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Showing posts with label web3d. Show all posts
Showing posts with label web3d. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Virtually Open Source

I would like to share an article that two of my amazing pioneering students and I wrote about our experiences on Reaction Grid and in virtual worlds.  I promoted these two students to estate managers of Digiteen Island and the F.L.A.T.S. and they have done amazing work with it.  This was printed in the Fall Issue of the SIG Innovative Learning and Technology newsletter which I've embedded at the bottom of this post. If you're not on this Special Interest Group for ISTE and you love technology - you're missing out!  You can see Trent and Tyler interviewed on Leon Cych's blog Post about the Open Source Virtual World Pioneers.

Virtually Open Source

by Vicki Davis, Teacher
Trent H  and Tyler R, Students and Co-Estate Managers Digiteen Island and the F.L.A.T.S. (Flat Learning Area for Teaching and Sharing)

From Vicki Davis, Teacher - Moving My Class Into a Virtual World: Driven By Students to Innovate

When my 2008 Freshman class was brainstorming their ideas for an action project on digital citizenship, they kept coming back to virtual worlds.  As part of  the Digiteen project, they had to teach another student group about digital citizenship in a project of their choosing and design.  As the teacher, I advise the student groups and help them find tools that we can use at school to accomplish their task.  When looking at the profile of students that needed digital citizenship education, they kept coming back to the virtual generation (we finally called them Generation "V" for virtual last fall and since then, the Gartner group has also begun calling them Generation V.  To reach these students we needed a virtual experience, my ninth graders said.  So, we went down two paths with one group choosing Woogi World to teach fourth graders about digital citizenship and another using Google Lively to allow virtual interactive experiences for middle schoolers. They chose Google Lively because of the cost (it was free) and also because of how easy it was to get on (you launched a web browser.)

The Google Lively group embarked on an amazing experience, partially because they designed so many very robust rooms so very quickly and secondly because after one month and some elaborately orchestrated "performances" in Lively, Google announced they were shutting the world down.  After helping my students express their opinions by creating a blog and hosting a Lively in-world protest (during which 3 minutes before a griefer came in and deleted half of the room and thus my students have a great concern for Gridizenship) my students could not let go of virtual worlds.

Trevor Meister from Canada read the students' blog and offered some space on ReactionGrid for them to build their Digiteen Island.  (ReactionGrid is a commercial site offering PG non-commercial world using OpenSim with islands running about $25 a month. As full disclosure, they were an in-kind sponsor for the NetGenEd Project awards show this past spring.)  The student vision was to construct a virtual world that would teach digital citizenship without a person having to be present through the use of smart objects.  Smart Objects are objects placed in the world that have action and objects that teach.  For example, they put boxes in Camelot in Atlantis (a castle with an underwater lake in the center) that would hand objects to teach students about copyright using a script on the box.

From Trent H - Teaching in a Virtual World and Gridizenship

There are two huge benefits to teaching in virtual worlds.  One, people are more attentive to something when they are interacting with it.  The second, there are so many ways you can make it interesting. For example, as you read a book in your literature class, you can be building the scenes as you read them.  Not only does it make reading the book more interesting, but also it deepens your understanding of the book itself.

Another great example would be how you can use virtual worlds in a math class. In a virtual world, to build something you must have the correct x, y, and z coordinates.  This is to make everything seem much more realistic.
Gridizenship is how you should act toward other people and the things that they have made. Gridizenship is extremely important if you want to help other people. For example, would you rather be taught by someone who is completely closed to your thoughts, or someone who is not only willing to hear your thoughts but also tries to help you put them into action? The answer is clear.
We have had more than one experience when people have come in and demolished what we have done. One, as Mrs. Davis mentioned, was in Google Lively. In Lively we were just about to hold a protest when someone, still unknown who, came in and deleted most of the features that we had added to the room. Although this proved to be a giant dilemma, it did nothing but arouse the entire class' morale and within a matter of minutes we had the entire room looking better than it had before.
The last thing that I have to say has something to do with humanity. When you have been in a virtual world for a few days you should have obtained somewhat of an extensive knowledge of how to move and act. The first thing that will pop into your mind when you see someone that has just started (you will be able to tell because the program starts everyone out with the same avatar) is,
"What can I teach this person that will enable them to bypass the troubles that I had?"
So, when you first start you will more than likely be extremely excited about the simple things that you find out how to do and want to try it in different locations, so don't overload the person. Simply try to find out when the person will be back and possibly set up classes when you can teach the person how to use the there newfound knowledge.
Tyler R- Smart objects and Avatar friendly environments

Now, smart objects are things that give people information. When you put a smart object into your sim you will do two things. One, you will make your grid seem much more inviting because you have something that tells the person where they are and what they can do. Secondly, you can potentially slow down your actions. This means that your moves may be slowed, or even stopped. (To help prevent this I suggest to try and befriend some of the administrators, they can bring your grid back up if it crashes.)
I was the person who constructed large 3D objects and found that the best objects were avatar friendly. Avatar friendly means that whatever the thing is, it doesn't hinder your avatar in any way. For example, when you are building a house, make the doors taller than normal and wide enough that you can get through with ease. Also in a grid like Opensim, you can fly. So to help you out with flying, make your building without a roof so you can fly straight up for a quick adjustment of scenery.

Vicki Davis, A Teacher's Quick Tricks for Teaching in a Virtual World

To teach in a virtual world you have to understand the dynamics of the world.  Three practices helped me considerably:
  1. Feedback Boxes -
    I designed a box that I placed in all of the primary work areas that had "Cool Cat Teacher" and a picture of my avatar on the box and "Click here for feedback."  Then, I had a script that would hand a notecard to the student when they clicked on it.  When I went into a virtual world area to assess the work of students, I would type my feedback on a notecard and include landmarks (coordinates that would allow students to go there) and sometimes even stray objects in the notecard and put it in the feedback box and then I would edit the script to change the color of the text floating over the box.  When students went into their area to work, they would be responsible to go to the feedback box first and receive my feedback.  This streamlined things greatly. (You can see these graphics scattered throughout this blog post.)

  2. Students Hand in Weekly Activity Notecard Reports -
    At least once a week (but often twice a week), the students would turn in a notecard to me to include:

    1) Landmarks of anything they had made so I could go see it along with a description, objectives, and any issues or questions they had,
    2) A copy of the objects that they created in the notecard so I could have a copy,
    3) their working objectives for the next week,
    4) the new things that they wished to learn and
    5) Other avatars that they encountered that week that showed good gridizenship. 

    Eventually I created a notecard template so they could just fill in these items.  We finally learned that we did not have to be in the same place for them to hand me the notecard but could just hand it to me through chat.  So, during the last ten minutes of class, I would go to a blank area, sit still, and ask them to hand me their notecards so I could save them in a folder in my inventory.

  3. Have Folders for Everything

    I had folders for working groups, weekly activity reports, objects,  inventory items, and scripts.  This made it easy for me to teach and work with students without looking for things and also made it easy to teleport.

  4. Sandboxing

    When we had many scripts on the island we started having problems, so we have a sandbox area where all scripting is done and limited building happens. This is the location for my office.  Students have to test their scripts in the "Cool Cat Teacher's Scratchpost" first before moving them onto the grid. (We didn't call it a sandbox for obvious reasons. ;-))

  5. Self-Teaching Office

    I constructed an Office in the Scratchpost with four lessons including ones on scripting, building and other topics.  These lessons were designed to be self teaching and used URL's.  These are in the sandbox so a student could walk up to a lesson box, click the box, and then walk into a grassy area with no objects and learn the skills. I cleaned up the scratchpost frequently to keep it response and ready for students to "play."  These self-teaching boxes also handed students resources, scripts, and modeled the types of things I'd like to see them do.

Truly, I am still totally a beginner and giants like Peggy Sheehy, Bernajean Porter, Marianne Malmstrom, Kevin Jarrett, and Kyle and Robin Gomboy  and Chris Hart from ReactionGrid mentor me but the results are powerful and I've learned enough this past year to allow me to jump into virtual worlds without the significant learning curve I had the first time.

However, as my students and I learned together, I saw real leaders like Trent and Tyler emerge to teach and mentor me as well.  Virtual worlds have incredible potential but we have to continue to share our best practices to help those who are teaching learn more about how to do virtual worlds efficiently. I look forward to the day when I can build an area and give it to another teacher and vice versa as we create legacy projects that can be inherited and built upon to allow students to immerse themselves in deep learning that we can barely imagine now.

Vicki Davis is a teacher at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia and blogs at the Cool Cat Teacher blog.  She and her students were recently named OpenSim Pioneers

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I See Dead People: Kurt Cobain and The Humanity of Avatars

Kurt Cobain singing Bon Jovi, a sacrilege according to his widow and estate manager, Courtney Love.  Even though she licensed the use of his image as an unlockable guitar hero in the new game by Activision, her lawyer says:

" Love’s lawyer told the TMZ.com Web site: “Activision is exploiting Kurt’s image in a manner anathema to the very essence of his music, spirit and essence. I along with Ms. Cobain hope those who love Kurt’s music strongly voice their sentiments to Activision and demand his image not be debased by singing the songs of Bon Jovi.”"

We are now entering the time of some sort of reincarnation through the avatars of the deceased. People like John Wayne, Kurt Cobain, Fred Astaire, and yes, Michael Jackson take a lifetime to build a personal brand and the time is fast approaching where they can be reincarnated to be in video games, web apps, cell phone apps, and eventually movies yet again.  Since Courtney Love approved the use of Cobain's likeness - perhaps she nor her legal team truly understood the implications of having Cobain live again inside the x-Box and PS-3's of the world's gamers. Truly, I don't know if any of us understand this.

As some have noted, there is discussion now of a new separate right called "publicity right" and truly, the discussion of this has been around since the 1991 Diet Coke Commercial which featured Elton John, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Louis Armstrong.  When the daughter of Lucille Ball, Lucie Arnaz complained about her Mom being used in California Lottery ads, she said:

" "It's like creating the H-bomb," she says. "You could have Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, who little children all over the world know and recognize, talk about getting a great education, talk about safe sex, talk about don't smoke, don't drink. Or you could have them making porno movies.""

And this is precisely the point - how can a living breathing person who is no longer living and breathing protect the sanctity of their own image or is their image and likeness and "future" literally going to be determined by the heirs of their future.

Our Classroom Discussion/ Debate This week
This week, at the end of class, we're going to be talking about the Humanity of Avatars.  Truly is someone going to have to be hired to "live" for another and approve their every move in order to make sure than at avatar behaves in a way true to their original embodiment?

What are the implications of such things for both the famous, the infamous, and the anonymous like pretty much the rest of us?

You can bet this is going to be an issue discussed in this year's flat classroom project as we discuss this whole idea of  "life after death" in the form of the avatars and likeness that we either leave behind or are created after we die.  Is this the birth of a whole new right -- a death right perhaps that when we die - we take ourselves with us?

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Web 3D: Students using OpenSim Reflect on the Pressing Issues that We all Ask about Using Virtual Worlds

Fridays are always reflection days here -- when we share what we learned via blog post, discussions, or video. Today, we ustreamed. Several times my mouth went open.

Like, when one of the terraformers (these are the people who make the land) talked about the vision for the island and the creation of good "badguys" - people who are trustworthy to operate the avatars of the villains who roam the island and try to get students to give out inappropriate information. So, let the students speak for themselves.

Listen to our terraforming team talk about our island, the uses of Open Sim in schools (We use www.reactiongrid.com and LOVE it!), and their vision of what they'd like to see happen. Also, hear the reflections of the other students about their work in virtual worlds.

Free Webcam Chat at Ustream

This is a great group of students and they are doing wonderful work! We're getting ready to start on their book.

So, what am I teaching them, what are our objectives?

Actually, this Island building is a continuation of digital citizenship but is also part of the time management, working with people, leadership module I teach in January / Early February. Usually it is lecture based with a few student hands on exercises -- now it is a live experience full of project management and people skills work that they have to do. Totally different! (You'll see Miller talk about this in the second video.

What is next?

Next, we're going to be learning advanced collaboration features in Word and also Excel and charting. How will we do it? We're going to write a book on digital citizenship and require each chapter to have an author and an editor and some piece of authentic research and charting in each chapter. Same objectives, but the workbook is gathering dust on the shelf. The plan is to publish it on lulu and to use any proceeds to help fund as many students as possible to go to next year's flat classroom conference.

This is a struggle to move to this method, gosh, especially for me, as my assessment methods must change and I must look at the whole world differently. But, PBL - project based learning is totally different.

Evolution of Lesson Plans

Just listen to Miller in the video talk about creating "lesson plans" for the island and how she is creating a lesson plan to construct a self-teaching environment in the OpenSim -- I am spending a lot of time with her developing how to do this so I can learn how to do it myself.

Boy, this is a tough transition but it is so rewarding. It is the RIGHT way to teach but I wish I could read it in a book. Oh well, it is not in a book - People like Peggy Sheehy, Kevin Jarrett, and Beth Ritter- Guth, Chris Dede and his Amazing Harvard RiverCity Project are my book. You are the book.

(And really, I need a few more books - we're having trouble hyperlinking objects and scripting some things -- We use hippo open sim which is the open source version of the Second Life browser -- alas, we don't know how to move items from Second Life to the other grid, and I don't think you can.)

We are the book. I love the vision that all of these students cast for how these worlds can be used in teaching. For example, a Tale of Two Cities - a tough book to understand - one class learn to use OpenSim and create world - The Tale of Two Cities - yes it would take a month or so - but then, the students coming after would take a day or two to learn in deep ways all about the Tale of Two Cities. We share. We work together.(This is Trent and T-Rob's suggestions from video #1 by the way.)

Surfing the Tidalwave of Change

Sometimes all of this is a bit disconcerting. The students know SO MUCH more than me about OpenSim because I run from computer to computer to help them and don't get in and do it myself as much. (See their Jing tutorials on Creating Clothes and Gestures in Open Sim.) I have to sit down daily and refine objectives and make sure to incorporate it in that day's project or reflection.

Really, with stringent standards of many of you -- how on earth are you going to move to this kind of environment? People have numbered 1, 2, 3, the order and detail of what you are to teach and when!

To me, it is sort of like the binding that chinese women used to put on their feet to keep them small -- we have bound the cords of standards so tightly that these classrooms grow somewhat uniformly - but what if we are indeed damaging the potential of some to grow to be much more than they are going to be? What of those who will surpass the standards?

No magic wand for education

So often, people are looking for the "magic wand" in education.

There is no magic wand except this --- hire great teachers, empower them to be teacherpreneurs and teach - hold them accountable for results but don't overtest in the process - let them teach. (If you're always weighing the chicken, when does the chicken eat?) Empower them to customize the classrooms in ways that they can get the work done. Support them and their methods but also expect that your teachers will have to work very, very hard.

I do not know a great teacher who comes in at 7:55 am and leaves at 3:05 pm -- it doesn't happen. Great teachers pour hours into their practice both at school and beyond. And great teachers are empowered by administrators who also match this effort. (Don't ask them to give 100% if you got into admin so you could coast. Sorry admins demotivate great teachers -- but also great admins motivate all teachers to become more than they are.)

Look at the CUSTOMER. The customer is who you do most of your work for-- your audience. If your audience is that person who reads the reams of paperworks (or more likely just files them) then you've got the wrong customer. Administrators should be slashing paperwork or making the delivery of information more streamlined -- allow teachers to submit reports via voice recorder and have it transcribed or via video documentation or other ways -- even a private ustream channel or video.

Why not have each teacher shoot one video a week where they must verbally reflect on each of the students who have an IAP? and then email it to admin or the person overseeing them.

And if the person overseeing them says --

"I don't have the time to view all of those videos -- one minute on each student."

Then, my answer is this --
"If you don't have the time, then why are we doing the paperwork, because it would take you much more than 1 minute to read all of the paperwork coming into your office."

Paperwork hypocrisy and bureaucracy is drowning public education in paper and wasted time. I have this on good authority -- from YOU the teachers and administrators who bend my ear to tell me how "it really is" for you. Your stories are beautiful - not because what is happening is good - but because you CARE SO MUCH that you will not accept the status quo.

There is great beauty in the nobility of your heart to do the right thing amidst wrong circumstances.

And it is to you, those who care enough to push forward that the future of excellent education lies. You care. You love the students.

You know that ultimately their future selves are your customer and you've got your priorities right.

Bless your vocal selves that you are willing to speak up for what is right and grapple with this change that envelopes us all.

Not that any of us has all the wisdom - but working together we're a heck of a lot smarter than we are alone.

Keep the faith and remember the nobility of being an educator -- it is the most noble calling on earth and that upon which the future of society hinges.

Keep the faith.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Over the next days of break, we've scheduled student reflections on the Digiteen Dream Team and the protest of Google lively shutting down to post on the Dream Team Blog.

As part of their reflection, I asked the students to tell me if the protest was worth it since Lively is still shutting down and Google hasn't responded to their requests.

Today's reflective post from Krysten, says it so well:

"I feel that our efforts were worth all the trouble we went through. We had people say mean things about us but we kept going. I learned to not let other people's opinions keep me from doing what is right. Some people think that we should not teach others about digital citizenship because they think it can be taught in twenty minutes and that it wont help. But the fact is that more and more people are using the internet and if they dont know how to use it properly, it could be dangerous."

My goodness, such wisdom for life and for so many things.   Hope you'll continue to respond to the students and their thoughts.

There are so many other digiteen dreamers out there who need to be unleashed to share their passions with the world.  It is not too late to share the message about Google Lively.  It is a great world and it is a shame that it is going away.  I wish Google knew that and would listen to those who've taken the time to compare the worlds.

It took 1 day to have my students creating worlds, working with avatars and creating content.  We're struggling w/ OpenSim and will learn it, just don't know that I have the time.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

First trial for murder of an avatar in Japan

Simulpost with techlearning

Perhaps the first trial for a virtual world murder is going to happen in Japan.  (Technically it is for hacking as the crime.)  The article Japanese Woman Arrested for Virtual-World 'Murder' tells the story:

"A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday. The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy."
To me, this comes back to the emphasis of WHAT we should be teaching students:

Online behavior has offline consequences. 

If we can teach them in small things, then hacking, which is increasingly being treated with the seriousness that it deserves, will not be something they do. Most people will think this to be laughable, but then again, how would they feel if their prize possession on their desk were irretrievably smashed by an enemy, or their car was keyed beyond repair?  They would care!

I spent several weeks a go after speaking at Hoover City schools in Alabama trying to explain Second Life to my Uncle and Dad -- the conversation was full of laughter as they heard of people buying and selling virtual real estate.  And although it is inside a computer, it has to be run by servers, connected to the internet, maintained, and upgraded!  It is virtual but it IS, most definitely REAL!

It is not Real world vs. virtual world but physical world vs. virtual world:  both worlds are REAL.

Things change and this is a big one. 

We are doing society a favor if we teach that

Online behavior has offline consequences.

So many schools are punishing the portal, the website, the tool.  It is not the tool's fault that humans misbehave.  That is human nature.  Hold the humans accountable who do wrong things in these spaces. 

Some administrators would rather take the "easy" answer.  However, if they want easy answers, close the school - then you won't have fights in the lunchroom or altercations in the hall.

As for me, I much prefer online student altercations if I had to pick, because there IS NO "He said, she said" - it is all in black and white, printed in nice little text for all to see.  It is trackable and manageable and very clear what to do.

I think perhaps administrators uncomfortableness with online spaces has more to do with their unwillingness to discipline for behavior there.  However, my administrator has dealt with online discipline issues before for technologies he didn't understand because he can read a printout.

Again, I will repeat:

Online behavior should have offline consequences.

And we need online educational networks and spaces to teach this - both private and eventually, before a student graduates, public spaces that protect their identity. 

Like it or not, this is the world we live in and VL is part of RL. VL = RL (Virtual Life = Real Life) or maybe we should amend this as per Karyn Romeis wise comment to be

Physical Life + Virtual Life = Real Life

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Can Second Life Be Used by the Visually Impaired: Tune in TODAY!!!

People with special needs and learning differences are near and dear to my heart, so this is one that has to be passed along.

Whether or not Second Life is the platform of our future, if you're attending conferences like NECC and listening to academicians, 3D virtual worlds USED WELL can reach kids who we're struggling to reach everywhere.

Today, this is what is happening:

Louise Later (SL), who is legally blind, will be with us to discuss how Second Life is used by the visually impaired. She will demonstrate two scripted objects currently under development designed specifically for the visually impaired: a mobility cane and a guide dog, and she will also talk about how EVA (an screen readin g tool) benefits visually impaired users, and her work with Virtual Ability, a Colorado-based startup developing products to assist people with different type of disabilities to utilize Second Life.
For more about accessibility in Second Life, click here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Accessibility
Location: ISTE Island Bandshell: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ISTE%20Island/128/128/25
Time: 6:00 pm SLT (click here for your local time zone)

Thank you, Kevin Jarrett  and ISTE Island for your leadership in this area!   I'm in the process of setting up an office in there and hope to have office hours sometime so we can "meet."  I need to decorate the office too, so if any of you have "stuff" you can share, just friend me, Cool Cat Whitman.  I'm a newbie (still) be nice to me!

And if you haven't joined SL yet -- today is a great day to be born.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Second Life - 24 hour Languages Conference

Now this is a fascinating idea! I cannot pass along EVERYTHING I get, however, this is a really great one that I've got to share.

There will be a 24-hour multilingual conference about using Second Life to Teach. It will be held entirely within Edunation at Second life -- the times are:

Starts: 10am PST (18.00 GMT) 23 May 2008
Ends: 10am PST (18.00 GMT) 24 May 2008

This is what I like about this.

What is the best way to teach language?

But not every child can afford a trip to Spain or Italy or China or wherever. With 3D immersive experiences, I believe (researchers please listen) that we could see richer, more meaningful ways to increase language learning.

I believe that languages represent an INCREDIBLE opportunity for 3D immersive worlds. So, pioneering language teachers, get a friend to take you into Second Life (DO NOT GO IN ALONE!) and learn how to navigate. And sign up and head on over to this conference.

Here is their slideshare:

This is the press release.


SLanguages 2008:

Virtual Conference Explores New Frontiers in Language Learning

Barcelona, Spain, 20 March 2008 - - SLanguages 2008 is a 24-hour multilingual conference to celebrate and investigate the use of 3D virtual worlds for language education. The event will be held in Second Life on 23-24 May 2008...

SLanguages 2008 is a 24 hour multilingual conference to celebrate and investigate the use of 3D virtual worlds for language education. The conference will be held within Second Life allowing the participants to exchange ideas and share experiences simultaneously around the world. The online conference is free to attend and includes talks, workshops, discussions and posters on language education using virtual worlds such as Second Life. The events will cover methodologies, teaching tools and experiences.

Second Life is a 3D virtual world that has attracted over 12 million residents worldwide and has become a mainstream phenomenon for education, business and entertainment. Throughout 2007 Second Life has become an important tool for language learning with many universities using the 3D world for language tuition, including Michigan State University and the University of Southampton. “Interest in using Second Life for education has increased exponentially over the last year” says Second Life educational consultant Gavin Dudeney, author of The Internet and the Language Classroom, Longman 2007.

The event is an opportunity for those new to virtual language teaching to learn about the opportunities virtual worlds offer. The conference also allows experienced language educators to share experiences and ideas. "3D virtual worlds such as Second Life offer a unique form of immersive learning not found elsewhere. The SLanguages 2008 conference is the perfect opportunity to see the recent developments in this area and to meet those involved in truly innovative educational projects" says Graham Stanley, who has established the British Council's 'Learn English Second Life for Teens'.

SLanguages 2008 will be hosted within Second Life on the tropical “EduNation” islands owned by The Consultants-E. The conference starts 10am (PST) Friday 23 May and ends 10am (PST) Saturday 24 May. The seminars will continue to also reach a much wider audience through archives of the event on the www.slanguages.net website.

To register for the conference or for further information, please contact Gavin Dudeney of The Consultants-E or visit the website www.slanguages.net.

The Consultants-E is an educational consultancy company specialising in online education, offering tailored consultancy in technology for education. Their consultants assist companies and educational institutions to integrate innovative technologies into their teaching practices. The company also offers courses in e-learning tools such as Second Life, wikis, podcasts and Moodle. The Consultants-E own and run three private islands in Second Life that foster education and training.


Gavin Dudeney

The Consultants-E

c/ CerĂ¡mica 54

08035 Barcelona




Dudeney Ge (Avatar in Second Life)

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Free 3D Virtual Worlds for teaching Literature

This is a fascinating portal to virtual worlds used to teach literature. IT IS NOT in second life but is an example of Web 3d.

I have not explored these, but have heard that they are great tools to use. "Western Michigan University English professors and doctoral students working in 2006-07" created this site! The novels that are included:
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Democracy
  • An Island Like You
  • Mrs. Dalloway
  • The Tempest
  • 1984
  • Things Fall Apart
Take a look and let me know what you think. I want to know more and am very excited about this resource. Let me know what you think. (Hat tip to my new friend Ellen Ullman for pointing out this article she wrote for District Administration magazine last year. What a great resource!)

I look forward to hearing your thoughts! How can high school classes use these?

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Friday, March 02, 2007

The frontier of education: Web 3D

a simulpost with TechLearning
As I read about the evolution of the Web, I just feel that many of the experts are missing it! (Perhaps the 3D web is part of the "intelligent agent" idea, but I'm not so sure.)

Yes, I think the semantic web is important (see the W3c specs) and inherently part of the future of the web, but I think there is one overarching evolution happening right now under our feet that is inexorably enmeshed with the semantic web.

It is there amidst the video games and "fun things" that most educators refuse to recognize. With "Web 2.0" barely taking a "bit" part in most of today's classrooms, the next evolution of the web, I predict, is not Web 3.0. I think it will be Web 3D.

The 3D web!

Lest one think I have come up with this, visionaries have been discussing this for around 15 years. The 3D web has really been around since the Sims went online and allowed people to virtually live next to each other. However, things like Second Life, Xbox live, Google Earth and World of Warcraft, are just beginning to show the power of networks and engagement of the 3D web. Now things like Moove and Kaneva are cropping up. The MetaVerse roadmap first met last year to discuss the "pathway to the 3D web." On their website, they state:

"Among social virtual worlds, the 2.5D world Habbo Hotel now has 7 million youth users in 18 countries. The leading open-ended 3D virtual world platform, Second Life, doubled from 160,000 to 330,000 accounts in four months (March to July 2006) and has recently been doubling every two months, to 2.5 million by Jan 2007, when they announced they would take their viewer open source. The global market for asset trading, object creation, and services rendered in virtual worlds is estimated at anywhere from $700 million to $2 billion per year (mostly undocumented and untaxed at present). In Japan, social networking sites like GaiaX entice their users into online games and virtual worlds as just one of many social options. Early location-based games are emerging in Asia.

In the simulation space, virtual humans are being explored for their online educational ability. Virtual prototyping software is making great strides in industry, bringing us closer to an era of Fab Lab prototyping and product hacking/customization. 3D navigation systems are emerging in the automotive market in Japan and Europe. Local-positioning systems, like 3M's RFID Tracking Solution, and modeling advances like ArcGIS, Google Earth, and SketchUp are allowing us to create "mirror world" versions of physical space like never before..."

But, lest you think web3d is only happening in the company atmosphere, scientists have been hard at work on standards to make web 3d available everywhere. In 1992, VRML (rhymes with thermal) was created, and after some discussion about the 3D web and work on standards by the W3C the X3D consortium has been created and X3d has officially replaced VRML.

A picture is worth a thousand words, why are we still talking about words?

So, we've got all of these 3-D worlds cropping up. You go in each one and you have to design your avatar. (My SL avatar is to the left.) You have passwords to remember everywhere. In some cases, you have to install the software.

I think the next big browser will allow you to interact in 3D with any website. (Yes, Second Life is open source, but the environment is not!) Why should you have to "join?" Shouldn't there be protocols and filters and standards for a 3D web browsing experience just like we have with a 2D experience of words and static photographs?

Do we realize that Linden dollars (the money in Second Life) may perhaps be our first truly global currency? (It is 250L$ to every $1 of US currency.)

Second Life is OK, but its not ready for prime time in education. I've been spending some time in there lately with some educators I trust. There are educators doing great things in Second Life. However, remember, that many experts believe that a lot of money laundering is now going through Linden Dollars. (I have this on good authority from an Internet safety expert and it is beginning to crop up in some news sources and even the Second Life Herald (the newspaper of Second Life.))

So what is the 3D web like?

So, before you tune out and think I'm crazy, I'd like to take you on a quick tour of Second Life as an example of the 3D web. (Many people cannot run it on their computer because it requires a newer computer.)

I spent last Saturday in Second life with Beth Ritter-Guth. (See her Second Life Blog) Beth is working to use second life in a positive way to teach her college classes -- she shuns the seedy areas and works with the positives.

She has "set up shop" in London and has found a place that is free of a lot of the bad things that go on elsewhere in second life. So, I like what she's doing and where she's heading.

My fellow teacher, Sharon Peters, in Canada, spent time learning Shakespeare in there last week. In her post, Second Life, It's not a game, she says:

"A few days ago, I was sent an invitation to attend a group meeting of English Second Language Teachers who were meeting in Second Life to discuss an initiative of Language and Culture Education in SL. I decided to drop in on the meeting to see what it was about.

I fumbled and bumbled my way in and joined the skypecast conversation that was taking place between the members as they were in SL. More than a dozen avatars were present, representing real-life teachers from countries such as Brazil, Sweden, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US. A few were high school teachers, but most were college teachers or teachers of adult learners. We discussed how we would like to create a database of lesson plans that could be used by educators who wanted to use SL as an environment to augment the teaching of language and culture."

So, what's the big deal?

See Second Life Second Hand

If you're afraid to "go in" (I was) or just don't have the time, I've scoured youtube for some videos that I think are pretty informative. So you can see "second hand" (pardon the pun) what second life is about. I think you'll begin to see the potential of educational 3D environments.

The leaders

Suffern Middle School is in Second Life and conducted an interesting court case two weeks a go in there based on the novel Of Mice and Men. They have posted their transcripts and proceedings on their blog, so judge for yourself.

The New Media Consortium Second Life Campus has had exciting news last week as a real life (RL) blogger covering the Scooter Libby trial in Washington DC discussed live blogging the trial on campus.

So, take a look at NMC's promo video from Youtube to look at the campus.

You can follow what they are doing in second life at www.nmc.org/sl

Ohio University

Great promo video posted two weeks a go!

Harvard Law School's Professor tells us about his fall 2006 class in SL

I've heard a lot about this Cyberlaw class, here the Professor talks about what they are doing and gives a tour of the facility.

How the 3D web could benefit education

  • You can go places that cannot be visited today.

    Take a look at this tour of ancient Rome and see how much you learn.

    We show videos about the background of the times of history because we know that pictures and videos can teach in 30 minutes what we can spend weeks telling our students. The impact of video.

    Well, let me ask you. What if the students could interact with such things? What if they could go to ancient Rome and what if we could go there as well? What if we could see some ways that some of the pyramids could have been built or visit an Aztec village and be part of the crowd when Montezuma arrives? What if we can experience the American revolution and be with the troops in Valley Forge? How much would we learn if we can go there virtually? How much can we teach the students.

    If experience is the greatest teacher, what if we could give our students a SAFE way to experience such things! Think of the potential!

  • You can overcome stereotypes

    The creation of an avatar can allow students to escape the stereotypes of their daily lives. We could ask them to be certain things to experience how it feels. We could take role play to a much higher level than ever before but we can also help students who are struggling break out of what others "think" they should be based upon what type of tennis shoes they wear to class and let them just be.

    I know that a "utopian wonderland of no stereotypes" will not be possible as long as humans are humans, however, I would relish the opportunity to have such a level playing field between my students and students in other classes.

  • Student Collaboration

    I would have loved having an "Oscar-like" presentation in Second Life at the conclusion of the Flat Classroom project where we screened the videos and discussed them with people around the world.

    Students can come together in unique, fascinating ways. They can look at common websites, work on common electronic objects of any kind (even wikis), discuss, talk, connect, and chat. But even more, they can fly. They can transport to multiple 3D worlds instantaneously. Just think!

  • Authentic Assessment / Project Based Learning Possibilities

    We look at project based learning. What if students had to research and create a village as it did in the time of Shakespeare. Even further, what if a whole school district or schools around the world created this. How much would they learn?

  • Role Playing
    Our students can role play and become what we want to teach. Court cases (like the one shown above), decision making, character development, plot, metaphors, and so many things can be taught in such an environment.

  • Potential for group synergies
    We as educators spend so much time "reinventing wheels." What if we can share these resources and build on the work of one another? What if we can truly create common curricular environments with the standards built in? What if these places are exciting tools that will help the classroom teacher?

  • Storage, Legacy, and Global Audience
    So, my child created a great project about the ecosystem of a swamp. It took us weeks. We did it last November and just threw it away last weekend amidst tears from both of us. It was a great project. It had an audience of her class and that is it. Why did that project that so many could have learned from have to disappear into our local landfill? Why?

    Well, in 3D environments, she could literally create an ecosystem of a swamp that other kids could tour. The other kids could have dove under water and spent hours looking at the under swamp life. They could have flown overhead and seen morning fog rise from the still waters. They could see an alligator basking in the sun, an a frog catching a fly with his long tongue. And it could remain for the next class to add upon. Nothing to throw away. A legacy to leave behind. Perhaps that swamp could have remained and evolved for her children to "play in" when they got into elementary school!

  • Scenario Simulation
    We first tell our kids in chemistry not to mix the chemicals. There are online experiments, but what if we could go to a virtual science lab. Mix it all! Drink it. Throw it in your own eyes. See what happens. Learn from it. You cannot die. Do experiments.

    Then, go offline into your real science lab and do the correct experiment and see how it works. These online experiments exist today but what if they were in one place. You could conduct high level scientific experiments that a high school could not afford. (Splitting atoms anyone? Open up the brain?)

    Or, how about observing the cycles of change. Watching the life cycle of a frog in a shorter time. You can look at it, pick it up, measure it at each point. You can handle it without killing it. You can do an animal a day in the span of 30 minutes. Watch it grow. Forward it and go backwards. What if you could go inside the frog and dissect it at each point. Put it back together and watch it grow a little more.

    How about the exploration of inhospitable environments? Wouldn't you like to take your kids to Mars or the moon? How about the North Pole? Or how about a weather station deep in the Antarctic? What about the wreckage of the Titanic? Critical points in history?

  • Digital Storytelling
    Machinima is the act of making real movies in virtual worlds. Your students can role play, you can film and share it and critique it. The possibilities are unlimited!

    Unlimited possibilities! What potential we have with this!
So, what are we to do?

Note: I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO GO SET UP YOUR CLASS IN SECOND LIFE. It is not ready yet for classes! And the adult grid is just that -- adult! But like the internet, there are good and bad places. And I've been visiting the good and shunning the bad.

Just because I shun the bad places, doesn't mean that they're not there! Bottom line is that we need a 3-D web for educational purposes.

Why the teen grid may not work for you.
The teen grid is the only place now for high schoolers and there are limitations on getting educators in. Then, even if you have the several thousand dollars to
buy a private island and the couple of hundred dollars a month (you are buying server space!), if you're on the teen grid, your teens can leave you and go anywhere on the teen grid and you CANNOT leave the island to go with them.

They have a stringent background check for educators to get on the teen grid and when you do, you can only go on the teen island where you have permission to work. However, your students can leave and go other places without you. Only "PG" but still other places outside of your supervision. I'm not comfortable with that. Period. I'm also not sure what happens when the avatar you've worked on turns 18 -- does it move into the adult side and do you take your scripts with you? I also have some seniors who are 18 and some who are 17, so I'm not sure how that would work!

Also, they cannot go to the adult areas (for good reason) but the adult areas is where the incredible simulated environments like the tour of Rome shown above are being built.

Lying is not an option for me and it shouldn't be for you. (In other words, don't go pretend you are a teen.) If you're caught, you're banned from Second Life for all of your real life!

We have some work as educators that we need to do! If you want to know about Second Life and working with kids 13-17, you can read the Educators working with Teens in Second Life wiki. It gives you the facts as they stand now. None that are palatable to me yet. As much as I'd love to convene a flat classroom project in there, with what I know, I'm not going in with a class yet.

Additionally, Second Life does take some bandwidth!

Not yet ready for prime time

You'll see that right now, we don't have great solutions for high schoolers YET.

However, I think it is a given that your students will end up experiencing Second Life in a college class, so it is worth teachers going in there and understanding the environment. And remember, it is a video game, and Linden Labs is in there to make money. I haven't spent any and if you find "friends" they will teach you and will give you free things like shirts and the "prims" (the building blocks of things in Second Life) that you can use to teach.

3D is coming, and we can't even handle 2.0

Change is accelerating. Meanwhile, many educators haven't even come to grips with the social web, Web 2.0. We also must remember that there is no such thing as second hand learning -- second life learning is first person learning.

Likewise 3D learning is real learning.

If second life is not there yet, we as educators need to join in the discussions, consortiums, and groups that are figuring out what needs to happen. So, although I'm not taking a class into second life yet, I am spending a couple of hours a month participating in second life exploration, discussions, and learning.

Also, we need to advocate the work being done by researchers and let people know what we think could be! We need to encourage the development of easy to use, safe, classroom environments that can be controlled by the teacher but also allow students to enter 3D virtual environments. If we do not develop alternatives to second life, we will have to use second life. If we do not advocate for effective classroom measures in second life, we will have to take it as it is. Linden Labs (the developers of second life) will quite literally control our future.

Meanwhile, encourage educators to understand change and become a part. Help them to see that the very future of the children they teach is dependent upon their ability to change, adapt, and understand such new environments and to operate in them safely. Our children have an unknown future that will be full of change. Are you preparing them for that?

I am not an expert on the 3D web, but I know enough to believe that this is indeed the next evolution of the Web.

How it will look and what it will be will largely be determined by the pioneers and visionaries who are moving into the new frontier: the 3D web.

What do you think?

(Tag it Web3D and education so those of us interested can track the conversation.)

Friends, I'm still learning about this fascinating new frontier. I hope that you will share your thoughts on this area so that I may learn from you, your resources, and your connections.

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