Today I had the privilege of participating in the official launch of an exciting new company in New Zealand called NextSpace, founded as a partnership between Right Hemisphere and the NZ Ministry of Economic Development.. NextSpace is described as “a think tank, catalyst and mentoring organisation charged with facilitating the growth of 3D graphical communications technology software through education, demonstration and research.”
The focus of the day was on the role that 3D graphics will have as a key content creation, communication and collaboration medium in the future. It was very exciting to see examples of 3D graphics technologies applied in a range of commercial contexts (not just for gaming!). Right Hemisphere presented work they are doing with Boeing, using 3D technologies to provide a complete set of manuals for those involved in the maintenance of the planes, while HIT Lab, another NZ company that has pioneered developments in this area, demonstrated some of their augmented reality products.
This is all ground-breaking stuff, and illustrated to me the challenge for schools and education in general that will come as a result of these developments. Much of what we heard from various speakers focused on key attributes of workers in these industries – not just those producing the 3D technologies, but those who are using the products as a part of their everyday work – like the Boeing maintenance engineers who no longer work from paper manuals. The importance of collaboration came through strongly from several speakers, as did the emerging role of mobile technologies. The conversations soon turned to ‘how can we prepare our young people for a future where the use of 3D technologies such as this will form a major part of how they communicate ideas and collaborate with each other?’.
I had a speaking slot in the day to focus on this issue (my presentation is included at the end of this post). I started by focusing on the fact that our view of literacy must change – to incorporate these new ways of communicating and presenting ideas/content/information etc. I then focused on the role of schools, and in particular, the need for some serious support for the professional development of teachers in this area, before briefly referring to a collaboration between CORE Education, CWA-New Media and NextSpace that we are working on as a way of addressing this. A part of our plan is to put some of these powerful 3D modelling and construction tools in the hands of school students and let them explore, create and express themselves with them – and find out just how far these creative and uninhibited young people might be able to stretch things!
You can be sure we’re going to see a lot more developing in this new dimension!