Kiwi ‘speaks on ‘ Obama world vision panel
Machinima role recognises
Cockeram’s SL/RL standing …
The University of Auckland’s Judy Cockeram (SL: Judy-Arx Scribe) (picture, right) has been recognised as a leader in virtual world architecture by being selected as one of four real world architects – from the US, New Zealand and Egypt – to “star” in a US State Department machinima discussing the Obama vision enunciated in Cairo and how it is already being implemented in Second Life.
President Obama recently promised in his Cairo speech an online network, facilitating collaboration across geographic and cultural boundaries, something that Draxtor Despres (RL: Bernard Drax), a real life winner of the international ” Every Human Has Rights” media award in France in 2008 and director/producer of the machinima, “Cross Cultural Collaboration In Second Life”, argues SL has been doing for some time.
The quotes by the four architects, along with excerpts of their Second Life work, were taken from a recent panel discussion in Second Life on Architectural Design and International Collaboration in a Virtual World (CNN Report). The event was hosted by the US Department of State on Public Diplomacy Island. Besides Cockeram, the panelists were: Amr Attia (SL: Archi Vita) (picture left), architect, Urban Planner and professor of architecture and urban planning at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt; Jon Brouchoud (SL: Keystone Bouchard) (picture, lower right), owner, The ARCH Network and Founder of Studio Wikitecture, based in Madison, Wisconsin; and David Denton (SL: DB Bailey), Architect and Urban Planner located in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles, California.
Cockeram, a senior tutor in architecture, with the School of Architecture and Planning, at the University of Auckland, was speaking from experience when she told the Second Life audience drawn from more than 12 countries, that working and learning together in a virtual world “generates empathy” across cultures.
Cockeram first entered Second Life after hearing a presentation by The University of Auckland’s Dr Scott Diener in November last year, which “rang true” for her because of her experience of having students entering university with good modeling and drawing skills but little hands-on digital experience, even though members of the so-called “digital native” generation.
The first project Cockeram and her students engaged with involved support from the US-based virtual community of practice for nonprofits to explore the opportunities and benefits of Second Life, the NPC ( Non- Profit Commons) organisation.
“Right from the start the experience of Second life has been about reaching out and getting away from the introspective, ego-driven architect, ” Cockeram explained. “The work done in that first project looked at virtual office space and proposed things that were understandable but were not four walls and a flat ceiling.
“When you are building a wall together, rubbing shoulders with another’s avatar it changes your decision-making. We tend to realise our similarities but we can observe differences and it generates an empathy for each other.”
“Working with such things as sculpties,” she added, “gives them a different way of thinking about the surface of architecture.”
Second Life also led to a big change to Cockeram’s teaching methods.
“Previously I had always insisted on working with computers in the rich environment of the studio,” she said. “With Second Life the much richer environment for students to respond to means that anywhere is a studio. Second life has led to them understand design decision-making from contextual information.
And, although her Second Life student body is already cross-cultural with 45 percent Asian, 40 percent Pakeha (New Zealand-born Europeans) and Europeans, and five percent Maori and Polynesian, Cockeram intends to continue extending the exchanges her students have to include more students and clients from Pakistan to America.
“I believe we are seeing an improvement in the quality of a students ability to lead with design rather than react because of what is easy in a computer package,” she said. ” The virtual world has not interfered with their design decision-making in the way some of the more complex design packages do for early learners in the field.
“Cutting edge … design”
Problems she has overcome include inappropriate student behaviour in-world – a number “went absolutely nuts, with no idea how their behaviour was impacting on the rest of the class” at an initial class with a guest lecturer; identifying that a student’s work is his or hers, and that the student in Second Life is the authentic student; and the problem of students leaving “unlabeled objects” littering the landscape. The first problem had been solved, she said, by establishing a similar ettiquette in-world to that prevailing on a real life campus, the second had been solved through use of oral testing, and the third, through policing the issue and stressing the need for labeling in all worlds.
The “unlabeled object” problem has also led her to plan the creation of an “unlabelled object” finder, which she hopes to include in a Toolbox she will be creating over the southern summer vacation.
Cockeram says that she does not think that virtual worlds such as Second Life should be seen only as developing early learner skills.
“Part of my summer will be spent developing a collection of scripts so we can spend time developing some of the cutting edge of architectural design as well, ” she said.
Next year Cockeram plans to take 10 to 12 fourth year students, 115 first years, and 115 second years into Second Life.
Filed under: Architecture, Distance education, Education, Education in Second Life, Second Life, Sl Conferences, Uncategorized, Virtual Worlds Tagged: | Ain Shams University, Amr Attia, ARCH Network, Archtecture, Asian, Bernard Drax, CNN Report, David Denton, Drax Despres, Draxtor Despres, European, Jon Brouchoud, Judy Cockeram, Judy-Arx Scribe, Kaiako, Non-Profit Commons, Obama, Pakeha, President Obama, Public Diplomacy island, Putahi, Scott Diener, Studio Wikitecture, The University of Auckland, US State Department