Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jumping into Jibe

Location: Pathfinder Lester's Home, Jibe

In class on Monday, I plan to discuss why I don't think Second Life or OpenSim are good venues for Writing Center work.

I've blogged about my reasons here and then, later, after reading an article about a centers' use of Second Life, I reconsidered. A virtual world might be JUST the venue for a gathering of writing tutors between schools.  They would not be there to look glamorous or roleplay as elves. They'd be there to chat about ideas, as they would in a face-to-face conference.

A conference of this sort does not require a world and a persistent set of avatars.  A one-off event in something like Reaction Grid's Jibe might be perfect, and with a team of developers I could see setting up a conference venue that small or large groups could use year after year.

So in class Monday, my students won't see a hard-to-master user interface best suited for collaborative teams building in a virtual world.  They'll see something that can work with a Web browser and a plug-in.

I remain skeptical about Jibe and Unity 3D when mainstream-techie faculty like me wish to do building, especially in collaboration and in real time. As I've often stated, I am not evaluated on my 3D modeling skills. Thus, I don't plan to master the complex tools to make these models, no more than I plan to master LSL scripting. Unlike Photoshop or Dreamweaver (and hand-turned HTML code) these 3D applications do not yet figure into my daily work and annual evaluation.

But for such a conference venue, where pedagogical decisions are not vital, I'd be happy to hire out the work and focus on the content we'd share from the other side of the screen.

Update 4/17/12: Jibe was very jumpy indeed on a wired connection and a decent Windows 7 desktop. While downloading the Unity plug-in was a snap, the rest of the experience was very subpar. My avatar could not walk, lag was enormous, and after lots of fumbling I sit in a chair.

My students were not impressed. Sounds a lot like Second Life under bad conditions.

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