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Hello Everyone, As Nan Zingrone says in her article , Maggie Larimore and Me, “It’s all about the people!” VEJ wouldn’t be VEJ without all of you, our readers and contributors. Therefore, we are excited to present the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award Winners! CONGRATULATIONS to all of the VEJ nominees and Reader’s Choice Award Winners! What a night of celebration we had at the ISTE Preconference Extravaganza in Second Life. If you missed the awards ceremony you can watch it at http://www.livestream.com/sigve . Also be sure to check out the pictures @ http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigve/ . Thanks to everyone who has been sharing their pictures of the fun event. Each issue of VEJ gets better and better. We are especially excited by this cover of VEJ with the 2013 Edovator of the Year, Kae Novak, featured. You can find the rest of the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award winners inside this issue. We are also excited by the quality of articles, from “The Holodeck,” the first of a three part series, to an interview with high school student, Kristen Leary, to “Digital Storytelling Through Documentaries” and much more in-between. You can find information about VWBPE 2013 as well as ISTE 2013. And for all of our Minecraft and World of Warcraft fans, we have some great articles for you, too. Dana Paxson’s article will take you to the cutting edge of digital story-telling possibilities. Be sure to check out his machinima, “SL Jeddin Laval Underground City Tour” @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnBHoBrAGpw . He is rebuilding in Kitely as I write this, so venture into the world of Kitely and check it out! When ISTE educators think of digital storytelling, they immediately think of Bernajean Porter. I had a wonderful time meeting up with her avatar, Bernajena Pinazzo (SL) to interview her and find out what exciting things she is doing in Second Life. In this interview she clearly defines digital storytelling and shares numerous resources with our readers – a must read! So, grab your favorite drink (virtual or real), settle down in your favorite corner of the world/metaverse, and get ready to a VEJ! This issue is sure to be a BEST SELLER. Make sure to TWEET, blog, and spread the news around the world and across the metaverse that this latest issue of VEJ is HOT OFF THE PRESS and once again will take our readers OUT OF THIS WORLD! Bon Appetit, and as always, Keep Smiling Roxie Neiro (sl), Rosie Vojtek (rl) 2
Vol. 3 Issue 1
Virtual Education Journal
In This Issue 1. EPIC Leadership @ ISTE13 = Fiero Moments! 2. Are You Ready For A Third Life? 3. An Interview With Bernajena Pinazzo(aka) Bernajean Porter 4. The Book Transformed: What reading means Now 5. Getting to the New Underground City 6. Kitely Market: A New Place To Sell Your Content 7. Avatars Don’t Steal Souls 8. Book Review: Digital Storytelling In The Classroom 9. From The Traditional To The Technological: Digital Storytelling - Documentaries 10.A Discussion of Virtual Worlds In Education 11.Maggie Larimore and Me – A Tale of Immersive Professional Development and Play 12.Cloud Party: The Intersection of Virtual Worlds and Mainstream Social Networks 13.The Holodeck: Mixed Reality Teaching and Learning Environment 14.Getting Ready for Minecraft Open House with SIGVE and the Games MOOC 15.The Summer 2013 Games MOOC 16.A Student’s View of Virtual World Software: Interview with Kristin Leary 17.How The World of Warcraft Can Be Used To Teach & Learn Personal Finance 18.Kicking Off AvaCon Inc. 2013: Metaverse Cultural Series 19.Digital Storytelling: The Old Is New Again 20.Second Life: A Virtual Playground 21.Dress Up the VWBPE in 2013 22.What’s Happening to Virtual Worlds? 23.The Use of the 21st Century Program Uru To Raise Test Scores 24.Continuing The Story of Uru in Schools 25.Reflections of a Student 26.Creating “User Imagined Content” Through Virtual Environments 27.Virtual Worlds Burning 28.The Story of the VSTE Index of Educational Sims 29.Regarding Online Education 30.The Recipe of Storytelling: Step 1 of 3 31.An ISTE SIG For Assessment and Analytics? 32.Our First Learning and Teaching Experience with Second Life 33. CONGRATULATIONS! 2013 Reader’s Choice Award Winners! To Read VEJ online visit: http://www.virtualeducationjournal.com/ For more information about ISTE SIGVE or to join the fun, visit: http://sigve.iste.wikispaces.net/ Follow us on Twitter @VEJournal or #VEJournal VEJ is published by Edovation 3
EPIC LEADERSHIP @ ISTE13 = Fiero Moments! By Roxie Neiro Although there will be many EPIC moments at ISTE13, those of us at the Epic Leadership: Beyond the Hype of Gamefication session will say that this one will go down in the history books. Not just because later in the evening Jane McGonigal addressed a record-breaking crowd at an ISTE Keynote and broke another record for massively multi-player thumb wrestling, But, because most, if not all of us in the room, were, should I say . . . a little star struck when, after solving the mystery, the Paladin (aka) Jane McGonigal, entered the room for a special Q & A session. There had been some Fiero moments earlier during the session. For some of us, it was meeting our second life friends in real life. For others it was building the tallest structure to hold a marshmallow. But, for me, it was asking Jane McGonigal for all of our VEJ readers if she would show us what a Fiero moment looks like for her and to describe her greatest Fiero moment. Jane graciously allowed us to record her describing her greatest Fiero moment. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Thank you Jane! Watch Jane McGonigal on Fiero Moments on @livestream: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/2859027/event s/2202320 4
Are You Ready For A Third Life? By Bob Vojtek (aka) BJ Gearbox (SL) It is beginning to feel like there is a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on! As in Shake out or shake up. Shakin’ virtual environments. It used to be simple there was Second Life… and that was it. Then there started to be some intruders. At first they seemed like outliers. Then all of a sudden Second Life, meaning Linden Labs, cut off all support for education. That volley sent people out to see how some of the other open sims compared with what SL had to offer. Some good, some bad, just like a new restaurant in town – lots of them failed after a short time. Jokaydia and Kitely are two that come to mind that really strive to assist educators. Scott Merrick discusses some of this in his article in this issue. Two phenomena that I have become aware of recently have the potential to really shake up how we use virtual environments. The first, I just happened to be reading Fast Company magazine and came across an article about CEOs taking up boxing to relieve stress. One of the CEOs in the article was Philip Rosedale. I thought the name sounded familiar so I googled it to make sure. I found some interesting information about his new company. The first article I found, before even getting to his website, was about audio enhancements in virtual worlds. They discuss spatial audio, the ability to “hear” where another avatar is around you – like turning your head to determine where a sound is coming from. His new startup may have the potential to usurp Second Life as well as some other technologies. It appears that he is trying to design a new environment that doesn’t have the shortcomings that caused SL not to be able to grow. His new company, High Fidelity, is tackling avatar control, sim capacity, latency, and realism. According to the little information that is out there, he is hiring people with knowledge of programming Leap Motion’s camera-based gesture controller. They even claim to have an app for Google Glass. If you meander to their website you will find some interesting concepts. Here are several quotes from their site (highfidelity.io): As you can imagine, when we received our beautiful new Google Glass as part of the Explorer Program, we were eager to see if we could access its sensors and drive our avatar’s head movement (caveat: Google Ventures is one of our investors)…. We had previously created an Android app that grabbed all the phone’s sensor data and sent it over UDP to a configurable port. Imagine holding your phone and being able to twist and move your avatar’s hand. Kinda like turning any phone (with sensors) into a Wii controller. Low 5
and behold when we plugged our Glass in and tried to run the Android app from our IDE, Glass showed up as a device and it “just worked”. We could not edit the fields in the GUI on Glass but we could see from the log that it was transmitting the data. Sim capacity and rendering… A new kind of cloud. We're building a coordination system enabling millions of people to contribute their devices and share them to simulate the virtual world. If we can successfully build this collective cloud, we think we can enable audience sizes for shared experiences that are orders of magnitude larger than what is possible today. Imagine contributing your computer to a project like SETI, but instead having it simulate part of the virtual world, and earning virtual world currency in exchange for helping to power the grid. Latency… We believe that if the latency between avatars (the time between when you do or say something and when others see or hear it) can be kept very brief, magic will happen. We think richly rendered avatars capturing head movements, eye movements, and body language offer much more compelling person-to-person interaction possibilities than the poorly-lit, awkwardly-framed facsimiles of ourselves we share through videoconferencing today. Realism… Voxels. We're making a strategic bet that rich computer rendering is heading there. Imagine an experience with cubes of many different sizes, with the ability to scale them down to a seamless molecular fabric. Now imagine these building blocks manifesting complex physical properties…. Finally, imagine that world extending visibly to vanishing points like our world does today, enabling you to see your house, your neighborhood, distant mountains, and other planets in the sky. We believe computing power and network transmission speeds are evolving to make such a world possible, represented by a sparse voxel octree data structure. The other phenomenon is also a divergence from Second Life; game development courses at the high school level. In Connecticut, where I live, the state department of education technology education group is offering a summer course to instruct teachers on what they need to know to develop a course on 3D game design. The course focuses on using Unity 3D. It seems Unity 3D is becoming an essential tool in teaching 3D game design at the secondary level. There is even a Unity 3D Student website, by Will Goldstone, author of Unity 3.x Game Development Essentials. I can only imagine what fantastic games high school students might create, based upon some of the 3D models I have seen secondary students create. Add a Makerbot desktop 3D printer to the mix and I see course enrollments overflowing. What could be next? As I said above, “there’s a whole lot’a shakin goin on!”
An Interview With Bernajena Pinazzo (SL), aka Bernajean Porter By Roxie Neiro (SL), Rosie Vojtek (RL) It is difficult to have a conversation about Digital Storytelling without someone mentioning Bernajean Porter or Bernajena Pinazzo and her work with digital storytelling. On numerous occasions, I (Rosie Vojtek) have sat in the audience of her packed sessions at ISTE conferences like a sponge, soaking up everything I can from Bernajean to take back to the teachers at my school. Likewise, Roxie Neiro has also had the opportunity to learn from Bernajena Pinazzo in second life(SL). It was so much fun the other night interviewing her
and seeing some of the SL builds she and others are creating to tell their stories in a virtual world. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to have been able to bring this interview with Bernajena Pinazzo/Bernajean Porter to the June 2013 issue of VEJ. Bernajean Porter (RL) is a digital storytelling consultant and author of “DigiTales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories” and “Evaluating DigitalProducts.” She is also a member of the ISTE Special Interest Group for Digital Storytelling (ISTE SIGDS). I know you are going to enjoy this interview along with the numerous resources from Bernajean/Bernajena you can share with your colleagues and use with your students. Roxie: Hi Bernajena! I am going to begin by asking you to introduce yourself in real life (rl), second life (sl), and any other virtual worlds you are working/playing in, and anything else you would like us to know about you. Bernajena: In RL I am Bernajean Porter, digital educator - AKA writer, speech and debate coach, media maker, futurist, master of survival techniques when working with adolescents, professional speaker, teacher of teachers, long-term geekess, promoter of anything that increases joy, spirit and outrageous possibilities in all aspects of life for kids and adults and now. . . a digital storytelling guide and virtual educator. I am also known as Bernajena Pinazzo in Second Life. You can see some of my work, learn more, or contact me at the following: www.DigiTales.us http://digitales.us/resources/bjps-books-articles http://i-imagine.wikispaces.com/ http://bernajean.wikispaces.com/ Bernajean@DigiTales.us (email)
Roxie: How did you get interested in digital storytelling, and especially the art of telling digital stories, thus “DigiTales”? Bernajena: Long, long ago and still today . . . I fell into the magic and possibilities of technology for creating learning spaces that unleash potential in our youth. So the journey began . . . working as Senior Technology Consultant for Colorado Department of Ed while learning what it takes to get schools change hardy and inspired to embrace technology effectively. While leading audits for technology’s impact on learning, it came time to design a set of tools for assessing media products as evidence of learning. Unfortunately, so many media products were superficial and lacked craftsmanship. My own experience with digital storytelling at the Center for Digital StoryTelling with Joe Lambert created a mindchanging, lifechanging awakening. Thus began “DigiTales: the Art of Digital StoryTelling.” My book became an avenue for teachers to have a personal artistic “writer’s workshop” in learning skills and processes to effectively guide their own students in media-making. What I didn’t realize until looking back was how the power of “story” had long been prominent in my own life since my early days on the family farm. A perfect harmony of passion and skills was born. [My first digital story – a cow story @ http://www.digitales.us/content/da-um-jeitinho ] Roxie: I love it! What a GREAT example of a personal narrative. How do you define digital storytelling?
Bernajena: [See “The Art of Digital Storytelling” at http://goo.gl/xos8H ] Many techno enthusiasts use the term storytelling for ANY media product – but there is an art to storytelling that drives the impact and influence power. Digital storytelling blends the traditional oral storytelling with new mediums of images, sound, music and the digitized storytelling voice. The rigor of good storytelling uses the traditional StoryARC regardless of the medium used to express it. IF the story is missing – then no amount of tech tools will be able to make it shine. [See Story Arc image and more information about the definition of digital storytelling and the Take Six Elements at http://digitalstorytelling.iste.wikispaces.net/Definitions ] Roxie: I would like to mention to, that our readers should check out the webinar on effective storytelling that is part of a series of webinars being done by ISTE SIGDS at http://iste.adobeconnect.com/p59ouobwj96/ for a great presentation on this topic.
Roxie: What are the elements of effective digital storytelling?
Bernajena: While ALL modes of communication should be practiced and celebrated, digital storytelling has unique elements distinguishing it from other forms of multimedia stories that are used to unfold the traditional StoryARC. These elements are summarized as “Take Six: Elements of Good StoryTelling.” Using as many of these Take Six Elements as possible in any other digital stories certainly increases the quality of student work for all multimedia modes of communication. For example, “Showing- not Telling” is a quality long expected in good writing pieces and now teachers will find this same element will also create exceptionally good multimedia products as well. However, two specific elements are considered especially essential for good storytelling: Living in the Story and Unfolding Lessons Learned. If either of these two elements is missing, you are likely viewing a great multimedia product but not storytelling. Ironically I also find these same two elements the trickiest to coach in an author’s narrative. Understanding the unique differences between modes helps teachers to coach students in mastering many specific modes of communication.
This tent is one the kids put up for me to meet them inworld for storytelling circles and story jams --
Roxie: As you know, in schools today we are all about the new common core standards and assessment. How does digital storytelling engage students in the skills needed to successfully achieve these new Common Core Standards and effectively apply the skills from the ISTE NETS? Bernajena: All ISTE NETS along with 21st Century Skills are practiced in creating this singular digital storytelling product. The time engaged in creating these media products deliver a multitude of results even before they connect with specific content knowledge. Roxie: How do teachers actively engage students in authentic and rigorous writing tasks that help them become knowledge producers across curricula and cultures? Bernajena: It’s a process that begins with a story prompt and walks students through story-making steps. Good storytelling of any kind is about good writing, which involves about 40-50% of the project time. There are also steps for media making like writing that ensures that each stage produces excellent work before leaping into the technology tools. The StoryARC along with Take Six Elements are used to guide first storytelling narrative drafts as well as being a focused checklist for personal reflections, teacher conferences, and critical friend reviews. No hostile takeovers allowed – the student should be guided by their own intrinsic sense of storymaking NOT taking dictation from their teacher – this is how voice is lost – please the adult in charge. Roxie: What are the current technologies that best support the creation of digital storytelling? Bernajena: They all do -- very creative styles are emerging! But as long as the StoryARC and Take Six Elements are engaged – any tool will serve! There are no such things as digital storytelling tools that work best . . . I do expect audio and images to dance together. Roxie: That being said, what are some of your favorite digital resources and software tools? Bernajena: There are tools for each of the storymaking process that can be engaged – citation makers, word processors, Internet, mind maps, story starters, 12
etc. for Preproduction, and Image-editors and Audio-editing for Production. Finally the creativity of the final tool used to ‘mix’ the media together is needed. My new medium besides getting ready to build another 3D story world [in SL] is silent movies as an art form. Roxie: That sounds like a lot of fun! Bernajena: Yes, I think so, too. Here are my ipad APPS for Storytelling – but they could equally be used for multimedia making as well. http://storykeepers.wikispaces.com/iPad+StoryTelling+APPS Roxie: On your Digitales website http://www.digitales.us/storykeepersgallery you list several different styles of digital stories in your StoryKeepers Gallery. Would you please describe the characteristics of some of them and share urls to some of your favorite digital stories from each of these different styles.
Visit Bernajeana @ http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Seminole Island 10/96/184/23
Bernajena: This is its own article – many of these styles are based on TYPES of Communication – aka the purpose of the communication. Digital Storytelling has many purposes so if it is PSA – then it needs to serve that purpose. Roxie: [Laughing] I think I see another article for our next issue of VEJ on the horizon! I hope you will write that article for us so we can continue this conversation. But, I am really interested in the I-imagine project. Please tell us what the I-imagine project is and how you got started with this project? Bernajena: “I-imagine: Taking My Place in the World” is applied storytelling based on research that engages students in identifying their gifts – awakening the dreamer and believer that their talents matter to the world. Students create a docudrama AS IF they are living 20 years in the future – shining their light for good in the world. The process honors and inspires students to own their path in reaching their BEST lives. [See “I-imagine Opens Up a World of Possibilities for Students” by Julie Jaeger and Bernajean Porter, Learning and Leading with Technology (June/July 2013) for article at http://digitales.us/resources/bjpsbooks-articles] My favorite part is asking students to have their older selves give advice to their younger self as wisdom in having a BEST life! Roxie: Our readers are going to want to check out the I-imagine article you just mentioned along with http://digitales.us/storykeepers-gallery/i-imagine to learn more about your successes as well as lessons learned from your work with teachers and students. You have a lot of wonderful resources posted that you are sharing with educators, so thank you for all of them. Changing the subject a little bit, my next question is, have you created digital stories in second life or other virtual worlds or helped students created digital stories? If so, what strategies or techniques worked well when building the 3D worlds to illustrate the stories being told? Bernajena: First of all, readers are going to want to check out the article, “Digital Storytelling in Second Life” that I wrote for ISTE’s May 2010 Learning & Leading With Technology. The StoryARC and Take Six: Elements for Good Storytelling can guide ANY medium including 3D worlds to build successful interactive storytelling. No storyline – no storyboard – no playing in second life. I have noticed that many projects build a museum-like space based on a book – like Anne Frank’s hiding place. But that doesn’t create a storyARC or emotionally
engage an avatar. So a 3D storyworld [See “Digital Storytelling in Second Life” article] unfolds a storyline like a choose-your-own-adventure story exploring the experience from first person – the avatar. One of my favorite surprises was finally finding a purpose for dioramas – the kids used them to create 3D storyboards. The students conducted a methodical process of prototyping their design by observing what free-spirited avatars would do in their space– how the visitors would explore the build – and their emotional experience. Did they get the message – the lesson learned! [You can read all of the articles Bernajena is talking about at http://digitales.us/resources/bjps-books-articles ]
Bernajena shows Roxie the Seminole Island Build.
Ramapo Frost Theater was closed down and presently being reconstructed to open in one week. Here is a SLURL hosted by Seminole County Schools via Diane Lewis. This SLURL is landing spot sharing teleports for Ramapo, Fires of Genocide and MacBeth – the best of the best storyworlds in SL. @ http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Seminole%20Island%2010/84/96/24
Check this out! Visit Seminole Island 10 (127, 189, 28)
Roxie: What advice do you have for people who are using storyboards to create Machinima stories or other digital stories? Bernajena: Use them â€“ no storyboards â€“ no technology time! All media even comic books need a storyline AND storyboard. Storyboards translate between words and media assigning the jobs of each media choices to have purpose in the story. [This is a whole article itself and a half-day workshop.] Roxie: I love talking with you. You have so much knowledge to share with our readers and me! I could talk with you for days and still only begin to scratch the surface with what you know! As we walk around and look at the world you, Diane Lewis, Peggy Sheehy, the students and others have create, I am so amazed at the work!
Bernajena: Have you seen this before? Roxie Neiro: No Bernajena: In front is my storytelling palace ShaheraZade - behind is Storykeepers Gardens and Ramapo. Roxie: This is very pretty! Bernajena: Not quite done -- but almost - the floating student voices still need installed - there are five scenes to the story following the story ARC. [Note: At the time of this interview Bernajena and others were still working on this build. It is now finished and ready for viewers.] Bernajena Pinazzo: I'll let you read the signs -- also each of the gardens will feature video of student created projects for storytelling. I will follow you. We also have a student created video in each room - should get those installed tonight. Bernajena: The entrance has Robert Frost real voice reading his poem the road not traveled. All images in halls are students in Ramapo. Roxie: This is soooo cool! Bernajena: So there are five scenes: the hall; the bathroom; the cafĂŠ; and then the two choices at end. Every story has a lesson learned - per Pixlr - you don't create the middle until you have created the ending - that drives all the stuff you put in the middle-- it is the whole point! Roxie: Wow! I can't wait to come back and hear the voices when this project is finished!
Bernajena: Get ready for goose bumps! Roxie: I will! Bernajena: The cafe has surveys - data on eating disorders PLUS . . . a video of a girl working hard not to eat. We have had a few people with eating disorders that said kids really caught the story! Roxie: I can see why! And I haven't heard the words yet! Very moving! Bernajena: Thanks â€“ The students have an opportunity to express something real and meaningful through Frost' poem. We have the students coming in after reconstruction to ensure we got the build sorted out THEIR way -Roxie: [Laughing] I am sure it is very important that you get it right!
Bernajena: This is where you need visitors need to make a choice. The outcome is different based on what you choose.
Roxie: Are those working now? I don't hear or see anything yet.
Bernajena: We have a few more links to add - along with placemats for surveys right. The voices and videos go in tonight or tomorrow. We have been reconstructing this. It got tossed to pieces when it was moved. The rebuild will let us bundle it all up with full perms to rez and be portable. Did you get to the grave yard YET? Roxie: Yes. [See picture below.] Bernajena: We're not happy with the swirling mist looking for another one now lost the original somewhere. The crypt will have the video for this scene.
Roxie: It is still creepy! If nothing else - it should give anyone who sees it a jolt of reality!
Roxie: [Looking at pictures in the backstage area above]Oh, look, some of my favorite people are on the wall! Bernajena: Here is the youtube URL for their celebration video - great back story about Rebecca who does the voice over for the group. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUUJsp5ljgY So many builds are museums of story settings. Roxie: Right. This is so much more! I love the voice of the student reading on the video! Bernajena: Yes - it is my FAV - the kids said this during an audience interview of them at ISTE when we presented - the kids were inworld - and they were asked this question - I held my breath and then . . . I was so proud! Roxie: How could you not be? Bernajena: [blushing] Yes, really proud of the kids and proud that my scoring guides for media making could assess quality with a medium that wasnâ€™t even invented yet. As you can tell, this project is dear to my heart because of the kids. Their focus is on creating a real story, not just a SL building fun time. 20
Roxie: Amazing work! I would encourage all of our readers to visit this build and live the stories. As you say, they will get goosebumps! It is so real – the story takes on a life of its own! What future plans do you have for working in Second Life? Bernajena: My plate is pretty full - I am presently designing five online global courses, American Bombay OnLine Academy, for International Teachers – culminating in a Certificate ~ “The Art of MultiMedia Communication and Digital StoryTelling.” Your many questions, which so many have, are introduced, practiced and applied with students during their learning journey. It is lots of fun to work with teachers from so many countries. The first course – is rigor – creativity by itself is NOT rigor. Big BFO – blinding flash of the obvious, eh? You can learn more about this project at http://www.asbacademy.org/courses_pl_courses.asp?name=8 Roxie: Sounds like you are going to be busy! What a great opportunity. Bernajena: Yes. I also hope to make a big splash back into second life with story circles and mini workshops for people interested in digital storytelling using all mediums including second life -- so hope to see you in SL too sometime! Right now I am focusing on my storytelling palace is officially reopening this June - which will include the Ramapo Frost 3D StoryWorld created by Peggy Sheehy's middle school students -- sharing a post card with the NEW SLURL's for ShaheraZade and the launching spot for 3D StoryWorlds that includes Ramapo. There are also four StoryKeepers Gardens hosting student creating digital storytelling -- here is direct SLURL to both Ramapo and the four StoryKeepers gardens: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Seminole%20Island%209/5/119/23 (Seminole) Roxie: I would encourage everyone to visit these areas! Bernajena: Yes, I am so excited. I am also working with Diane Lewis [Seminole County]. Diane's District Ed Tech Facilitators will be creating another build this next fall -- and her kids are building them in their private sim as well. My project job is to ensure a strong storyline - collaborative skills for decision making PLUS 21
building diorama storyboards -- after that I have to get out of the way of their imaginations! HAH! Roxie: [laughing] This is probably the most important part – let the magic happen! Bernajena: You may find this interesting. Diane is also working on a MineCraft project with her students. Students are creating and presenting their projects soon. You can see how they blend the RL and VE in this Machinima trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKUcENbPDJ4&feature=youtu.be Diane has also been leading a k-5 curriculum online that merges online with immersive environments [Quest Atlantis / MineCraft] Roxie: After walking around Seminole Island and seeing the student and teacher work, I am curious, what is it that effective storytellers do to tell their stories in a digital world? Specifically, what do they pay attention to so the technology does not overwhelm the story in a razzle-dazzle way, but instead is used in subtle ways to effectively communicate and enhance the story? Bernajena: Students who have created a strong storyline that touches their hearts – that expresses their own story have less desire to decorate their media product. They care that their media choices are unfolding their story rather than for technology fun. Roxie: How do teachers help students “find their voice” and share their stories? Bernajena: It begins with a story prompt – and then conducting a writer’s workshop environment that invites students to find their own story – feel safe in being real – and are celebrated for their journey.
Roxie: You are so right! It is very important to help students, actually any writer, feel safe and supported when they share their work. I guess teachers need to be aware of that when they evaluate student work as well. What do you suggest â€“ when teachers are evaluating digital products, how should they score student work? What is a quality digital story or product? Bernajena: Media Products need to be scored by their purpose or TYPE of Communication as well as Craftsmanship. [See scoring guides URL @ http://www.digitales.us/evaluating-projects/scoring-guides] Bernajena opens her SecondLife StoryTelling Palace- SheheraZade
Roxie: What are some of the best strategies you have found for helping others transform their use of technology to add value and purpose to their work â€“ not simply adapt or retrofit their work to a technological mode? Bernajena: Having Driving Questions, demanding meaning making FIRST! No summary reports!
Roxie: For educators who want to start having students create digital stories, what tips or tricks do you have for them? That is, the things you know now that you wished you would have known when you first got started? Bernajena: This I know --- teachers way underestimate the pre-production stage where the thinking and writing are deliberate in creating worthy content. No amount of bells and whistles can ever lift up superficial stories or storytelling! And if storyboards are skipped because of the hassle or student lack of interest – you will get a diminished product where the technology becomes the main character. Storytelling is an artistic expression that lets others FEEL and connect – thinking of digital storytelling as tech tools diminishes the message and loses the power of influence. Roxie: Absolutely! I hate to “sit and get” when someone is using PowerPoint for that very reason. It takes so long for the words to fly in – all the animation drives me crazy! Often there is so much glitz that audiences lose their focus and the message is lost! It is the same with digital stories. When you look out on the horizon, what do you think is the future of digital storytelling? What changes do you see on the horizon based on new tools, technologies, or techniques? Bernajena: The mediums and opportunities to express ourselves are ever changing – but the basics of storytelling still create the power. Jason Ohler and I will be experimenting with a Choose-Your-Own StoryTelling Quest using Augmented Reality [QR Codes on Steroids] for ISTE 2014. Roxie: I cant wait!!!!! What has been your greatest success with digital storytelling? That one defining moment or project – something either you did or someone else produced?
Bernajena: So many many stories – heart chakras open – a community spirit fills the room – as tears of humanity flow while each of us celebrates the applause moment of sharing our stories. I know my own moment of finding that my story and the title to my digital story turned out to be my mission statement on my business cards. Or, kids in New Orleans discover lessons learned from Katrina that bring tears to their parents and grandparents hearts soothing some the pain left in their lives from the hurricane - @ http://www.digitales.us/content/tears-change One student, who stubbornly wouldn’t write for two days – leaving a blank page. After our conference – his teacher made me go back because he wouldn’t quite writing and had five pages. They wanted me to tell him to stop, stop, stop. Another storyteller wanted to honor her brother murdered in a fire. She found her lesson learned to be, “this is the last day I tell his sad story – he was more than this moment – from now on I will tell ONLY stories that celebrate his loving living life.” I did a special birthday present for a friend turning 60 – the oldest of nine in his family. I had secretly interviewed his mother – build a story called mom loved me best. By the time his birthday arrived she had had a stroke and couldn’t really speak anymore. Her closing interview words “ David is my first born – and will always be my beloved” – every story created in my camps has power – unleashed in the world. Something very uplifting happens when a person young or old finds a story that needs to be told. It nourishes the spirit – and celebrates the individual. Every one of my DigiTales’ Storytelling Camps leaves the entire group knowing the magic and inner happiness that emerges from their labor . . . they become StoryKeepers sending their digital stories far and wide to reach others they may never meet. Roxie: Is there anything else you would like us to know or that you would like to share with our readers? Bernajena: Make multimedia products – but if you want to create storytelling – remember it is an art form – one that carries power beyond the digital tools to share our humanity!
Roxie: Thank you so much for taking the time to show me around Seminole Island and to talk with me about the important work you and others are doing in virtual environments and other digital media to help students tell their stories. I also want to thank you for posting all of the resources you mentioned in this interview on your digitales website so readers can easily find them at http://digitales.us/resources/bjps-books-articles . I look forward to seeing you at ISTE 2013 and following your work in the coming years. Most of all, I am looking forward to having your write articles on some of the topics we briefly touched upon in future editions of VEJ. Thanks again, Bernajean/Bernajena! I would also like to encourage all of our readers to check out the ISTE Special Interest Group for Digital Storytelling (SIGDS) at http://digitalstorytelling.iste.wikispaces.net/ , sessions and activities sponsored by ISTE SIGDS at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio.
The Book Transformed: What Reading Means Now Dana W. Paxson ÂŠ Dana W. Paxson 2013
After about a decade of writing my fiction the way I wanted to write it, I had something new. After another decade and a great deal of labor, research, rewrite, and experimentation, I can see what a book can be. It's nothing like anything I've seen before. Call it a Book. A flash drive holding the author's content is the Book's guts. Make it pretty, make it big or small, make it useful or ornamental - it's still a physical object. You can hold it, carry it around, own it. You could make it look like an ordinary book on the outside if you wanted to do that. You could even make a book with a USB cable to all the content that isn't printed, or with a flash drive built into its spine. The cover could even be an iPad or an Android pad. Then you jack it in. With a screen, a digital projector, or a pair of smart glasses, the Book comes to life. Its text looks as you'd expect of a book today, but it leads in different directions according to reader choices, and unique or unusual usages are all backed up by links or tips that appear as needed. Illustrations abound, whether as images 27
or as streams. The Book, with links to and from the text, throw the reader into its own virtual world. Some of you don't like reading a lot of text in a linear format, so I'll offer you a leap straight into the guts of doing things. That way, if you get lost, frustrated, or confused, you can come back here at any time to see where the pieces fit together in time. For those who cut to the chase, I turned a good chunk of my work into a Youtube video. But a video does not just happen. It requires the same attention to detail needed for making a film in real life. To get an idea of the work needed to produce that video, see the storyboard shooting script I wrote for the videographer to use. Later on in this article I'll discuss this process. ASIDE: A Failed Experiment in Realities The reader can wander the story settings in 3D, interacting with objects and other avatars supplied by the virtual world of the Book. Some interactions are puzzles or games. Many of the interactions lead directly to the story texts. In instructional or textbook versions, guides appear to help the reader or learner navigate and acquire knowledge. All self-contained in the Book. But getting to the Book brings failures, and I've done my share. I created working prototypes of the Book, starting with a novel of mine. I abandoned the usual urge to rewrite its contents to the usual editorial specification. It wasn't really a novel, I decided. It would have to be an e-book, with all the power of digital technology to help me and my readers. My work stages: 1. Invent: Integrate story text, appendices, sidebars, and reading threads, using software to build a new kind of ebook. 2. Go Virtual: Build a virtual-world model of story settings. 3. Integrate: Integrate the virtual-world model with the e-book via Web links and mirror the content in both places. 4. Synergize: Create new content in both the e-book and the virtual settings and share it between them.
5. Publish the Book (now in planning): Activate the virtual setting and the e-book into the Book using integrated e-book and virtual-reality software.
First Stage: Organizing the Pieces
Stories come with baggage. A story in a world different from our own comes with extra baggage. Mine was set on a planet distant in time and space, where humans had evolved in certain limited ways. The baggage included geography, social order, languages and their usage, organizations, historical background, and much more. In addition, there were seven different characters with different stories and viewpoints to incorporate. Itâ€™s enough to drive any writer crazy. ASIDE: ELM Log (2003): Fitting Story Pieces Together Every writer of a large work of fiction knows how hard keeping track can be. Having written hordes of numerical spreadsheet models for my systems job, the spreadsheet made a natural tool for me. Some of the basic ideas become visible in the log notes, such as threading of multiple stories and inclusion of background sidebars. These are not surprising for many writers, since a lot of big novels have appendices and viewpoint switching in them. At the time of these log entries I had been working on the organizing spreadsheet for at least a year or two. I had no idea how deep this rabbit-hole was going to be. By this point I had a name for what I'd built in software: the ELM, or Electronic Literary MacramĂŠ. A terrible name. It stuck anyway. An ELM was two things at that stage: the new e-book product, and the processing components that produced it. That name ambiguity hung on for a while. The stage continued with an alarming proliferation of e-book possibilities. By 2005, there were so many innovations in the work that I faced challenges most authors never confront: 1) How does one promote brand-new ways of writing and reading? 2) How does one protect one's software-and-text creations? 29
For me, promotion came down to immersion of the reader. If I could keep the reader immersed in the work, I could attract and hold readers, and exploit the power of the software to ease the writer's burdens. At the time I had no idea how naive this idea was. ASIDE: ELM Log (2005): Modes of Reading To address protection, I filed for patents. At the time no one else was doing exactly what I was doing, and I wanted to make sure that my work wouldn't be snatched away by someone else. The ELM innovations required the use of a programming language. I started with the spreadsheet scripting language called Virtual Basic for Excel (VBA), to do the necessary reordering and interconnecting of glossary entries, story threads, reference articles, and points of view. To generate the actual pages of HTML to present the ELM to readers, I used an assortment of software tools based on Unix scripting components. It grew messy. Still, I could now demo the ELM on a Palm T/X, a Sony PSP, and any PC, using only their basic browsers. I showed it to a
classmate of mine in the master's program in mathematics I was taking at SUNY Brockport. He was a teacher mentor in Western New York. He took one look at the 30
Sony PSP with my digitized fiction and its links staring back at him, and said, "You have GOT to do this with textbooks." In the spring of 2007, two sweeping changes arrived. First, I converted all of the software code for building the book into a single program using the Python language. My friend’s comment inspired a more-advanced version intended for production of e-textbooks. I named it the Knowledge Transfer Tool, or KTT. The KTT uses many of the ELM’s components and its own enhancements and improvements to produce an ELM output that is targeted for textbook learning. The patent filings continued. Then came my introduction to virtual worlds.
Second Stage: Second Life
My avatar in Second Life, Jeddin Laval, had his digital birth on April 15, 2007, fumbling, stumbling, and goofing his way through the learning process of walking, talking, and dressing himself in a virtual world using only a keyboard and a mouse. Jeddin learned how to build objects and how to write programming scripts to animate and activate the things he built. That’s when the fiction I’d been writing and programming started to leak across into Jeddin’s world. Jeddin rented a little shop on Book Island where he could advertise, display, and link to my fiction on my Website. He got himself some virtual land. He began to build a little piece of my fiction’s Underground City. Linden Scripting Language (LSL) enabled me to help visiting avatars interact with the objects in the City model. The avatar could touch a display, and the display would react by presenting chat text or performing some other function. A year after Jeddin’s birth, the ELM and Second Life were connected. During the first year in Second Life with Jeddin, the work on the ELM software raced ahead. I tried to find potential interested supporters for what I was doing, and that’s when my naiveté about promotion became all too clear. Over the course of the year, I wrote, tested, and selected more components for the product, throwing out or deferring many in the process. Working alone has its upside, but task-switching and hat-swapping get old after a while. A year passed, Jeddin grew wiser and more able, and the next stage began.
Third Stage: Integrating Fiction and Virtual Reality
ASIDE: ELM Log (2008): Multitasking Like Crazy To give an idea of how even one innocent-looking detail takes effort, we’ll see how “the sky as seen from Tarnus” should appear in an image. Most authors would be satisfied with just about any night sky image taken from Earth, but that’s not me. I wanted to know what the night sky looked like from a hypothetical planet orbiting the actual star Zeta Tucanae about 27 light-years from Earth and our solar system. I wanted that night sky on a dome ceiling in Second Life. I found Digital Universe, a wonderful piece of software available from the Hayden Planetarium. It let me fly from the Sun to any star identifiable from Earth and see what the night sky would look like from there. I captured the image of what the Sun would look like from Zeta Tucanae and painted it on a dome ceiling in the Second Life city setting. This was a sky no one on Earth could ever see.
Fourth Stage: Synergizing Worlds
As both the ELM and the Second Life setting grew, they shed their lessusable features, they developed more fully, and their relationship began to change. Writing fiction seems to issue from the author’s mind and its mix of experience, wonder, and supposition, but it often finds covert sources in the author’s life. An author who enjoys food is often tempted to write scenes set in kitchens, in dining halls, at cooking fires, and other eating-places; an author who like wildernesses takes the story to forests and deserts; other authors draw happily on the enrichments of their own experiences and tastes. That is what we all do. So when Second Life became one of my own enrichments, some unexpected changes transformed my writing of Descending Road. ASIDE: ELM Log (2010): Illustrating a Book in 3D
Everything that I’d been working on for the previous several years at full speed suddenly went into warp speed. A year and a half flew by. The stories lacked maps, and so I made them in graphical form, installing them immediately in the City in Second Life for visitors. Since these were Mercator maps, it was easy to wrap one around the planetary sphere to create a globe.
ASIDE: ELM Log (2011): Creative Explosions Single-window ELM presentation for handhelds and pads fell into place, along with random-scene reading, color images in the ELM itself, presentations of the ELM and Second Life model at art shows in video form, and QR code links to the ELM. The video set in Second Life is called a “machinima”. This machinima, produced by machinimatographer Anne Perorazio of Ann Arbor, Michigan, gives a nice take on how the ELM’s content has been integrated with the Second Life environment and vice versa. As I mentioned at the start, you can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnBHoBrAGpw . A video is just like a film, and required a story of its own, called a storyboard. It also required directions for the videographer, called a shooting script. To get an idea of the work needed to script and produce the video, see 34
the storyboard shooting script I wrote for Anne. Itâ€™s at http://www.danapaxsonstudio.com/VEJ/Storyboard-Script.pdf . To better understand the process of creating these production documents, think of them as definitions of your walkthrough of the setting, talking as you go, to guide for the viewer. These definitions require specification of all the camera movements and other features you want to present in the machinima (video). Within Second Life, one can present multimedia productions. One of the climactic scenes in the Descending Road stories triggers into life when an avatar visiting the City touches a flower on a table, offering the viewer both animated scene movement, text from the story, and the authorâ€™s voiceover
presenting the text. When Anne shot the machinima, she triggered the display and recorded it in the video. Another opportunity unfolded when I finally ventured into audio track loops for theme music, cobbled up some stock tracks, stretched and twisted them into something I liked, and put the music into the Second Life setting for visitors to hear on entering the place. You can hear the four-minute loop here. 35
I never expected things to explode the way they did. The explosion continues even as I revise this paper, and more will keep coming from all of us.
Lesson Zero: Everything Changes From the time I started all this, unexpected cross-connections popped up. Different classes of reader experience converged. Readers, students, scholars, gamers, all of us are learners and communicators. We are moving knowledge among us, and the digital world keeps throwing open new ways to do it every day. I keep trying to embrace more of that. “Leaves of a Mallorn”, an e-book of essays I wrote and published, examines the work of J. R. R. Tolkien in building his world of Middle-earth. In the book I refer to “fractal storytelling”: the kind of writing that repeats patterns of meaning at multiple levels and scales of the work, ensnaring readers repeatedly in similar themes, as in a tale that weaves the details of a flower’s blossom with the blooming of the whole world at its creation. Today, readers do more “fractal reading”: jumping from here to there and from scale to scale as they feel the need. ASIDE: Fractal Writing and Reading Fractal reading favors more-cinematic storytelling scene by scene. Each scene in my work is like a flash-fiction piece that can almost stand alone. This embraces fragmentary reader engagement with the work, and adopts presentation methods similar to screenwriting practice. For pointers, read the book “Story”, by Hollywood script doctor Robert McKee (ReganBooks, 1997). Every day, I’ve had to be ready to reassess what I’ve learned and make changes. If I don’t make the changes, I will make my work much harder. Same goes for you. Whoever you are, get immersed in at least one virtual world right now. Don’t wait! If you do, your colleagues and clients will blow right past you. The most enjoyable way to get some skills in these technologies is to play one of the MMORPGs (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) with a character (avatar) of your choice. But the best way to get useful skills is to go where you can build and script things, like Second Life itself or any of the 36
Lesson One: Use Your Tools and Make Mistakes An author creates specific meanings, synthesizing them out of experience, research, dreams, and everywhere. The results depend heavily on that author’s skillsets, interests, obsessions, and comprehensions. I tried to do a lot of different things, and I threw a lot of them out. Do everything you can to express what you want to express, make lots of mistakes, throw away a lot of stuff, learn from it, and be satisfied to try again.
Lesson Two: Don’t Listen So Much Seeking advice, critique, guidance, correction, feedback, and support are ways we all try to use to improve our results. Don’t use such methods past their freshness dates. This is especially true when your work is innovative. Good innovation produces what has never been seen before. Letting others try to ‘help’ you when you’ve done something they can’t see or don’t understand will kill your work. If you do this too much it can kill your hope as well. Straight to Lesson Three.
Lesson Three: Trust Yourself Your mistakes and the way you must hack out your own trail can keep you wondering whether you’re just getting lost in a trackless jungle. You’re not. If you feel lost, take a break. Take a breath. Play with something else. When you finally feel the rush of an idea for your next step, go back and wield your machete. You started with an idea. It might have changed, or grown, or reversed itself, or died, but you still have an underlying sense of what you wanted to do. Rely on that sense. Don’t make your ultimate goals too shortterm or too limited.
Lesson Four: Tools Live and Die Software is liquid light. It changes under us as we work with it. I started with Microsoft Excel and VBA, added CygWin tools, and then converted it all to 37
Lesson Five: Some Team Up, Some Work Alone Which way to go? How many people will you need to have on your project with you? How will you manage it all without losing your grip on what you want to come of it? I can’t answer all that, but I can share my lone-worker impressions of my own process. It works for me just about as well as possible. I don’t know how teamwork would have affected the whole thing. I’m not you. Not having to communicate new ideas clearly to team members was a relief and a simplification. I knew what was needed exactly, and I could grapple much more easily with learning how to do the detail work myself than with trying to get someone else to do it for me. That’s a fault, some will say, but that’s how I get innovative work done. Having worked as a patent clerk for high-tech inventors taught me how hard it is to get on board with someone who has already left his or her colleagues in the dust. I loved being able to decide on fundamental design and code changes without ceremony and drama. Agree with me or not, it’s what I had to do, and it was in part motivated by having learned Lesson Two. Still, this left me with my own deficiencies of people skills and the needed talents for self-promotion and confidence. I’m still wrestling with that one.
Lesson Six: Nothing Ends My work is a stage in a shared journey. I protected it, nurtured it, shared it, transformed it, loved it, and hated it. It’s just writing, but it’s writing I can read and enjoy, whether it’s story, code, or image. Others will surpass it, forget it, abuse it, mock it, belittle it, or praise it, but it’s part of a great river of time. We are all in that river together, and that fact is comforting. If I were to try to defend and sequester my work completely, I would be cut off from the necessary human world. I love to witness what others do by way of 38
expression, of learning, and of treasuring understanding. ASIDE: The Story and the World, Connected Fifth Stage: Publishing a World The first dimension of change is writing itself. We’re developing totallynew forms of literature. This process, as many are showing, is creating a range of expressive media for an expanding community of authors working by themselves. But authoring in this new world of creative expression takes even more variety and level of ability than most of us can muster today. The second dimension of possibility derives from the proliferation and growth of virtual-world capabilities like those of Second Life. For starting points, see http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Grid_List. An author can set up and run a virtual world on her or his own system, using available tools, to create living, interactive illustrations for a Book. New graphics processors, new multicore architectures, faster Internet connections, and better user interfaces open up the VR world to a fast-growing world of authors. I’m mounting the ELM’s virtual world on my own computer system. I’m also exploring other available virtual worlds elsewhere. The third dimension: the tools and interfaces for doing one’s own ebooks are here, they’re here now, and more people now use them freely. The results are exploding the market. I’ve spent a good part of the past year developing, testing, and using new ELM functions to generate e-books for various formats. I’ve now published my own fiction and essays for Kindle and Nook. The fourth dimension is the synergy of e-publishing and virtual worlds. As you see, I’ve been exploring that synergy at the scratch-the-surface level. Others will take it much further. To summarize what I said earlier about this new Book: The physical hardware of the Book is whatever we want it to be. The Book holds the entire world, text, images, settings, interactions, and all. A Book of this kind becomes an adjunct part of the world around the reader, dovetailing the author’s invented reality seamlessly with our everyday existence. For an unimaginable future, that’s a decent start.
Here is Jeddin, holding a digital copy of the flawed early ELM prototype of the Book. As soon as I get enough time and energy, I’ll have a new edition of the stories in the Book up for sale as an ordinary e-book. Next up will be some new ways of packaging both e-book and the book’s virtual world together as one Book for readers. Then, finally, this adventure will begin to approach the milestone I envisioned over ten years ago. The adventure has taken on such a life of its own that I’ve come away with much more than I’d ever hoped for. Who knows what tomorrow will unfold, from and for any of us?
Epilogue Since the submission of this paper to the Virtual Education Journal in April 2013, the growth and maturation of new virtual worlds has thrown open several avenues of development for the work described above, and this evolution compels me to report new advances now unfolding in the field. Some of these have already taken me in new and exciting directions. In the previous section I referred to “some new ways of packaging both e-book and the book’s virtual world together as one Book for readers”. One of the first of these, freely available, emerges from use of a piece of software called Sim on a Stick, which lets a virtual-world builder construct, store, build, and access an entire set of regions all packaged on an ordinary flash drive. 40
Everything, including the Web and database servers, the viewer, and the virtual world itself, is stored on the flash drive, which plugs into a standard USB port on any PC. This means that an author can store an entire e-book on the flash drive, and link it intimately to a virtual world containing settings, illustrations, animations, videos, lessons, and more that integrate completely with the text. Everything from fiction to art and mathematics fits into a single flash drive in one’s pocket. An entire course under one’s thumb. So of course I plunged right in. Jeddin’s Underground City is now in the process of migrating to the flash-drive setting. Because the setting is entirely in my possession, I can make the region as large as I need it to be, so the City model is growing to occupy an entire sim (256x256 meters), with eight additional sims around it, and up to 15,000 prims (or primitive objects) at my disposal for building. All at no dollar cost, entirely private on the stick alone. Better yet, the resulting sim is OpenSim in form and content. That makes it work in any one of dozens of existing virtual worlds online right now. The builder can then create an Opensim archive (OAR) file and load it from the flash drive into any OpenSimcompatible online virtual world to share the contents of the world with others via the Web. So the Book I wrote about at the start of this paper now can be digitally fused with its world. It can be sold in flash drive form for use with any computer, or it can be shared across the globe. As virtual worlds and augmented worlds (in which the physical and virtual worlds integrate seamlessly for us) advance in richness, power, and ease of use, we’ll be in a whole new universe. Of course, we’re not quite there yet. Much work remains to be done to simplify activating and using the sim on a stick, but that is all happening as I write this epilogue. For anyone who would like to know more, Sim on a Stick is offered by I Live in Science Land, LLC, curated by Ener Hax, who keeps a great blog on the work. Jeddin and I are racing onward. The wonders never cease. 41
GETTING TO THE NEW UNDERGROUND CITY: INSTRUCTIONS FOR GUESTS by Dana Paxson (RL), Jeddin Laval (SL)
The new version of Jeddin's City, now under construction, is in the Kitely "Virtual Worlds on Demand" setting. Here you will find many of the components that have been removed from the build in Second Life. You will also see much that is new.
To get to the new City build, follow the steps below. You'll also find a lot of help at the Kitely Website: http://www.kitely.com/ http://www.kitely.com/services 1. If you already have a Kitely account, you can skip down to Step 5. 2. Create a Kitely account, log in, and use Time-Based Billing for now. You get a free region of your own, and you pay for time you use in Kitely starting with 6 free startup hours, and 2 free hours per month, with the excess billed at 1 Kitely Credit per minute inworld. You can change all this later if you want. 3. Buy any Kitely Credits you want using PayPal. The first 1,000 Kitely Credits cost you $5.00 US, and larger quantities are prorated. Since you'll be billed for the time you're visiting, you'll need the credits. 4. Once you have your account and a bit of credit, log in and go to http://www.kitely.com/settings, then select "Show viewer login details". You'll see three things you must write down: * The Login URI for Kitely (which you need to add to the viewer's set of acceptable grids / worlds to visit) * Your Username (which you have just chosen in creating your account), and * The generated password to be used with the VIEWER (you had better write this down, because it's very long, but you can change it later). 5. The Second Life viewer will NOT work with Kitely. If you haven't already got a viewer that works in the OpenSim framework (Kitely is OpenSim-type), download and install a copy of the Firestorm viewer. Other viewers work also; check at http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Compatible_Viewers for a comparison list. Firestorm appears to give the best generality and performance. 6. Start the viewer. I'll assume Firestorm here; others work differently. At the bottom of the window is a dropdown menu labeled "Log into Grid:". If Kitely is in the dropdown, choose it. If not, you look at the top left of the window, select 43
Viewer/Preferences, select Opensim, and add the Kitely grid: where it reads "Add new grid" type in the login URI you wrote down from Step 4. The grid info should fill right in. 7. To log in, enter the user name and VIEWER password for the viewer you wrote down in Step 4, and you're off and running in Kitely. Now to find Jeddin's City. Use the viewer's World Map. 8. METHOD 1: To the left of the Find button, type in "Tarnus 2,2" and hit Find. You should see the result in the map. Now look down to Location, and to the right it should show three values: 128, then 128 again, then a third value. Replace the third value with 21, so that you see 128 then 128 then 21. Now click on Teleport. If the City is not loaded, you'll see your avatar and this sign: "You have arrived at a Kitely transfer station. The world you requested will be ready in a few minutes. When it is ready, you will be teleported to it automatically." If you see this, just wait, and you'll arrive in the City without taking action. 9. METHOD 2: To the left of the Find button, type in "Tarnus" (no 2,2 here) and hit Find. Now click on Teleport. If the City is not loaded, you'll see your avatar and this sign: "You have arrived at a Kitely transfer station. The world you requested will be ready in a few minutes. When it is ready, you will be teleported to it automatically." If you see this, just wait, and you'll go. In this method you should arrive at a post on a flat piece of land, and if you touch the post, you will be teleported into the City. 9. Once you arrive at the City, you'll be in the fourth level on the floor of the aswal (the circular meeting-place of crossing City passages). Many of the displays are already in place and working. Landmark your arrival point, and go exploring! 10. You can IM me as Jeddin Laval in Kitely just as in Second Life, and if you want to offer friendship in Kitely, I'd be pleased!
Kitely Market: A New Place To Sell Your Content
Are you a content creator in Second Life or other grids? If so, then we have exciting news: we have just opened the Kitely Market, an independently-developed online store for virtual items! Kitely Market has big benefits for content creators: • Sell to Kitely users initially, and soon to users in hundreds of other grids as well • Sell items for real-world money that is deposited directly into your PayPal account. No withdrawals needed! • Kitely Market uses modern technology and was designed specifically for selling virtual items, with built-in support for Demo Items and Variations. It's the best place to sell your creations. • A very easy-to-use control panel makes adding products to your store a breeze Kitely Market is currently open only to merchants, to allow them to add items to their store before we open the market to buyers. In order to kick-start the market, we are offering a special promotion to merchants: create your store now, and you will be able to add products to your store for FREE! Learn more about Kitely Market and this promotion here: http://www.kitely.com/virtual-world-news/2013/05/11/kitely-market-isnow-open-to-merchants/ Hurry up and take advantage of this offer, because it will expire once the market is open to buyers. Visit the Kitely Market now and add your first product. The Kitely Team
Avatars Don’t Steal Souls By David W. Deeds
So you want a story about using virtual worlds in education? I’ve got an epic saga for ya. Well, a 1500-word piece, anyway… summarizing just a few of the early highlights. Let’s call this Part I… with more coming later… ideally including your contributions. Ready? It all began back in 2006…
A dissertation photo, showing students in a lab. Those Korean characters next to the copyright date is how you write “Deeds” in Hangul, just in case you’re wondering.
Picture yourself in this situation. You’re a professor at a South Korean university. The natives have been averaging one child per household for two generations, so higher education institutions like yours are desperate to fill empty seats. Your organization has decided to import students from around the world, particularly from China, in order to give them an opportunity…a chance to save the careers of tenured Korean professors, that is. As our dean put it: “It’s either create an International Business Department or we start flipping burgers at McDonald’s.” The immigrants don’t speak a single word of Korean, of course. Your mission is to teach them in English until they learn enough Hangul to comprehend a local professor’s lecture. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with this plan, huh? You guessed it. More than half of our little darlings couldn’t string a simple sentence together in English, either. I’ll never forget that first day of class…Management Information Systems, no less…me and my meticulously crafted deck of PowerPoint slides. It took just five minutes for me to realize that my students could not understand the words coming out of my mouth. Lectures were going to be pointless…the textbooks useless. I progressed through the stages of tragedy…denial, bargaining, etc., reaching acceptance…and then wondered what the [heck] I was going to do next. I sent out a distress call to The Geek Squad, a group of poindexters from my corporate nerd days. One of them was working on some project for the New Media Consortium. I discovered virtual worlds. I shelled out a hundred bucks and opened our very own Second Life cyber campus. All 1,024 square meters of it. Talk about making it up as you go along. Since I was scrambling daily to conduct research, both inside and outside the classroom, I decided to get a PhD dissertation out of my efforts. 100% of it wound up getting published, online and onground. I now consider those days my “21st Century Education Boot Camp.” Hey, when nothing…absolutely nothing…traditional works, you’ve got to try something different! All a big success…as far as my students and I were concerned, anyway.
Fellow foreign teachers had real problems with authority figures, so naturally my tag was “Master & Commander.” My students (jokingly?) called me Super Teacher and bought me this outfit, which irritated my coworkers even more, much to my delight.
A semester into the program, my boss came to tell me “we” had a problem: Him: “David, our students hate all their classes…except yours. They love yours.” Me: “Uh-huh.” Him: “They’re failing all their classes…except yours. They’re passing yours.” Me: “Yep.” Him: “So what are you doing that’s so different?” Me: “Everything.”
My students were managing their own projects…running their own businesses… learning computer-aided design, programming, you name it. Of course, you’d assume I was considered a hero by colleagues and administrators for introducing virtual worlds, right? Nope. My contract came due for renewal and one day I got an e-mail message informing me this was not going to happen. That was it. I gave Higher Ed one more shot/year…as a professor in a computer science department…another college in Korea. Folks weren’t openly hostile to the notion of using virtual worlds…merely indifferent. My lessons were deemed “just a game.” This is a country where entire television channels are devoted to watching people play games! And we were considered a “votech school,” supposedly preparing students for careers in computers!
I put on photo shows, my students sponsored art/language exchanges …we had visitors from all over the planet. Not one Korean coworker ever bothered to create an avatar.
I had had enough. I needed to go somewhere where I could have some control over the curriculum. I decided to switch to international schools. Hoo, boy! There was no way I could’ve known what was coming next. If there had been, I would’ve stuck with the apathy. I’m not going to name the school…not even the country…all I’ll say is that it’s a former Soviet Republic. I made a deal with the then-principal to let bygones be bygones. Besides, the native directors might still be able to put a contract out on me. By this time, I considered myself Mr. Geeky-Cool, with my veritable grab bag of new edtech tools and techniques. Naturally, we were going to have our own virtual worlds. To introduce the concept, I thought it would be nifty to give an avatar our female director’s name. I sat her down at a computer…alttabbed to the cybercampus…and said: “Look, it’s you!” Her face contorted with disgust. She jumped up…her chair went flying...she genuflected spastically…then ran out of the room, crying and muttering. I asked a coworker what she had been saying. The answer: “She was praying that the avatar doesn’t steal her soul.” Steal her soul. Sigh. As you might surmise, the situation deteriorated rapidly after this. Every idea I had re: introducing tools and techniques, even the innocuous Moodle site, was deemed an evil foreigner’s attempt to corrupt the innocence of the natives. The ultimate fear and loathing was reserved for virtual worlds, of course. I can laugh about this now, but at the time it wasn’t so funny. These folks weren’t just backward and ignorant…they were dangerously deranged. This is a place where people regularly disappear and are never heard from again! Think about this the next time you consider yourself having paid your dues re: educational technology integration. I had the local U.S. Embassy on constant alert to open their gates should they see me scampering up the street. I slept with my passport and a thousand dollars in three different currencies under my pillow, just in case I had to make a midnight bolt. I am the only educator (that I know of, anyway!) who has literally been run out of town (country, yet!) for advocating immersive learning environments. 50
I’m happy to say that things got better…a lot better…at subsequent locations. I’ve been asked to present at more than a dozen international educational technology conferences on my work with virtual worlds over the past few years. I’ve been experimenting with other games/gamification integration as well. At my current school, we maintain both Second Life and OpenSimulator cybercampuses. This fall, I’ll be presenting on creating an OpenSimulator 3D Global Village, to first include 60+ schools in the TriAssociation, an organization encompassing Central/South America and Mexico. But these stories will have to wait for another installment.
Another dissertation graphic. In addition to beta testing software like 3DNow’s and Sloodle, we allowed many organizations to use our cybercampus. We hosted programs involving other schools in Korea, Japan…even the USA and the Middle East.
Before I managed to escape [that former Soviet Republic], the director, as well as the principal (an American who should’ve known better!), attempted to compensate for the soul-snatching weirdness by offering all kinds of excuses 51
as to why virtual worlds are unacceptable in education. And I do mean I got lists. It was just paranoid gibberish they got via idiots on the Internet, but this implies everyone else reads this kind of stuff, too. Everyone in Second Life is a child molester, avatars give teenage girls body image issues, you name it. All complete nonsense, but as it turns out, this is silliness I’d heard before, am hearing now, and will no doubt hear again. No matter where I go, I encounter dinosaurs with an excuse…or two or three. How about you? What kinds of things have you been told regarding virtual worlds representing the First Sign of the Apocalypse? I’ve been invited to submit a chapter proposal for an upcoming book on immersive learning environments and I’d like to get your anecdotes. I’m especially interested in hearing about your adventures trying to introduce virtual worlds into your school environments. They don’t need to be as dramatic as mine…let’s hope they’re not! But I know you’ve dealt with dumb [derriere] administrators, colleagues, etc., just as I have. And so far I’ve only been addressing things that happened in the real world! Over the years, I’ve collected a hundred examples of strange encounters and experiences inside virtual worlds. If you’ve been teaching in immersive learning environments, I’m sure you have some interesting tales to relate in this area as well. Please send all input to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll use your name if you’d like the credit, but I’ll keep you anonymous if you prefer. Who knows? You might want to avoid having a contract put out on you, too. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!
David is currently the Technology Integration Specialist for Peterson Schools, a private K-12 institution with 2,000+ students at four campuses around Mexico City.
Book review: Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity Review By Rurik Nackerud In his second edition, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, author Jason Ohler continues to provide practitioners with the expertise to plan digital storytelling in their classrooms. Based on his work with students, Ohler supplies a new story map and arc. The new addition also includes story tables. Common Core and No Child Left Behind are accounted for in this volume throughout – increasing the relevance of this edition. The author also updated the section that includes the revised ISTE NETS. Even more exciting, the book references and utilizes several video interviews with Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts, the documentarian. Practicing educators will find the writing highly engaging and motivating. The text is written intelligently, yet without the sophistry that alienates those still developing their technological proficiency. The humor and practical nature of his commentary not only engages the reader, but also helps to demonstrate how teachers of all levels may blend tools in the practice of story-telling. The writing style makes it possible to read the book straight through, but the usefulness does not end there. Ohler’s work compares favorably with the work of Lambert, Miller, and Frazel. Lambert’s text from the Center for Digital Storytelling provides a strong framework in the 7 steps approach that appeals to a larger audience. Ohler’s contextualizes the information in applicable ways for teachers attempting to share digital storytelling with their students. Miller’s Digital 53
Storytelling: A creator’s guide to interactive entertainment enters into the bleeding edge technological areas of entertainment and digital media which may transcend the needs of the teacher, yet Ohler’s work draws on some of these ideas to sophisticate how educators may view digital storytelling. Finally, Frazel’s work, written explicitly for educators and published through ISTE, constitutes a baseline-beginning guide. Both Ohler and Frazel include rubrics and resources but Frazel’s work nods more towards the technology integration and NETS and Ohler addresses Common Core in greater depth. In combination, both texts excel at furnishing assessment tools and arm educators looking to proof digital storytelling as curriculum for their classroom. Like the previously mentioned texts, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom becomes a reference guide. The book is divided into three sections for quick reference, including several resource sections at the end. In the first section, the author develops a framework for digital storytelling in the classroom. The second session offers tools and useful planning techniques. Tools, technical skills and guidance regarding rights issues are covered in the last section. The last chapter of section three presents detailed information about copyright issues and fair use which is invaluable for teaching digital citizenship to student story-tellers. Ohler’s book represents a wonderfully, well-resourced tool for educators in the field and as well as a supplement for teaching a course in digital-storytelling. Undoubtedly, more needs to be understood about digital storytelling. Research and practice will continue to unveil new information and opportunities. Meanwhile, progressions in technology will undoubtedly present challenges and opportunities for this medium. Thankfully we benefit from writers like Ohler who work tirelessly to describe this instructional tool for educators. Ohler, J. (2013). Digital storytelling in the classroom second edition: new media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. ISBN978-1-4522-6825-5 Cost of book (paperback): $35.82 Length: 304 Pages and Digital Content Rurik Nackerud is a doctoral student at Portland State University researching games and mobile learning. He consults with schools and educators looking to implement technological tools for educational purposes.
From The Traditional To The Technological: Digital Storytelling Through Documentaries
Click here to watch promotional video for FYC theatre.
http://vimeo.com/41321781 *Steven T. Varela (rl), Dedalus Deanimator (sl): Steve is a Senior Instructional Consultant/Lecturer for Academic Technologies at The University of Texas at El Paso, specializing in blended, online, and technology-enhanced course development. He was a Lecturer for the Department of English and a recipient of the UT Regents Award for Outstanding Teaching. *Janet Hill (rl), Madeline McMinnar (sl): Janet is a multimedia specialist for Academic Technologies at The University of Texas at El Paso, specializing in creating immersive experiences in virtual worlds. She assists developers in the production of educational software and technology, and explores, researches, and tests other virtual platforms.
The First-Year Composition (FYC) program in the Department of English at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) underwent a significant course and curriculum redesign in the summer of 2008. Five years later, many traditional writing assignments have been updated with technology and multimedia enhancements to the core writing rhetoric and research skills taught in FYC. The redesign yielded many dramatic innovations to the course in delivery and content—it had become time to teach “old” concepts in a new and creative way—utilizing the same technologies that student’s lives are immersed in already. Students create movie posters to advertise for the FYC Film Festival as part of a contest, which are added to the FYC theatre.
Re-designing a curriculum that had not been updated in over 20 years was quite a daunting task, and the change that took place in FYC was really a paradigm shift. When we conducted a needs assessment of our program, and researched how other disciplines across our university (and nationwide) were approaching writing assignments and research, we discovered some serious truths we had to face—much of the writing and research preparation we were offering to students was suitable if they were going to pursue a degree in English, and possibly the Liberal Arts, but if they were outside of our discipline (which many were as we are a general education course), they were less able to connect and transfer the skills acquired in FYC to their chosen fields of study. And an even more serious truth—some of our assignments and approaches were completely irrelevant to other fields of study. This was the catalyst for and emphasis on transfer. We wanted to develop students’ critical thinking skills in order to facilitate effective communication in all educational, professional, and social contexts. The new curriculum, therefore, focused on: 56
– – – – – –
Student ability to transfer skills across disciplines Stronger utilization of Rhetoric and Writing scholarship and research Student self-regulation Multi-genre understanding of discourse, research, and writing Multi-modal adaptation of discourse, research and writing Strategies for technology, research, and writing
This required us to present an approach to “composition” that helped students determine the most effective strategies, arrangements, and media to use in different rhetorical contexts. Students also needed a systematic approach for analyzing rhetorical situations, and be able to produce a variety of documents and presentations, while gaining more confidence and fluency in visual, oral, and written communication. Finally, because communication is central to being an active and engaged member of society, FYC wanted to provide a space for students to learn about, and participate in, informed advocacy.
Audience members from around the world can select and view the student’s documentaries in this virtual theatre.
One of the assignments in the new curriculum included the requirement for FYC students to create a documentary film. Students were now faced with a different way to consider and utilize rhetoric, research, and writing. To create a 5-7 minute documentary, challenged students to learn how to present an argument through multi-media, to consider a multitude of rhetorical opportunities, and learn how to work with technology—and all in 4 weeks (this was just one assignment in a rigorous curriculum).
This was not implemented without some resistance from both faculty and students, but no one could deny the results we saw immediately: deeper engagement, motivation, and stronger learning outcomesâ€”all the best attributes digital storytelling evokes in participants. The end result was nothing short of amazing. The FYC Film Festival and Second Life
The spectacular entrance to the FYC theatre includes a marquee that highlights winning films each semester.
We wanted to be able to showcase the hard work and commitment students give when going through the FYC program, and the documentary film assignment especially lent itself to be showcased. How would we let the world know what we were doing in FYC? What better way than a film festival! At the end of each semester, FYC selects student documentaries that represent our assignment effectively, creatively, and sometimes we include a film simply because a student did something unique with the technology itself. Every semester seems to get bigger and better, and to that end, what started as the showcase of our studentâ€™s films, has turned into an opportunity for collaboration, innovation, and of course, entertainment for the entire university. The success of the film festival meant we needed to share this event also, so again, how to do so in a way that matched the innovation of the assignment? Second Life was a natural choice.
Inside the theatre, visitors can order snacks, and if they wanted, visit the projection room that simulates a traditional set-up.
A virtual theatre was constructed so that FYC could simulcast the film festival, and include a much larger audience than those who attended physically. What started as a basic theatre expanded to include a lobby, a projection room, a marquee and incredible entrance into the theatre, as well as the ability to get popcorn (why not?). Create an Assignment Like This! Step 1: Student Release Form It is important to have students sign a waiver allowing you to publish or use their work after itâ€™s completed. Student samples will be invaluable to you for the next time this is taught, or if you end up publishing the final product in some way. Step 2: Decide on the purpose and learning goals you want to accomplish. Perhaps it is: A. To inform on a topic/subject/concept relevant to the class B. To persuade/advocate for an action, change, and/or social purpose C. To apply research in a meaningful way D. To learn a new technology/communication skill. E. To demonstrate understanding of a process, task, problem (for Mathematics, for example, students can teach or show how to solve a specific problem or concept) There are symbols of UTEP interspersed throughout the theatre.
F. To reflect on what has been learned in a semester. There can obviously be overlap with these, but you want to determine a primary learning goal—it will help you in the construction of a rubric later. Step 3: Decide whether or not you want it to be collaborative. These types of projects and assignments don’t have to be done in groups—we’ve seen terrific products created by one person and by groups. We’ve also seen not-so-good final products be done by one person and by groups. It doesn’t really matter—it’s all about the level of student commitment and ownership of the project. If you do decide to do this collaboratively, we would recommend no more than 3 per group. Also, teach clear parameters about collaboration (conflict-resolution activities) and working in groups (group management, scheduling). And always make it clear that a student can be “fired” from a group (have a clear process for that, too). Step 4: Create assignment sheet identifying clear objectives, skills and learning goals how they relate to the course. Students need to be able to see that you are doing this to further class learning objectives and not for novelty. Content first—technology second. Step 5: Create smaller, scaffolding activities and assignments that will lead to the overall completion of the product. Can be in-class small group work, research, technology training—all meant to complete a specific component of the project. The emphasizes that this is a process, will encourage time-management and make this all less overwhelming. Step 6: Create a rubric that assesses these objectives and learning goals You will see that no rubric is perfect, and will change as you work through the assessment process over time, but it will help re-emphasize the goals of the assignment and help you to measure/assess the content. We recommend giving the rubric to students at the start of the assignment—so they know how they are going to be assessed, and that this isn’t a subjective grading process. We would also recommend going over it mid-process, to reemphasize the goals again. Step 7: Set up support network/resources for you and students Students will need to have access to technology and technology support. Find these resources on your campus and create collaborations!
Step 8: Documentation and Fair Use Any outside research they refer to or directly integrate should be cited in a credits sequence at the end. A Fair Use Statement is also recommended to cover the use of things like Google Images or YouTube if they are used. Step 9: Value and Accountability Need to show students this is a worthwhile learning experience, and that you value the work that will come out of it. You might think about: A. Class presentation-where you watch their final products in class, have them introduce it and answer questions from the audience afterwards. Can be part of the final grade. B. Community collaboration/application-you may have a community connection for your class that can give the assignment a real world value. C. A showcase of some sort: public viewing, create a You-Tube Channel/Vimeo site, a website, a place on Blackboard. The point is that this is such a visual result and a commitment on behalf of yourself and the students, so this needs to be honored in some way besides a grade. Publication of these projects sometimes creates more value and accountability than a grade ever could! Step 10: Student Release Formâ€”just in case you forgot! Some final advice: the more engaged and excited about this approach to digital storytelling that YOU are, the more your students will be! Check out our studentâ€™s work @ http://filmfestival. uglc.utep.edu
And visit the FYC Virtual Theatre @ http://maps.secon dlife.com/secondlif e/UTEP%20Miners %203/95/144/25 A collection of movie posters advertising the FYC Film Festival over the past 5 years.
A Discussion Of Virtual Worlds (VW) In Education July 10, 2013, 7:15-8:45 AM SLT, 10:15-11:45 AM ET
By Dr. William Schmachtenberg (RL), aka Dae Miami(SL)
Dr. William Schmachtenberg (Dae Miami in sl) will be moderating a discussion of the use of Virtual worlds to address the problems in education. He has invited developers, educators, and managers to come to this meeting. He will be presenting a new Unity 3d based program called Science Island that he has been using at his high school. He will also present data on the effectiveness of this program in raising test scores. If you have similar success stories of vw in education, please come and share them. The meeting will be in rl at The CATCE center at Franklin County Public Schools in Southwest VA as part of a joint VSTE/RPDIT (Regional Professional Development Instructional Technology) conference. But, it will also be in sl. Be prepared to discuss and defend which vw are best for teaching in schools. Do you think that some vw are better for teaching one grade level than another or one subject content than another? What about running vw software on mobile devices? What vw are best for collaboration for students and teachers? How do we get more teachers and students to use vw? The time slot for Dr. Schmachtenbergâ€™s presentation is 7:15 to 8:45 am slt. This is a perfect time for discussions as individuals from California to Asia can join the conference without having to get up at 4 am in any one country! Please come and share your thoughts on this topic. While presentations are being made fill the local chat on sl with comments and questions! Location in sl to be announced later. Just reserve this date and time on your calendar. Hope to see you there! For more information about the conference and other sessions see: http://www.vste.org/index/learn/learning_events/summeroflearning2013/f ranklin
Roxie and BJ (aka) Rosie and Bob Vojtek, invited me to tell my story for the Virtual Education Journal. I suppose my journey in Virtual Worlds is relatively typical. Four years ago, after a period of dwindling research grants and dwindling editorial work, while I held a faculty appointment in a controversial research unit at the University of Virginia, I began to look for online teaching jobs. I was motivated by the beauty and grace of Charlottesville, Virginia, the town I was living in. I just didnâ€™t want to leave it, and because the pickings were sparse in the Charlottesville area, I decided to try my hand at teaching online. I have a PhD in psychology from the University of Edinburgh, and an MsEd in higher education with a teaching specialty in psychology from Northern Illinois University, plus a 20+ year career in survey research and publishing, so I didnâ€™t think there would be a problem. First I ignored the fact that there was a gap of almost twenty years between my face-to-face teaching days and when I started the search. Second I ignored the fact that the only time I had actually been involved with online teaching was an odd but extremely enjoyable sort-of online course in the 1990s. A fruitless search over many, many months finally netted me a pivotal and oh-so-very kind-hearted email from a secretary at Capella University who counseled me that my lack of online teaching training and recent online teaching experience guaranteed that my CV got tossed in the first culling for the jobs on offer. So basically nobody got past that lack of online experience to my research credentials, ancient teaching training and experience or my obvious
enthusiasm to learn teaching whatever system my prospective employees might be using. It was a very kindly phrased wake-up call and it energized me to retrain. I started to browse around the Internet, looking for free or low cost online teaching education. In my search I happened to chance upon the International Society for Technology in Education and its ISTE Eduverse lecture series. Although I’d played Civilization and SimCity for lots of years, the idea of making an avatar and getting so personally into an interactive virtual world scared the heck out of me. Even more terrorizing was the idea of having to find my way to a virtual auditorium and actually talk to other avatars. Like lots of Noobs I also worried that my avatar would be stuck somewhere when I was off-line, a testament to my lack of experience with the environment. So I decided, the heck with it, and watched a couple of the Eduverse lectures as recordings: they are still available on the ISTE website, by the way, and well worth watching. Inspired by the lectures, I got both an ISTE and VSTE membership and attended as many free webinars as were offered from both organizations. The more I read and the more I saw, though, it seemed that my reticence to take the Second Life plunge was getting in the way of an especially fruitful resource for PD, not to mention denying me what looked like a great community of teachers from whom I could learn. Finally, after rewatching the ISTE Second Life introductory video for probably the 30th time, I took a deep breath, leapt into Second Life and became that Girl Next Door in her really sad pink polka dot dress. Maggie Larimore 1.0 You remember her: She walked like a duck, banged into furniture, and when she finally managed to find ISTE island and the auditorium where the next live Eduverse lecture was being held, she hovered over a second row seat until somebody messaged her grumpily and said “Oh for heaven’s sake, right click on the chair and pick “sit here”
from the menu. And do it quickly, please.” Sigh … After a week of hovering around ISTE Island, I ventured out to the then Star Trek Museum Island where I met another online teaching hopeful in front of the Intro Videos You Tube viewer. (We’re still friends and online teaching pals but in real life now.) That moment was transformative: my friend Trixie gave me a landmark for a hair store and a shoe store, and from there I got brave enough to use the Destination Guide. That led me to the wonderful Red Rock Mesa where I bought my Navaho dress. A trip back to the Star Trek Museum Island netted me a bead necklace and two bead bracelets. Denoobification on the horizon! Heading back to my second live Eduverse lecture, I realized when I got to ISTE island that while I knew how to find a corner to put on the new stuff, I didn’t actually know how to take off the old stuff. (Yes, I’m the one who dropped the pink polka dot skirt that littered the walkway to the ISTE HQ for a while and I’m the one who attended at least one lecture with two sets of hair on my head.) Maggie 2.0 It is four years later now and I credit ISTE and VSTE, their respective lecture series and events, and most especially the leaders and members of the ISTE Social committees for expanding my online horizons significantly. Not only was I honored by and educated through the willingness of seasoned K-20 teachers to talk about their interests, their techniques, their hopes and their dreams, but I was also grateful for the specific advice I got that helped me land the online education administration job I held for most of the last three years. There have been two other main sources of my free and low-cost training. I also learned a lot from Dr. Nellie Deutsch through her Moodle for Teachers training courses on the IT4ALL site (Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learners, at www.integrating-technology.org) as well as her webinars and those of other online teaching mavens presented on the social 65
media/teacher support platform, www.WizIQ.com. I’m active now in all three and enjoying the opportunity for mash-up. Nellie’s boundless enthusiasm for all kinds of technology in education, including virtual worlds, helped me stay focused on using SL to express what I was learning. Being able to film webinars on my subject matter area on www.WizIQ.com and then embed the links in url givers in SL in my learning center has been an added bonus. Meeting colleagues in IT4ALL or on WizIQ with whom I’ve begun to collaborate on SL projects, well, you can see where this is going: a very happy combination of ISTE, VSTE, SL, IT4ALL and WizIQ has greatly enriched my teaching/learning life.
My husband and I giving our first talk at an Alliance Libraries event in Second Life in 2010 In Second Life, with help from some fantastic people – Scott Merrick, Andy Wheelock, Chris Collins and most especially Marie Booz, Rosie and Bob Vojtek and a host of people whose real life names I don’t know such as Serena Offcourse, Thunder Isippo, and Blu Heron — I have gone from my clunky “Girl Next Door” self to a well-coifed and maybe too well-clothed landlady, installation builder, manager of the Education Village in the Chilbo Community on the Mainland, collaborator in the Virtual Praxis Conference
with Praxislady Witt and Ellie Brewster, and of course, an active ISTE social committee member.
Some of the fellas at last year’s ISTE Social, The Medieval Maypole and Market, on ISTE Island One of the things I find the most useful and the most enjoyable about virtual worlds is that they are great places to learn by watching and doing. Most of my virtual world skills came directly from ISTE and VSTE activities. Marie Booz’ great make-and-take VSTE activities and Blu Heron’s ISTE building workshops gave me the skills to accomplish my big ideas. Those big ideas, in turn, were inspired by Esme Qunhua’s ISTE Sunday morning tours and Cyrus Hush’s Expedition Central weekend evening tours that introduced me to great library, university and teaching installations. Everything I saw just made me more eager to set up something of my own for my field in general, and for my colleagues and I and our institutions, in particular. My husband and 30-year research partner, Carlos Alvarado (aka Rodolfo Mirabella in SL), got involved for a while — he’s also a PhD from Edinburgh, also an online educator, also a researcher and is still attached to the University of Virginia. Carlos turned out to be a great explorer, dance partner and landscape artist. Between us we built a great home site, a nature park, a zoo with a freebie store, a Dinosaur Park, a library and a learning center. I added a Puerto Rican café to that collection of stuff as a present for him a year or so ago. (He’s from San Juan, Puerto Rico originally.)
Rodolfo and I in his Nature Park back when I didn’t know how to change the graphics More recently we’ve had to downsize our tier in Second Life, combining the Dino Park with the Zoo and it’s freebie store, squashing the library into the learning center, and letting everything else go except the Puerto Rican café and our long-time tenant plots. I am still playing an active role in preserving the amenities of the Chilbo Community where we “live” in Second Life. Through that commitment, I manage the Education Resource Center, the library and some other spots with SL friends, Praxislady Witt and through her, Ellie Brewster, and am working on rebuilding Chris Collin’s (aka Fleep Tuque) Connectivism Reading Room with my fellow IT4ALL Moodler, Telmea Story (educator Glen Gatlin in real life). I have ventured out to Inworldz, Blue Mars, Reaction Grid and some OpenSim worlds, but I stick closest to Second Life because that’s where my friends are, and that’s where ISTE SIGVE is. In the fall I’ll be combining my interests to help facilitate a WizIQ/IT4ALL MOOC on virtual worlds with some in-SL projects. And, of course, I keep my hand in with the ISTE SIGVE social committee as well. Over the four years that I’ve been interested in virtual education, I’ve learned that virtual worlds are still the best place to set up passive education 68
builds – theme parks, museums, sims that recreate historical sites like VSTE’s Jamestown installation. But they are also the best place to set up active educational sites like Second Life’s Instituto de Español. I’ve been taking Spanish inworld since September of 2009, inspired by an ISTE lecture on language learning in immersive worlds way back then. I have been blessed to have worked all this time with Martha Eugenia Lino Acosta, aka Eugenia Calderon. I started as a person timidly learning how to string enough nouns, verbs and articles together to speak a single simple sentence. After visiting role playing sims, SL Macchu Pichu, writing essays, watching classic Mexican movies, building “Day of the Dead” altars, attending lectures, dances, and art gallery openings on the Instituto’s sim, not to mention hours upon hours of inworld classes, I’m getting to where fluency is in sight. I’ve had an immense amount of fun in the process.
The recent pajama party on the ISTE SIGVE HQ on Eduislands 9 that Serena Offcourse and Maggie Larimore hosted In these four years, I’ve been inspired by universities and schools and individual teachers who came to Second Life with a plan, the way Russ Bronson (aka Wilson Voight, the owner of the Instituto) and Martha did. I’m so appreciative of educators whose inworld efforts produce educational
Maggie Larimore 3.0 in Eugenia Calderon’s Instituto de Español classroom experiences difficult to reproduce in real life. Where else can you sit in a “real” space, learning in real time with folks who are at their computers in the south of France, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest US, and south of Mexico City? The connection in a virtual world classroom is so vibrant, so front-andcenter as an experience, so much more powerful than an asynchronous LMS or even an a great webinar with a truly international audience. I’ve also learned that just constructing an inspiring build, a perfect replica or even a wild interpretation of a real life educational institution does not a successful immersive virtual environment make. You need the people! Teachers and students! Learners and friends! Just as the folks from the Instituto came into Second Life with a purpose, just as the ISTE and VSTE contingents know exactly what they want to accomplish whether it is in Second Life or Unity or Reaction Grid or a Kitely World, you’ve got to have a purpose when you’re inworld or you will fold. The purpose can be as simple 70
as learning from people who are just like you. Or it can be expanding your free PD by attending an inworld lecture series, enjoying a regular meet-up with fellow travelers from your online ed tech class, or holding your first inworld class in an installation you built. Or the purpose can just be relaxing with colleagues, blowing off some educational steam at a sock hop with your friends. There’s an axion I’ve heard over and over again from ISTE/VSTE, WizIQ and IT4ALL pals and mentors: if you pick a virtual world in which to teach or learn, do it because you’ve found the best technology to fit your particular goal. So true! So that’s the story of Maggie and me. I’m heading back inworld to ride my Dino. See you there!
Cloud Party The Intersection of Virtual Worlds & Mainstream Social Networks. By Robin Armstead & Chris Haskell
With the cost of educational spaces in Second Life skyrocketing over the past year, can the Facebook app, Cloud Party, serve as a new medium for synchronous gathering, asynchronous learning spaces, and safe educational spaces? This article explores the merits of using Cloud Party as a learning environment.
Facebook has its own nested virtual world. Cloud Party is a free space where people can connect using avatars, manipulate 3-D spaces, and interact with striking similarity to the virtual world Second Life. Cory Ondrejka, cofounder of Second Life, was a dominant creative force in the development of this new platform. Cloud Party is different from Second Life in that it is browser-based. Launched from an app within Facebook, Cloud Party relies on your social networking credential for access, friends, age and content verification, and other leveraged functionality. Pragmatically, the space is simpler to allow it to run in-browser. But, the simplicity of toolset still allows for essential, core functionality. Cloud Party supports building, land ownership, customization, multiple forms of communication, avatar customization, and an abridged economy. It contains the same attractive elements in its more popular, bandwidth intensive, sibling but without the high cost of entry for institutions. Recently, an abridged curriculum was written to accompany Boise State Universityâ€™s course in Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds taught by Dr. Chris Haskell. Using the 3D Game Lab, a quest-based learning platform, Robin Armstead developed a curriculum in Cloud Party designed to teach educators and instructional designers about the platform and itâ€™s affordances as an educationally viable virtual world. The 9-quests curriculum explores topics including avatar creation and customization, navigation, purchasing land, and the feasibility and potential uses of Cloud Party as an educational tool. 73
Through the development and implementation of this curriculum, certain affordances and considerations of this space became evident.
Cloud Party leverages familiar spaces. Virtual world platforms can be very intimidating especially for new users. Educators already using Facebook to connect with their students are likely to be less intimidated and better positioned to expand these relationships in Cloud Party. The browserbased tool does not require download or maintenance of special software like other client-based virtual worlds. It is supported through regular browser updates. Cloud Party represents a low cost of entry. While there is a cost to create private spaces in the platform, many areas are free to use and visit. A number of sponsored spaces also exist that are open to the public. Educators can utilize these spaces for class meetings, social activities, study sessions, or tutoring. This is especially helpful in online classroom environments.
Cloud Party leverages existing virtual worlds schema. Educators, instructional designers, and students familiar with Second Life will have little to no trouble using and building in this platform because of the similarities in design, functions, and features of the system. Although the menus are different, the design sensibility is familiar enough to allow those with working knowledge of more robust platforms to navigate and develop with ease. As a browser-based world, there are some limitations in building and scripting. For massive, open-architecture virtual worlds that can leverage data from multiple sources, Second Life may be better for building. But, Cloud Party represents a functional, customizable virtual world space that is relatively easy to manipulate, especially for the seasoned user.
Cloud Party does not have adult content. One of the elements that caused Second Life to fall out of favor with some educational institutions was the presence of, and relative difficulty to filter out, adult material and spaces. As part of the licensing agreement with Facebook, this tool is bound by more stringent code of conduct requirements. As such, distinct adult-themed spaces donâ€™t exist. Coupled with the direct connection of ones avatar to their Facebook account, the anonymity sought by users of mature content is not available. These characteristics help to make Cloud Party a more viable educational space. More research will be conducted through Boise State University in the fall of 2013 relative to the viability of Cloud Party as an instructional space. It is currently slated for use as one of the offerings in Teaching and Learning in 75
Virtual Worlds. Initial experiences suggest it could become a shared space in other curricular offerings. The merger of mainstream social networks and virtual worlds, coupled with game-based learning, represent what many believe to be the future of education. It is common for individuals to spend several hours per day participating in Internet activities that include their virtual alternate virtual selves. It is suggested that one of the best ways to engage digital students is to meet them in digital spaces where the terms are mutually agreed upon and the experience benefits all parties involved. Using an integrated social networking platform with a virtual world allows educators to harness the power of both environments for learning.
The Holodeck Mixed-Reality Teaching and Learning Environment at the University of Hawaii, Manoa The RELATE Consortium at the University of Hawaii, Manoa (Research & development on Emergent Libre Applications of Technology for Education) Matthew Schmidt (email@example.com) Jonathan Kevan (firstname.lastname@example.org) Paul McKimmy (email@example.com) Stephan Fabel (firstname.lastname@example.org) University of Hawaii, Manoa Abstract A challenge of online learning is enhancing students' sense of social presence, that is, their perception of “being there” with others. At the University of Hawaii, Manoa's College of Education, we are working on a research and development project with the goal of enhancing students' social presence through the use of a mixed-reality 3D virtual learning environment. Our project, the Holodeck, attempts to bring the virtual world and the real world together as a “mash-up”. Using the Holodeck, on-campus and online students will be able to come together virtually and take part in class activities. This article is the first in a series that will be published in three separate issues of the Virtual Education Journal. In the current article, we will tell the story of how we built the Holodeck, from concept to advanced working prototype. In the second article, we will describe how we are using the 77
Holodeck in our classes at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. In the third article, we will provide details of what we learned from our research and development efforts, how teachers and students perceived their experiences, and next steps.
Introduction Higher education students in the Pacific islands are geographically dispersed and, given the distances between the islands, often perform their studies through online distance education. Creating an online environment to enhance social interaction and community-building at-a-distance for these students can often be challenging. Our system, the Holodeck, is designed to meet this unique and practical need through a mixed-reality teaching and learning 3D virtual learning environment. Currently, a number of online course delivery options are used to provide these students with quality instruction at a distance, such as course management websites and web conferencing tools. Our best practices in distance education indicate that our students find value in being able to celebrate community and connect socially with classmates and teachers. However, for students whose cultures value social interaction and building relationships, traditional online learning tools can feel inadequate. The Holodeck is designed to bridge this gap. We have spent six months developing our initial prototype, which we describe in the following sections. We begin by providing a broad overview of the Holodeck from the perspective of its users. We then discuss the background of the Holodeck, explaining where our ideas for this system came from and how we ended up building our prototype. We conclude with a brief overview of lessons learned (so far), and our expected upcoming work (which we anticipate can and will change).
What is the Holodeck? The Holodeck is a â€œmashupâ€? that combines a real world space (a physical classroom where students meet in-person) with a virtual world (a three-dimensional multi-user virtual environment where students meet as 78
avatars). We use the term “mashup” to mean a hybrid environment that uses technology to creatively mix elements of the real world and virtual world to create a unified experience. VEJ readers are used to using their computer monitors as a “window” into the virtual world. What we are doing is making the connection two-way by providing a window from the virtual world back to the real world. By providing two-way blending of the real and virtual world, students are able to interact in both real and virtual spaces in ways that may be more natural-feeling and could promote social interaction better than more traditional distance technologies (such as Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect). Figure 1 provides a general illustration of this two-way connectivity.
Figure 1. Top-down conceptual view of two-way connectivity between the virtual and real world
With the Holodeck, we intend to meaningfully blend online and face-toface courses, provide students with a deeper social experience, and advance our understanding of how to design virtual places and associated instruction so as to enhance online learning. At the core of our design is the idea that students should feel socially present with others, whether they are located in the real world (RW) or virtual world (VW). By “socially present” we mean that students have a feeling of “being there” with others. Key to our design for enhanced social presence is creating high-fidelity representations of our students, whether they be attending class in the RW or VW. VEJ readers will be familiar with how realistic things look and behave in VW platforms such as Second Life, where objects, avatars, and environments are represented with 79
high behavioral and photographic realism. To make possible such realism for our users, we are using the Open Simulator platform (http://opensimulator.org), where the degree of realism is on par with systems like Second Life.
Figure 2. Top-Down Schematic of the Holodeck real-world classroom
But how does one create a mashup of the physical space and the virtual space? For our system, we combine immersive VW technology, voice over IP, high-speed networking and high-definition streaming video to create the mixed-reality experience. Local students attend class in a traditional classroom equipped with a high-definition projector, noise-canceling 80
conference microphones, speakers, and a high-definition streaming web camera. The HD data projector is used to provide a view of the VW to those students who are physically present. From the perspective of the RW student, she enters the physical classroom, sits down, and is presented with a view of the VW on the projector screen at the front of the classroom. She is able to hear the avatars in the VW conversing and see them interacting with one another. The RW student may choose to log in to the VW and join the other students as her avatar, thus being present in both the RW and VW at the same time. Figure 2 (previous page) provides a top-down schematic of our RW classroom. This represents one side of our mixed-realities. The VW classroom features three screens prominently displayed at the front of the virtual classroom. One screen displays a shared document that is used for collaborative note-taking by all students (real-world and virtual). Another screen displays the output from the high-definition streaming webcam, so that the students in the VW are able to view the RW classroom in real-time. The third screen displays the instructor's computer screen. Distance students attend class by logging in to a VW where they are represented as avatars, speak using microphone-equipped headsets, use avatar movements and gestures to interact, and interact with objects in the virtual-world using their mouse. From the perspective of the VW student, he logs in to his OpenSim viewer, navigates his avatar through the VW to the classroom area, and “parks” his avatar in one of the available seats. He is able to see a live streaming webcam video of his instructor from the webcam on his instructor’s computer. He is also able to see a HD video stream of the classroom and the students who are working there and is able to hear them speaking. Figure 3 (next page) provides a screenshot of the VW with streaming webcam video of the physical classroom being displayed on a display. This represents the other side of our mixed-realities. Our mixed-reality platform relies heavily on the instructor to act as the “bridge” between technology and learning. From the perspective of the instructor, she is both logged in to the VW and physically present in the RW. She is able to see and hear the students in both realities. She controls a 81
presentation display that is synchronized between the RW and VW, so that if she advances a slide in the RW, the slide will also advance in the VW. With a presence in both the RW and VW, the instructor is able to orchestrate a meaningful social learning experience among students who are both local and distant.
Figure 3. Screenshot of the VW displaying streaming video of the real-world classroom
The reader will note that students are suspiciously missing from our figures. That is because the Holodeck is currently a work-in-progress and a highly functional prototype. We have designed and built the system, but the challenge of using the system to hold classes remains. We will describe our processes of using and testing the system with students in upcoming VEJ articles. Our discussion now turns to the question of how we built the Holodeck.
What is the history of the Holodeck? The story of the Holodeck is one of humble beginnings. The opportunity arose to refit one of the classrooms at the University of Hawaii, Manoa’s College of Education building. The RELATE consortium (Research & development on Emergent Libre Applications of Technology for Education, consisting of authors of this article) was consulted to brainstorm ideas of how to utilize the classroom space in innovative ways so as to help enhance student learning. Given the consortium’s mission to relate the ideals of the Free/Libre Software movement to higher education, we looked to how others had implemented Free and Open Source software to enhance learners’ sense of community. We found a project from the University of Essex, called MiRTLE (MixedReality Teaching and Learning Environment), in which an Open Source VW platform called Open Wonderland had been used to create a mixed-reality classroom (Gardner, Scott, & Horan, 2008a; Gardner, Scott & Horan, 2008b; Gardner, Ganem-Gutierrez, Scott, Horan, & Callaghan, 2011). Open Wonderland (http://openwonderland.org) is a collaborative 3D virtual world’s toolkit that allows for the creation of multi-user immersive VWs. Unlike Second Life, which is an entertainment platform, Open Wonderland is built for deeply immersive collaboration and targeted at the education, business, and government sectors. It is a 100% Java system with advanced features such as the ability to share desktops and desktop applications, stream media, download and enable “modules” to add new functionality, and communicate using spatial audio. It has been implemented in a variety of different usage scenarios, ranging from medical simulations to agile software development to social skills training for children with autism. Figure 4 (next page) provides a screenshot of children with autism using iSocial, an Open Wonderland-based immersive education environment. Using Open Wonderland, the MiRTLE project had developed a robust design for an educational mixed-reality system that had been piloted in real-
world educational settings. Researchers from the MiRTLE project discovered that VW and RW students would naturally and spontaneously interact with one another, which caused the barriers of VW and RW to blur. Instructors reported that teaching in MiRTLE did not disrupt their classes or studentsâ€™ learning. The implications of these findings were that using MiRTLE may increase the sense of presence for VW students, RW students, and the instructor (Gardner, Scott & Horan, 2008b). The RELATE consortium saw these potential benefits as being in line with our design and development goals, and decided to build a MiRTLE installation locally.
Figure 4. Students with autism take part in virtual social skills training in the iSocial immersive education environment
Using a decommissioned physical server, we installed Ubuntu Linux Server software (http://www.ubuntu.com/server) and followed the instructions on the Open Wonderland website to set up the Open Wonderland server (https://code.google.com/p/openwonderland/wiki/OpenWonderland). We then installed an Axis IP streaming webcam in our physical classroom. Instrumental to our setup was a blog post on the Wonderblog (a blog that 84
details development and news from the Open Wonderland project) regarding a MiRTLE installation that had been performed at a high school (http://blogs.openwonderland.org/2010/11/15/new-mirtle-facility-atsouth-high/). The information that we were able to access freely at these websites allowed us to install and configure our system in less than four hours.
Figure 5. Open Wonderland-based early prototype of the Holodeck
After we had installed and configured our infrastructure for hosting and running an Open Wonderland MiRTLE environment, we began to build our virtual world. We held a series of design meetings to hash out our requirements and sketch out a wireframe of the pre-alpha version of the Holodeck. We came up with a design that resembled a traditional classroom 85
with tables and chairs facing the front of the class. At the front of the classroom, we opted for a three-panel display. Each panel served a specific purpose. One panel was for slideshow presentations. Another was for presenting collaborative content such as Google Docs. And the center panel was for presenting the streaming video from the RW classroom. Figure 5 (previous page) provides a screenshot of our early prototype. We also made it a point to use imagery that would be familiar to our students and culturally relevant. Figure 6 (below) shows examples of the imagery we used in our early prototype.
Figure 6. Hawaiian imagery used in the early Holodeck prototype
Trouble in Paradise? After completing our first functional Holodeck prototype, we began to experiment with different use cases, such as embedding Google Docs and Presentations into our VW, and controlling them from the real world. We also began to evaluate our Open Wonderland platform as a viable system for hosting online classes. Over the course of our evaluation, we identified a number of areas in which Open Wonderland was beneficial. For example, the ability to integrate desktop applications into the environment, such as Firefox, LibreOffice, and even 2D games like Tetris, was a very powerful and desirable feature. It was also possible to download complete 3D models from the Trimble 3D Warehouse (formerly Google 3D Warehouse) and then drag-and86
drop them into the VW to easily and quickly create visually appealing environments. However, we also identified a number of limitations that were problematic. As an Open Source project, Open Wonderland relies to a great extent on the contributions of its community members to advance in terms of stability, features, and bug fixes. Open Wonderland was at one time a research project at Sun Microsystems. However, when Sun was acquired by Oracle, Open Wonderland was orphaned. Some of the team members continued to contribute to the Open Source project, but, having lost a corporate sponsor, development slowed and the project no longer advanced as quickly as it had before. As a result, Open Wonderland is a somewhat immature product, and it remains at the same major version number today as when it was orphaned by Sun. That is not to say that it has not advanced and improved, but the advancements and improvements are not at the same pace as before. In our investigation, we found that Open Wonderland was often unstable, requiring multiple server restarts per week. We found that Open Wonderland’s performance dropped significantly on our server after more than 15 avatars were logged in simultaneously. We also found that Open Wonderland’s reliance on Java caused many problems with running it on Macintosh and Linux computers. Many times when we tried to access the Holodeck, we would be completely unable to do so due to problems with Java. Granted, Open Wonderland has no control over how Oracle manages Java, but we required a system that was capable of offering students reliable and consistent usage. This lack of alignment between Open Wonderland’s system capabilities, Oracle’s caretaking of the Java software ecosystem, and the Holodeck’s requirements led to the realization that we needed to reconsider our choice of virtual worlds platform. We decided to prioritize our needs. First, we needed a system that was highly reliable. We also needed a system that we could scale up as our user base grew. We had learned the lesson that a small Open Source community was not able to advance a system and provide stability to the degree we desired, so we decided that a large Open Source community was needed. We 87
also needed a system that would be able to support a large number of avatars that were logged in concurrently. After reviewing our options, we decided to build our next version of the Holodeck on the Open Simulator platform (http://opensimulator.org/).
Making the switch We chose Open Simulator (OpenSim) for the next version of the Holodeck based on the size of its Open Source community, its stability, its ability to host multiple logged-in avatars simultaneously, and its potential familiarity to our users. Users who are familiar with Second Life will have a very brief learning curve when using OpenSim. However, comparing OpenSim to Second Life is a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison. OpenSim is very similar to Second Life, but the two are not the same. Second Life is a standalone solution with an inbuilt economy, massive amounts of both free and purchasable assets, pre-configured avatars, and commercial support. Conversely, OpenSim is not a pre-built solution and is developed by a community of developers and contributors. OpenSim is highly flexible and allows for a great degree of customization at a very deep level. But with this ability to customize comes challenges that require resources to overcome. Nonetheless, we chose OpenSim because of its reputation as a platform that is very useful to educators. In a word, OpenSim has â€œcredâ€?.
While choosing this technology, we considered the arguments made by the designers and developers of the MiRTLE environment. They noted that OpenSim was based on C# and .Net technologies, and therefore was limited in terms of its cross-platform capabilities. Much had changed since they developed MiRTLE, though. We found that OpenSim was able to run on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux systems, and even on Android. We found it somewhat ironic that the very reason Open Wonderland was chosen for MiRTLE, that is, because it was based on Java, was the same reason we ultimately chose to move from that platform to OpenSim.
Installing and configuring OpenSim was comparable in terms of difficulty to Open Wonderland. However, creating VWs using this system is more difficult and requires much more than simply dragging-and-dropping models downloaded from the Internet. OpenSim functions much differently than Open Wonderland and requires different processes and methods to reach the same results. Given the differences in the systems, the question for us became whether we would be able to re-create the virtual world design in OpenSim that we had originally created in Open Wonderland.
We began with a simple porting experiment. This experiment required that we be able to import mesh-based models into OpenSim, attach streaming video to a model, implement presentations, and enable collaborative applications like Google Docs. After some experimentation, we found that we were indeed able to do all of these things (albeit differently than with Open Wonderland). Following these discoveries, we decided to recreate our first version of the Holodeck in OpenSim, a task at which we were successful. Figure 7 illustrates our OpenSim implementation of the original Holodeck design. Figure 7. Original Holodeck design recreated in OpenSim.
Getting back up to speed We were encouraged by our success at porting our Holodeck design to OpenSim. But the difficulties we had run into related to our Open Wonderland VW platform had set us back. We had learned from our Open Wonderland implementation that our VW design was in some ways deficient. We determined that further design was necessary. This is because we anticipated a need not only for students to participate in lectures, but also to break off into groups, present projects in small groups, collaborate on projects, etc. A simple virtual classroom space was insufficient for these other use cases.
We had developed designs for additional spaces, consulted experts to gather feedback, and revised. We were ready to start building our designs in the VW. However, we had very limited manpower, and building in OpenSim was considerably more complicated than building in Open Wonderland. We concluded that we would not be able to develop the additional pieces of the Holodeck with our current manpower. However, OpenSim has a vibrant community with a huge amount of virtual assets--from avatar clothing to furniture to complete VWs--that are available under Creative Commons and Open Source licenses. For us, this meant that we could perhaps find assets from the community to build our VW instead of having to build it from scratch.
As we were searching for usable assets, imagine our delight when we discovered the OpenVCE project (http://openvce.net/). OpenVCE stands for Open Virtual Collaboration Environment, and is an Open Source licensed, freely downloadable and usable OpenSim region. It is a remarkably complete, well-designed, high quality virtual world with an impressive number of useful assets included. Upon discovering OpenVCE, we promptly downloaded it and tested it on our server. We were immediately impressed. A screenshot from our first test is provided in Figure 8 (next page).
Figure 8. Screenshot of OpenVCE running on our OpenSim installation.
Not only was OpenVCE of high quality, aesthetically pleasing, and clearly very appropriate for collaborative activities, it also included an area that looked like it had been custom-built for the Holodeck. We found in a corner area of the OpenVCE sim an area that had ample seating and a three-panel display that was nearly identical to the design we had independently created for our first Holodeck implementation. In addition to this, the region provided a number of other buildings and structures that we determined could be used for realizing our extended designs, such as for breakout rooms, small group presentation areas, and project workspaces. Figure 9 (next page) provides a view of the unaltered OpenVCE space that we chose to use for our second version of the Holodeck.
Figure 9. Area of OpenVCE selected for creating the second version of the Holodeck
After having uploaded OpenVCE to our OpenSim server, we went about customizing it to our needs. This consisted of adding Holodeck logos where appropriate and configuring the meeting space with our three-panel collaboration space design (presentation area on left, view of physical classroom in the center, and collaboration display on right). The Holodeck is now ready for instructional content to be added, for usability and field-testing, and, eventually, for everyday use. Figure 10 (next page) provides a view of avatars collaborating around the configured three-panel display in the Holodeck area of the OpenVCE space
Figure 10. Avatars using the three-panel display in the Holodeck area of the OpenVCE space with the presentation display on the left and the streaming HD video of the RW classroom on the right
Advancing the system To be sure, we were uncertain whether to consider discovering OpenVCE serendipitous or just dumb luck, but in any case, we were very fortunate to stumble across such an excellent resource. We expected that we would need to build much of our VW from scratch. The discovery of OpenVCE allowed us to meet many of our development milestones months before we had anticipated. By leapfrogging many of our anticipated milestones, we were able to switch our focus to creating additional features for our learning environment. One that we were very interested in and wanted to explore further was learning analytics. Learning analytics looks at data generated by students as they use computer systems to understand how they are learning, and to improve the computer systems they are using so as to optimize learning. As students are 93
working in the Holodeck, they are generating a large amount of data. We are interested in capturing those data and analyzing them. OpenSim does a good deal of data collection on its own. For instance, it auto-collects user data into a Web Statistics Module (http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Web_Statistics_Module). In addition to this built-in functionality, we are developing methods and processes to track avatar movements within a defined learning space, to collect chat logs, and to merge these data with the data already collected by the Web Statistics Module. Fortunately for us, we can develop scripts to do this using OpenSim Scripting Language (very similar to Linden Scripting Language). Our group is also able to benefit from a wealth of pre-existing scripts and community resources for collecting data while students use the Holodeck. In line with our goal of providing enhanced social presence for students at-a-distance, we hope to be able to use the data we collect to find evidence of social presence. The ability to implement learning analytics in the Holodeck is in no small part due to the Open Source nature of the OpenSim system.
Conclusion Reflecting on the process of designing and implementing the Holodeck has uncovered a number of useful lessons that we feel are of value to virtual educators considering using Open Source VWs platforms for their own immersive education initiatives. As a consortium of educational technologists who desire to relate to higher education the values of the Free/Libre Software movement (an initiative that has been criticized for its sometimes idealistic nature) it is important that we remain practical in our evaluation of the technologies we implement. In this section, we attempt to provide a measured discussion of what we learned in the process of implementing Free and Open Source VWs toolkits. While Open Source VW software like Open Wonderland and OpenSim may not cost money, this is not the reason we opted to use these toolkits. Instead, it was due to the freedom that Open Source software affords.
However, as readers will have learned from the history of our project (and to quote a former U.S. president), “Freedom isn’t free.” Implementing our initial MiRTLE installation locally required blood, sweat, and tears, and was a completely do-it-yourself (DIY) effort. In order to do it ourselves, we required expertise and skill, and in those cases when we found that lacking, we had to research solutions and ply the community for help. In a daunting move, we decided to completely switch platforms and port our designs to a different system, which was no small undertaking. While our team is prepared for these challenges and welcomes them, we recognize that other VW educators may not have the necessary skills or time to invest projects such as this. For educators who may not have the necessary skills or time to learn the ins and outs of Open Source VW platforms, there are other options for using systems like OpenSim. For example, the Sim-on-a-Stick project (http://simonastick.com/) provides a complete OpenSim environment that can be downloaded onto a USB flash drive and run within a school computer lab. And for educators who may wish to host their VW on the Internet, the Kitely service (http://www.kitely.com/) provides free and low-cost OpenSim hosting options. Indeed, by uploading an instance of OpenVCE to the Kitely service, an educator could be up and running with a very high quality VW in just minutes. We feel that Kitely and Sim-on-a-Stick are excellent examples of how the principles of the Free/Libre Software movement can be related to education. Further, using these systems is unquestionably more cost effective than using commercial services like Second Life, and provides a welcome alternative to the incredibly unpredictable and unpoliced nature of that VW service. Educators have control over their OpenSim instance and users at a level that is unattainable in Second Life. We hope the lessons and recommendations we have drawn from our experiences will contribute to educators’ decision-making as they consider the different options they have for implementing immersive education in their classes and schools. In addition to lessons learned, we feel that the Holodeck represents an evolutionary step for the mixed-reality solution originally developed by the MiRTLE team at the University of Essex. We have adopted their original 95
design ideas, built on them in unique ways, and implemented our derived designs in a different VW software system. As we continue to advance our project, we will be systematically testing the designs and the underlying system in order to gauge its viability and usefulness for providing an online learning platform that enhances social presence. Over the next three to five months we intend to stress test our system to see how it performs with large numbers of avatars present and engaging in activity, to build lessons for teachers who have agreed to help us pilot test the Holodeck, and to continue building our learning analytics solution. Beyond that, we intend to field test the lessons we build in RW teaching and learning scenarios. The field tests will serve as opportunities to evaluate the Holodeck as a distance-learning platform, to collect and analyze data using our learning analytics solution, and to develop expertise orchestrating instruction and learning in our system. Assuming success, we intend to implement a full course in the Holodeck in the Spring of 2014.
References Gardner, M., Scott, J., & Horan, B. (2008a). MiRTLE. Educause Review, 43(5). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/mirtle. Gardner, M., Scott, J., & Horan, B. (2008b). Reflections on the use of Project Wonderland as a mixed-reality environment for teaching and learning. In the proceedings of the Learning in Virtual Environments International Conference (p. 130-141). Gardner, M., Ganem-Gutierrez, A., Scott, J., Horan, B., & Callaghan, V. (2011). Immersive education spaces using Open Wonderland: From pedagogy through to practice. In G. Vincenti & J. Braman (Eds.), Multi-User Virtual Environments for the Classroom (pp. 190â€“105). IGI Global. Retrieved from http://services.igiglobal.com/resolvedoi/resolve.aspx?doi=10.4018/978-1-60960-545-2
Getting Ready for Minecraft Open House with SIGVE and the Games MOOC By Trevyn Slusser/ SL Aubrey Ghoststar In a world as simple and unique as Minecraft, its limitations are only as big or as small as your own imagination. When you enter, the world is always unique in how your surroundings look and where you will find the materials you need to thrive. Along with choices such as creative or survival modes, you can add greater depth to the game you make. I personally spend a lot of time in creative mode building original architectural designs or try and recreate an M.C Escher drawing.
And what can be done is pushed to, no, PAST its very limits when you play on multiplayer or on a private server altogether. There the creators of the world have even more control over the environment. From skins to how even gravity works, so much can be done with such a simple looking game.
Many choose to recreate games that already exist, but following a new and sometimes better story line. Others, those few diamonds in the rough, create new and fantastic adventures for gamers to experience. This opens a whole new world for instructors and educators. Like I said the limits are only bound by your own imagination. You could use Minecraft to set up a reenactment of the civil war, or build a city from a great novel for students to walk around in. With its worldwide reach, anyone could be a part of it. So from gamers to teachers, young to old, Minecraft is home for the greatest possibilities.
So join us on Saturday, June 13, 2013 for the Games MOOCâ€˜s Minecraft Open House. More information will be announced on the SIGVE Social Media site. And also over twitter using the #gamemooc hashtag. ISTESIGVE Edmodo http://edmodo.com/home#/publisher/ISTESIGVE ISTE SIGVE Google Community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107257205905775229015 And also over twitter using the #gamemooc hashtag.
The Summer 2013 Games MOOC By Kae Novak aka Kae Zenovka
Designed using the connectivism learning theory, the Summer Games MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course focusing on game based learning in education. Connectivist MOOCs or cMOOCs started in 2008 and were introduced to promote networking and knowledge creation among peers. Since then, there have been a series of these free connectivism open online courses offered. The Games MOOC is informed by their design and implementation. Since it's a connectivism MOOC, it will not look like a course from Coursera, Canvas or have the feel of a commercial learning management system. Besides connectivism learning theory, this MOOC is informed by gaming guild culture and the Gamer Disposition by John Seely Brown http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2008/02/the_gamer_disposition.html
Multi-Player Games and MMORPGs The Summer Games MOOC is divided into two parts. Each part was designed to be a standalone offering. So if you didnâ€™t participate in Part I, youâ€™re 100
still free to sign-up here bit.ly/12rDKit for Part II. Multi-player Game Based Learning & Collaboration June 3 - June 24, 2013. Part I focuses on exploring collaboration, cross-functional teams and multiplayer game based learning. We will take a close look at the features of multiplayers games by going into MMORPGs (Massively Online Role-Playing Games) and also livestreaming from them. We will be exploring and even experiencing what makes these games so engaging. In Part I, we look at World of Warcraft, EVEOnline, Minecraft and guilds that have developed in the sandbox genre games. Immersive Environments July 7 - July 29, 2013 Part II will be a tour of online and immersive environments for game based learning. There will be an emphasis on you building your game based learning PLN (Personal Learning Network). We will visit multiple virtual learning environments, virtual worlds, sandbox games and MMORPGs. In Part II, we will also be collaborating with the rgMOOC, or "Rhetoric and Composition: The Persuasive Power of Video Games as Paratexts being offered by Sherry Jones and Kate Guthrie Caruso http://storify.com/sherryjones/rgmooc-arhetoric-and-game-based-mooc The Games MOOC is an open course for all educators. The model for participation is based on social network knowledge construction. Learners will be able to be active in the course in several ways from lurking (reading the discussions), to being engaged in game-play to actively creating content in the course with the MOOC designer and Advisory Group. We do understand that a participantâ€™s level of activity may vary based on the individualâ€™s interest in the weekly topics or other time commitments. So feel free to lurk! As one of our MOOC Advisory Board member says, "Lurk and Learn!"
A Studentâ€™s View of Virtual World Software By Dae Miami (aka) William Schmachtenberg
An interview with Kristen Leary, a graduating senior at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, VA.
Kristen has used Uru, second life, and built in Unity 3d. Kristen took my Earth Science class as a Freshman, and was my VPS (Voluntary Public Service) student as a senior. Dae Miami(sl) = Dr. William Schmachtenberg (rl) MansFisherman(sl)= Kristen Leary (rl). 102
Dae Miami: Did you like using Uru software as a Freshman? MansFisherman: Yes! Uru was a fun and great new way to learn the materials taught in class. It also allowed us to do some really cool stuff such as talking to students from Sweden in Skype and then we worked with Mrs. Hellberg, a teacher in Sweden, in Uru. Dae Miami: Do you think it helped you learn Earth Science? MansFisherman: Yes, it helped. We had Uru projected on an lcd projector and we were able to navigate around a virtual volcano with a wireless keyboard. We answered questions on a worksheet while we navigated in Uru both individually and as a class. It helped the students in the class to work together to answer questions. It was an interesting way to learn. Dae Miami: Do you think Unity 3d can be helpful for teachers and students? MansFisherman: Of course!! It is fantastic software and super easy to use and create in! Dae Miami: Did you like building in Unity 3d? MansFisherman: Yes I loved it! In Uru it was very hard to texture an object and build, but when I started Unity I learned how to build in minutes. It was so simple. When I built my first world it took me a week (one and a half hours for 5 days)to create an underwater world with a submarine and GUI(pop up) questions. With the click of a button you can create anything from beautiful mountains to deep-sea trenches. Dae Miami: Tell us more about the Oceanography world you built, please. MansFisherman: Unity is fantastic software to build in. I started out my world with just a flat plain and I used the terrain tool to create my sea floor features. I then used the particles to create cool effects such as smoke and flames for the volcano. All I had to do to get them is drag them into the scene and Boom they work. [NOTE: If you want to see Kristenâ€™s ocean world, it is available at: http://www.evwllc.co/oceans/WebPlayer.html. ]
Dae Miami: The yellow submarine in your ocean world was very cool. Can you tell us how you made it?
MansFisherman: I used modeling software called 3ds max 7 to create my submarine. I started with primitive spheres and cones and manipulated them into the shape of a submarine. Honestly I only built the Submarine because I live The Beatles!! ď Š After I built it and hooked it all together I imported it into Unity. Then I created yellow texture using Paint and imported the texture into Unity. I put that color on my sub and boom Yellow Submarine! After that we animated it. ď Š Dae Miami: What do you like about second life? MansFisherman: CLOTHING AND PETS!!!!! Next question. ;) Dae Miami: How do you think it could be used in education? MansFisherman: Second Life has a great advantage because you can build in world, and because of this you can be really creative. Also, Second Life has a huge community for collaboration and networking. Because of these creating an educational world would be easy and fun for students involved. I think it would best be used for college-aged students to collaborate online and possibly have online classes. If a world or sim were created where students could go to learn, like a virtual online school, students could learn in a whole new way and work together with other students to answer questions online in a school setting.
Hmm... Horse or Gryphon? How the World of Warcraft Can Be Used to Teach and Learn Effective Personal Finance Decision Making By Jerry Buchko, MA, AFCÂŽ The World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that takes place within an immersive virtual 3D universe. The setting of this universe is a creative expression of various genres of fiction, including fantasy, horror, steampunk, and science fiction. Players assume the role of character avatars within the game world and gameplay involves questing, battling creatures, and interacting with nonplayer characters (NPCs), as well as with other player characters. Player characters can also pursue a variety of professions, such as herbalism, mining, blacksmithing, engineering, jewelcrafting, fishing and cooking. As players engage in these various activities and interact with one another over time, they become more developed and are rewarded with experience points, various items, and in-game money for their efforts, and all of this activity helps to create the fundamental basis for the game worldâ€™s virtual economy. In terms of scale, the World of Warcraft is one of the largest MMORPGs with over 10 million reported subscribers worldwide and embodies a mature economy which includes commodities and manufactured goods, as well as retail and service activity. Though the virtual economy in the World of Warcraft is relatively simple when compared to the one we inhabit in our everyday lives, it is still complex and robust enough to be challenging and to offer rich learning opportunities in the areas of economics and finance, including personal finance management. 105
As is often the case for most of us in our daily lives, players in the game world experience almost immediately that their available income resources are finite and often overstretched by the competing demands placed on them. The most common demands involve the purchase of various goods needed to successfully meet increasingly more challenging quests, as well as to advance in chosen professions. Demands on income and assets are not strictly needs based and can, as in daily life, take the form of a player’s own personal desires for things like particular styles of fashion, high-end bags or companion pets. Using this basic context as a starting point, players can be engaged in a guided learning exercise that uses their characters’ experiences within the game world as the basis for reflecting upon and discussing the personal finance aspects of their characters’ lives in educationally constructive ways. For example, one basic exercise could encourage players to reflect upon the amount of time and effort it took for their characters to earn the assets they have acquired to that point. The players could then be asked to wrestle with the challenging task of defining and prioritizing their characters’ values, as well as their characters’ various short, medium and long-term goals. In this process, they can be helped to understand how this framework can effectively guide them to spend their resources in ways that are personally relevant and supportive of their values and goals. The process could then progress with players receiving guidance in the use of various tools, like the in-game Auction House or the Auction House feature of the WoW Mobile Armory app, to engage in comparison-shopping about the goods they are seeking. They can be shown how to use the information available to them to think critically about their potential purchase decisions, and to experience and understand how this approach and their effort might help them to accomplish more with their limited resources. One specific in-game purchase that can work well with this type of learning exercise is the purchase of mounts. Within the game, mounts and the training associated with learning to ride them are relatively expensive. The purchase of a mount can provide a great opportunity for players to explore their motivations for the purchase and to think critically about the potential costs 106
and benefits. The purchase of a horse, for example, could be important to the player for a host of different reasons. It could represent reaching an important personal milestone and contribute to the player’s sense of agency and selfefficacy. It could influence the player’s general gameplay experience, that is, her or his in-game quality of life. Investing in a horse could improve the player’s earnings ability by providing more rapid and flexible transportation. On the other hand, it could also represent a too costly or unnecessary expense in the face of alternative, public transportation options and more pressing priorities that would equally affect the player’s future earnings. A player could even consider bypassing the immediate purchase of a horse in order to save towards a more expensive and more capable flying mount, such as a gryphon, as a more beneficial and personally rewarding option. Aside from the relatively more fanciful transportation options available to players within the virtual economy of the game world, all of these are examples of the kinds of considerations related to cost, utility and personal meaning that people would, from an effective personal finance management perspective, ideally weigh when considering their needs and desires to have access to transportation in their daily lives. Play is a fundamental aspect of how people learn. This capacity for learning through play doesn’t end in childhood, though the forms of play and games in adulthood may change according to evolving social conventions and the desire for more challenging gameplay. Chess is a classic example of a game that has traditionally been used to teach and to develop a player’s capacity for problem solving, logic, forethought, strategic thinking, as well as a degree of social intelligence. This knowledge and the aptitudes and experiences developed during gameplay can then be useful to the learner as they are applied to challenges within other areas of the learner’s life.
Immersive virtual world games, like the World of Warcraft, offer relatively more sophisticated gameplay environments and even more potentially sophisticated learning opportunities. From my experience, exploring the gameplay environment as a player coupled with a degree of objective reflection can help reveal those valuable opportunities for learning, even including opportunities to learn some of the more challenging and useful skills that enable effective personal finance management.
Jerry is a counselor, coach, and tutor of personal finances, who enjoys pondering the training and educational potential of gaming and immersive virtual worlds, especially over pizza and a glass of wine.
Kicking Off AvaCon Inc. 2013 Metaverse Cultural Series! By Roxie Neiro
The first in the #MCS13 series took place on May 11, 2013, on the SpotON3D grid. The presentation feature Armchair Author/host Adele Ward who interviewed author, Patricia Averbach, whose debut novel “Painting Bridges” was released recently. Patricia workshopped this novel in +Second Life, so virtual worlds have played an important part in her success as a writer. This was my first visit to SPOTON3D and I was very impressed with the Theater. As you can see there were many people who enjoyed the presentation. I want to personally thank Patricia Averbach for sending me a copy of her book, “Painting Bridges.” I was one of several people who put my name in the drawing and won a book! Kudos to Patricia on her debut novel! Be sure to check it out. Also, be sure to visit SpotON3D. You will want to make sure to visit the Theater in the Italian Village on the SpotON3D grid at http://3Durl.com/map/spoton3d/Italian%20Village/48/33/26 . Here are two pictures from the first Metaverse Cultural Series event.
The Metaverse Cultural Series 2013 is a set of events featuring performances and lectures that highlight unique aspects of metaverse culture, taking place in multiple virtual world spaces. The series showcases innovative artists, thinkers, performers, and academics whose work is on the forefront of exploring what it means to work, play, and live in the emerging metaverse. For information about future events, visit http://www.avacon.org/blog/events/metaverse-cultural-series/ .
Digital Storytelling: The Old is New Again By Sara Armstrong, PhD email@example.com
I will tell you something about stories, [he said] They aren’t just entertainment. Don’t be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death. You don’t have anything if you don’t have the stories…. --from “Ceremony” in Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
“Once upon a time….” and any number of other story beginnings make us want to sit and listen to stories of people and creatures who learn lessons or go on quests or discover truths in the long ago time, or yesterday, today, or tomorrow. As far as we know, we are the primary storytelling creatures on this planet. Indeed, we are hardwired for stories. Stories are how we relate to each other and make meaning of our world. Stories are how we learn and show our understanding. Stories are how we talk with each other and make connections with new acquaintances and renew bonds with old friends and family. For a time now, there has been interest in and excitement about “digital storytelling.” Early on, Joe Lambert and Dana Atchley developed seminal examples, which, as becomes obvious in the Center for Digital Storytelling’s workshops, where stories include the storyteller’s voice over a story mediated by the computer, as well as images and/or video, music and/or other sounds, transitions, and other elements. Created on a computer, the end product can be shown to one or many. Technology makes it possible. (Visit
http://www.storycenter.org for more information and digital story examples.) A number of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Eliza Jones, an Athabascan elder in the Alaskan village of Koyukuk. Eliza is a storyteller, and we talked about what is gained and what is lost by adding technology to traditional oral storytelling. In a person-to-person situation, the storyteller can adjust her story to the audience, add or subtract details, lengthen or shorten the telling—in short, the storyteller co-creates the story with her audience for maximum effect. However, the audience is usually a somewhat small number, making the event limited in scope. With technology—video or audio taping the story and making it available via the Internet or on CD or DVD, for example—many more people can hear and learn from the story, but it is immutable. Of course, a new version employing technology could improve on the original Eliza Jones digital story, just as a subsequent performance by a storyteller could incorporate elements of a previous person-to-person telling. Today’s students are, for the most part, knowledgeable about and interested in technology tools. We want to encourage the use of these tools in thoughtful and meaningful ways. Helping students create digital stories to show their learning—whether as a final product in project-based learning, or as a creative expression in the arts—can enhance teaching and learning for all of us. Happily, there are many people who have thought about this process and offer ideas, information, and help.
One unique project, Knights of Knowledge http://knights-of-knowledge.com/ poses interesting questions for projects through short videos that begin a story and ask a question to encourage students to do their own research and thinking. Rushton Hurley, who has created and made available a video library by and for students and teachers www.nextvista.org suggests that we start with having students view a wide range of videos produced by others before they begin creating their own. The discussions that came out of this viewing experience are invaluable. At the MY HERO website www.myhero.com children and adults from around the world have been contributing hero stories in the form of text, video, and art for over 15 years. At the site, high school teacher Jerrilyn Jacobs shares her lesson: “Film Analysis Using the MY HERO Film Collection: Identifying Genre, Techniques, and Message,” in which students work in small groups to view films from a variety of genres at the MY HERO site, discuss what they see, and share their opinions with the class. Other resources include a series of lessons by Wendy Millette, Director of MY HERO’s Media Arts Education Program, that highlight the differences between narrative shorts, experimental shorts, documentary shorts, and animated shorts. We want to be careful, however, to make sure we’re not asking students to make digital stories just because we can. As always, the meaningful and effective use of technology tools dictates when and how we use them. Successful digital stories include emotional content and make clear why the story is important to the teller—why they are moved to tell the story in this way at this time. For the Center for Digital Storytelling folks, this includes the storyteller’s own voice. Many students (and adults) don’t like the sound of their own voice when they hear it recorded and played back. Joe Lambert says,
“Get over it. Your voice is yours alone and shows that you are alive on the planet.” Most important - The story itself is the most important element of the digital presentation. We can talk about stories in many ways. For example, they have a beginning, middle, and end. However, important stories are more than that. Storyteller Elizabeth Ellis repeats an example. She says, “I can tell you ‘the queen died and the king died’ and it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but it doesn’t mean much. However, if I say, ‘the queen died, and the king died of a broken heart’ something quite different has taken place and is being communicated.” Jason Ohler and Brett Dillingham clarify the concept in a slightly different way.
We still expect a beginning, middle—in which things happen and changes occur—and an ending. However, thinking in terms of the problem that is presented and its solution focuses on the unfolding of the story. The challenge is to get the listener/reader/viewer to care about the path the narrator took to confront the problem and reach the solution. When we ask students to develop a digital story around their learning, the most compelling digital stories make an emotional connection between storyteller and audience. It may be that the storyteller reveals what was important to him or her in terms of the subject area, or an “aha” moment that occurred during the research or synthesis of understanding the content.
Obviously, this kind of approach goes beyond mastering how images are inserted into a story, or what transitions are chosen. To promote success in attaining 21st Century skills such as creativity, curiosity, communication, and even collaboration, digital storymaking has a place in the curriculum. With the advent of the common core standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, being able to show understanding and knowledge in a variety of ways is more important than ever. And when students delve deeply into subject matter and make it their own, their ability to retain understanding is enhanced. Being able to tell a good story about their learning provides all kinds of benefits. Technology tools provide us a means to “make the old new” in interesting ways, as long as we don’t lose sight of the purposes for storytelling, honor our own voice, and respect the audience—and the story. Additional information can be found at: Websites: Center for Digital Storytelling: http://www.storycenter.org Knights of Knowledge: http://knights-of-knowledge.com/ The MY HERO Project: http://www.myhero.com; see also Media Arts Education: http://myhero.com/go/films/mediaarts.asp Next Vista for Learning: http://www.nextvista.org/ Raven’s Story: Eliza Jones: http://jukebox.uaf.edu/RavenStory/htm/ej.htm Books: Ellis, Elizabeth. From Plot to Narrative, Parkhurst Brothers Publishers, Inc., 2012. Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 115
Haven, Kendall. Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Lambert, Joe. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community 4th edition, Routledge, 2013. Ohler, Jason. Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Learning, Literacy, and Creativity 2nd edition, Corwin Press, 2013. Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony, Penguin Books, 2006. Organizations: ISTE Special Interest Group: Digital Storytelling SIGDS, http://www.iste.org/connect/special-interest-groups/sigds or http://digitalstorytelling.iste.wikispaces.net/ National Storytelling Network, http://www.storynet.org
Be sure to check out the interesting butterfly of film strips from Rushton Hurley, â€œFlights of Creativityâ€? at www.nextvista.org .
SECOND LIFE: A VIRTUAL PLAYGROUND FOR THERAPISTS, CREATIVISTS, HEALERS, EDUCATORS, & EVERYONE ELSE -by Niela Miller aka Marly Milena in SL, MS Education/Communications
In the fall of October 2007, I was sitting in a cafĂŠ with a friend and her partner at an annual event called Fantasia Fair in Provincetown, Ma. I had been doing group and individual work at the fair for over twenty years at that point. They were telling me about Second Life (SL), a virtual 3D location on the web.
A Composers and Artists Event where the composer improvises to an art build or the artist improvises to the composer's piece.
As soon as I heard about SL, I got excited and curious since I saw its 117
potential for creative projects of all kinds, for doing teaching and therapy in new ways, for meeting people from all over the world, for ﬁnding just about any interest group I could think of, and for having fun. However, I was a serious technophobe, afraid of things going wrong on my computer, trouble with remembering how to use electronic devices like recorders, and, in general, intimidated by anything structural or mechanical with moving parts. If this sounds like you, do not despair. A miracle occurred for me; my creative side trumped my technophobia! I was so excited about the creative potential of SL that I was willing to learn what was necessary to function in this Brave New World. My friend offered to be my guide and mentor and I was off and running---well not quite! It was actually funny learning how to walk all over again, how to ﬂy (thrilling!), how to manipulate objects, how to dress my Avatar (the character one adopts along with a new name), and dozens of other pieces of technical know-how I needed to be a successful denizen of SL. I still feel like I am learning each time I enter SL. It has also changed my level of fear back home. I now no longer panic when some equipment is not working correctly and can often ﬁnd a solution, a new experience for me! Jump to the present. I am in my third location in SL, a sim (or simulated landmark) called Prism Lila, an island inhabited by a dozen residents each of whom rents a parcel of land and can build on it. There are thousands of such islands in SL and also a mainland. Some of us are artists, some are teachers or therapists, some are builders and some are facilitators of programs. My group is called Octagon: Creative Exploration where I offer all sorts 118
of programs using arts processes for personal growth and educational ventures, employing my skills in Gestalt and Jungian modalities. Here's how a session might appear to you. A group gathers---maybe ďŹ ve, maybe twenty---I ask for a volunteer to do a demo of a coaching process. (I collaborate with a virtual coach trainer from Denmark who periodically asks focusing questions). When the volunteer comes forward, I set up some guidelines such as conďŹ dentiality, willingness to share with group, and basic building skills. I instruct attendees to share questions and comments in chat bar after the demo and to restrict any analysis of the volunteer but, rather, focus on what it brought up for them. I am on a headset so my voice can be heard. I ask the volunteer to focus on a current challenge, feel what it evokes in the body sitting at home at the computer, and then to build something that symbolizes a feeling state. It is not difďŹ cult to pull a basic geometric shape out of a Create window, put it on the ground, stretch it, and give it a color or texture.... Then I usually do Gestalt work: they become the object, speak to the creator part of them and a dialogue ensues while, all the time, I ask them to pay attention to what is happening in their body at the computer. They usually feel a sense of control from being able to manipulate these objects in real time and change them as their perception shifts. Using built sculptures to represent feeling states
Some remarkable insights and changes occur on the spot such as the woman who was in the middle of a panic attack when she volunteered. She reported that the anxiety dissolved after about ten minutes of work. She said this had never happened to her before with her other panic attacks, even when she was with a helper. 119
I think that the ability to create and change the object as one goes along (e.g., to be inside or on top of it, make it smaller, larger, translucent) produces a set of conditions that helps the person become aware and feel in charge of their process by shifting perception and perspective. I foresee a great use of Second Life, the most developed of these worlds so far, for healing, therapy, teaching, etc. My particular interest is in developing and using creative processes available with this technology, combined with various models from humanistic existential psychology. In addition to using building tools, I use photographs, paintings, music, theater exercises, and body awareness as tools for problem solving, community building, spiritual development and building cultural bridges. I am eager to collaborate with other people and institutions that want to do this type of exploring. If you want to have more of an introduction to SL than I can give here, please go to YouTube and search for the many introductory Second Life videos. If you know you want to experience this world ďŹ rst-hand and see what might be possible for you to do there as a therapist, educator or group leader, go to http://www.secondlife.comand join for free. Once you have an Avatar name, please email me at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help you acclimate.
A version of this article ďŹ rst appeared in the Septermber2010 issue Online Therapy Institute's TILT Magazine~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology. http://www.onlinetherapymagazine.com For a demonstration of the process, please watch this video that was recorded last year at the CESL conference (Counselor Educators in Second Life): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggmm8tgYYMo We usually meet the last Monday of each month at 1pm Pacific time at the Octagon headquarters in Second Life, located at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Prism%20Lila/37/33/23. Marly conducts the sessions in voice, and clients are able to use either voice or text chat to communicate while they are working with Marly. Those who lack basic building skills are still encouraged to come and observe the process as it unfolds. We certainly hope to see you there!
Dress Up the VWBPE in 2013! Leticia De León VWBPE 2013 Programs Chair SL: Letty Luckstone Images by iSkye Silverweb
The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) has been going strong for five years and is about to dress up the stage for a sixth. This year’s conference will take place July 24 through 27, and the theme is Beyond the Stage. It continues to be free to anyone wishing to attend. Asking educators to go beyond the stage is to ask them to consider at what point performance art intercepts with the craft. Extending the way we view the stage also allows educators to examine how the learning process itself is a story. In this manner, learning should have its own moment in the spotlight— whether it be the researcher, educator, student, innovator, gamer, or developer. No one should miss this opportunity. (See http://www.vwbpe.org/conference) VWBPE is first and foremost a conference for educators by educators. However, as an experience, VWBPE is so much more. Because the conference occurs in the virtual world of Second Life, the possibilities extend beyond mere presentation. For one, the environment is part of the experience. This year, the conference planners ambitiously extend the stage to four possible platforms: Second Life, Cloud Party, Unity/Jibe, and Jokaydia OpenSim. The main stage remains in Second Life, though.
For those of you who may never have attended and are considering why it might be worth the effort, here are some rather compelling reasons for joining us this year. The Varied Presentation Tracks
Images from 2012 VWBPE by iSkye Silverweb
Essentially, the conference offers lecture presentations, panels/roundtables, posters, and workshops. For straightforward presentations of theory and research, best practices, games and simulations, tools and products, or Machinima, the conference will offer presentations and panels. For a more immersive experience, the conference also offers hands on workshops and show-stopping three dimensional poster presentations.
The Volunteersâ€”Second to None!
For those uncertain by how to navigate a virtual world, an army of volunteers also ensures the success of the conference. Second to none, our volunteers will help you find your way, resolve technical issues, and even help create the immersive experience. No one rivals the hearts and talents of our volunteers, which make your experience one that you will want to repeat.
The Pageantry of the Environment
The theme of the conference is more than just providing a common thread by which to guide presenters and keynote speakers. It also guides the design of the massive stage (across several sims!) and the dress of the participants. This conference sends you into an environment that may not be possible in real life, but that comes to virtual life in a pageantry of color, presentation, and design.
The Immersive Experience
The conference offers the opportunity to immerse in the various posters, Machinima, games, and simulations that occur as part of the conference. Art, creativity, and education join seamlessly to produce moments of engagement that allow the participant to be part of the conference in much more active ways.
No one can party like VWBPE! Social events dot the landscape of the program so that opportunities for relaxation and excitement occur at every day of the program, transitioning the serious conference breakout sessions. Additionally, no attendee should miss the exciting award show and after party on the last day of the conference. Finally, Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education is a grassroots movement that has not lost momentum. Regardless of changes, migrations across grids, and differing opinions, education in virtual worlds is still very much a passion for many across the metaverse. It is what draws hundreds of volunteers and presenters to its call, and thousands of participants to login for part or all of the conference. The stage is set. The spotlight waits. We hope it waits for you. Below are some important links that will provide you with essential information about the conference: 1. To register (itâ€™s free!) for the conference: http://vwbpe13.eventbrite.com/ 2. To become a sponsor: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vwbpeconference-2013 3. To submit a proposal (June 15 deadline): http://www.vwbpe.org/presenters 4. To volunteer: http://www.vwbpe.org/blog/call-for-second-to-nonevolunteers
What’s Happening to Virtual Worlds? Ramblings from Scott Merrick, LHGP Emeritus, ISTE SIGVE I don’t know. Maybe that little sentence defines my long experience with 3D virtual worlds. Maybe that drives me: Not knowing, after all, is why we seek learning. I believe this summer’s ISTE Conference presents an urgent moment in the history of virtual worlds for education. I’ve been in this milieu (I almost said “game” but see below) a long time. There have been urgent moments both virtual and earthly. Back in Atlanta at NECC #28 in 2007--which after next year’s Atlanta incarnation of NECC/ISTE will be the third time I will have enjoyed it there--I ran out at one point and bought like 20 hamburger sliders at the CNN Sports Bar to bring back to fuel the work we were doing around Second Life there. Here are a couple snapshots, courtesy of old friend Kevin Jarrett (then KJ Hax in Second Life) from that “Hot Topics Lounge,” six summers ago, in Atlanta, Georgia:
Look at the excitement! The place was jammin’! It seemed that our potentials were peaking. In San Antonio in 2008, we virtually (sic) took over the conference, with Second Life featured in the opening Keynote and the Welcome Party, which saw a live band and a cadre of us up on a side stage manipulating band members’ avatars in-world, mirroring the live band 125
performers, One Horse Shy (http://www.reverbnation.com/onehorseshy). Simultaneously, avatar line dancers around the globe danced at the recreation of the Austin City Limits stage placed high in the sky in Second Life. The Second Life Playground at ISTE #28 was suitably crankin’, with lines of attendees bellying up to help stations to get their avatars. In 2009, at ISTE in the nation’s capital, we admitted to ourselves that we were unique. How can a group of impassioned educators, in real-life, who meet often to share learning, teaching, and collegiality as avatars in a virtual world, not be a unique group? Discussions moved on toward the notion of separating ourselves from the Games SIG. SIGVE came into being and geared up to react appropriately to the many changes that had befallen Second Life and the proliferation of alternative worlds—OpenSimulator, ActiveWorldsEDU, Blue Mars, to name a few. The Virtual Environments Playground was born. It’s been thriving at the annual conferences ever since, and this year, though reduced in duration from its glory days length of 3 days to a single half-day event, it will showcase what’s happening in virtual worlds. A 3 ½ hour Google Hangout will be shared and rotate its focus on six discreet learning stations each continuously sharing a different venue or venues in virtual worlds. This will be mirrored in Second Life and available live and archived on YouTube. You see, games are one thing. We are something else. If we consider the spectrum, I’d advance the notion that gaming might be a subset of what we are, not the other way around, as is often, I, think wrongly, assumed. We are 3Dimensional Virtual Environments. Earlier articles in VEJ have described our journey from a Second Life focused tribe to an established arm of that influential organization. The ISTE National Educational Technology Standards, NETS, are standards for the educational uses of technology. These are the underpinnings of state and district technology standards and, truth be told, are strikingly prescient of the “deeper and wider” character that has become the Common Core. This one, and the Virtual Environments Playground at ISTE 2013, hopes to stimulate you to give your avatar a chance at life. So. what makes this milieu so enticing? Is it the fact that your avatar can fly? That you can hold voice discussions with other avatars? That the virtual 126
world has an economy that is readily linked to the global economies of the world in order to easily transfer funds in and out of the platform? To us, the educators who comprise the Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments (SIGVE) within ISTE, Second Life has been, well, a place – a place to meet others and to learn. Lord, I remember when Linden Lab updated the Second Life program to include voice chat. Some people were outraged that the text chat which had founded (and archived) so many rambling and information filled evening conversations was now doomed. Whether you agree with that or not, it was certainly a sea change, or at least we thought it was. There were many more to come. I imagine that many still await us. As the first decade of the century wound down, educational institutions flocked into Second Life in droves, investing thousands of dollars in virtual real estate, just like corporations were doing. There seemed no end to the possibilities. Then came the real sea changes: In the early summer of 2010, Linden Lab laid off approximately 30% of its staff, including every single employee previously dedicated to the service of the educational community. In October of 2010 a piano dropped out of a window in the virtual sky when Linden Lab discontinued discounts it had traditionally offered to education and non-profits. Though there has been talk of the return of these discounts, it may be a case of too little, too late. Over time, it became clear that Linden Lab had no interest in nurturing the educational market or pursuing the potentials we so essentially grasped. Many educators, including the prolific and dynamic Jo Kay in Australia, fled to Open Simulator, preferring the somewhat reduced functionality of that “Second Life –ish” platform to the aggressive passivity that Second Life offered educators. Her robust Jokaydia Grid (http://www.jokaydiagrid.com ) is a thing of beauty.
A group of Israelis brought out Kitely (http://kitely.com), the cloudbased “virtual worlds on demand” platform that just keeps building new features to help set it apart from the OpenSim crowd. 3rd Rock Grid, first featured at ISTE 2009 in Washington, D.C., remains on its modest growing track as a mostly social platform. The list goes on. Get the skinny at this year’s Virtual Environments Playground at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, Texas and at ISTE SIGVE in Second Life (http://tinyurl.com/istesigve ). Just this week, as I write, there have been new developments worthy of note. Iggy Yo (Joe Essid), just noted on May 1 that he was leaving virtual worlds after a long and prosperous journey with his higher education students. Read his blog post for some deep insights (see references) as to why. In part, he shares: I'll sum up what I've learned about utopian narratives and would-be transformative technologies here, based on not only the last 6 but the last 25 years of studying and writing professionally about technological change, especially that which generates legions of enthusiasts. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Look past the message to the messenger Wait for results unless you are an entrepreneur or venture capitalist Be a trailing-edger Find community locally, not just online Consider what students have in their hands
Indeed. Essid has created a virtual “Fall of the House of Usher” recreation experience for students and educators studying Edgar Allen Poe (see https://sites.google.com/site/virtualpoe/). He may be leaving, but he has certainly left a legacy. Most recently, I hope you have become aware of Cloud Party (http://cloudparty.com ), which just yesterday announced a First Anniversary with Art building competition in its own unique Facebook-grounded platform (http://www.cloudparty.com/files/ArtContestRules.pdf?etr_eid=000003&etr _etype=email_newsoffers&etr_ts=1367880061 ). Once you understand that this is a competition with a $1000 USD prize at stake, you should be getting the message. Got Facebook? Get Cloud Party. I’m not sure it’s as much fun or as robust or as community-building as is Second Life, but who knows? Though it’s a matter of fact that the on-the-edges SIGVE Community is somewhat philosophically bipolar when it comes to even considering leaving Second Life, it just may happen. The immense popularity of Virtual Education Journal itself is showing you that virtual worlds are not going away. Maybe we’ll see Iggy Yo return one day, but most likely it will not be to Second Life. References: http://iggyo.blogspot.com/2013/05/leaving-las-vegas-6-years-invirtual.html In a Strange Land blog, Joe Essid http://www.isteconference.org/2012/about_us/conference_history.php ISTE Conference History http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/43981/Second-LifeControversies#vars!date=2011-11-09_16:52:24! Second Life Controversies timeline
It’s May @ SIGVE Social
The use of the twenty-first century program Uru by Cyan Worlds, Inc. to raise test scores in the Classroom: Report 1: College-bound Earth Science and Special Education Biology Test cases. By Dr. William F. Schmachtenberg (aka) Dae Miami (SL) Science Department, Franklin County High School, 700 Tanyard Road, Rocky Mount, VA 24151 School of Natural Science and Mathematics, Ferrum College, Ferrum Virginia, 24088 email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Uru, written by Cyan Worlds, Inc. is a powerful twenty-first century program that can be used to make both minigames and more complex games for the classroom. I have used it in my high school classroom in Southwest Virginia to run multicultural lessons and virtual field trips. In this study, I analyze the ability of Uru to raise test scores on a state end-of-course test in Earth Science and a biochemistry unit test in Biology. Sixty-nine students were given the Virginia Earth Science test at the beginning of the year with no instruction. They were then split into two groups one that was allowed to use Uru for remediation, and the other could only study in a small group. They were then retested after thirty minutes. The college bound students showed about the same improvement with either using Uru or just studying in a small group. But the non-college bound class improved their scores on average fourteen points with Uru as compared to four points with studying in small groups. Some of the non-college bound students improved their scores by as much as thirty-two points. The Biology students also showed an improvement by as much as thirty-six points on the retest. Uru can be a useful tool in raising students grades in the classroom. It also has the potential to allow students to collaborate or compete with one another in other classrooms, schools, or even other countries.
INTRODUCTION Computer games have long been considered a useful tool in improving classroom instruction. Renaud and Wagoner (2011) give a good summary of the use of computer games in the classroom from the early 1980s with titles such as Oregon Trail to modern day games such as Quest to Learn. Prensky (2005) argues that there are trivial or minigames that are easy to create and take less than an hour for students to complete. They motivate students and help quiz them on content. He also argues that there are complex games that are multiplayer, collaborative, challenging, and competitive. The complex game can be a historical simulator such as Age of Empires or games involving complex puzzles such as Myst and Riven. In 2005, Tim Rylands (See www.timrylands.com for more information) won the Becta ICT in Practice Award for his work involving the game Myst in an elementary school in the United Kingdom. Even though, Pretsky argues that complex games should be multiplayer, surprisingly he does not include the online game Uru. I have used Uru in my classroom for years as it contains all of the elements necessary to reinforce twenty-first century skills. Wilson(2009) defines twenty-first century skills as involving teamwork, problem solving, communication. Uru allows you to form teams with a contact or â€œ buddyâ€? list, it has complex puzzles some of which can only be solved in a 3D environment with teamwork, and there is highly filtered chat for online communication. Moul (Myst online, Uru Live) servers also allow voice chat if the avatars are in close proximity. For teachers who wish to have solutions to the problems in Uru there are numerous walkthroughs on the Internet such as http://www.fisicx.com/uru/walkthrough.htm. There are many reasons why Uru should be used in schools. Uru was released in 2003 and runs on older computers. However, on older machines, it may be necessary to install an inexpensive ATI or Nvidia card to run the graphics. However, in my opinion such an upgrade is worth it for the high quality graphics in Uru. The computers in the lab are a year old and have integrated Intel video cards in them, and run Uru with no problem. Uru has no adult content such as nudity, violence, profanity, or sexual behavior. Any game must be aligned with current school standards. When Uru first came out, the demo program that Cyan Worlds released had eight of the Virginia science standards already in the program such as rocks, volcanoes, plate tectonics, and caves. It is possible to add content from other curricula because Uru is very well documented on the internet with tutorials written by Andy Legate 132
at: http://dusty.homeunix.net/wiki/Creating_Ages and at www.guildofwriters.org , and is well supported by the fan community. Uru can be used to create minigames as well as more complex games. Marianne Hellberg, an elementary school teacher in Sweden, and I have been collaborating for the past two years. Together we have designed many programs called “ages” in Uru. Using Uru and Skype, we have done multicultural lessons in which our students get to meet each other. We have also done virtual field trips in Virginia and Sweden with the Dragon’s tooth and Kinnekulle ages. Dragon’s tooth is based on an actual mountain in Virginia and Kinnekulle is based on a quarry in Sweden. Our students can do virtual fossil collection trips and analyze data. Schmachtenberg(2008) published a formula for calculating the distance between plates in the past using fossil data. Those data were incorporated into an in-game book in the Wind River age in Uru. Students can use those data to solve a puzzle in Uru and reconstruct the distance between Germany and the United States for the Late Cretaceous. There is a similar puzzle in the latest version of Dragon’s tooth age. My current research interest is in seeing if Uru can raise grades and scores on standardized tests. Franklin County High School is the school at which I have taught for the last twenty-four years. The school has 2300 students, with a diverse student body including special education, college bound students, and governor school students. Uru is widely supported by the administration, central office, and tech services. The Uru software I used is located on the UAM server in Canada, and client software for Uru is located in two computer labs on 50 computers at the high school. Uru is famous for its mazes, and my students and I have designed several. At each intersection, there is a question with each answer pointing to a different corridor in the maze. Correct answers quickly take the student through the maze, whereas incorrect answers take the students to dead-ends. The Department of Education has given us permission to include actual release test questions in Biology, Earth Science, Algebra I and II, and History and so the questions in Uru are tightly aligned with the Virginia state standards. At this time there are nine teachers and hundreds of students who are willing to take part in a study to see if Uru can raise test scores. There are also students who help design the mazes and enter question into Uru. The questions are formatted into 512x512 png files using Gimp software and 133
Paint, and then UV mapped onto posters in the intersections of the corridors in the Uru mazes. (See Figure.1) Students use the free program Blender, but I also have a license for 3ds max version 7 and the Cyan plugin to create educational content in Uru.
Figure 1. Screencapture in the uru game showing how questions were put on posters at intersection points in a maze. Correct responses to the questions take students to the next question. Incorrect answers lead to a dead end. SCENARIO 1: COLLEGE BOUND EARTH SCIENCE CLASSES During the school year of 2011 to 2012, the five weakest students in my college bound class were given a test on energy. They were then put into an Uru maze with the same questions, and then retested. The average scores increased from 69 F to an 86 B. Keith Pennington, the Director of Secondary Education for Franklin County Public Schools, encouraged me to increase the size of the study and use a control group to see how much Uru can increase test scores. During the summer of 2011, I entered 50 release test questions 134
from the 2004 end-of-course Earth Science test. All of my freshmen then took the test at the beginning of the year with no traditional instruction. Half of each freshmen class was taken to the lab and allowed to use Uru with the same questions in the maze for 30 minutes. From the other half of the class, two of the highest performing students were selected, designated as student teachers, and given an answer key. They were given 30 minutes to review with the other students in the group on their own. All freshmen were then given the release test again with the following results: The Period 2 Class. The period 2 class consisted of 23 students. As Figure 2 below shows the Uru group increased their score on the release test by 9 percentage points as opposed to an increase of only 3 for those that were allowed to study in groups lead by a student teacher using traditional means (triad group). Uru clearly helped this student increase their test scores on a state test in science. 82 80 78 76 74 72
68 66 64 62 60 uru
Figure 2. Bar graph of test scores for students in my second period test on the 2004 release test in Earth Science. The Period 3 Class. There was a different result for the Period 3 Earth Science students (Figure 3). The triad group of students that had just studied the answer key improved their average on the post-test by 12 percentage points whereas the Uru group increased their scores by an average of 6 percentage points as shown on the graph below. There were twenty-six students are in the third period Earth Science class.
90 80 70 60 50
Figure 3. Bar graph showing improvement of scores for the third period class.
30 20 10 0 uru
The Period 4 Class. The fourth period class contained 20 students (Figure 4). The Uru group showed the greatest increase of all the classes by improving their scores by an average of 14 percentage points as compared to the triad group that only increased by four percentage points(See bar graph below). In addition, one of the students in the uru group increased his score by 32 percentage points. All of the students in the Uru group achieved a passing score on this state test, whereas only 7 in the triad group passed after studying. After the post-tests, students were given a survey about Uru. Ninety-six percent of the students in the second and third period classes would rather use Uru for test review than small group work. Eighty percent of students in the fourth 80 period said they 70 preferred using Uru for test 60 review. 50 pretest
30 20 10 0 uru
Figure 4. Graph of student scores in the fourth period class.
Some of the students commented that they liked the online competitions in reviewing the questions. Some found that if they hit a dead end in a maze they realized they had picked the wrong answer. I think it also helped for review that there were only two to three choices in the maze, whereas the paper tests had four answers. SCENARIO 2: SPECIAL EDUCATION BIOLOGY CLASSES After the initial study with the Earth Science classes, Dorian Albano and Stacie Thurman, two Biology teachers asked if their classes consisting of predominantly special education inclusion students could participate in an attempt to raise test scores. The teachers had just given a test in biochemistry after teaching them the information, and the majority of the students failed. The initial test contained 46 questions. The Biology teachers made a new test on the same material consisting of 25 questions that were put into an Uru maze. The post-test also consisted of those 25 questions. The first period class of Biology students showed the most increase between the pre- and post- tests increasing their scores by 10 points. There were 17 students in the class, and 12 improved their scores, one by as much as 31 points. The third period has 16 students in it. The overall grade average dropped by one point, however six students showed an increase with one student increasing the score by 36 points. After the post-test, Stacie Thurman felt the students were more interested in just racing through the maze without keeping the correct answers in their head. The fourth class of students had 18 students in it. They too showed a drop of one point in the class average overall, but 7 of the 18 students showed an increase in their test scores with one student increasing by 22 points. The last class was the most negative to the software. One student was found not actively participating in Uru. One student felt that newer games that he played at home were much better than Uru, and he did not actively use the software. CONCLUSION Uru is a popular game among students at my school and can be an effective tool to raise test scores in the classroom. It, like other programs 137
available to teachers, does not help all students. As Wilson (2009) notes, well motivated students as in my third period Earth Science class do well with or without games, whereas students with a negative attitude are not likely to be helped by educational games such as some of the students in the fourth period biology class. The real potential value of Uru is that it allows students to collaborate online to solve problems or engage in competitions with students in other classrooms, schools, or even other countries. John Vehmeier, the Network Engineer for our school system, has told me that we have not had any security or bandwidth issues with using Uru since we have started using it, and he welcomes other schools to join us. Ten teachers in our school, including history and science teachers, have expressed an interest in using Uru in their classes so far. Virginia will also be changing its standards next year to be much more rigorous, and I am currently developing Uru puzzles to help meet the needs of these new standards. I plan to release additional reports as more teachers use Uru. If you have questions about the research that is being done at Franklin County High School with Uru or if you are a teacher and would like a free trial Uru account, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All the work that is being done with Uru, is conducted with a FCAL (Fan created age license) issued by Cyan World, Inc. This work is also being done in collaboration with Idoodlesoftware, Inc., which has the legal right to distribute Cyanâ€™s software to schools. For more information, about using Uru in your school, contact Robert Sowah at www.idoodlesoftware.com. REFERENCES Prensky, Marc. 2005. Complexity Matters. http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky-Complexity_Matters.pdf Renaud, C. and B. Wagoner. 2011. The Gamification of Learning. Principal Leadership. Pp. 57 -59. Schmachtenberg. W. F. 2008. Resolution and limitations of faunal similarity indices of biogeographic data for testing predicted paleogeographic reconstructions and estimating intercontinental distances: A test case of modern and Cretaceous bivalves. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 265:255-261. Wilson, L. 2009. Best Practices for using games and simulations in the classroom. Guidelines for K12 Educators. Software and Information Industry Association. Education Division. http://www.siia.net/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=610&tm pl=component&format=raw&Itemid=59
The Continuing Story of Uru in Schools: Further Research on The Use of Virtual Worlds in Education By Dr. William F. Schmachtenberg (aka) Dae Miami (SL)
During the 2011 to 2012 school year, I received permission from Franklin County Public Schools in Southwest Virginia to conduct research on the effectiveness of using the virtual world software Uru by Cyan Worlds Inc. Cyan gave me permission as well to conduct the research. The results were presented at the online VWBPE (Virtual Worlds: Best Practices In Education) Conference in Second Life during the spring of 2012 and are presented in the accompanying article. Three other papers were released and can be downloaded for free at : https://sites.google.com/a/frco.k12.va.us/williamschmachtenberg/resources. At the VWBPE conference, educators expressed that although they liked Uru and its possible uses in the classroom; it was difficult to load on computers and could not be run at all on a mac. They convinced me to port my content to the Unity 3D game engine. Unity 3d is a more modern game engine that allows content to be ported to pcs, macs, and even run in a web browser for free. I started to create content during the summer of 2012 and encouraged my students to create in Unity 3D as well during the 2012 to 2013 school year. One freshman at my high school created a volcano world and then a forest world. Kristen Leary created an oceanography world with a whale and submarine. The program is designed to help students review seafloor features such as mid-ocean ridges, trenches, and rift valleys. [See Interview with Kristen Leary in this issue of VEJ.] Kristen Leary, a senior at Franklin County High School, demonstrates an oceanography program she created in Unity 3D. The inset shows a screen capture of her program. 139
In preparation, for state science testing, I created a program called Science Island in Unity 3d and loaded it on my website. The Science Island Pre version is designed to measure the studentâ€™s current understanding of topics in Earth Science. When they are finished with the software, pressing the z key pulls up the studentâ€™s total grade and a listing of which questions were answered correctly. Students were then encouraged to take a second version of Science Island called Post. This version gives feedback to the student if they get a question wrong, so they can master the content. It also requires them to collect data on the island before they answer the questions. Hence, it incorporates an inquiry component into the program. Preliminary results from science island show promise with students typically increasing their test scores by 25% and one student by as much as 43%. I have also created a virtual reality geology field trip to the Appalachians and a reconstruction of part of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia for 1607. If you are interested in mobile device apps, you may also want to check out the fossil analyzer software on that website too. It runs on IPads and the Nexus 10. [http://www.evwllc.co/] 140
To start, a student takes a picture of a fossil and some simple measurements. Another freshman at Franklin County High School takes a picture of a fossil for the fossil analyzer program and then measured the length and width of the shell. She used a stylus to measure the radius of the shell at five-degree angles. Within 5 minutes, the app identifies the fossil to the genus and species level, gives the area of the shell, and gives the geologic age. The fossil analyzer app currently works with 15 species of common fossils and this summer, I plan to expand the database to include many more fossils. The software can be downloaded to an IPad and run offline.
The Appalachian field trip and Jamestown software and fossil analyzer app, as well as instructions for its use, sample fossils images, and data can be downloaded from: http://www.evwllc.co/page1.html. More details on the use of the fossil analyzer program will be published this Summer and in the Fall of 2013 in the Newsletter of the New York Paleontological Society. Dr. William Schmachtenberg (aka) Dae Miami in second life will be giving a presentation on Virtual Worlds in Education in Franklin County, VA on July 10, 2013 in rl and sl as part of a VSTE/RPDIT(Regional Professional Development for Instructional Technology) conference. For more information about his work, you can email him at: William.email@example.com
ReďŹ‚ections of a student By Trevor Roe
As a student, largely I ďŹ nd that directly voicing the opinions of myself and my companion often makes little impact on the education system, either immediately or over time. However, students are an important resource for feedback; and the organization behind the VEJ clearly understands this and truly listens to the voice of students.
Locally, my friends and I have come to an agreement that education and games are not associated at all, let alone closely. This leads to a disconnection between the world we, as children, observe, and the world education attempts to shape around us. However, problem solving has created a connection for many students, as it is similar to itself in almost all situations, and this has become accepted by the education system. How does this relate to gaming? A common goal in every game is to have a goal. This presents the gamer with a problem to be solved, which means that gaming
is just problem-solving designed to be fun and immersive. The player must cognitively interact with storyline, HUDs, GUIs, and objective completion. This encourages quick learning and adaptation based on environments and interactivity, both of which are extremely limited in a ďŹ nite classroom, which is observed easily. For example, in the popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, the player must interact with other players, their inventory, skills, and abilities. As you can see, the heads-up display is extensive, as is the chat. The player must monitor health, manna, location, and alliesâ€™ location, making PvP, PvM, and PvE immersive, and focus is imperative.
But how do we ensure that games applied in the classroom have purpose, and are appropriate? Many games today are not, focusing on mindless violence and inadequate entertainment. By simple observance of the game, one can understand its purpose and how it can be used as an appropriate and engaging learning activity in the classroom. Thank you for your consideration of my ideas, the voice of students lies in the hands of the adults we reach here.
CREATING “USER IMAGINED CONTENT” THROUGH VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS By Fleet Goldenberg (sl) Sambiglyon Community Manager Ever since virtual worlds as we know them have existed, the ones with the greatest longevity have been those that have offered User Generated Content (UGC) – whether to a small degree (crafting items from pre-made raw materials) or to a much larger extent (creating complex objects from very basic geometric shapes in the likes of OpenSim and Second Life). UGC even came to be referred to in some circles as 'Web 2.0', a term describing how online content such as websites evolved over time to being static walls of information into experiences that could be interacted with and added to. Everything goes in circles though, and what was old becomes new again eventually. Flared jeans are suddenly the height of fashion again, and the
business practices of the Eighties (the more moral ones, anyway) become relevant again. As technology shrinks in physical size and clunky interfaces are stripped away to be replaced by more intuitive Natural User Interfaces and Augmented Reality such as Google Glass and Oculus Rift, the barriers between the real world and digital are dissolving: so much so that we are seeing the return of Human 1.0 â€“ the power of imagination or, to put it in a more modern way, User Imagined Content (UIC).
The Buddhist and Hindu religions believe strongly in imagined worlds taking on a real, tangible existence. Their faith calls them Tulpas (1). In Buddhism they are something that is benign, whilst Hinduism considers them to have the potential to be spiritually dangerous (2), because a person can become so obsessed with fantasy worlds that they lose touch with their real world life. Although I have extensively researched and written about such fictional dimensions, an education journal is not the place for metaphysics. Instead, we will explore in this article how UIC can be utilized in a purely scientific, pedagogical way. 146
Children create UIC every day through play. They and their friends take a basic story concept from their favorite entertainment media â€“ whether it be from a book, television show / movie or the internet - and then take on a role from that entertainment and allot the remaining unfilled character roles of their piece of imaginative theatre to invisible cast members. They are using their minds to paint their stage-play directly onto the canvas of the real world. It does not matter that others cannot see what they are painting; somehow, like real actors on a stage or set, a group of young friends know what is happening in their live-action recreation without having to explain it to each other, because they know the basic rules of the original media that their play is based on and create something new within the safety of that guiding framework.
When the concept of UIC is woven into a school curriculum that features virtual worlds then the playground can become an extension of the classroom instead of a break from it. This is because a virtual environment can be used to plant the idea that the student's mental imaginings can be superimposed over their surroundings, and the students then take that principle outdoors with them at break-time and test it for themselves, but under their rules instead of the teacher's. So how can virtual environments be used for the teaching of UIC principles? Sadly, youth are not quite as imaginative as they used to be. An overload of information has, in many cases, dulled the ability to use the mind to fill in the gaps. When everything is provided on-tap, there is less need to work stuff out for yourself, because it has already been done for you with pre-existing content. This is the double-edged sword of technological progress. Like the starting town in an online massively multiplayer game, the student may need to be given subtle direction that suggests how they should begin understanding the rules of that environment. Just as a purported photograph of a ghost is more credible if there is at least some kind of faint mist or shadow in the picture for the observer of that photo to scrutinize, a student may need some kind of semi-tangible prompt to be present in the virtual realm for their eyes to lock onto â€“ like a 'Where's Waldo' find-the-hidden-guy image - so that they can begin processing what it might be and then draw further conclusions based on that initial assessment. Asking someone to find a boy in a stripy hat and sweater may be good training for the eyes but not for the imagination. The student would not need to visualize for themselves what Waldo looks like, because Waldo always looks like Waldo: this is the entire point of the challenge of finding him! If we want to encourage a learner to imagine new elements in a scene but at the same time give them a helpful starting point, then we can take a leaf out of kids sticker books, and represent the invisible elements in a User Generated Content-supporting virtual environment as shaped cut-outs!
If you create a learning game with – to use the above example – the cut-out of a squirrel, then the student knows from the silhouette that it is obviously meant to be a squirrel because the shape is so distinctive, but each individual student can mentally fill in the silhouette with their own vision of what that squirrel should look like. There is no right or wrong depiction of it. If the student can visualize some form of squirrel, then the exercise has been a success, because they have been compelled to use their mind in a way that does not feel forced to them. When a student is asked to use technology in the classroom in the same way that they use that technology at home – whether it be a virtual world or social networking - then it can suddenly become uncool, because the teacher is turning something that they enjoy into just another work exercise. And
besides, if the teacher likes something that they like then it doesn't feel quite so revolutionary ... Learning is at its most effective when the student is having so much fun that they do not even realize they are learning! This is the primary reason that a school exists â€“ to impart theoretical knowledge that can â€“ sooner or later - be applied to real-world situations. By giving students the tools to harness their imagination and then setting them free (literally, when the break bell rings), then they can teach themselves through their play. During that play, they draw on both conscious recollection and, to a lesser extent, a wealth of information lodged deep in their unconscious long-term memory that their mind has recorded and filed away during their lifetime. Like the creation of dreams during sleep, those conscious and unconscious pieces of memory combine to generate a narrative that is acted out during play with thoughts and with physical body language (some aspects of which are intended, and others that are instinctive auto-actions, such as the 'hand flapping' action that some autistic people exhibit when excited). My first experience of the concept of optimizing the brain to make the most efficient use of a large volume of stored memories was as a teenager when I watched the Gerry Anderson TV puppet show 'Joe 90' (3). The basic premise was that a hypnotically pulsing gyroscope machine called BIG RAT was used to install the memories and brain pattern of a specific adult into an ordinary child called Joe a he sat inside the gyroscope. The memories were stored in Joe's spectacles (and lost from his mind if he removed them), and enabled him to carry out secret agent missions and perform adult actions such as flying a fighter jet.
A little later in life, I learned of the existence of self-help tapes and CDs that could be played through headphones whilst a person slept, loading the information into their unconscious and so making it easier to recall that information during their waking life if they were exposed to memory cues that triggered the pre-installed data and pulled the memory (or a shard of it) into their conscious mind. This learning technique offers a clue for how traditional book-learning can be combined with virtuality and the student's break-time play. Instead of memorizing a textbook by rote, the student could be asked to read a chapter but not memorize it as if they were studying for a test (since the mind has already unconsciously absorbed everything that the eyes were looking at during reading). Once the student gets to class then they can log onto a virtual environment and be given prompts through cut-out shapes in that environment that are designed in such a way that the mind can tie them to the information that it absorbed during the book reading and bring that information naturally to the surface of the consciousness in an â€œOh yeeahh, I get it!â€? moment. Once they have grasped the basics of a concept from their realizations during the classroom session then they can then explore it further during break-time play. 151
Whilst one cannot â€“ and should not â€“ compel the student to reflect on that knowledge during their break, if it is presented to them in a way that is compelling enough for it to powerfully resonate with them then they are likely to want to continue exploring it during their out-of-class time without being asked. And as every parent knows, it is so much easier to get a kid to do something if they think that it's their own idea!
Being able to engage better with books through virtuality and play is a process whose benefits flow in both directions. Once the student gets a taste for reading through gentle enhancement of their literacy via methods that are fun and easy for them to grasp (because it relies on the visual senses that modern kids use every day instead of dry academic memory-tests), they are then more likely to subsequently have the interest to embark upon a deeper relationship with books.
Once they engage with books then they are likely to develop a relationship with the authors / artists that created them and so seek out other works by those creators, and then search for similar works by other creators. They can then take that knowledge back to the classroom and apply it to their lessons, including those conducted in the virtual environment. And then they go off to break and explore those ideas some more. Through virtual worlds, the student is encouraged to develop their imaginative faculties. If the experience is sufficiently well designed then they continue the lesson in the playground. They gain the confidence to conduct self-directed learning (and maybe a sense of superiority that they are exceeding their peers' knowledge) and they take their new skills and ideas back to the virtual world, where they develop those ideas further. It truly is a virtuous circle.
SOURCES 1. Wikipedia entry on Tulpas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa 2. Tulpas and Hinduism. http://members.pioneer.net/~tkerns/waol-phiwebsite/lecsite/lec-tulpas.html 3. 'Joe 90' Wikipedia entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_90
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Can we talk about the story of Moses for a second without anyone being offended because of a religious connotation? Let’s look at the story as history if we must, but please, if you take a spiritual meaning I say let your spirit move you. I have thought a lot about Moses recently for some reason because I think his riches to rags story speaks volumes about leadership. I think many of us in the Virtual Environment/ Education game have the deep conviction that we can harness the power of these worlds to do the education establishment a mountain of good. But so often we find ourselves alone among our colleagues, school districts, and even professional learning groups. We have probably gotten strange looks, chuckles at best. At worst, we may have even been considered quite mad or heaven forbid, someone has heard some bizarre Second Life story and thinks we are some deviant or Virtual Eleanor Rigby. Many of us have given up even bringing it up in mixed company for fear of “the look of Misunderstanding”. From time to time we see a once passionate VE colleague throw in the towel of virtual worlds to return to the
brick and rigor mortar of traditional schooling, with the â€œat least I gave it a tryâ€? resolve. And for those of us still here, we start to wonder, we start to question, we start to lose our faith in the amazing possibility of virtual environments for highly engaging learning experiences. But I havenâ€™t. Not by a long shot. Why you ask? Because I have seen the burning bush! I have stared deeply into its flame, and it has spoken to me. It has given me resolve. But more importantly it has given me the courage to march on, to leave my little Egypt of certainty and shelter for the new possibilities of powerful learning.
Where have I seen this burning bush? In the students I have had the amazing fortune to work with this past year. With help from the Technology and Learning Grant from the New York State Department of Education, I have had the experience of working with schools in New York on our Islands of Enlightenment projects. This selfhosted OpenSim environment allows students to explore historical and science simulations to learn. My role is to train the teachers and provide in school support for students. And here is where the magic happens. The look on the student’s faces is truly amazing. Through their fearless exploration, their creative building, their avatar appearance changes. Here you see a side to students that you won’t find by handing them a textbook and a worksheet. Please don’t misunderstand; there is a place for textbook reading. There is a place for spelling quizzes and traditional learning approaches. But there needs to be a place for virtual environments and their ability to transform students learning. Letting students create builds is REAL WORLD compatible. Watch any home improvement show and you will see interior designers to construction workers using virtual simulations for their customers. Letting students interact in virtual environment role-play creates amazing new avenues for digital storytelling and journaling. It’s powerful, its revolutionary... and I think essential for today’s learner who is hungry for digital learning opportunities. And so I find myself as Moses once was – an ordinary man, looking to lead education out of the dark ages of educational monochrome. Many who can’t open their eyes to whimsy or new ideas, or worse, those that are envious of those thinking outside the box, won’t follow. I know. But I have climbed the mountain. I have seen the other side. But most importantly, I have seen the burning passion of students. I must believe that the passion means good things. We must move on.
The Story of the VSTE Index of Educational Sims By Beth Oâ€™Connell (RL), Beth Ghostraven (SL)
VSTE Planning Meeting - Photo by Bluebarker Lowtide Second Life is full of educational simulations that immerse the user in history and science, but finding and sharing them can be difficult. The goal of the VSTE Index of Educational Sims is to streamline that experience. This is a collaborative effort that began with VSTE (Virginia Society for Technology in Education), but certainly does not end there.
I love Cyrus Hush’s Expedition Central in Second Life (SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/VSTE%20Island/23/154/765). Cyrus has curated educational sims for several years now, and has a vibrant collection high above the VSTE sim, arranged in a cylinder, within which people can explore some of the best of Second Life. The landmark posters are arranged roughly by subject area, but it’s mostly a place for exploration.
Expedition Central in Second Life - Photo by Beth Ghostraven I have frequently returned to Expedition Central looking for sims that I’ve visited, only to be frustrated by the time it took me to find things. As a librarian, I appreciate the serendipity of finding similar things together, but I also love being able to find things quickly. Expedition Central needed an index. For some time this task seemed too intimidating to even begin. As I began to explore the potential of Google Docs, though, it became apparent that this could be crowdsourced--”many hands make light work.”
I’ve become heavily involved with educational groups in Second Life (http://booklady9.edublogs.org/2013/03/15/professional-virtual-worldadventures/). VSTE has their own sim in Second Life, with meetings and workshops every Monday evening. Recently, brainstorming ideas for workshops, I had a flash--we could collaborate on a spreadsheet of sims! It was easy to set up a spreadsheet and make it editable by anyone with the link. In fact, if you’d like to add to it, feel free! Here’s the link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlH7cYnZLGmedHI4VE1KTz FKUzI5RlpkVkF0MUNyWXc&usp=sharing I entered the basic information for the sims in Expedition Central, hoping to add more later.
On Monday, April 22, we met in the VSTE Auditorium in Second Life. Kim Harrison displayed the document on a sim so we could all see it, and I
briefly explained that we were going to add more information to this spreadsheet so that people can find educational sims that meet their needs, in Second Life or on other grids. We had 23 people all working on this spreadsheet at the same time. It was so cool to watch the changes taking place--I’ve never had that much fun looking at a spreadsheet before! Marie Booz organized a second session at VSTE on Monday, May 6, titled Hunting Educational Sims. We split into teams and roamed Second Life looking for more sims to add, or updating existing information. This time we took an additional step: we added pictures and descriptions of the sims to the Second Life VSTE Members Ning (http://vsteonline.ning.com/group/secondlifevstemembers/forum/topics/hu nting-educational-sims-in-second-life). This process proved to be time-consuming, but the pictures give a wonderful visual side to the information, and can be accessed by people who haven’t experienced Second Life yet. What’s next? In order for this project to be really useful, it needs to be an online database, rather than a spreadsheet. This would enable us to include many types of information (pictures, SLurls, etc) in an easily sortable format. It also needs to be updated frequently, to stay current and to include new sims and virtual worlds. Then, it needs to be publicized to the people who need to use it (even if they don’t know that yet). Again, this seems really overwhelming, but at least we’ve begun to sort out the many sims that are available to educators. If you have ideas, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. RL: Beth O’Connell SL: Beth Ghostraven 162
Regarding Online Education By Matt Poole (RL), Cyrus Hush (SL)
In recent years, the growth rate for online degree programs has soundly surpassed that of “brick-and-mortar” institutions. Traditional universities have understandably regarded this trend with a certain amount of trepidation. A few traditional educators have even decried the online academic environment as being cold and impersonal; even symptomatic of a “dumbing down” of the educational system. Aficionados might be inclined to defend the online educational environment by pointing out the convenience and flexibility of online classes for working adults, as well as the need to maximize educational efficiencies in the face of ongoing budgetary cutbacks.
Both sides of this debate may be missing the larger point, however. The suggestion that online classes have to be qualitatively inferior to traditional classes in any way is simply not true. Arguments against the value of an online education might include accusations that educators and students never meet face-to-face, that the intellectual dynamics of classroom discussion and debate are missing and that subtle cues of interpersonal communication cannot be expressed in an online environment. Such statements rely on assumptions, however, and the assumptions may not be valid or may not be valid anymore. Indeed, given the speed at which the Web is evolving, any limitations to Web-based learning that might still exist could disappear tomorrow.
For many educators, assumptions or misconceptions about online courses probably stem from memories of correspondence courses wherein a student received a package of readings and assignments through the mail. Once completed, the student would mail it back to an instructor for a grade. While convenient, this model was not only impersonal but made it very difficult to receive timely feedback on an assignment. However, if a given online class is destined to be merely a high-tech vision of the venerable correspondence course, it is not going to be because of a technological limitation but rather because of a limitation of vision on the part of educators.
Online education is (and always has been) going through a transition. In many cases the expectations of traditional educators and the general public are rooted in memories of earlier models of distance education, or in their own general anxieties about the online environment. However, these expectations may not be shared by their students, who may have different experiential frameworks entirely. Modern Millennials have had the opportunity to grow up in an environment of video games, video-chat, texting, email, social networks and other technologies. Educators of another generation may have adopted these technologies, either reluctantly or joyously, but they may not have had the opportunity to learn as children how to be Web natives. To many of our students, however, the idea of online collaboration seems neither sterile nor impersonal but already a necessary part of their lives.
Apple Inc. recently launched a new series of textbooks available through their iTunes outlet. As with many of their other products, they took an innovative approach. Rather than first creating the printed text and then making a static digital copy, Appleâ€™s innovation was to start from scratch and 164
to leverage the full capabilities of e-book technology for each title, delivering dynamic and interactive multi-media resources that a traditional textbook, for all its tactile charm, could not be expected to match. To achieve its fullest potential, online education has to develop the same way and be built from the ground up to maximize the student experience with media-rich content, constant “check-ins” from instructors and mentors, and lots of collaborative, interactive group projects to challenge the students’ critical thinking skills.
Today, you can take a virtual tour of great museums with Google Art Project. You can dive out of the sky and explore any point on the planet with Google Earth. You can have a face-to-face conversation with anyone in the world using Skype and a webcam. You can have lively group meetings using webinars. You can network with friends and colleagues using socialnetworking sites. You can enter a virtual world as an avatar and simulate a classroom environment, complete with an avatar-instructor and other avatarstudents. All of this is possible right now.
Much like a piece of chalk, online education is just a tool in the hands of an educator. It can be used effectively or ineffectively, appropriately or inappropriately. It can be used at the wrong times or for the wrong reasons. However, the challenge and the responsibility for achieving learning objectives lie not in the chalk, but in the hand wielding it. A given online class might not be as good as a given traditional class… or it might be just as good… or it might be far superior. The keys for success are design, implementation and, as with all things, effective communication.
The Recipe of Storytelling: Step 1 of 3 By: Bluebarker Lowtide (SL), Vasili Giannoutsos(RL)
As with any part of any story or narrative, you have the main eight basic ideas: setting, character, conflict, plot, action, climax, resolution and conclusion. The there are some special elements in storytelling that not many know about that will certainly improve your stories and separate you from the rest of the formula fiction out there. Letâ€™s call these the secret ingredients to making a great story.
***The photo was taken @ Alice Academy in Second Life, owned by ArthurConan Doyle.
Today’s secret ingredient is: Empathetic Characters. You have your normal characters just as the hero and the villain, as well as your stereotypes of antihero or trickster, but what happens most of the times is that these characters lack anything worth remembering. How do we create such memorable characters? Let’s examine characters that are memorable and have worldwide recognition. Not just the distinguished looks or signature sayings, these two characters stood the test of time and came from two completely different worlds. This wouldn’t go without saying, but the more comical note is how we are able to remember more about fictional characters than we can about the real day-to-day people we encounter all the time. Our examples are Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker – two very different characters, but both more memorable than our own relatives. Frodo Baggins is a hobbit, who lives in the Shire and has the duty to destroy the Ring of Sauron at Mount Doom. Luke Skywalker was a farmer on Tatooine that becomes a Jedi who helps the Rebellion win their war against the Galactic Alliance. Right there, in just one sentence I was able to summarize the character’s name, their origin and their role in their world. Sure there is a lot to be explained, but if you create characters with less than intriguing features and backstories, you may have to send them back to the drawing board. There is a lot to be said about what a character does and it’s not just to be a character in a story. Think of your character as a living and breathing thing – the worlds they come from and the laws that are in effect there. Your character has a family. They have a childhood. They have friends and may have a job outside of their quest or mission. They have feelings. They have things they want and things they desire. Likewise, there are certain things they need and there are certain things that motivate them to be at their very best. So how do you break these all down? What parts become more important to focus on? Well, it’s a case-by-case answer and it will change with each character and each story. The important thing is you need to know your characters inside and out. Compose a list of not only their likes and dislikes, but also what they like to wear, what kind of music they listen to when they are bored or perhaps 167
what they do when it’s raining outside. As random as it sounds, being able to answer as many questions about your character as you can will help you learn more and more about them so they can become more developed and involved. And, sure it can get overwhelming to do this for each character. But, to start you can just stick to your main characters. Characters can be described as round or flat. A round character is a character that is more evolved and changes with a story. Your main protagonist should be a round character. Going from a lack of confidence to a full courageous hero by the end of the story is a common round character progression. A flat character is a character that stays relatively the same in both behavior and goals. They tend to be the supporting characters because their hopes and dreams tend to be someone else’s though they add to the dynamics of your cast. Your cast of characters is, as hard as it might be to grasp, like a well written soap opera. You have your characters that are rather extreme; some emotional basket cases and others who are vengeful or can never have too much attention. Characters are meant to embody and be exaggerations of everyday people. Characters are meant to be connected with your readers on some level regardless of how super-fantastical they may be. Your audience, your readers, should find something in your main character or characters that urge them to continue to reading so they desperately desire them to succeed and thus continue to be engaged or wrapped into the story so they read from beginning to end. As educators, it’s a never-ending battle keeping your students focused on what you are teaching when there are so many interesting things out there. From current trends, popularity levels, the newest music and more; your students would rather stay glued to their smartphones under their desks than what is on the boards or in their books. Well, let’s take a different approach to this matter – away from school and from books. Let’s try to look at this from our own lives. Heck, most stories are about events that happen in a character’s life. But it’s the journey, the 168
actions, and adventures that lead us to the pinnacle of a crisis in their life that creates a story. There is simply you and your environment. Everything else becomes filler and imagery. So, how do we tell this story that will become engaging and memorable? How about this? A person is at a computer – or better yet, let’s be trendier. A person is at a tablet, reading information on the Internet. That’s a complete sentence but compared to our hall of fame heroes from before, it’s hardly worth remembering, no offense. I am sure you are a fascinating person so let’s take a look at that. What do you do, that is well… interesting? Hmm, well you could be a teacher. Something a little less underappreciated… Or you skydive? That’s cool. Well, you may have done it once before but you chickened out the last minute because your friend was late and you wouldn’t do it without them. Well, you almost skydived. But let’s stretch the truth a bit. Exaggerating a bit is all about character creation for a story. Our new sentence reads: A person, who is skydiving, is at her tablet reading information on the Internet. A little more exciting, but we can do better. Let’s see, what else can we do? Now would be a good time to establish your environment or your setting. Well, it’s probably the middle of the day and you are at your office during your lunch break reading through all the new posts, emails, and feeds. You can’t skydive indoors, so outside you are in a relatively suburban environment with lots of tall buildings and some spots of nature with trees and birds and stuff… How, umm – what’s the word I am looking for? Oh yes, mundane and monotonous!!! Readers are looking to escape from the normal and the every day. Let’s exaggerate again and let’s decide on a genre for our story while we are at it. We can work with a cityscape. How about post-apocalyptic? Yes, a story about hope and rebirth is always an interesting tale. Post-apocalyptic settings or surreal utopian society genres have a great appeal to those 169
wanting to change and embrace something new. Trying to re-build and create something out of a mess or pushing through chaos helps your readers feel like they, too, can overcome and start a revolution in their own lives. Our revised sentence reads: A survivor, who is skydiving through the ruins of their destroyed hometown, is at her tablet reading information on the Internet. Much more interesting, but something feels a little off. We can fix that! There is now an established genre and theme and the last part of the sentence doesn’t fit in too well. In a world ravaged by some sort of disaster, it is unlikely they would have a working Internet. While we are at it, what kind of information would they be reading? We can be specific now with a set genre in place. Post-apocalyptic worlds have a focus on practical needs as well as a search for something more. Whether we define that “more” as the search for a new home, the search for basic necessities of survival, the search for human companionship, or even all three at once; how daring! Our current draft of a sentence reads: A survivor, who is skydiving through the ruins of their destroyed hometown, is using their device to locate heat sources of food or other survivors, but more importantly for the lost love that disappeared before the accident happened… Oh, cliffhanger! I want to know what happens next! I also want to know more about the “accident!” Was it zombie related, a space explosion, a worldwide earthquake or maybe something else? You decide what happens next? How does it end? Is it a happy ending? Do they find their lost love? Are there monsters or evil characters standing in their way? Being a good storyteller is something that you can do, too. Simply by looking at things one way, and then by looking at things another way, you can create your own memorable characters in interesting predicaments. So, go on – give it a try!
AN ISTE SIG FOR ASSESSMENT AND ANALYTICS? by Kae Novak and Chris Luchs
Numbers tell a story. Numbers show us achievements, accomplishment and mastery. Itâ€™s a digital story. All the images you see digitally are made up of 1 and 0. Theyâ€™re a binary code that show images, pictures and tell a story. These numbers tell us our accomplishment, let us know when we succeed and they also challenge us!
Educators and students spend a lot of our time generating, reviewing, and sharing data with our students and colleagues. What story does this data tell us? More importantly how can it be harnessed to help students succeed? The newly formed group would like to invite all who are interested to sign up for our proposed Assessment and Analytics SIG (SIG AA) at 171
http://bit.ly/14J8A8U. The group is currently in the process of applying to become a Topic level SIG. The purpose of this special interest group is to investigate, apply and disseminate information as it relates to the topic of assessment and analytics. The group will concentrate on leveraging the use of technology for employing alternative ways to assess strategies, instruction, and programs. Accountability requirements tend to focus on traditional, standardized measures; however, this group will focus on multiple, alternative forms of assessment and analysis that provide evidence of effectiveness as well as providing a comfort with the use of these measures for accountability purposes. This SIG proposes to identify methods for assessing deeper learning including problem solving, communication, and collaboration as well as broader assessment of programs designed to make changes in educator practice and student achievement. The group’s premise is that assessment can and should be more than a singular standardized test. The group will investigate the use of multiple methods of assessment as well as the use of analytics for valid and reliable analysis of data. Members will investigate ways to incorporate assessment and analytics in their daily practice to inform their instruction. A major component of this group will be to disseminate to the wider ISTE and global audience via synchronous and asynchronous methods including but not limited to websites, social networking, video streaming and regularly scheduled online events. Potential areas for study will include but not be limited to:
Game mechanics including leader-boarding, leveling and badging The use of analytics and data visualization Measurement of Mastery Varied types of Assessment Assessment tools for both traditional and online learning Data presentation architecture Measurement vs. Completion of Assignments/ Achievements Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics Benefits of Real-Time Feedback vs. Standardized Scale Scores
So if you are interested please sign up here! http://bit.ly/14J8A8U 172
Our First Learning and Teaching Experience with Second Life by Jugoslava Lulic and Katarina Veljkovic
Jugoslava Lulić (SL: Jugalulic) Teacher of the Serbian language and literature in Tehnical school 9th May in Backa Palanka, Serbia
Katarina Veljković (SL: vkatarina) Computer sciences and math teacher in Polytehnical school in Kragujevac, Serbia
Most of students in Serbia think that school is boring, and that learning is difficult. They often learn only what they have to, obtaining knowledge by reading from the textbooks and listening to teachers’ lectures, as the only resources. As teachers who work hard on their own professional development, in order to improve our teaching, we become aware of the 21st century demands and we are ready for the challenges of using various methods and tools for communication and collaboration with today’s digital generation of students. The big idea we had was to overcome the gap between School and life beyond school walls. We wanted our students to experience some real life situations such as a job application, and test /develop the necessary life and career skills. We started to explore virtual worlds on request of a group of our students, experienced gamers, who had already had open accounts in Second Life. They 173
presented, to us and to other teachers, Second Life basics on the webinar named School on the Web.
Figure 1. Second Life - between the game and real life
Very soon, we found that this virtual world offers various educational opportunities and can be a powerful teaching tool, especially in connecting students from different school in the same learning adventure. The first step for us, digital immigrants, was to create avatars, acquire basic Second Life skills, and finally to become Cyber teachers. The second step in our virtual teaching adventure was creating the classroom in Second Life and importing Sloodle modules into it. After that we started our common project, with the intention of introducing students with job application in the real companies, and developing their necessary career skills and digital literacy. The project involved the 4nd grade students from two different vocational schools placed in two geographically distant cities, but with common way of thinking, interests, and the profession for which they have been studying. The purpose of the virtual classroom created in Second Life was: ď‚§ Simulation of real experiences that are difficult /expensive or impossible to perform in the classroom
Useful networking with the aim of creating mutual educational resources that could be used by other students later on Learning in a less formal way Developing digital literacy among the students To provide reuse of educational resources (the virtual space can be fitted differently for different situations) Monitoring students’ work (Sloodle)
Figure 2. Very first step: Teachers agreements (Education’s location)
Preparation phase for Workshops in Second Life It was necessary: 1. to open premium accounts in Second Life (SajberUciteljica) 2. to install Sloodle- module for connecting e-learning platform Moodle and Second Life 3. to edit and moderate location in Second Life (students who have had previous experience in Second Life helped us) We put all necessary objects in our Second Life location (CINDER DALE/87/178/72): Registration booth –After creating an avatar, students had to do an Avatar identification (connecting avatars with Moodle) in 175
order to make the results of their activities in Second Life (such as tasks, tests, surveys, participate in discussion) visible for teachers.
Figure 3. The registration process
Figure 4. Video - The registration process
ď‚§ Presenter â€“ a slideshow tool which you can use to give presentations inside the virtual world. Each slide can be either a video, website, or an actual slide image. All slides must be first uploaded via Moodle Website.
Figure 5. Video - Creating objects to post videos and interactive boards. ď‚§ Quiz Chair â€“ we used Quiz Chair for giving multiple choice quizzes to our students in Second Life. Our quiz chair was connected to our Moodle website. When a student's avatar sits on a quiz chair in Second Life, the quiz chair prompts the student to answer a question. If the student answers correctly, the quiz chair raises half a meter, and if the student answers incorrectly, the quiz chair descends.
Figure 6. Video - How to solve the quiz in SL ď‚§ PrimDrop - is used for submitting virtual assignments. The PrimDrop is linked to a Moodle assignment on our website, therefore, when an assignment is placed into the PrimDrop, it can be graded using the Moodle gradebook! The Moodle assignment that is linked can also be configured so that the teacher gets notified by email when an assignment has been submitted. When the teacher views the Moodle assignment page, they will be able to view a SLURL which points to the PrimDrop of where the assignment was submitted in Second Life / or Opensim. After teleporting, the teacher can retrieve all submitted assignments from the PrimDrop for review.
Figure 7. Video â€“ How to use PrimDrop
4. to buy some furniture required for role-playing (job interview) 5. to create teaching materials, instructions and tasks for students, Sloodle objects, surveys and tests (at this stage, students create the Belbin questionnaire). We also created video tutorials and published them on YouTube (YouTube channel for the project: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH5e_MPEBb3z1EIfN385Ng?feature=watch and YouTube channel for the teachers: http://www.youtube.com/user/KatarinaVeljkovic76?feature=mhee). Figure 8. Creating objects in Second Life
Figure 9. Video â€“ How to create an object in SL
The next step was realization of the teaching process in Second Life through two virtual workshops. The workshop "Talk with an employer" The aim of the workshop was simulation real life situation and developing media literacy of students. Students were divided into teams and simulated the real life situation through roleplaying. Each team was given the same instructions and tasks, but all members were free to choose roles within the team.
Figure 10. Screenshot tutorial for making gestures needed for the workshop
Figure 11. Video - Instructions for preparing for the role playing The assignment was: ď‚§
to write the screenplay for the workshop
to simulate (role playing) different situations in a job interview
to record those situations, create media products (short movie) and upload them on You Tube channel to discuss their experiences on the Moodle forum Student’s work: Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" (all tutorials are in Serbian): http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH5e_MPEBb-3z1EIfN385Ng?feature=watch
Figure 12. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" - Situation 1 (Version 1)
Figure 13. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" - Situation 1 (Version 2)
Figure 14. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" - Situation 2
Figure 15. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" - Situation 3
Figure 16. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" - Situation 4
Figure 17. Video - Workshop "interview with the employer" – Ideal situation
The Workshop "How to survive in a desert" The aim of this workshop was to exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common team goal. Students had to solve the problem and make important group decisions. The workshop steps: Description of the situation and the task – watching the movie shown on the slideshow tool Items ranking – solving the problem within the group The expert ranking – watching the second movie shown on the presenter
Discussion and taking impressions on the virtual bulletin board
The students did surveys and solved quizzes during the project, and created products thanks to which we could monitor their progress and evaluate the results of their work.
Figure18. Beginning of the workshop
Figure 19. Video - Workshop "How to Survive in the Desert"
Figure 20. Watching the movie
Figure 21. Work on the assignment
Figure 22. Video - "Expert rating"
Figure 23. Video â€“ Recorded workshop "How to Survive in the Desert" Evaluation of the workshop
Figure 24. Evaluation of workshop
Conclusion Dealing with real life problems through workshops in virtual world, has been truly a unique and amazing experience for our students and for us. We have successfully implemented the lessons thanks to colleagues from all around the world who have had the experience with teaching in Second Life and were willing to share it with us. We have also learned a lot thanks to MachinEVO 2013 an online course that taught us some valuable virtual world techniques and gave us some great ideas (shooting educational films in Second Life), but mostly thanks to our students, who have been ready for unusual challenges, curious, willing to cooperate and unexpectedly patient. During this Second Life experiment we accomplished to fully engage our students and to awake their potential, to encourage their creativity and personalize learning, which is often missing in traditionally organized classes. In the table below you can see our conclusions based on research and personal experience about the advantages and disadvantages of using Second Life in teaching process.
Communicative capabilities of this platform are constantly improving. Thanks to rich communication tools (audio, chat, gestures and movements) we can communicate with people from around the world and enhance social and cultural exchange. We can use teleport to visit, together with our students, different places during one class (for example, replicas of real cities, where students can interact with native speakers and learn the language) to attend various lectures, web meetings, theater performances etc. Through these communication tools and other built-in mechanisms for online interaction (web links, videos and audio files, multimedia events) communication possibilities are limitless. Collaboration
Using these platforms requires a lot of time and work. Second Life is not an environment in which you can just stop by and try it - if we want to use its resources for learning; we need to invest much more time than for other online tools.
Second Life allows you to connect and work together teachers and students from different schools and different parts of the world. Itâ€™s possible to work with experts in various fields, without technical, financial, geographical, and even physical limitations. The possibility of construction of common 3D objects with each other in real time in one place, giving a great potential for creating and knowledge building. Interactivity
Second Life is a free platform, but if we want to create our own learning materials that will be linked to the LMS Moodle, we must have a premium account ($ 70 per year).
Using Second Life achieved better effect than using other tools, because we can use videos, presentations, images at the same time and in one place (all the participants are "immersed" into virtual world). Teachers can easily make connections between activities in virtual world and the real world, by using informational resources: interactive bulletin board for posting comments,
The problem might be the transfer of skills from virtual to the real world. The teacher has to think twice about what skills and knowledge can develop by using virtual worldâ€™s experience, and whether the same effect can be achieved in teaching in the real world. We also must keep in mind that not all students like to create avatars and some of them dislike this kind of communication.
various Web applications such as Excel, Recommendation: Second Life classes should be OneNote that students can fill out directly to organized informally - to avoid reminding them a second Life etc. of lessons in the classroom. Support for teachers Students safety Second Life usersâ€™ communities were ready to help, and you can easily find a solution of almost every problem you have. There is a large number of training camps and destinations where you can get support from experts, and also a growing number of courses for teachers.
The teachers who decide to use Second Life in teaching should keep in mind safety of their students on the Internet. They must have a high level of digital literacy, because students will often require them to help, advise and assist in.
Second Life allows us to use a large number of e-learning tools. Using the built-in mechanism such as Sloodle, it is possible to connect Second Life to other formal platform for learning - such as Moodle, in order to monitor and valorized studentsâ€™ activities.
If you want to use Second Life, you need to possess strong computer with a good graphics card, have fast internet connection and good microphone.
As a "rough" simulation of real world, Using Second Life requires at least basic (gravity, weather (meteorological) knowledge of English. changeâ€Ś), Second Life providing endless opportunities for experimentation in natural sciences (e.g., simulation of splitting atoms and other phenomena invisible to the naked eye). We can also simulate social processes by putting students in a problem situation or through role playing. Creativity Motivation Second Life is one of the most popular platforms for creating virtual worlds. All that is because everything was created by the users themselves. Most of items that we can touch in this virtual world were programmed to give written or spoken information. Some items may be downloaded (purchased) for a certain
Many institutions of higher education use virtual worlds for educational purposes, but the number of high schools that recognize immersive learning opportunities also increases. The majority of students support this kind of learning, because it reminds them of games and having fun, but the big question is the 190
amount of virtual money or for free. Teachers and students can create and program (through scripting) their own facilities. They also can create media products: e.g. photos, movies, etc., and incorporate them into objects that are created or placed on channels like YouTube. Research
willingness and motivation of teachers (in case they have required knowledge and skills) for this step. But all teachers should keep in mind that the XXI century, requires from them, not only from students, readiness for life-long learning.
There is a large number of buildings, campgrounds, educational institutions, art galleries, virtual offices and events that we can visit with one click on the teleport button. Many locations offers to us unique experience through observation and research of extraordinary works of art, such as, for example, the Sistine Chapel, where there are hundreds of high quality photos that are imported as a texture when creating objects. Second Life provides an opportunity to explore different historical epochs through replicas of buildings from the past, the dress code, objects and so on. There are entire online library provided where you can find useful resources for students and teachers. Exploring locations in Second Life, we can see and well-designed cities, waterfalls, clubs, underwater structure. We just need good lesson plan combined with some skills and the whole (teaching) world is ours. Resources Video tutorials for students and teachers (all tutorials are in Serbian) YouTube channel for teachers: http://www.youtube.com/user/KatarinaVeljkovic76?feature=mhee YouTube channel for students: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH5e_MPEBb-3z1EIfN385Ng?feature=watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1bbh73fxEg&list=HL1366654802&feature=mh_lolz
CONGRATULATIONS! 2013 Reader’s Choice Award Winners! By Roxie Neiro and BJ Gearbox (aka) Rosie Vojtek and Bob Vojtek On Sunday June 16, 2013 we were very excited to announce the 2013 VEJ Reader’s Choice Award Winners and unveil the cover of this issue of VEJ at the ISTE SIGVE Pre-Conference Extravaganza in Second Life. As you can see from few pictures on the following pages and at the flickr website http://www.flickr.com/groups/sigve/ – WHAT A PARTY! If you missed the red carpet and the awards show you can watch the livestream at http://www.livestream.com/sigve/video?clipId=pla_0647a1e0d87c-4cbf-9c55-00266068ae20
Roxie Neiro Interviews Dai Miami on the red carpet.
A special thanks to all of our readers and contributors. We appreciate all of you – your help and support with writing articles, your willingness to share what you are doing and what you are learning in virtual environments – whether it is in Jokaydia, Kitely, Minecraft, SpotON3D, 3rd Rock, World of Warcraft, Second Life, and many other opensims. VEJ would not be VEJ – out of this world, without all of you helping to make it that way. A huge thanks to all of our readers who not only are devouring every morsel, but also are tweeting, posting, talking, and sharing
Roxie Neiro Interviews Fleet Gold the articles and the journal with others. Please keep up the great work and help us spread the joy of learning found in every issue of VEJ around the world and across the metaverse! This past year, VEJ has gone international! It has been fun to watch the statistics each week to see who is reading VEJ. So, thank you for reading VEJ
and even more, thank you for sharing the important work we are all doing in virtual environments. We would also like to thank Bluebarker Lowtide and Serena Offcourse for transforming ISTE SIGVE into this beautiful theater for the Pre-conference Extravaganza ceremony. A big thanks also goes to Serena Offcourse for taking pictures, Spiff Whitfield for being our Master of Ceremonies today, and Front Range for graciously hosting the Lightning Productions Stevie Nicks Tribute Band Concert at 4:00 pm slt today! Thank you all!
Several weeks ago our VEJ readers nominated their favorites – from favorite sim to favorite place to hang, to favorite places to shop – and everything in-between. We took those nominations and opened up the voting for one week. We can tell you that one of the hottest contested categories was the “Favorite Educational Gaming Guild” – but, like all of the VEJ Reader’s Choice Categories, 194
everyone nominated is a winner! What you do is important, and every one of our nominees and winners should celebrate their accomplishments, their learning, and their achievements. This also marks the first year for VEJ to honor an individual that epitomizes the traits of a teaching and learning not tethered to a classroom. An Edovator is an innovative and creative individual who is the quintessential educator transforming the field of education and making a difference in the lives of those touched by their work. This first VEJ Edovator of the Year is Kae Novak.
Congratulations again to our nominees and winners. May we present the winners! [drum roll] 195
The 2013 VEJ Reader’s Choice Award Winners Front Range Favorite Educational Sim Reader’s Choice Awards Jokaydia Favorite New Virtual World Reader’s Choice Awards Caledeonia – Steampunk Favorite Theme Build Reader’s Choice Awards Games MOOC Best Virtual Learning Activity Reader’s Choice Awards Woodsong Zapatero Favorite Musician Reader’s Choice Awards
World of Warcraft Favorite Virtual World/Game Reader’s Choice Awards Caledon Kintyre Best Architectural Design Reader’s Choice Awards Inevitable Betrayal Guild Favorite Educational Gaming Guild Reader’s Choice Awards Inevitable Instructor Playlist Favorite Machinima Reader’s Choice Awards World of Warcraft Auction House Favorite Place To Shop Reader’s Choice Awards
#gamemooc http://gridjumper.net Communication Hub Best Virtual Blog Reader’s Choice Reader’s Choice Awards Awards Front Range Favorite Museum or Education Build Reader’s Choice Awards
“Game On: Interview with Kavon Zenovka” Favorite VEJ Article Reader’s Choice Awards
World of Warcraft Favorite Online 3D Virtual Game Reader’s Choice Awards Shaomai’s House of Fashion Couture Favorite SL Fashion Designer Reader’s Choice Awards
World of Warcraft Favorite Virtual World Environment Reader’s Choice Awards Inevitable Betrayal Guild Favorite Place to “Hang” Reader’s Choice Awards
Kavon Zenovka Avatar Mentor of the Year Reader’s Choice Awards Got Game? Let’s Play! Favorite VEJ Issue Reader’s Choice Awards
Games MOOC Educational Event 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards Kae Novak Edovator of the Year