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Teachers Tackle Machinima: A Week in The Life of the VWBPE MOOC

Teachers attend Machinima Monday at the Montmarte Theatre in Second LIfe.

The second week of the 4-week VWBPE Games and Education Tour MOOC had a Machinima focus.  What fun to watch and participate with fellow educators as they crammed an incredible amount of energy, curiosity, intellect, humor and talent into developing machinima to help us all learn to do it better and to help our students with machinima as a learning strategy.  The word that kept cropping up was FUN…and fun it was, sometimes funNY.

The week started with a Second Life Machinima Monday meeting with non-educators, an introduction to some machinima created by artists using this medium to relay emotions and ideas.  There was much discussion on technical issues…aspect ratio, capture tools, in world camera devices, editing software, special effects, space navigators to name a few.  Always a benefit to get a different perspective.  Our Hostess, the gracious and talented Chantal Harvey facilitated the conversation and welcomed teachers to join the digital artisan group.

Discussing a possible script with an alien avatar – the alien ended up in the movie Sand Surf Saloon.

The remainder of the week consisted of working groups, and some individual work on machinima with the of using the medium for teaching and learning.  The MOOC participants were all comfortable in virtual environments and some, though not all,  had significant comfort with creating machinima.  The week was an opportunity for educators to work together on a machinima project and reflect on the potential use with students and in delivery of instruction.  K-12 and higher education educators worked side-by-side, incorporating strategies, taking on a variety of roles (script development, actor, director, machinimatographer, builder, costume designer, sound editor, video editor, stunt actor, special effects editor), and collaborating to complete a project in less than 1 week.

Attendees enjoy teacher created machinima at the Gaity Theatre on Second Life.

The exercise served to help us understand what we can expect of your students and what skills our students will need and will develop as they participate in this kind of learning activity.   The culminating activity was a Premier held at the Gaity Theatre on Caledon in Second Life, a tour destination from week 1 of the MOOC.

As the ISTE Conference this summer draws near, this talented group of machinima educators will continue to polish off their work and encourage colleagues and students to submit their digital creations to the ISTE EDUmachinma Fest.  No doubt we will have entries form the growing number of virtual worlds and from a growing number of participants.

The VWBPE Machinima developed last week:

Sand Surf Saloon; Cowboys and Aliens
http://staff.tamucc.edu/jdoan/MOOC/Cowboys and Aliens.mp4

Learning is unveiling

VWBPE 2012 Volunteer Appreciation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT9awygCNWk&feature=youtu.be

SIGVE Machinima Promo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxAOVridPhA&feature=youtu.be

Mosel SL machinima
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TYn35BZPpM&list=UUsmGs7RECdj5gYym7t4ohVQ&index=2&feature=plcp

They Came for the Cavorite
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzj6oDfq8T0

Gallery

Take a Photo, Capture an Idea in the Virtual World

This gallery contains 4 photos.

We all take photographs but few of us know how to take the photograph that causes people to stare.   A weekly gathering provides virtual world artists, interested individuals, and  the curious  an opportunity to hone the skills of image/idea … Continue reading

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Virtual Pioneers To Host History Conference 2012- Virtually

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The Virtual Pioneers are hosting the Second Annual History Conference 2012 on Friday, January 20 – Saturday January 21.  All educators, particularly those who teach the Social Studies are invited to attend this fun, free event online. You will need to … Continue reading

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Virtual Pioneers Take Weekly Virtual Field-trips

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The Virtual Pioneers are a group of educators interested in using virtual environments in the teaching of Social Studies, particularly history.  The group meets on Sunday evenings at 8:00PM EST  at the EduIsland location on Second Life.  They are taking … Continue reading

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Assess the Past Year and Plan for the New One

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I’ll leave  predictions and trend reporting to others, but I can assess my activity and plan for what I hope to learn and do this coming year.  Perhaps it will be helpful for teachers with ambitions in innovation for teaching … Continue reading

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Digitally Amplified Literature in the Virtual World

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Rod Humble of Linden Labs recently described the Virtual World as “creative space”.  Jeddin’s Underground City sim on Second Life is a creative space melding the ideas of Descending Road author/creator with 3D artistry and SL scripting to make what the artist … Continue reading

As The Virtual World Evolves

Many virtual worlds require the downloading of a particular viewer to access the virtual world and to interact with it.  Some require nothing but the web, a browser and a current operating system.  Jibe is one of those worlds which I was able to visit recently.

Walking amongst giant chickens in JIbe. They clucked and pecked but I survived.

The look  is similar to OpenSim or Second Life and the feel is like these worlds in MouseView, kind of takes getting used to.  Creating in the environment seems less laborious than the virtual worlds  I typically visit.  The creation/building tool, available as a free add-on, is reminiscent of what you see in a typical graphics program.

A flat terrain in JIbe is "brushed" with hills.

Changing the terrain is as simple as painting with a digital brush. Adding a field of ferns was a s simple as dipping the brush into the “fern” paint and then brushing the terrain in with ferns.

Ferns "painted" into the terrain do not require individual placement.

I  got the feeling that the creation and building within this web-base world was simpler than in the virtual worlds requiring a special browser.  The interaction was not as smooth or easy for me.  It seemed a little unstable but impressive that any of it could be done on the web on my Macbook Pro in Safari.  Perhaps the potential lies in the limitations and lack of complexity.

The Jibe Tools.

The registration was simple (name and password),  avatar selections are reasonable and there is an asset store with objects for free and for purchase.  The items can be imported into Jibe and placed, moved, and rotated as desired to complete the environment.

A Cart from the asset store is duplicated and added to the environment.

The simplified interaction and limited choices in this web-based world reminded me  of the new “basic” browser in Second Life.  Both types of virtual worlds are changing, maybe to accommodate an audience maybe to make a profit, maybe because people have a natural inclination to improve and change what they have.  For whatever reason, the end user will ultimately benefit.

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.

Virtual Worlds as Part of a Transmedia Literacy Experience

Transmedia Storytelling is a strategy that uses current and emerging technologies along with traditional strategies to enable the participant to become immersed in a story to increase engagement and understanding.  Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communications, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California, explains that “In transmedia, elements of a story are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, each making their own unique contribution to the whole.” It is a strategy that is used in the world of marketing and entertainment, still lagging in the education sector.

Telling stories across multiple platforms and formats addresses multiple learning modalities, encourages participation and motivates participants.  Stories are used to teach a wide variety of concepts at all levels of education.  A virtual world with a sim designed to draw students into a “game”  could potentially result in a high level of learning of a literary work, historical event, or scientific phenomenon.  The compelling attributes of transmedia storytelling are the capacity to engage participants and the capacity to promote creativity among the participants.  Engagement is crucial to meaningful learning and creativity is identified as a 21st Century skill necessary to solve problems and be competitive in a global environment.  As we look into school reform and teacher preparation for 21st Century schools it may be beneficial to ensure that teachers have some knowledge and skills in the the use of Transmedia storytelling.

Teaching and Learning Options in the Virtual World

The virtual environment offers students alternative ways of learning concepts.  Educators understand that differentiating instruction is important and that we should not limit ourselves to telling and explaining.  The information in a lecture or demonstration is magnified when students are given an opportunity to actively engage in an activity that provides a way for students to practice, apply or even play with the new content.  A community college professor demonstrates a virtual world activity designed to follow a lecture and provide  students a chance to “build a molecule” in virtual space.