Monday was a hurricane day so I got to spend it visiting a colleague who teaches in another state devoid of hurricanes. Norma Underwood invited me to meet her first hour class on Art Island in Jokaydia Grid, the class is in Arizona. I had been the class when they had space on Reaction Grid about a year ago, but changes caused Norma to move the space to Jokaydia Grid, also an Opensim Grid.
Though my timing was a little off, different time zones always kind of throw me, I managed to catch the last 20 minutes of class. The new group of students appeared adept at moving about and explained that they were working on “stuff”. They had a lot of questions about the storm in my state, pointing out the opportunity of using any real-time application for student interaction across states, time zones and cultural areas.
Though this group of students was new to the class and concept of working in virtual environments, they all wore t-shirts they had made using graphics software and had no difficulty moving about the diverse terrain. I had a quick tour of the island and hope to return at the end of the semester to see the fruits of their labor. When asked about a favorite location on the virtual island, one student was very clear that it was the Lincoln Memorial and insisted I come see it. My avatar followed the student to the Lincoln Memorial with the reflection pond and the Washington Memorial at the other end. Washington DC is quite a distance form Arizona, but these students virtually visit the monument every day.
The next stop was an “Artistopoly” board that the student avatars could walk on. The board is used in a gaming way to teach the students about artists. This is one I would like to see in action, it would possibly make a great machinima.
Students led me down a yellow brick road path to an art resource building that provided information about art concepts (line, color, shapes…). It serves as a resource as they create as well as providing information on art standards.
There was an art gallery and landscaping and lots of open space. The open space is space for the students to solve problems as they create, build and script the work that the teacher will guide them in.
Though I was not physically in this classroom with the students, I certainly had a feeling of being present. My presence was not a disruption, but a welcome opportunity to interact and exchange thoughts with these curious and excited students who were most likely sitting at desks and chattering as they manipulated hardware to move their avatar and to communicate with each other and with the visitor from another state. I was personally enriched by the experience.