A 3D Apple for the Teacher

“There’s not enough 3D content available!” That’s the main complaint from consumers, and is one of the main reasons for the slow uptake on 3DTV-capable sets. (The other is price, but that difference is going away.) But lack of content is not just a problem for consumers; it also affects teachers.

XPAND is coming to the classroom’s rescue, however. The company that makes “universal” active-shutter 3D glasses is making an effort to support educational applications for 3D video. (And why wouldn’t they, when you need 20 to 30 pairs of glasses for each classroom that uses 3D video?) In addition to offering special packages for educators that include 3D plug-ins for PowerPoint, the company has announced the XPAND 3D Educational Network. When a school joins, teachers get access to public-domain 3D educational content that can be used for free. The company expects to offer additional content for sale from other sources through the network as well.

Does 3DTV have an impact on learning? According to the XPAND website, a study was done to determine the impact of the technology. A lesson that normally took several class periods to teach was taught in a single period using video. One group used standard 2D video and their scores were 9.7% higher over the normal scores. The scores for the group that used 3D video increased by 35%, however. (The site doesn’t provide details on the study; these are impressive results, but a significant portion of the gains could be simply the result of the novelty effect.)

It’s a tough time for most schools to find money for new technology like 3DTV educational content, so it’s a good thing that XPAND is helping make public domain content accessible to schools. I expect that adoption in the classroom will still be slow, but it’s good to see a company providing support like this to schools.