Fourth Summer 2012 Learning in 3D Class

In the fourth “Learning in 3D Class” we had the opportunity to visit within the virtual world of ProtoSphere. It was a great tour led by Domenick Naccarato of ProtonMedia, the creator of ProtoSphere.

Here are some videos of what we were able to experience.

Here are some images from our exploration.

Gathering in ProtoSphere for our tour.

Dom provides an explanation of how ProtoSphere is deeply integrated with Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

A close up look at the various choices an administrator can chose to create a custom space.

Dom showed us how, with a feature called, “Build Your Own World”, administrators and virtual session organizers can choose their own immersive rooms and spaces and monitor permission and access to meet their specific needs on demand. Dom explained how this provides the ability to select from a wide range of virtual room sizes, layouts, styles, and the number and arrangement of media boards, note boards, and SharePoint boards.


Given the immersive nature of virtual worlds such as ProtoSphere and others, how do you see learners and others collaborating within virtual spaces? Will these collaborations be different or similar to collaboration in physical spaces?

Posted in: 3D worlds, virtual immersive environment

Leave a Comment (11) ↓


  1. Dan White August 4, 2012

    Given the interactivity that virtual worlds such as ProtoSphere enable, I can see learners and others collaborating in a multitude of ways within the virtual spaces. The users can learn much information through observing, experiencing, and experimenting. This means that users could watch something being completed, built, developed, or a number of various activities and then experience doing the same themselves. Then they can use the information they learned and then creativity extrapolate on this and their own knowledge through experimentation. Through experimentation, the user can find ways to use the knowledge in different ways than it was intended. For example, in ProtoSphere, a user who needs to demonstrate a physical product could decide that after learning how to screen-share, they would hold a meeting in ProtoSphere, live-record a product demonstration using a webcam and then screen-share the video feed. This would enable the user to blend the benefits of demonstrating a physical product and sharing it with a group of people from all over the world through a virtual 3D environment.

    These simulations will be quite different than collaboration in physical settings. This is the case because virtual environments enable everyone to be “physically” present at a meeting no matter where they are accessing the virtual meeting. The meetings will also enable the users to interact with each other in ways that would not be possible in a traditional setting. One such way would include enabling all of the users to view and try out new products before they are even physically developed. This could help companies develop and modify prototypes before any money is spent to make a physical prototype.

  2. Vanessa Bailey August 3, 2012

    I think that learners and others can collaborate in virtual spaces in a similar way to collaboration in “real”, physical spaces. Individuals can gesture, speak, showcase work, and build together. People tend to interact with each other in a way that is similar to that of the “real” world. The major differences I can see are positive in nature. More people can gather and collaborate on projects because virtual worlds cut out the difficulty of travel. In some cases, more can be accomplished in the safe environment provided by a virtual world, where learners are interacting on a computer rather than using real tools and resources. I believe that virtual worlds are a strong tool for collaboration and learner interaction, both with the environment and with each other.

  3. Abu Sheriff August 3, 2012

    I see learners collaborating within virtual spaces in various ways. The advantage of these virtual spaces are 3D collaborative immersive environments. They can be use of the spaces are similar to that of physical spaces. What makes the environment so immersive is that it supports secure and private interactions within the space. There is also the support of both structured interactions (for example, training sessions where students complete predefined activities and are evaluated) and unstructured interactions (collaborative events).

  4. Adam Snook August 2, 2012

    I believe virtual learning environments can achieve the same, if not more collaboration among students. Sometimes in a real classroom, students tend to not want to interact with each other due to anxiety issues around their peers. In a virtual learning environment, students have no clue what classmates are like in real life. Some students become insecure, or feel as if they do not possess the abilities of their peers causing them to sit quietly and not participate. In a virtual world where students are not physically in the same location, I believe these issues may reside. Students will become more open to participation and interactivity with each other. In a nutshell, I believe virtual learning could improve the participation rate among peers, enhance engagement, and create a more unified learning community amongst each other.

  5. Rachel Kaskie August 2, 2012

    I think collaboration of a group can be improved when taking place in a virtual world. In the physical group, one or two people tend to take on the role of leader. Some people may be shy and not want to take control. The use of an avatar may bring people out of their shell. I think people might be more likely to contribute when using an avatar. People tend to be more bold when behind a computer.

    Collaborations can be similar in physical and virtual worlds. If a group is just meeting to discuss and have conversations, I think there might not be much difference. But again people might be more likely to have more input when in the virtual world. If the group is to complete a complex task, the virtual world can become cumbersome. Many people need to physically see or manipulate objects. If one is not very technologically inclined, he/she may encounter difficulty in completing certain tasks.

  6. Zack Fasnacht August 2, 2012

    I see collaboration in the virtual space as an extension of the physical space. I think that people will still collaborate the same as they do in the virtual space but without some of the limitations. Instead of companies worrying about how they can get a $2 Million machine into a conference room they can use virtual models of them to help.

    The virtual space also can help learners experience lifelike situations without harming anyone (not really a good idea to have a real car crash just to see how potential EMTs react). While nothing compares to the real world experience, experiencing something in a virtual environment is about the next best thing as you can teach fundamentals and get users accustomed to situations for a smaller cost.

  7. Jill Dent August 2, 2012

    In many ways the collaboration in these worlds, depending on the intended use of the meetings, is very similar to those in physical spaces. I actually noticed in this particular world that, while we were all sitting listening to Dom at one of the tables, our virtual bodies were all facing him in our chairs, just as you would in a regular classroom or training setting. I found myself at one point with my back towards him and I had not yet joined the rest of the group. I felt the need to quickly sit down and place my attention toward the speaker. It was funny to me that, even in a setting like this one, we still desire to express that we are engaged in what is going on.
    The use of the media/note/and SharePoint boards is very much like the use of Smartboards, whiteboards, or overhead projectors in physical spaces. The same opportunities are provided to give and receive information, just as the same opportunities are provided for the participant to fully immerse themselves or “zone out” in both settings. The level of interaction and engagement is still the participant’s responsibility in both environments.

  8. Phebe Strzempek August 1, 2012

    I see two important advantages of virtual world learning spaces over physical spaces:
    1.The virtual spaces are tremendously more flexible, allowing learning spaces to be placed, modified, expanded, and moved as needed.
    2.Virtual world learning spaces can be accessed by others at any time without real-life risks such as theft or vandalism

  9. Travis Williams August 1, 2012

    I see a total immersion in the future as far as using a virtual environment for collaboration. These environments should offer file/screen sharing, audio/visual communication, and offer a hands-on approach to what it is that is trying to be accomplished.

    I think that great strides are being made in the virtual environment arena and collaboration is not quite there yet, but as the current generation grows up with technology at hand it will make the transition easier and more conducive to using the virtual environment. I see it eventually taking the place of real-life meetings, in most cases.

  10. Alanna Olive-Smith July 31, 2012

    I think the immersive nature of ProtoSphere can be used in a way similar to the virtual world we toured earlier in the semester. People from all over can easily put up their research materials or reports on shareboards and go over their findings with a group.

    At first I think these collarboations will be very similar to ones held in physical spaces. The environments in ProtoSphere and a lot of the other business related enterprises that we’ve visited have had areas modeled after real places. This is most likely to put clientele at ease and engender an environment of professionalism. However, as people become more aware of the benefits that a 3D environment offers, I think they will start making use of those functionalities. Presenters will become aware, for instance, that they can walk their users around a bar graph to give a more dynamic presentation and stress whatever numbers they are trying to communicate. This is just one example of the expansion that presentations can and most likely will experience as people become more familiar with 3D spaces.

  11. Phebe July 31, 2012

    It seems like Organizations can create an always-on virtual workspace where, at any moment, they can bring together the right people from around the globe and their content to increase the speed and effectiveness of knowledge transfer, learning, and social engagement and provide context to business-critical information. This collaboration in physical spaces is impossible.

Karl Kapp
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