Middle School Students Build A Virtual World

The students in “Norma Underwood’s” class in an Arizona public school are building and scripting in a 3D environment, sculpting in Rokuro, collaborating on projects, and communicating with their peers and interested visitors.  I had the opportunity to visit Norma’s  virtual class space on Reaction Grid,  never having to leave my home state over 2000 miles away.  What a treat  to see 12 and 13 year olds assembling, communicating and cooperating in a medium that many are completely unaware of.

The class is an art class, lucky for these students they have a teacher who acknowledges and has taken the time to learn an art medium for the future.  The young architects and 3D artisans have used floor-plans to build 3D homes, decorated them and added items like video games and chess sets. Learning objectives  focus primarily  on standards in the area of art and mathematics. Additionally, Norma is incorporating 21st Century objectives like collaboration, communication and problem solving.  These are not as easily tested in the traditional assessments required by the state but obvious in the products the students have created and obvious as well when you watch them engaged in their work.

Machinima Learning at the VWBPE Conference 3/17-3/19

The VWBPE Conference has a number of events to support machinima endeavors for both novice users and experts.  The sessions are being held at different locations on the VWBPE 20 sims built in a Steampunk motif, just for this event.

20 Sim site on SL built specifically for the event 3/17-3/19.

March 17, 2011

March 18, 2011

East - Location of Screening of the VWBPE Machinima entries (popcorn is included)March 18, 2011

  • 3:00 – 4:00 PM SLT-  Machinima 4 Mere Mortals: Machinima Working Group – Intro. to Machinima East – EM 1/2
  • 3:00 – 4:00 PM SLT How 2 Use Machinima as Part of Your Class: East 1 – East 1/2 Teen Fair
  • 8:00 – 9:00 PM SLT-VWBPE Machinima Screening: East – EM 1/2

March 19, 2011

Architecture for the Virtual Environment

When people build in the virtual environment they create structures that resemble ones in the real world.  Buildings, offices, houses, castles and classrooms have standard walls, doors, windows, and furnishings that replicate the real world.  Perhaps it is because building what we are familiar with provides a frame of reference and feeling of comfort. In her blog,  Avril Korman refers to Virtual World architecture as virtuatecture and discusses this desire for a home that looks familiar.

Virtual world “physics”, almost limitless creative possibilities, and avatar abilities suggest a more innovative architectural approach.  Accommodating avatars who transport or fly in for a meeting requires a space that can be easily accessed with wide doorways, minimal walls or open rooftops.  You can still have the familiarity of RL spaces with the added benefit of virtuatecture to accommodate the unique qualities and possibilities of the virtual setting.

The rooftops at CLIVE in Second Life allow for easy access.

The buildings at CLIVE (Center for Learning in Virtual Environments) are generally standard looking buildings, with the exception of large openings in the rooftops for avatars to be able to fly in and exit easily.

The iSchool classroom on Mellanium in Reaction Grid

The iSchool classroom on Reaction Grid is an open air classroom, easy to access via either a teleport or flying in, yet the space is somewhat traditional with the students desks in rows facing the instructor station and presentation area.

These two spaces illustrate the best of both worlds.

A wide ramp helps avatars to make their way into Gridizens market on Reaction Grid.

Rails keep an avatar from falling off a steep ramp.

Another feature to keep in mind is the ground  (stairs/ramp) access to a facility.  In real life we typically have stairs with a narrow ramp for wheelchair use.  In a virtual setting avatars generally do better with wide ramps or rails with narrower ramps so they don’t fall off.

XSS Bucky Fuller on Mellanium in Reaction Grid and Museum of the Globe are two builds that take full advantage of the attributes of virtual environments.  This virtuatecture looks unlike what we would encounter in the real world yet it works effectively in the virtual setting with large attractive spaces that can be reached via teleport and used in a variety of ways.

XSS Bucky Fuller in Reaction Grid

Museum of the Globe on Second Life

Gallery

Can a Paracosm in a Virtual World Contribute to Creativity?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

According to a recent Newsweek article, The Creativity crisis, the Creativity Quotient (CQ) among American children has been dropping steadily since 1990.   This drop in CQ correlates with the exclusive focus on the teaching of standards and the preponderance of television … Continue reading

Visual Arts in The Virtual World

The virtual world is of course a visual art in and of itself, but there is potential to provide learning experiences in a virtual setting that would otherwise be impossible in the real world.  In my experience, the world of visual arts can be brought to students to consume in 4 ways.

First the traditional way of walking around a museum and looking at the art.  One of the most extensive museums in the virtual world that I have seen is the Dresden Museum on Second Life (Dresden Gallery 120,128,26), which houses 750 masterpieces of European art.  An avatar can walk around the museum  and see the famous art, clicking on it to get information as it is desired. This method of learning about the art mimics a strategy used in the real world.

An avatar floats down Rumsey's Map Museum tower

The second method takes the display and viewing of works to a different level, literally.  Here an avatar can view a large collection of artwork in a “museum”  that can be traversed only in a virtual setting.  A wonderful example of this is the Rumsey Map Museum on Second Life ( Rumsey Maps 2 (193,201,715)).  The avatar visiting this museum  can fly through a tower to view the extensive map collection, stopping to click on any of interest to get additional information.

The third method of  learning about art in a virtual setting involves becoming a part of the art.  Art Box (Klaw 5,21,46) on Second Life has selected pieces of artwork with human subjects.

An avatar becomes a part of a famous piece of art in Art Box.

Participants are provided an opportunity to choose a painting and then click on a poseball to become the subject in the art.  The owners offer props and costumes for some of the art work.  Laguna Beach California has a real life, annual art show reminiscent of this strategy of enjoying art.  Actors dress and pose while backdrops and lighting are used to duplicate a painting in real life.   In the virtual setting the participant gets to make the art selection and become a part of it.  Certainly more immersive than just looking at it.

Sitting in Van Gogh's room. The builder created an elongated room to ensure groups of visitors had a correct view.

Finally, an avatar can visit a location and be completely immersed in the art.  In the case of Arles (168,23,29) on Second Life.  This amazing sim allows avatars to walk around Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings as they may have been seen by the artist.  The paintings are a 3D form and allow complete interaction.  An avatar can climb one of the famous yellow haystacks, sit in a cafe and enjoy the “starry night”, or even sit in Van Gogh’s bedroom.

The many museums in the virtual environment  each have policies regarding the use of the images they display.  It is best to experience them by visiting the location.

The places described here are not available to students under 18 years of age, but the methods may be used to create art locations in the Opensim grids so that students may interact with art and thus learn about it.  Better yet, students may become the producers and create these environments with art work in the public domain or even their own art work.