Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School! What Educators New to Virtual Worlds Should Think About

VWER August 10, 2010
Location: VWER Meeting

We had a small group gather last week at the VWER meeting, just before the Boston SLCC event where Philip Rosedale joined our group. I moderated a useful chat of what educators need to consider as the school years begin. Here's some group wisdom:
  • Avoid "tossing students in" without orientation and practice (in person if possible, which is hard for distance ed.)
  • Put pedagogy ahead of technology: target assignments to specific tasks and appeal to student interests
  • Make students aware of community standards; use a signed waiver if you feel it's best
  • Don't come in-world just to do a Powerpoint show for students
  • Try new features out with an ALT account (notecard givers, interactive parts of simulations) before inflicting it on your students
  • Use voice judiciously in student groups; allow one student to use voice at a time while others use text chat
  • At the start of the academic term, clean out old groups, spruce up simulations if only to make things look fresh.
The rest of the transcript of our talk can be found here. In light of Rosedale's encouraging words, perhaps more of us will bring in colleagues to SL and other virtual worlds, both commerical and self-hosted grids.

1 comment:

Maria Trombly said...

Full list of OpenSim hosting providers -- and their prices -- here:

All except the grid-based hosts will set up a private grid for you, so only the students and teachers you provide access to can log in.

You can also fully or partially enable hypergrid, allowing teleports to other worlds -- to attend meetings on ReactionGrid, for example, or go to shopping for stuff, or to allow builders to teleport in and create your environments.

You can also disable hypergrid again, when you want to lock down the grid -- say, after you've finished building it out, or while school is in session.

The latest version of OpenSim supports both media-on-a-prim and the more secure Hypergrid 1.5 standard.

In addition, there's a new open source voice platform that promises to be a significant improvement over the (rather shaky) voice available previously through Freeswitch. Still not as good as Second Life's Vivox, but getting there.

Stability and speed of the grid depends on how good the hosting company is, and how good the server is running your region. You can get land for as little as $10 a region -- I'm not kidding! -- with most providers charging $25 - $40 a month for moderate use, and above that for lots of simultaneous users, scripts, or very high numbers of prims.

-- Maria Korolov
Editor, Hypergrid Business