Monday, May 17, 2010

Free 3D IWB

NASA World Wind, an open source virtual globe ...Image via Wikipedia

I recently (re)posted an article that ended up in a national educational guide. I got commented by "Knaus" to say that most of my ideas could easily be done without an IWB and just the projector.

I've looked at the post and Knaus is right... my intention with the article though was to break teachers out of the whiteboard software that comes with the board and to explore other ways that you can use all or parts of the technology that are in your classroom when you do get an IWB thrust upon you.

Knaus also expressed that an IWB is expensive - and as a good Keepad Interactive employee I have to point out that the eBeam from Luidia that we sell can sometimes be a better solution both cost and portability wise.

So here are some IWB 3D applications.

Google Sketchup - This works really well with an IWB, not only is it quick an easy to create three dimensional objects, you can use your IWB to interactively walk around your newly created 3D scene. Add the annotation function of most IWB software and you can take snapshots and annotate your virtual world. I use Sketchup all the time for my IWB demonstrations, and people are constantly amazed at how easy it is to use, and how effective it is. Design and technology teachers love it for making quick sketches, as do Maths teachers who see the value in 3D shapes.

Digital Library of Mathematical Functions - This is one for the high school maths teachers. This site host one of the most important mathematical guidebooks. Interspersed is 3D VRML and x3d files that show complex mathematical functions in 3D helping students to visualise Surface functions.

Edusim - Designed specifically for use with IWB systems, EduSim is a 3D environment where students walk through, exploring 3 objects and finding interfaces with images, and live webpages. But most importantly it is a multi user environment so you can have more than one student in the virtual world. They can communicate and collaborate in a worlds that can easily be controlled by the school. One of the great things is the ability to create something in Google Sketch up and then import it into EduSim.

Google Earth - Again you can take your models built in sketchup and post them into Google Earth. Google earth games are something you might like to try on your IWB

WorldWind - Similar to Google Earth, but with different layers and no streetview. This is more of a scientific program. By downloading the anyglyph plugin you can use those old fashioned 3D red/blue glasses to make your globe float out from the board. - Real 3D in your classroom. This is one of the program I use regularly to show off how to integrate an IWB into teaching without using the software that comes with the board.

Blender - Now we are getting into the heavy stuff. Blender is a fantastic Open Source 3D editing environment, used to make games, movies and 3D models from scratch. A steep learning curve, but I've taught kids how to use some of the basics in after school classes (demonstrating on an IWB) and they have gone on to make some amazing things in 3D.

DAZ - Bryce - If you want to create realistic and hyper realistic natural looking 3D environments, then this free download is what you need. Way ahead of it's time when released the is a great way to produce ray traced scenes easily. I bought (yes I sometimes buy software) Bryce2 back in 2001, left to go to the UK and other places. I downloaded it recently and got right back into the swing of it within half an hour. Really easy to use 3D software that works through the use of Boolean shapes and visual logic. This works great on an IWB, as you work with a range on onscreen tools rather than key presses like Blender.

DAVID - I've only come across this recently but I can see a great use for it in education already. David is free software that lets you create a 3D scanner out of 2 pieces of cardboard, a laser line level and an ordinary web cam. The results in the galleries are extraordinary, imagine being able to scan student's sculptures and projects straight into the computer - then manipulating them on your IWB.

Build AR ARive - Both of these programs help you to create 3D augmented reality items. Great for augmented popup books. I still haven't figured out how to do the video pop up but I will get there one day.

Rep-Rap / Cupcake CNC - Cheap to make and easy to build (apparently) these are homebrew 3D printers. I don't think it will be long before you will see 3D printers at your local Staples/Officeworks store. If you can't wait for one in your classroom though, they have all the blueprints and parts you need. Although not something to do on your IWB specifically it could be a great way to brainstorm and run a build project with your class if you are that way inclined. Could you imagine the conversation at home -

"So what did you do at school today?"
"Well we are starting to build a 3D printer that can print out any 3D object we have a file of or design."

If you have any more free 3D programs you you with your IWB, please leave me a comment I would love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

IWB's are generally used as projectors, but they do offer a different way to interact with the content being projected that a projector just doesn't seem to be able to capture. They give students a more authentic experience with the material when the possibility for a one to one environment doesn't exist.
These 3D sites and modeling capabilities are really great. I love you last few sentences, it would be amazing to see students creating their own models and then printing them in a printer that they created. Way cool.