November 26, 2012

3D StereoLab

NextGen 3D Educational Content Series [Part 5 and Series End]
Our last entry into a future hall of fame for educational 3D content is 3DStereoLab. This is a group that demonstrates the most impressive creativity, artistry, and negative parallax I have seen in 3D production to date, bar none. I am talking about absolutely compelling production quality. This firm got its start by pulling together some of the best talent in L.A. and Hollywood, securing a new studio, and pushing the production flywheel forward. Much of their work is for corporate innovation centers, and most recently they have undertaken a large project involving school safety PSAs and simulations for school emergency preparedness training in 3D format.

Michael Page, President/CEO of 3DStereoLab, explains their interest in educational 3D content development: “We believe 3D's impact on the educational space will be similar to the impact of sound to silent film and the addition of color to black and white movies and television.” He adds, “Immersive 3D presentations will be the adopted norm of the future, no doubt about it.” The focus of 3DStereoLabs is on the wants/needs of the education customer:  “We are 3D production experts who fundamentally follow the teacher's lead in developing content which is primarily scripted and approved by qualified teachers.” Their plan is nothing less than to “provide a new technologically advanced immersive learning experience.” 
3DStereoLab founder Michael Page (without 3D glasses) demonstrates Panasonic 
full HD 3D technology to Colorado State Senator Steve King (seated), Littleton Fire Chief 
John Mullin (far left), Chuck Burdick of the Colorado School Safety Task Force (2nd from left),
 and members of the Panasonic delegation attending the signing of Colorado Senate Bill 11-173 
by Governor John Hickenlooper at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. 
(Photo by Chris Schneider)
Michael Page—yes, he’s the same Michael Page of Chubby Checker, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie fame—states that  educational change is what he is all about: “We couldn't think of a more rewarding experience than to apply our knowledge and talents to the good of our children's future.” Their work has already launched in Colorado, a state which has taken the initiative by recognizing the potential impact of 3D on education in the school safety and emergency preparedness arena. So, what happens when better-than-Hollywood 3D production meets K-12 education? Stay tuned and watch what comes out of this group. They can be reached at

November 19, 2012

3D in the Cloud

NextGen 3D Educational Content Series [Part 4]
Another entry in our sweepstakes for the future of great educational 3D content is a stout and familiar player, Sweden’s Eon Reality. Eon Reality offers a crowdsourced vision of cloud- and social media-based 3D educational content development and distribution: Eon Creator and the Eon Experience. Both are well integrated and offer a distinct social-media look, with easy user search, access, or upstream contribution, as well as user-generated content ratings.
Eon Creator, explains Brendon Reilly, the business development manager for Eon’s U.S. operations, “a tool for educators or users to easily generate 3D content and store it in the cloud.” He continues: “It has the scalability to design something as small as the human blood cell to something as expansive as the Taj Majal.”
Eon Creator is tightly integrated with the Eon Experience platform, enabling users 
to download commercial or user-generated 3D content or publish their own content.
The Eon Experience is a platform that permits search, access, downloading, uploading, and rating of user- or industry-generated  stereo 3D content. Some content is free, some is for sale, and I imagine a strong barter economy will eventually arise. The content is organized into three categories: Avatars, 3D Components or 3D Scenes. Reilly notes that the Eon Experience is “cloud based, multiple-device friendly, and offers great possibilities for education.” 

Now this is the point where I am forced to chime in: “You betcha!” Eon Creator was designed for non-professional content producers (a.k.a., students and teachers). The advantages are obvious. The Eon Experience platform creates a friendly space where the 3D educator can become a consumer, producer, or both. More importantly, both tools were evidently created with the school educator or industry “human performance improvement” professional in mind.
After learning resources are attached to a 3D model in a walk-through gallery, 
the learner can access those learning support resources by simply clicking 
on one the icons layered in a pyramid above the 3D object.
For example, 3D objects can be placed within a 3D gallery or exhibit hall scene for casual or in-depth exploration.  A trainer can also insert or embed learning resources into the 3D objects he/she has designed. This enables the creation of richly layered, hypermedia-based learning experiences that can stand on their own. The trainer/instructional designer can associate many different types of “learning objects” with the 3D model or object, including short video segments; personalized text or audio annotation; a PowerPoint presentation; a wiki, blog, or discussion board; or a hyperlink to a website or simulation activity. Folks, this is designed for great teaching, learning, and instructional design!

November 12, 2012

Depth by PowerPoint

[NextGen 3D Content Series, Part 3]
Bringing the 3D Advantage to Presentations
I teach some very popular workshops on how to do teaching (or sales presentations) differently, based on how our minds work. Based on brain research, the techniques I employ cleverly draw the attention of the audience, while sustaining their focused attention on the learning at hand. Done well, these techniques can even go so far as to visually ‘delight’ the viewer. It’s all part of my personal campaign—my intentional effort—to utterly destroy the old notion of “death by PowerPoint,” the notion of tiresome, unimaginative, overly lengthy, and utterly boring PowerPoint presentations. Of course, the notion of “death by PowerPoint” is forever immortalized in such Dilbert cartoons as the PowerPoint Coma, the PowerPoint Chimp, and PowerPoint Poisoning

In the stereoscopic 3D world, many have tried to provide a way to convert traditional presentations into stereo 3D, hoping to capture the illusive golden goose ‘wow’ factor.  Our third entry in the field of  Next Generation Educational 3D content is Presente3D. This new startup aims to become nothing less than a game-changer for educators. What these folks are up to is so promising, I playfully call it Depth by PowerPoint, and I assure you it is a good thing, and for quite a number of very practical reasons. First, Presente3D enables 3D content creation through a truly easy-to-use and extremely flexible ribbon bar add-on to PowerPoint 2010. " It enables the educator, e-trainer, or student to turn their presentations into a 3D format, but more importantly, to turn any graphic or chart within a PowerPoint into a 3D object that can be manipulated in space and depth. Any object or text can be individually extruded and the z-depth adjusted, as well. Presente3D, with offices in New Jersey and a talented technical team in the Ukraine, offers the potential for some very creative and immersive presentations. Their easy and flexible process for designing 3D presentations also offers a stiff advantage: it’s easy enough to use that you can construct effective stereo 3D PowerPoint presentations the night before your presentation. Here an overview video and here is a video showing how their interface works. In addition, this tool is quite extensible. It runs on most portable devices, including Apple and Android operating systems, the iPad2, and all 3D TVs and projectors.

Yet, the significance of this effective new 3D tool lies with content creation. Perhaps 95% of educational 3D content currently available supports science instruction. Math content is well on its way toward a solid presence this year. But this tool opens up the floodgates of immediate amateur content creation for all the other subject areas, such as English, world languages, social studies, and the arts—to name a few. Think about it. There are over 500 million PowerPoint users worldwide. Currently, over 50 million PowerPoint presentations are made every day. Now, anyone can be able to create 3D content. It is simply content creation for the rest of us

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: