logo image

ATD Blog

Dive Into the Third Dimension


Wed Dec 13 2023

Dive Into the Third Dimension

Ever wish your learners could dive right through the screen and touch objects in your course or explore the world presented before them? Three-dimensional (3D) modeling will help you get closer to making that a reality.

3D modeling has many benefits, including increasing a course’s level of interactivity and learner engagement. Plus, accessing models for use or building your own is not beyond the reach of the average e-learning developer.


First, let’s clearly define 3D modeling. It is a technique for digitally reproducing objects and environments that can be viewed from all perspectives and interacted with, including but not limited to zooming in and out, moving and manipulating objects, and even exploring within objects or environments. 3D models are less limiting than 360-degree images, and learners can interact more extensively with them. Although a 360-degree image has its own benefits, it puts you at the center of an image, where you rotate around a single point, and only gives you a perspective from that single point in space.

Here are two examples of 3D models that will allow you to explore a 3D model’s functionality:

Why Take the Plunge?

Engage your learners. Create an engaging and kinesthetic experience that allows learners a more embedded, virtual experience of interacting with objects and environments. This includes rotating, zooming in and out, and even exploring inside objects or wandering about any environment.

Enhance visualization. A model is a more realistic representation of an object or environment than a two-dimensional image, giving learners a more practical understanding of the subject at hand.

Get real. Add real-world context. Learners will not just see and observe but will engage in active learning and exploration—seeing a real-world scenario or a practical application.


Keep them safe. Provide a safe practice environment for learners. 3D models provide an environment where learners will not be exposed to hazardous work environments or potential risks.

Save money. Train learners on models without the risk of damaging any actual expensive equipment. Plus, bringing learners to a facility, lab, or any location hundreds or thousands of miles away is expensive. With a model, you can bring it to them virtually.

Blend it. Models work well in blended learning. For example, as a prerequisite to begin familiarizing learners to equipment, environments, and the like. A model can also be used in a classroom presentation when the real object is not available, or the classroom cannot accommodate it due to size, safety, costs, or geographical constraints.

Get Started!

Ready-to-use 3D models have become widely accessible and so have the tools for developing customized 3D models. Additionally, many of these 3D models and development tools are free or available at reasonable costs. Ready-made models can be found on sites like SketchFab and Turbosquid, or you can export models from Microsoft’s 3D library, located in PowerPoint and Paint 3D.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to develop your own models. MS Paint 3D does not have a steep learning curve and is a great way to start developing models. If you do want to use more robust 3D graphics development tools, check out the beginner tutorials for Blender and Autodesk Maya, where the sky’s the limit in what you can create.


So, next time you work on a course that could benefit from 3D modeling, give it a try, whether finding a ready-made model or building one of your own. Both can be incorporated into your course as web objects using your favorite e-learning development tool. Your learners will appreciate that next level of interaction it provides and feel like they are diving right through that screen.

For more insights, join me at ATD TechKnowledge for my session Flat to Fascinating With 3D Modeling.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy