Count down to SLENZ
December 15, from 9am to 5pm (New Zealand Time) (SL Time 2pm – 10 pm December 14) : New Zealand’s leading virtual world learning research group, Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ), has invited interested educators to attend a free, one-day workshop in real life on Wellington Institute of Technology’s Wellington campus and in Second Life on the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology’s island of Koru (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/156/122/27). Registration essential on first-come, first-served basis as numbers limited. For registration email: Susan.Jenkins@weltec.ac.nz
One global player in virtual education
The range of educational opportunities and organisations promoting or researching virtual worlds is increasing day by day. One of the more interesting is Immersive Education, developed by the Immersive Education Initiative, a non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies working together to define and develop open standards, best practices, platforms, and communities of support for virtual worlds, simulators and game-based learning and training systems.(http://ImmersiveEducation.org)
Immersive Education combines interactive 3D graphics, video game and simulation technology, virtual reality, voice chat, Web cameras and rich digital media with collaborative online course environments and classrooms. Immersive Education gives participants a sense of “being there” even when attending a class or training session in person isn’t possible, practical, or desirable, which in turn provides educators and students with the ability to connect and communicate in a way that greatly enhances the learning experience.(http://immersiveeducation.org/TalkingPoints.pdf)
The Immersive Education Initiative is an official activity of the international Media Grid standards group. (http://mediagrid.org/) The Media Grid standards group actively applies open standards to specific problem spaces, such as distance education, digital libraries, and the impact of digital media on culture and society.
Immersive Education is not limited to one platform but considers the whole gamut and for that reason alone is well worth following. For instance late last month Immersive Education Japan (iED Japan) ran a series of Immersive Education Days at University of Aizu, Japan, as part of Immersive Education: ASIA, programme. Immersive Education presentations, lectures, workshops and related events included IEI members from Boston College, University of Aizu, National University of Singapore, Keio University, Smithsonian Institution, Montana State University, Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush, University of Essex and Sun Microsystems to provide an in-depth overview of Immersive Education, the Education Grid [http://TheEducationGrid.org] and related technologies. To coincide with the event Japan’s first “node” (virtual world and collaboration server) on the Education Grid was announced. Hosted by the University of Aizu and sponsored by Sun Microsystems, Japan’s Education Grid node will enable cultural and technological exchange with educators and students around the world through virtual learning worlds and collaboration environments. Related announcements/initiatives included the launch of three new Project Wonderland (pictured – video is on IE site, along with videos from Second Life and Croquet) Community Groups; progress report by the Open File Formats Technology Group; formation of the Library Technology Working Group; formation of the Psychology of Immersive Environments Technology Working Group; formation of the Assessment, Evaluation and Grading Technology Working Group; preview of Second Life, realXtend, and OpenSim nodes on the Education Grid; and the official launch of the Initiative’s “Own the Node” program.
Second Life: Better every day?
Some Second Life residents might not agree with the Linden Lab claim that Second Life is becoming more usable and more reliable. Perhaps I’m tempting the Gods but I for one , however, believe the claim. Putting aside ISP problems my Second Life experience has improved considerably over the past three years – and I would average more than two hours a day in world often at peak US usage periods – but its still far from perfect.
I make this observation in light of the Lindens’ recent claim (http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/12/02/m-linden-second-life-update-and-welcome-to-howard-linden-aka-howard-look/) that their staff has been hard at work over the last few months making Second Life more relevant, more usable and more reliable.
“Our work is showing up in Second Life’s usage statistics,” M.Linden said on Tuesday. ” On Sunday of this past weekend, we hit another concurrency high of 76,946 and yesterday log-ins for the previous 60 days crossed the 1.4 Million mark.”
Noting that reliability was a top strategic focus for the Lab, he said that the launch of LL Net (the private fiber optic ring connecting the Linden Lab data centers) to provide additional redundancy and eliminate reliance on VPNs, was ahead of schedule..
On the issue of making Second Life more relevant, he said, the Big Spaceship project to improve residents’ first hour experience was proceeding well alongside a new website design.
Although the team also was making great progress on the major usability project, redesigning the viewer so that it was easy to use for new residents without sacrificing functionality for experienced users, he said, it would be well into the second half of next year before the new client was implemented.
At the same time Linden Lab has been out hiring and as placed Howard Look (SL:Howard Linden) formerly a VP of Software at Pixar, into the role of SVP of Customer Applications ( “The Front”) He will be responsible for leading the engineering team responsible for the customer-facing part of the Second Life experience.
Interestingly for educators Howard also has a passion for education and spent time this past summer as a substitute teacher (4th grade and middle school math).
December 12, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m: (Public seminar) Open Educational Resources and Scholarship in the 21st Century, University of Auckland Conference Centre, 423-342, 22 Symonds Street, Auckland. Speaker: Joseph Hardin, the Director of the Collaborative Technologies Laboratory in the Media Union and Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and currently the Board Chair for the Sakai project. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, he was head of the Software Development Group (SDG) and Associate Director for Software Development at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. Most notably, his teams were responsible for the development of the NCSA Mosaic browser, arguably the tool that launched the world wide web.
Filed under: Education in virtual worlds Tagged: | Auckland University, Croquet, Howard Linden, Howard Look, ImmersiveEducation, Jospeh Hardin, Linden Lab, Mediagrid, Mosaic, NCSA, OpenSim, Pixar, realXtend, Second Life, SLENZ workshop, TheEducationGrid, University of Michigan, Wonderland