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Attracting students’ attention by delivering visually engaging information

Guest Author: Brainstorm. If you ask any teacher their biggest challenges, keeping students’ attention will probably be in their top three. This is not new, of course, but it has evolved lately because of the new audio-visual possibilities children have access to.

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If you ask any teacher their biggest challenges, keeping students’ attention will probably be in their top three. This is not new, of course, but it has evolved lately because of the new audio-visual possibilities children have access to. Also, new multimedia resources available for students such as tablets convert teaching into a multidisciplinary task rather than a conference with limited visual aids, such as it has been over the centuries.

Why are pupils harder to inspire?

Attracting students’ attention also has different aspects, one of course is related to the teacher’s own abilities or pedagogical skills, but it also involves the quality of the resources the teachers use at the classroom. Traditional chalkboards were replaced by interactive displays and chalk itself is now a relic in modern schools, replaced by PowerPoint presentations and other resources. And more importantly, students increasingly demand modern audio-visual improvements; teachers can take advantage of a 3D environment to enhance learning.

With a history of 25 years in the television industry, Brainstorm enjoys a worldwide recognition for creating high-end, real-time 3D graphics and virtual studio technology, which is used daily at televisions of all sizes all over the world and has received numerous awards for its innovation. This technology provides the broadcasters with the tools to engage audiences, even when talking about topics with added visual or data complexity, such as finance or election results

From TV to the classroom

Brainstorm decided to apply this experience to education by developing Edison, an easy-to-use, straightforward application which includes some of the above-mentioned technology, but aimed specifically at teachers. . With Edison, teachers can create an engaging learning experience by combining their teaching skills with advanced visual aids.

By using Edison, teachers can use emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR)to bring their lessons to life..

How does 3D improve learning?

Edison has been developed as a presentation tool. It allows the teacher to place themselves inside a 3D scene.. This means that they can choose a standard scene, from those provided by the system, and build from it to create any environment they wish by adding furniture and other assets. The teacher can be inserted in the scene by shooting him/her against a blue screen or plain background and then extracted automatically. So, in a few clicks the teacher will be able to create a scene out of the available assets and start to build the presentation, including camera movements if required.

The presentation can be built from scratch or by using existing materials (PPT, PDF) and inserting them into the virtual display. Or we can also insert additional slides, pictures, movies or 3D objects, which can be downloaded from a variety of sites. Edison provides intelligent slides that allow for adding quizzes, tests and options. The 3D models can be manipulated directly on the scene, resized, rotated and so on, creating impressive in-context explanations of complex concepts using the model which has been converted into a 3D Augmented Reality object. Advanced users of Edison will also be able to insert themselves in an external environment, for instance a video recorded on site which allows to explain something about that place, which can be an archaeological site, a public building, a touristic location or any other place we can think of.

But Edison is not only constrained to classroom teaching; the system is so flexible that it can send the output to a live streaming server or also record the lesson for a later visualization. This allows for creating live Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to be delivered via streaming for remote students.

So, what once was a technically complex hardware and software, is nowa simple, easy-to-use application. Requiring just a laptop, and any kind of supporting content from PowerPoint presentations to videos, pictures and even 3D models which can be manipulated in real-time in front of the students, Edison can turn teaching into a live multimedia experience. But, most importantly, teachers can create their own content and combine it with their own experiences and pedagogical preferences, so each class will still be unique.

This means that storytelling, as it is understood in the world of entertainment, can now be applied to teaching.