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Pros: Simple and intuitive design; animated 3D models with text aid understanding.
Cons: No audio or text-to-speech features; not yet possible for teachers and students to build their own models.
Bottom Line: These 3D STEM models will certainly engage students when added to lessons, but usefulness is limited by a lack of creation options.
Teachers can use JigSpace to introduce or explain different concepts, such as tectonic plates, how a battery works, the scale of the solar system, the structure of the human brain, the D-Day landing strategy, and more. Most students will love seeing the objects in front of them and moving around to get a closer look. While doing so, students will likely gain a better understanding of certain abstract ideas and concepts -- as long as there's teacher guidance.
To get the most out of JigSpace, teachers will want to design activities that will help students use what they're looking at to learn. Yes, students could just look at the Jig and read the text that comes with it. However, students could also take screenshots of different components of the Mars Curiosity Rover, and use these as a basis for a podcast or short video explaining what makes these components critical. Similarly, students watching a Jig with shifting tectonic plates could write or record a journal entry documenting the imagined experience and what steps they could take to be safe. The text will likely not be accessible for most younger students, but even so, they can use the app with guidance and have a class discussion about their observations.
JigSpace is an app for iOS, Mac, and Windows that uses augmented reality (AR) to explore machines, inventions, space, how-to topics, and more. Simply launch the app, select the desired 3D model (called a Jig), and point the camera at a table or the floor. JigSpace will load the object right there, giving students the opportunity to move around the object and inspect it more closely. Arrows on the side of the screen allow students to progress through the Jig, cycling through different animations and brief explanatory text. The animations often take the form of a 3D exploded diagram. For example, the Curiosity Mars Rover will come apart, literally highlighting certain areas that the text is referencing. Tapping certain parts of the Jig will bring up a label if one is available. Students can enlarge, shrink, and rotate a Jig by using two fingers on the screen.
JigSpace can help teachers spark interest in a particular lesson, but the number of uses will be limited by the 50 or so Jigs available. The breadth of different concepts in these Jigs includes not only academic-oriented 3D models but also life skills like cleaning a refrigerator, learning how to tell if an egg has spoiled, and repairing a hole in sheetrock. Of course, such Jigs won't be useful to all teachers, but this variety may serve to inspire teachers to create their own (through a promised upcoming feature). The lack of audio features, as well as text that's aimed at older students, certainly limit the app. Teachers will need to intentionally design activities around the Jigs to connect what students are seeing to the learning already taking place in class.
JigSpace developers make it clear via messages in the app that they'll soon be offering a workspace for teachers to create their own Jigs. If the tools are powerful and simple enough to use, teachers would be able to use JigSpace in any content area. Hopefully, these Jigs will be available for other teachers to download and use. If students could also access the tools, they could have a powerful learning experience building a model and writing their own explanatory text. An option to add sound effects and voiced narration would take learning a step further.