ramadan explains this to be a subconscious protective mechanism and by definition since close up objects are more likely to pose a threat to us than distant ones, when objects are close, we pay closer attention to them in order to assess their threat potential.
Speaking from the publishing side, Ramadan goes on to describe that when his company Mission 3D, was producing 3D images and 3D print advertising they created a 1-to-8 depth-perception scale in order to rate the effectiveness of their 3D advertisements.8 represented the greatest possible depth perception, which provides for the highest awareness level, and 1 was the lowest depth perception which would indicate the lowest awareness level.
The scores are highest we view live three-dimensional images at a distance of 20-40 cm which is the distance when holding 3D objects in our own hands. A child sitting in a classroom 2-4 meters away from the teacher scores 5 or 6 with the score decreasing the farther from the front a child sits.
So it turns out that maybe it is true that students sitting in the front of a class do pay more attention— they can’t help it! Maybe Mr. Ramadan’s findings will revolutionize learning and improve retention. If Stereo 3D visuals are 8 times more memorable than regular 2D visuals maybe we should be really investigating 3D visual aids in our quest to improve the educational experience for all children.
Teachers--any comments on this research?