Louise Longridge | Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

Louise Longridge | Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

How are you using 3D models in your course? How do you show the models to students?

So basically, I teach a lot of asymmetric or asynchronous courses where the students are not sitting in a classroom holding on to these objects that they basically know only online. And one of the biggest problems that we’ve had with that is really being able to work with online images and bridging them with the physical specimen.

You know what that feels like to hold in your hand versus what, you know, just a picture as a flat picture is not very useful.

We had a previous experience where we had a turntable set up, and we had like a little nickel for a scale. And we basically slowly span the object around to try to show the three-dimensional and the aspects of the fossils. Of course, this has its limitations from a student perspective you can’t necessarily rotate, and also you certainly can’t retain them in three dimensions, you can see them on a turntable basically.

The idea of using a 3D model here was just to allow students to just kind of manipulate them like they would be able to if they hadn’t in their hand and also zoom in on really specific tiny little features on the models with high resolution. I’m using the scans to substitute a better application in a couple of cases, and I’ve also created a series of questions, and the students have to answer them and show that they’ve understood the material, above that in the course notes so they’re taken out of the labs and us specifically in that context as well.

How do you show the models to students? Do you use the embed code in Canvas, live demo, etc? Do you do an orientation to the models prior to using them (e.g. showing how to rotate, zoom in, etc)?

No orientation was needed. The Sketchfab was intuitive and straightforward. I used the 3D models in skill test exercises and compared the models.

Students went to the concepts and then checked the models to see if what they learned can be applied to them.


How do you plan to modify the 3D models? Are there any features that we weren’t able to create that would help your use of the models?

Rotate the models automatically, at 180 degrees because when I look at it as a still, for example, if I have two or three Ammonites and they swim in a certain orientation as living animals, and what often happens 99% of the time unless I’m actually there orientating them, students send the Ammonites upside-down.

Also, change the centroid of rotation where you can do that without changing the model so just double-clicking on a spot actually means the central there so it’ll rotate and zoom in on that point, instead of on the center of the object itself.

Answer the questions by showing the correct position of the model for a certain action.


What suggestions do you have for instructors who are considering using 3D Models?

Shared the model’s links with other instructors, and with the Pacific Museum of Earth. In the future, the models can be presented at a Geological Sciences conference.

Have other options to deploy the models.


Describe experience with the project workflow, UBC staff, suggestions for improvement

Trust objects and samples with the UBC Studio team, which had to be very careful as those models are old and irreplaceable. The team took care of the objects very well.