November 5, 2012

Spatially Cool

[NextGen 3D Content Series, Part 2]
Our second featured nextgen company is Spatial Thinking, a California-based company with a talented international programming team located in both L.A. and Lebanon. Spatial Thinking is led by its founder, George Dekermenjian, who is a gifted master teacher and active college mathematics professor in his own right. Formed to exclusively serve the education space, Spatial Thinking builds interactive simulations that can be presented in stereoscopic 3D as tools for teaching and learning math for grades 4-12 and college math. Their flagship product is Space Geometry and Measurement 3D (SGM-3D and SGM-S3D). Both versions contain the same content, but the latter (SGM-S3D) is optimized to be viewed in stereoscopic mode while the former is produced in rendered 3D. This approach exemplifies a generally wise strategy for success in the stereo 3D marketplace: offering 2D content as well as 3D content. When schools are ready, the shift to 3D is easy and costs less.
Using 3D to teach concepts that are harder to learn without stereo 3D.
I chose Spatial Thinking as an example of one of my nextgen educational 3D content developers for five main reasons:
  1. This company starts with the premise of the added value stereo 3D can bring to learning; I like that. Spatial Thinking produces simulations that use stereo 3D to an advantage, concepts that lend themselves naturally to 3D visualization. Essentially, that means using 3D to teach concepts that are difficult to learn without 3D.
  2. Spatial Thinking understands the educator perspective as much as they understand the technology of 3D visualization. This company demonstrates an openness to learn and do what schools, teachers, and students want and need, not just pursue the technology for its own sake.
  3. Their content represents a significant move beyond the current hegemony of science content in the 3D educational marketplace—and math is a great place to start.
  4. They are not developing just a few quixotic titles—they are developing quite a few key math concept sims. (You see, if there are not many resources to choose from, my experience is that teachers won’t spend time to learn to use the technology.)
  5. They surround their software with exactly the kinds of supporting materials that teachers are dying for: visual PowerPoint supports, lesson guides, and extension materials.
Topics covered on the “Space Geometry and Measurement” (SGM)
product from Spatial Thinking.
Stereo 3D educational software designed the way teachers like to teach.
In this series, I asked each content provider to explain what was so defining about their approach to 3D content. In designing their software, Dekermenjian noted his desire to “creatively use negative-parallax to highlight key ideas of particular concepts” and importance of “ensuring each lesson/module could be explored in 10 minutes or less, leaving enough class time for reflection, discussion, practice, assessment and review.”

Spatial Thinking’s plans to build additional interactive stereo content for other areas of mathematics, such as analytic geometry, calculus (high-school and college level), and other higher mathematics courses typically offered at the college level or beyond. Spatial Thinking’s web site can be found at:

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