Serious Games and Virtual Worlds: April 4-24, 2007

Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Tia Carr Williams -
Number of replies: 10

Firstly, a big thankyou to everyone for their generous contributions to resources and threads for Serious Games week.

This week we will focus on Virtual Worlds, the proliferation that abounds, the themes and capabilities that will shape the future of education and training.

Initially, it would be appreciated if we could know what experience everyone has to date of VW, simulations and kindred environments or 3d creations to get a grasp of the general knowledge level, then we can build around that.

 

 

Tiaka Kobeshimi (aka moi meme) catching some rays in SL.

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In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Corinne Brooks -
We used to have an Active Worlds area for IndustryPlayer, so have some experience of that. I'm good at getting stuck in trees in Second Life, and have had a cursory look at several others. I still don't quite see the value of VWs. I don't mind chat rooms where there is a common interest or chatting alongside games but eg going in SL just to chat and admire the scenery seems pointless when I can do that on Skype (and share whiteboards, documents etc with skype addons). From an education point of view it would seem i'd have to spend time teaching the use of a VW before I can use it as a tool - not that I've seen any tools in SL I would use. Then I would have to keep the kids from going off on a tangent and editing their avatars when they should be doing something else.

Not quite a VW, I spent a lot of time on Diablo II which is a sort of VW, and in which I became quite immersed in several communities/clans. It was a good way of making friends and getting help with the game - but it was basically a chat room addon to the game.
In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Cynthia Alvarado -
I have spent a good bit of time lately in Second Life, trying to learn skills necessary for teaching there. I have only been in SL for about 6 weeks, but I have found a good support community for learning how things work and how I might teach there. I have used it a bit for a presentatons about new technology in my church. I am using a bit of it for a teacher inservice next Monday. I would like to develop more teacher inservice in-world. I also plan to take on a couple ESOL students. I have been doing ESOL for a long time in various formats in RL, so I decided to try to figure that out as a trial sort of thing for SL. I have not used any of the other VWs.
This is me in the Literature Alive teaching area.
In reply to Cynthia Alvarado

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Therese Weel -
I appreciate the honesty of your comments Corinne.  If all there is to do is fly around and look at things,  It's easy to get bored.  Changing your appearance is fun.  But it is not fun by yourself.  I think that being in an environment like second life is best in a small group where you can laugh and talk and help each other along.

The VW interface is cumbersome and time consuming at this point in time - most (all?) require clients and a lengthy startup procedure.  I  look forward to the day when an ordinary  web browser has richness of a virtual world.

Blogging, My Space and You Tube have proven that there is an appetite for "about-me-web"  Virtual worlds are the next evolutionary technology to be taken up by the teens and 20 somethings.  (At least I assume it is as I have no statistics to offer). If my assumption is true then Virtual Worlds must be very much on the radar of people who are tasked with educating this generation.

It is all about the user experience. It is still early days.  As I'm writing this I'm thinking about the article Margaret offered on Feng Shui  http://crossings.tcd.ie/issues/1.1/Heim/   and how VW's offer us not only the  opportunity to create engaging worlds for students  but to have the students create their own.
In reply to Therese Weel

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Margaret Corbit -

Yes, Tia, I appreciate Corinne's honesty and we encountered this same problem years ago when first starting to work in Active Worlds. I started out with scientific data that I wanted to share as a communication tool and that had already been formatted for 3D. So we put it out online as VRML worlds.

Well, no one in the general public at the time could view a 5 meg file and interact with it on their desktops. Then we did "exhibits" that could be explored on tested workstations. That works.

So we had "the beef" to begin with. It was very hard to get that "beef", useful content, into AW, but it can be done and there is a certain value to that (serious games). There is also a huge value to teaching people to use the medium for creation and communication and in figuring out how to put more advanced tools with easy interfaces in their hands. So, for example, I am really excited about SketchUp and have colleagues working on a tutorial that will help students learn to use it to model objects for Active Worlds. I need to learn more about how to do that in Second Life. And I am excited about the potential for us to identify a suite of tools/features that would be useful for Multiverse as it comes on line.

Cheers,

Margaret

 

In reply to Cynthia Alvarado

SL - what 's the appeal?

by Sylvia Currie -
Like Corinne I'm still in that camp of trying to figure out how I might use SL in my own practice. Don't get me wrong -- I've had a blast hanging out there! But so far the value has been mostly social. And I see how SL experiences would help to build learning communities. Sitting around a campfire during a chat like we did during Nick Noak's seminar does add ambience and we had some good belly laughs. But it isn't exactly an easy task figuring SL out and for me the second name and avatar doesn't help too much with connections. I find I'm constantly translating who this person and that person really are! Help, is it my age? surprise

Cynthia mentions that she is exploring how she might teach using SL. That's the part I'm curious about. I can see how it could be useful when you are using objects as part of the course content -- like for ESOL students.

I noticed a post to the itforum listserv where Nik Peachy is seeking ESOL students to try out a Business English course which will be delivered in Second Life. (Email: nik.peachey@btinternet.com if you know anyone who would be interested) Perhaps Nik will join us to describe some of what he is planning.

Anyway, I'm obviously desperately in need of some real life examples of how SL is being used for teaching!
In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Janet Bowen -

I have used Diablo II and examined some of the online VW that my children are involved in. It was interesting creating the avitar for any of these worlds. In some the fact that there were opening sequences that taught you how to gain specific items or create a specific thing that you need to survive. The basics is always interesting and necessary, but doing it creatively is something that many of the worlds I've visited seem to have difficulty doing. I'm still exploring SL and am finding that there is a lack or information on how to, or that when you follow the directions they don't seem to work.

The VWs available are good tools to teach students some of the more underlying concepts that society expects them to learn, like teamwork, honesty, moral conforming, etc.

Janet

In reply to Janet Bowen

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Corinne Brooks -
I think SL still is a mystery to me because it suffers dreadful lag. It also seems to be too big to be useful. I'm sure I'm missing great parts of SL that can be useful but just can't navigate there well, and get frustrated when I get stuck somewhere. it also seems that when you teleport somewhere it takes you somewhere close to where you are going not to the actual place (Boracay being an exception to this). eg I went to a music area, got stuck on the roof of a building where i had landed and had to negotiate my way down and out of the building and look around before i found the music and dance floor etc.

Active Worlds however seems much easier to actually get around, has less lag and there are quite a few "boards" at the start giving ideas of where you can go.

Both would benefit from  mouse driven movement - as switching from mouse to keyboard gets tiresome, and i find i either hit keys too often and overshoot where I want to go, or not enough and take 20 minutes just to turn around.

Anyway I hope people keep posting ideas and how they/we/I could use SL.
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Margaret Corbit -

You have hit on an important issue here, Corinne. Searching worlds is very crude. In the public universe of AW, you can assign sort of key words to your world and there is a primitive search. We have not implemented that for our universe yet, but we will need to. We have also thought about trying to get the world coding system, developed for social safety reasons as G, PG, PG-13, etc., revamped to our specs so that we can categorize our worlds as a top-level organizing tool. Apparently that would cost a lot of money, so we cludge the existing system, using X-rating as restricted to staff, for example.

Cheers,

Margaret

In reply to Tia Carr Williams

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Nik Peachey -
Hi All,

I'm late getting into this forum. There seems to be so much happening at the moment, it's hard to keep up and still get some work done.

My interest in VWs, SL and MMORPGs is connected with language learning and providing places and tasks which involve real communication. I've been working for some years in the area of teacher training mainly for the British Council. I'm now a freelance learning technology consultant, trainer, and content designer.

At present I'm working on a business English course which will be delivered in SL. The course will be delivered in what looks like a typical office rather than classroom environment, with sts recieving tasks to do in various parts of the environment, having meetings and discussions and sharing their experiences. We have a voice client, which is an enormous benefit for language development. SL's own voice beta is excellent though and when that becomes part of the standard build it will enable so much more communication.

Other than the basic course tasks themselves I'm trying to build in a sense that the avatars of the sts on the course will 'live' within this environment for the duration of the course making it in a sense 'residentual'. They will have their own rooms and study areas, there will be a social program of events and field trips, collaborative in world team study tasks  as well as team building tasks and an over arching kind of roleplay the outcome of which will feed into their evaluation at the end of the course.

I believe that SL has huge potential if we can think beyond the kind of classroom teaching/ learing experiences that are familiar to us all. We need to see SL's weaknesses though ( and there are many) and try to exploit its strengths.

Anyway, I better do a little less talking and a little more work.

Best

Nik Peachey
In reply to Nik Peachey

Re: Welcome To Virtual Worlds Week

by Margaret Corbit -

Hi Nick,

There have been several projects in Active Worlds for language learning. The public universe used to and still might have several worlds where visitors are supposed to speak (type) in a particular language. The software supports 7 language keyboards, I believe. Last year in AWEDU a graduate student was setting up a Spanish language learning world. I work with a teacher who plans to set one up for 8th grade Spanish. You might want to have a look at what they have done to help you plan?

Cheers,

Margaret