CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

July 5, 2013

WSCC AVC hosts 3D workshop for local educators


WSCC Media Relations

— Ears, atoms and more were all discussed as potential teaching tools that could be built by the graphic designers of the Advanced Visualization Center (AVC) at Wallace State Community College for area middle school teachers.

About a dozen middle school teachers from around Alabama attended a 3D Immersive Learning workshop at the college where they learned about resources available to them through the AVC to teach subjects ranging from math and science to foreign languages.  After three days, the teachers left with new ideas for teaching their particular subjects and knowledge of new resources they can use to create more interactive lessons for their students.

Like most of the other teachers in attendance Hanceville Middle School science teacher Miriam Adams wasn’t aware of the relatively new Advanced Visualization Center at Wallace State, or how educators can benefit from its services.

“You don’t always know what’s across the street and there’s a lot across the street,” said Adams, an eighth-grade teacher at HMS.

“I didn’t know they had an AVC department that could actually construct stuff for us,” added Nick Feldner, an eighth grade science teacher at Fairview Middle School.

But the teachers were quick to realize how beneficial it can be in creating an exciting learning experience for their students.

“They’re going to love it,” Amy Whaley, a seventh-grade science teacher at Hanceville Middle School, said of her students. “They’re going to understand it even more than I do because that’s their world. They’re going to love it in the classroom, that’s for sure, because it’s similar to things they do outside of school — video games, graphics in video games and 3D movies – the things they do for entertainment outside of school. It will make school seem more like entertainment.”

Whaley can see how the 3D objects created by the AVC will help her teach her students about the human body, DNA and other concepts she teaches in physical science.

“All the concepts that I teach I think can be enhanced by the kids seeing 3D images versus the traditional pictures in the book,” she said.

The workshop introduced the teachers to 3D objects the AVC has already created that can be used in their classrooms, such as the human heart and the reproductive system.  It also gave them the opportunity to request objects they can use for their students.

Whaley said one thing they requested was a 3D model of the human ear to show their students how sound waves travel to the ear. Feldner also requested a 3D version of an atom.

“It will be a big advantage to take this back to our classrooms,” Feldner said.

Amy Bates, the technology integration specialist for Cullman City Schools, said she can see how the AVC can benefit teachers in all subjects, not just science.

“We have a teacher who is a science/Spanish teacher, and they’re working on a simulation for her Spanish class which sounds incredible,” Bates said. In the virtual exercise they have planned, the student will land at a foreign airport and will have to follow instructions provided over the airport’s public address system to continue on their trip.

“You can’t do that kind of immersive learning with students,” Bates said. “You can’t send them to Mexico or Spain and say, ‘OK, get to work.’ But this will allow us to do that (virtually), and I think the kids will really enjoy it because it’s a gaming environment and something they’re really used to. That’s very exciting.”

Christine Wiggins of the AVC, said the workshop was a way to let educators know of its existence and to start relationships with schools across the state in order to share its services.

“The AVC is fairly new, so we’re still getting the word out about what the AVC is comprised of, what we can offer to industry, educators, and students,” Wiggins said. “There’s so much we can offer and this is just a first step for us in creating that relationship and reaching out.”

As the AVC is utilized, they will develop an archive or bank of the objects they create, which can be used by other educators. Those objects can also be modified to target certain age ranges, with the teaching tools made more or less complex depending on the grade level.

Wiggins said the AVC can be used not only as a service to build 3D objects for teachers, but as a location for classes or training sessions for educators and businesses and industries.

“If they ever just want to bring the kids over and conduct one of their every day classes here,” Wiggins said that is something that is available. There are at least two classrooms at the AVC with 3D viewing capabilities and theater-style seating.

“I think the center can be a hub for industry training, industry meetings and out-of-the-box educational experiences for students in many age ranges,” Wiggins added.

Examples of the 3D teaching tools created so far by AVC can be seen at http://elearning.wallacestate.edu/3d-interactive-learning-activities. It may require a simple download to run the video for the 3D animations.

For more information about Wallace State’s Advanced Visualization Center, visit elearning.wallacestate.edu, or call Wiggins at 256-352-8462.