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.
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.
This is me in the Literature Alive teaching area.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?