Interactive 3D technology will change the way workers learn to do their jobs

Fayetteville Technical Community College’s center will train technicians
in simulation modeling for employment in a number of industry sectors

The traditional world of knowledge transfer has evolved. Welcome to Interactive Three-Dimensional technology, known as i3D. Fayetteville Technical Community College offers i3D courses through its Interactive 3D Education Center at the Harry F. Shaw Virtual College Center. The program is the only one of its kind offered through the N.C. Community College system designed for workforce and economic development in conjunction with the All American Defense Corridor. Students will acquire the skills of a simulation- modeling technician, receiving hands-on training and experience in interactive 3-D modeling and simulation, CADD design, geographic-information systems, and simulation and gaming programming.

i3D technology and how it is used

Interactive 3-D technology uses techniques that combine three-dimensional computer graphics with human interaction. It is used to develop 3-D game technology, interactive visualization and visual depiction, interactive modeling and user-assisted techniques, applications and simulation-based learning. The business applications are nearly limitless. Imagine an idea, and i3D can bring it to reality. Among the sectors that use the technology are architecture, property development, interior design, film and television, programming and education. i3D technology and learning objects blend graphics, audio, video and animation media into a single delivery method.

i3D for simulation-based learning uses real-time, interactive, photo-realistic visualizations to present subject content to a student to create a learn-by-doing environment. The student sees a real-time visualization of the subject, such as a car engine, and then interacts with it to accomplish a task. The method usually involves a demonstration of the task, real-time interactive completion of the task by the student and real-time assessment of the student’s work. This interaction stimulates interest and accomplishes up to 40% greater retention of the subject content.

How i3D technology affects learning

Interactive 3-D technology provides a multi-modal approach to simulation-based learning. In the past, colleges and organizations have relied on traditional resource tools such as blackboard outlines, physical demonstrations and video to transfer knowledge to the student or trainee. But over the past decade, i3D technology has emerged, offering an enhanced means for visualizing objects, complex concepts and processes. Government agencies, educational institutions and private-sector organizations are leveraging the power of i3D technology to communicate products, ideas, and concepts.

With i3D technology, the student can overcome language or literacy barriers to quickly and more effectively gain a better understanding of a concept and remember it longer. The technology promotes a notion of knowledge in action that can be captured, shared at any time and place, diffused within groups and turned back into new tacit knowledge through learning by doing. i3D can be displayed on large 3-D walls that use stereo glasses or transparent holographic displays, as well as other media. These formats can provide a more intuitive presentation of data. Studies have shown using i3D technology will help the student or trainee understand the message up to 33% faster, remember it 37% longer and make decisions 48% faster. i3D objects are similar to just-in-time production, where the right information flows to the right person at the right moment.

Learning objects can be described both as a collection of information and as the smallest useful piece of information, such as an illustration, question, definition, procedure, or sound. How is a learning object described in i3D? Following are examples:

• An interactive image that enables the learner in a health or medical field to click on a part of a picture of a human body and receive pertinent information on it (for example, the heart), thus supporting explorative learning;

• Visualization of steps that are hard to describe in text (such as setting up an intravenous catheter);

• Interactive simulation that enables the learner to test and try out variables and how they influence the phenomenon or object presented.

Fayetteville Technical Community College recently partnered with a consortium that includes EON Reality, NVIDIA, Hewlett-Packard, Christie Digital, and Navigator Development Group to develop an Interactive Digital Center. Microsoft is a technical provider for the consortium. The innovations that make the center possible are based on EON Reality’s i3D visualization software. The center is part of the N.C. Community College System’s strategic plan for integrating visualization technologies and provides a platform to develop i3D applications for education and industry as well as a curriculum providing skills training for modeling technicians.

Preparing a world-class workforce

FTCC President Larry Keen realizes that technology in the workforce changes and that industry leaders champion the advancement of i3D technology applications. “i3D technology offers opportunities with worldwide implications in terms of value.” FTCC’s simulation modeling courses will provide training and experiences for the workforce not only in Fayetteville and surrounding areas but also around the globe. With i3D technology, FTCC is changing the way people learn and ultimately preparing tomorrow’s workforce.