Learning in 3D Summer 2009: Class Five

Scripting tips from Matt.

This week’s class was a whirl wind of different platforms. We started in Second Life and then we went to ProtoSphere and then to Centra and then back to Second Life. We visited the Genome project and the Particle Laboratory in Second Life, both great places and then we went into ProtoSphere to check it out and then we went to learn a little about scripting in Centra and then we went into Second Life to do some scripting.

One really cool web site we visited allowed us to create automatic Second Life scripts. Visit Hillary Mason’s AutoScript page to create your own Second Life scripts without having to know anything about the Linden Scripting Language. Hillary’s page also has other great Second Life information.

The Particle Laboratory contained all types of interesting tips and techniques for incorporating particles into your Second Life environment.

The class checks out the particle lab.

Also, check out this particle generation script at Particles-LSL-Generator so you can create your own particle effects.

The tour of ProtoSphere gave us valuable insights into the corporate use of 3D worlds

Class hangs out in private office in ProtoSphere.

Checking out the spine simulation.


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Posted in: Second Life 3D worlds

Leave a Comment (11) ↓


  1. Susan L August 10, 2009

    For the first part of class we did some individual exploring at the locations that related to the topic this week. It was easier to navigate around and interact with the displays when there weren't eleven other avatars trying to interact with the same displays. The particle lab was especially fun, as there were a lot of interactive displays, while the science island had a scavenger hunt that rewarded learners with in-game shirts for avatars as they completed steps. It really made me wonder how many people it took, over how many weeks and months to create that place.

    Next we finally got to do a bit of the class session in ProtoSphere. It was a bit more formal in its setup, and a little easier to interact in, but was still limited, especially with the audio difficulties we experienced. I think a really good use for ProtoSphere would be using it for different offices of the same firm or company that were geographically too far away to do face to face meetings on a weekly basis. It missing a lot of the fluff that is in Second Life for the entertainment gamers, instead of the learners, which makes it better for a professional setting.

    We had some technical difficulties with Centra this week, but we all returned to Second Life to complete class. We received a brief lesson on scripting by a guest "speaker," who let us copy his scripted objects and experiment with them. This was fun, even though the scripting was a little confusing.

  2. Joe Runciman August 8, 2009

    The progression of Class 5 served me very well. Covering a wide variety of topics made the class very engaging and motivating. Basically, experiencing so many places and possibilities seems to cement the idea that there is always more to see and do! The idea that there is much more to be explored is enough to keep me wanting to investigate further.

    We visited the Genome Lab. We were given time to explore the island and tour different scientific attractions. Unfortunately, I only made it to a couple locations because I became addicted to the quiz they had about the structure of the cell. I was frustrated that I didn't have enough time to complete the quiz, but it just goes to show how easily one can be drawn in to these exhibits.

    The Particle Laboratory was a fascinating and informative location. It was helpful for someone to create such a resource on particle scripting. Not only did you get information on notecards about what the particle effects were and how to do them, but they had visual examples so you knew exactly what they were trying to explain to you. However, in spite of that, I felt somewhat detached in this portion at first as I was not entirely sure if I could handle creating these features. Still, I took the notecards and convinced myself I would figure it out eventually.

    And then we went to Protosphere, and I was very glad of that. A couple weeks ago I had gone into the program myself, and really enjoyed the look and feel of the program, so I had hoped we would get to use it eventually. For some reason, I have always liked the "convention hall" environment, and that's exactly what Protosphere feels like to me. And the program runs so much smoother than Second Life, not to mention it's so easy to get around and figure out what you're doing since it more or less has an established purpose. We visited various rooms in the program including the auditorium and the solutions center. The spine simulation was interesting, but I felt like it was an awfully narrow purpose to go to the effort of creating it. But I suppose if it gets repeated use for educational situations, then it is still worth it. I do feel like Protosphere has the best chance of hooking me into learning in a 3D environment.

    Later, we returned to Second Life for a scripting lecture from Preston Straff. This helped me a lot. While the open-ended exploring in the Particle Lab was fun, this approach helped me understand the basic application of scripting in Second Life much more efficiently. This way it was not too much to take in at once. After discovering how to place script on an object, I quickly caught on to the concept. I even started picking apart the code to figure out which piece of code did what. Having worked with ActionScript for Flash, this coding was not too intimidating anymore when I took the time to just look at it (and not fear it!) As the technology improves, and when I encounter more purposes for me to use it, I have a feeling I will be returning to experiment further with Second Life in the not too distant future.

  3. Liz Jenson August 8, 2009

    I would love to learn more about scripting. I had trouble following the scripting lecture while it was presented online. In order for me to develop my scripting skills I think it would be most helpful, for me to meet an instructor in person. It looks very simple and basic, however I still feel a little detached from what I need to do to produce scripts.

    During class, Dr. Kapp spoke with me through a private voice over IP call in Second Life to help me with scripting. He was very helpful and I really appreciated him taking the time to do it, because I was lost. The voice over IP private phone call is a nice feature in Second Life. It is a good tool for teachers to use during a lecture to privately help a student.

    I also spoke with Dr. Kapp using Skype and Second Life a few days later. He gave me the script for attaching a note card to an object and walked me through the steps. I demonstrated these steps in my Machinima project. Now that I have recorded and practiced the steps on my own, I am less likely to forget them. Plus, they are documented in my Machinima file and I could use that as a reference if I ever needed to.

    Class Five was not the smoothest class for me. While I waited for students to congregate at the Particle Lab, I decided to change the color of my avatar’s clothes. Second Life froze and I had to log out and back in. By the time I had done this, I had lost the group and was not sure where they had gone. I flew around a lot looking for everyone but to no avail. I finally realized that I could contact one of my “friends” and ask them to teleport me to where they were. This was a great idea. I found the group, but arrived too late to hear Dr. Kapp’s description of the Particle Laboratory. I did do some exploration.

    I really liked ProtoShpere. I think it will be better than Centra for online classes because you feel more present, with an avatar representing you. The whole atmosphere is so different from Second Life. It makes you feel like a professional and therefore I feel you are more inclined to act like one. I can see how neat it will be when the VoiceOverIP feature works properly. The Picture in Picture feature is also really appealing. I think it would be important to be able to record class sessions in ProtoSphere so that they can be viewed later by students. I know I have had some connection problems due to thunder storms and ISP failures. Sometimes it’s also nice to know that you can go to the recording and listen to something again. If PowerPoint presentations and videos could be shown during class, that would be beneficial as well. I am not sure if it includes those features at this time.

    I really liked the Spine Simulation. If more of that could be developed that would be incredible.

  4. Steve Gaydon August 8, 2009

    In class 5, our last live class, we jumped around quite a bit. We went from Second Life to Protosphere to Centra and then back to Second Life. We started out in Second Life and were teleported to the Genome Island. The Genome Island had many useful exhibits, all of which pertained to biology. One of the things that I found particularly interesting was the opal tube and tubes that showed visual pictures of bacteria such as e-coli and anabaena variabilis. There were also useful charts, which showed gene structures. A site like this may have been useful for me in high school because I was one of those students that never fully understood biology. It was full of a lot of concepts that were hard for me to visualize. This site would have made abstract concepts seem a little more concrete for me.

    We, then, teleported to the particle lab. It showed different particle formations, which are possible in Second Life. It was interest to see that by way of scripts, you can create some stunning visual effects. This site set the stage for the end of class in which we practiced scripting.

    We next entered into Protosphere, which is a corporate 3-D world. Other than the fact that sound did not work properly, I found Protosphere to be a useful educational environment. It was much easier to navigate than Second Life and much more suited for the business world. An interesting question with the future use of Protosphere is: Can it provide something to give it an advantage over 2-D learning applications such as Centra?

    We then met in Centra where Dr. Kapp discussed ways to build and create scripts in Second Life. He first discussed ways to further customize our building objects. He then discussed some of the basics of scripting. The most useful part of the lecture was the links to sites that will automatically generates scripts for you. You simple choose from a list what you would like to do and it generates a script in which you can copy and paste into Second Life. Programming can be very complex and most people are not programmers nor do they want to be programmers. These sites allow users to create advanced effects in Second Life without having to be an expert programmer.

    Our final destination was MSIT Island in Second Life where we put our new scripting knowledge to use. We had a guest speaker who guided us and gave us pointers on creating basic scripts such as a “Hello” message when your object is clicked. I initially thought that scripting would be difficult but with the script-generating pages, it seems to be much easier than I thought.

  5. Jeeth August 8, 2009

    In class 5 we were teleported to genome island, and it refreshed some of my biology and science knowledge. as a biology student it was very amazing class. we were asked to scavenge hunt, and notice objects, and get note cards for the information. I noticed information about the bees, and their types. i saw the genotypes of the cats with and without tails (Mendelian Genetics), and at the end I visited the gaint cell, with its organelles. i felt it ralistic as if i am moving around the organelles. this is very informational in teaching basic biology for school students, and they will defenitely enjoy learning in SL, and do assignments in the island it self, and they can remember the parts of the cell or other genetical experiments by mendel easily.

    Then we visted Particle Lab, and saw different physical properties of them. i gained information about the particles with each note card, and also information provided in that island. we were transported in the balloon to this island. very informative and exciting experience in the particle lab.

    Then we all met in Protosphere. I liked protosphere better than SL. I thought it was more user friendly and easy t walk around than SL. we visited many places in the island we met, and had a nice orientation by Dr.Kapp. I liked each and every place in this islad, and we saw that Dr.Kapp in the small window as the instructor. I enjoyed sitting in the chair of the seminar room/auditorium, and Dr.Kapp provided the information from the podium just like in real world. It was very exciting to see another 3D world. we were also able to add other into our buddy list just like we do in any other messenger.

    At the end we were supposed to meet in centra, and because of some technical issue i couldn't log back into the centra, and didnt know about the rest of the class, but Ron mentioned about the class at the end that not many people could log in, and rest of the class was in SL again. I wish i was there in that class.

    Over all amazing experience from all the classes of SL, and i never imagined the use of SL in almost every areas education.

    Downloading information in PDF, and the session about the spine were also very interesting areas of the protosphere. i would deenitely like to spend more time in SL and try to build a project for science purposes, which is one of the reasons to take this course. over all i leaned a lot from this class.

  6. Anup Sharma August 8, 2009

    We started the class with taking notecards in MSIT Island and then teleported to Genome lab. It was interesting to see different notecards I got while visiting the place. Most of them had information about the object I touched. While visiting the Genome lab, I came across this lab notebook which can be used to keep data collected from the experiments I do on Genome Island. It also lets me number the pages of my notebook and create an index telling what page each record was on.

    We then visited the particle laboratory. We could click on different things to see how things work. As other Second Life island, it also gave notecards which we can used to learn about different particles and how they look. When I clicked on burst count, I could see different burst. This gave me good examples about how the particle looks like and how it interacts.

    It was exciting to spend few minutes in Protosphere. Protosphere is a corporate 3D world which is much likely to stay alive than Second Life. It is more interactive than Second Life and lack of surrounding in Protosphere allows for less clutter. We also visited few places in Protosphere like spine simulation, auditorium, solutions center and private office. One of the fascinating things about Protosphere was that if I go to the book shelf type area, I could download PDFs which was used as a way of providing information.

    We then visited Second Life again. Preston Straff, guest in our class, talked about scripting in Second Life. It was amazing to see how scripting works. Preston showed us examples of how scripting works with object in Second Life. Overall, this was a good experience in Second Life.

  7. vines August 7, 2009

    I ended my last blog entry with not knowing how far scripting can take you… It was good to get a tiny bit of exposure to LSL. Mostly I just played around a little with autoscripting resources- but it’s useful to just know where to find useful information within and outside of SL for when it’s ever needed.

    With few skills so far in building and scripting in SL, I’ve actually become interested in machinima. It is so similar to film/video work I’ve done in the past. I’ve worked with narrative and documentary film with the basis that stories move people and I’ve been trying to figure out how to employ storytelling more in instructional design. For a while I’ve had a fantasy of adapting an idea from Octavia Butler’s book Kindred- a science fiction story where an African American woman experiences involuntary time travel- she travels back into a period of US slavery and experiences abuse that grows worse each time she travels back… I feel that there are ways of changing the story and situation to become interactive in a 3d world- that puts learners into new roles and time periods. In this way it has some similarities to the Holocaust Museum in SL. The problems with this idea are that it is hard to get people to enact- unless there is a way of forcing people into a role where avatars and objects are scripted to make them experience something new…

    Machinima is interesting in how it allows you to take advantage of a VW going back to a 2D environment. One of the challenges I feel I have when I think about storytelling in instructional design is production values. Stories lose all effect if they can’t be auditorily and/or visually compelling. I’m excited about the possibilities of using machinima to get around having to animate and having to worry about casting/costuming/directing actual actors. I feel greater freedom in scripting and creating characters to act out scenes and roleplays for educational outcomes.

    I’ve started scripting some SL ideas that I’ll be capturing for sexual health education modules at my current job. For simplicity I’m planning on using SL in pretty subtle ways. The bulk of the storytelling will rely on well-acted audio and I’m planning some small scenes that will correspond with a teenage girl retelling a personal story. I think that even subtle use of moving pictures can do a lot to capture learners’ attention.

    It has been great working with Michelle from class to create the machinima assignment. This has been a useful way to experiment a little with what is possible without building at this point- camera angles, capturing shots of flying, teleporting… I’ve learned that it’s better to have a third avatar to be able to do camera work for a scene that has two people. The entire process is so like the division of labor in filmmaking- from scripting to directing to filming to audio to editing… This has been fun and has opened up my imagination in different projects.

  8. Seth August 7, 2009

    The locations we visited in this class were, in my opinion, the most interesting by far. On Genome Island we had the opportunity to explore and experiment with a wide array of enducational activities. While I'm still not entirely satisfied with the system Second Life uses to distribute information, that is clickable objects which dispense note cards, I suppose that it's more streamlined than reactively changing the skins on objects to display new information. In any case the island was well designed, giving a visitor enough room to navigate easily and strewn with domestic teleport options to key areas of interest.

    In the particle laboratory, which as an aside has one of the most entertaining entrances I've seen in Second Life, we had the opportunity to tour a large complex filled with displays illustrating the appearance and nature of a variety of particle effects. This location is truly phenomenal, due in large part to the fact that its subject matter is one of the key concerns in Second Life: graphical effects. All of the displays were both visually and intellectually stimulating with instructions appearing as text bubbles over various areas of interest on a given display. I greatly prefer this to stocking up on a pile of note cards. To be fair however, several of the displays did spawn note cards, not that I particularly minded since they were all samples of script for a given particle effect and instructions on how to use it. At the risk of sounding like an even bigger geek: truly, it was made of win.

    Finally, Preston Straff's presentation on objects was very informative and provided some valuable insight into the workings of objects in Second Life.

  9. Michelle Campbell August 5, 2009

    First, we visited Genome Island. There, we got to go around for 15 or so minutes and visit the exhibits that were present on that page. There, I saw some giant cells, and experiment that injects rats with some kind of liquid to see how they would react and I also saw an exhibit that discussed eye color in humans. Genome Island would be very nice if someone was very interested in science and science experiments.

    We them went to the particle lab. There, we got to see what it took to create particles. There were also examples that can be made from particles. We can either try to make them ourselves or buy them from the particle lab. They make the script available to us and the images and examples let you know what you are actually getting from the particles.

    We them met up in Protosphere. There, we learned how to use the expressions and how to teleport to other locations within the office setting. We got to see the spine simulation, the private office and also the trade snowhall. One can download PDF's to get information just like SL's "notecards". We also learned how to add someone as a buddy.

    We then went to Second Life and started to build. We were taught that we should name each of the objects and use a description name for each item so the items dont get messed up and lost. We were them taught how to script an object. I definitely believe that scripting is hard. I really got to take the time and figure it out because to me I dont think scripting can be a one day thing.

    Overall, this class was amazing because in the beginning of class, I had no idea what was in store for me and now I have learned so much about Second Life, Protosphere and so on and I might just want to keep doing this on my own time and learn more things about each program so I may be a master of it or possibly do it as a job.

  10. Brandie Shatto August 5, 2009

    Our 5th class was made up of several locations and activities. First, we met in Second Life and Dr. Kapp provided time for us to explore the Genome Project Island and Particle Island. At the Genome Project, there was a wealth of interactive activities to provide learners with information about genetics. In one activity, you could choose the parent gene combinations for two rabbits and then see what their offspring would look like based on your choices. There were other activities in which you could actually take your avatar inside a cell and see what it looked like. In addition, there were many places to click for note cards and websites that provided additional information. I thought that the value in this site was the interactivity. For me, it brought genetics to life and gave me something concrete to look at. So often, it’s difficult for students to conceptualize miniscule things like individual cells, but SL locations/activities such as this help to counter those types of difficulties. Particle Island was also very interesting. I didn’t know much about scripting particles in Second Life prior to this class session so Particle Island gave me a good overview of what particles are and the multiple ways in which they can be used in Second Life.

    Later in the class session, we went to Protosphere. I personally really enjoyed Protosphere. Because it is a corporate environment, there are fewer choices for you to make and less activity to be distracted by. I also found the navigation controls much easier to learn than in Second Life. In addition, although the voice over IP wasn’t working properly, I noticed that Protosphere provides a picture-in-picture feature when someone is talking. The avatar is even animated as it speaks. This is a really nice feature as it draws attention to the speaker and captures your attention. Along those lines, one of the other things that Protosphere offers is gestures that align more with a corporate world. This helps to create a more educational/professional environment. As a former 8th grade teacher, I think I would feel much more comfortable introducing students to a virtual environment like Protosphere simply because it provides a little bit more structure than Second Life.

    After the Protosphere session, we were supposed to meet in Centra. Unfortunately, I was not able to log in to the Centra session. However, after class I viewed the slides from the presentation. I found these slides to be immensely helpful. On the slides, Dr. Kapp explained some of the choices available to you when building an object in Second Life. While I can build basic structures, there were many options in the builder menu that I didn’t know how to use. The slides helped to explain what these features are for. In his presentation, Dr. Kapp also broke down the pieces of a script. This was very helpful to me as well. I think I will print these slides and keep them near next time I am trying to build in Second Life.

    At the end of class, we met back in Second Life with both Dr. Kapp and Preston Straff (that’s the name of his avatar). Preston gave us a tutorial on creating basic scripts. When I tried scripting on my own at first, I found it very difficult. I don’t know the Linden Labs scripting language, so I didn’t know where to add things and sometimes when I added a new script, it didn’t work the way I thought it would. I think that my frustration was due in part to the fact that I have no programming experience. However, Dr. Kapp provided some places where you can obtain already written scripts and his PowerPoint slides in Centra also describe scripting. I believe that I need to utilize the resources he provided and practice and eventually I will be able to write functional script. I think that scripting is a vital element of Second Life. It’s the core of SLs interactivity and it’s one of the primary features that separates SL from 2D environments. For anyone that is seriously considering using SL for educational purpose, I think learning the scripting language would be a valuable tool.

  11. Amanda Golasa August 4, 2009

    As each class passes, I am even more amazed at what can be done in Second Life. This time I was surprised to see how interactive and fun science could actually be. We visited two islands which were very engaging and everlasting. These science islands were huge! There were endless amounts of science on these virtual islands. I could not believe how much fun I was having just by exploring these islands. They tricked me into learning about very complicated subjects! The first island which I visited was the Genome project and the second was the Particle Laboratory.
    Both of the islands allowed me to control what information I wanted to learn. I could click the mouse and learn about the movement of particles or I could just simply walk around observing what some of the molecules looked like. It did not matter what I did, either way I was subconsciously absorbing science into my brain. My favorite part was watching the movement of particles because it was amazing to see movement that was actually in 3D. Watching movement which is animated allows me to actually picture what is happening when particles break apart rather than have some professor lecture me in a classroom. I just wish that I would have found out about these islands when I was having trouble with my chemistry class at BU!

Karl Kapp
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