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Business - Written by on Thursday, May 15, 2008 10:00 - 1 Comment

The Parable of the 3D Poster

Have you ever looked at one of those strangely patterned posters with the hidden 3D picture inside? You know, the ones you stand in front of for five to ten minutes crossing and uncrossing your eyes to see the hidden tropical island, bunny, or house your friends are describing to you. Well, I was the fourth grader who could never quite pick out more than just blobs in the pattern. I still remember that day in eighth grade when I looked up at my English class wall and instead of little squiggles I saw a whale in the sea. It was a great day.

In last week’s post I stepped onto the, “school is a bunch of hoops to jump through” soapbox. I love that soapbox, but even with all the Net Gener frustration, I think I need to be a little more understanding. As we can see from Anthony Williams’ post last week, there are many educators that are going to great lengths to make change happen.

While Net Geners bang our heads against the wall from frustration, we should also recognize that some universities and professors are doing the same thing. Right now I believe there are many educators seeing the blobs. They are struggling to wrap their heads around the culture change that these technologies have brought about. They have to create an entirely new mindset.

I talked with the IT help desk at my school and some professors are just figuring out that the disc drive is not a cup holder. Now they need to find ways to utilize web 2.0 technology to engage students rather than stand and lecture. However, as they continue to ponder and investigate these things, eventually the stars align, and their eyes are opened and great things start to happen.

An article came out Monday by Nancy Sudheer showing a perfect example of this. Al Ain-based, College of Information Technology (CIT), part of the UAE University. They have developed a culture of applied technology. With twenty state of the art laboratories, students spend their time inside the labs rather than in the classroom. Their education revolves around working together with other departments, supporting R&D at all levels, and using the material and findings students’ discover.

The students have been involved in a number of creations and important projects. One of their current projects is The United Nations Environmental Program, designed to develop a geo portal for West Asia.

So CIT teaches us the moral behind the parable of the 3D posters which is that, while a good portion of academics pretend that there is no hidden picture, we need to remember that there is a large group in academia that are starting to see the blobs and are searching to see for 3D image. They just need some more prodding and pushing with example like CIT to lead the way.

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Carlos Mattioli
May 19, 2008 2:46

It’s good to see the expansion of the idea of collaborative education. Technology is taking study groups to a whole new level. As more professors realize that students can learn a lot from each other, the classroom will be revolutionized. The article shows just how important significant peer interaction is in creating an effective educational environment. This tactile learning, basically learning by doing, that the article focused on is a great compliment to lecture, but should not be a direct replacement since people learn in different ways. In addition to directly learning about the subject matter, teaching through collaboration makes the students better collaborators themselves and helps make their interaction more successful. However educators must focus on all of their available resources, lecture and new technology included, if they are going to turn blobs into something meaningful.

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