Learning in 3D Summer 2009: Class One

Getting the class together in SL.

Recently, we had our first summer class of the course “Learning in 3D,” the class focuses on how to create 3D learning spaces and how to use those spaces effectively to promote learning and to leverage the wonderful attributes of 3D.

First we talked about different levels of Gamers (Game 1.0-4.0). To find out what level gamer you are, consider playing Gamer Rater. (created by an awesomely talented group of students (Nicole Clark, Heather Gee, Aaron Kennelly and David Robbins..special thanks to Heather Gee for key updates.)

We then discussed the definition of a Metaverse and went on to discuss a little about the evolution of avatars.

Evolution of avatars (thanks again Heather Gee).

We then discussed different kids focused simulations, simulated games and virtual worlds like:

  • Simulations at Edheads.
  • Disney’s Hot Shot Business
  • Club Penguin
  • America’s Army
  • River City Project

    We then discussed some Second Life statistics to see how big that world has become.

    We then discussed the metaverse hype cycle and how the death of virtual worlds have been greatly exaggerated.

    We then jumped into the virtual world of Second Life to have a look around and in an upcoming week, we’ll be jumping into Protosphere to gain a corporate perspective on these worlds.


    Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
    Recommended Games and Gadgets
    Recommended Books
    Content Guide

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    1. Carol August 26, 2009

      Summer class cool i am very much interested in theses classes thanks for posting this..
      Wireless Home Alarm Security Systems

    2. Seth August 7, 2009

      In our first class we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the controls and commands of the Second Life GUI. Prior to class we were instructed to customize our avatar and post a picture of it, along with its name and our name in the class wiki.

      In the initial Centra based portion of the class we learned about the general evolution of video games and virtual environments. We also touched on the evolution of emotive expression in cyberspace from the ago old colon closed parentheses smiling face to detailed emotive animations in a three dimensional virtual world. Finally we spent some time discussing the nature of online virtual economies and how they relate to real world economies.

      As a long time computer and console gamer most of this class served as a handy review and preview of the direction future classes are likely to take.

    3. Jithender Gundawar July 13, 2009

      Hello Class My name is Jeeth. I missed the first calss, but I am really excited to learn new things about second life. I never had a class like this before, and the Avatar creation. I chose my Avatar Name as Charaka (ancient Indian ayurvedic physician) Paneer (Indian cheese).
      I am a big fan of some of the war games, XBox, V so on and so forth. I found second life as one of the kewl technologies in eLearing process. I am a biology major so, we can easily explain many processes in biology with this.
      I was checking the second life, and its objects, and i came across an avatar who came to me and started communication with mine, and I was little scared in the beginning, but found it very cool on the go. I was also excited to see my avatar flying, and i started exploring new world there.

      we learned about gaming world, and its development neatly in our first class, and also about metaverse. some of them were new to me, and I am really excited to see how the eLearning process helps in easy and effective way of reading lengthy brochures.

    4. vines July 13, 2009

      In our first Second Life class Dr. Kapp asked us to keep in mind what we want to get out of class. We didn’t go over each others’ learning objectives for class but I did mention that I am curious about it even if I feel somewhat skeptical. I’ve never been much of a gamer. I can get addicted for short periods of time and then get bored because I tend to find reality more interesting. So I have memories of Atari but pretty much no experience of the role playing games that evolved after. It was interesting looking at a brief history of the evolution of games. Visually they are so different and there is a big leap from shooting at things coming at you to having choices about what to explore or what values you have to balance before making your next move. (I still think shooting at things coming at you is fun).
      In class it was just mentioned in passing how racial, gender, etc. biases and behaviors from the real world come into the virtual world. I’m particularly curious about education that address and challenge some of these dynamics – directly or indirectly through role playing scenarios. It’s strange also to think about a platform where you bring dynamics based on your real identities in the real world into a world where you now have freedom to create new identities. Is Second Life more simple or more complicated than real life?
      I’m interested in how a simulation like River City Project works, where you travel back in time and use technology to assess health problems. This potential of the metaverse makes me curious. But then it seems it would depend both on the quality of the designer and of the people you are collaborating with.
      It was fun to get into Second Life with the class after having a theoretical lecture about it. At this point, I like running into people, laughing, saying hey baby, and being repulsed at no one in particular. I’m not totally satisfied with my avatar. But on the other hand I’m not sure how much time I want to spend shopping for freebie clothes in the metaverse.

    5. Adam C. Yerger July 13, 2009

      Our first class meeting was a very interesting experience. While still in Centra, we learned a lot about Second Life. We learned about avatars and their evolution and were offered a number of facts about Second Life itself. One of the most interesting things that we learned during our first class was the concept of the metaverse hype cycle. I have seen it before, but never had a concrete understanding of it. I found it fascinating that we are currently in the initial drop-off in popularity (as predicted by the metaverse hype cycle) when hard-core users begin to explore and reevaluate the uses and the actual execution of learning programs using this virtual world. In theory, this step sets the world up for the next paradigm shift in education; the meaningful and effective use of virtual worlds in education.

      It is very difficult to grasp the sheer size to which Second Life has grown. During class we learned a number of sobering statistics that illustrate, starkly, exactly how huge this virtual world is. Two things that really caught my attention about this world are: the virtual-real world economic structural relationship and the ability for anyone logged into Second Life to create “objects”.

      The first of the two elements that I found interesting about Second life is the relationship between Second Life’s economy and real-world economic values. I thought it was really cool how there is an actual link and fluctuating exchange rate between the American Dollar and Second Life’s Linden. Dr. Kapp explained that in Second Life users can “buy” different objects created by other users. Also, users can buy their own islands in Second Life although these are purchased with real money instead of Lindens. I could see a potential lesson on economics being done in Second Life using this concept.

      The second element that I found interesting about Second Life is the ability for users to create “objects”. After class, I experimented with this and created a rug. Although the rug is not very nice looking, it was really cool and eye-opening to see what you can really do with this ability. I can really see the ways in which the ability to create objects in Second Life would empower an instructor to create an effective lesson in a 3D environment.

    6. Susan L July 13, 2009

      At first I wasn't sure what to expect from the class. I had only heard it refered to as "Second Life class" and it really made me wonder what the point of the class was going to be. I had friends that used to play SL, and they told me about the abilities to imagine, build, and sell items in-game. When I was told the official class name, I became more interested, hoping to get something out of a game that had never really caught my attention.

      During the first class, I was surprised to get such a breakdown in the histroy of video games, and learned a few things I didn't expect to be mentioned. One thing in particular that captured my interest was the advancement of player involvement, from pong and space invaders to current games, like Second Life and the popular MMOs.

      When we got into SecondLife as a class, I could see the advantages of using it as a learning environment, but one thing that quickly came to mind was the problems of using a system like this. Everyone was concerned with customizing their avatar, and once it was explained how to do this, you could see several people continuing to do this, even after the discussion had moved on to other topics. Nothing like having a legitimate distraction during class time.

      In all, I learned a lot more than I expected to in the first class, especially on some of the topics. I am looking forward to getting familiar with the Second Life environment, and learning how to best use it as an instructional tool.

    7. Bittner July 13, 2009

      In class we began to understand how 3-D environments have come to be by exploring the historical advances leading up to this point. It was discussed that in early games, like Pong, there was a very limited skill level necessary to play. Early games were simply about pattern recognition. As games progressed though, other more advanced skills came into play such as analysis and decision making. We discussed games like SimCity in which you are given a task like designing and building a successful and sustainable city, which requires you to constantly think, analyze, evaluate, and make decisions. These provide the learner with real life simulations to accomplish the learning task.

      In Second Life, we saw how people can represent themselves utilizing an avatar that they can create. Once this avatar is created, people have the opportunity to participate in social interactions much like those that would occur in the real world. Because of this ability, Second life (or another metaverse like it) can be a powerful tool for facilitating educational interactions between people that would normally be inhibited by being physically located large geographic distances away from each other. The visual factor of having an avatar associated with people rather than just names with no faces, helps learners to more authentically relate to, and interact with each other in this virtual environment.

      One aspect of virtual worlds that stands out to me is the ability to participate in activities that would be dangerous or possibly fatal in the real world. Sometimes, it is possible that training on a dangerous or delicate activity or skill can be accomplished through a virtual simulation, eliminating the real-life risk associated with the activity.

    8. Anup Sharma July 13, 2009

      Our class was focused on virtual world and it's implementation in education.We started with discussion about different games like ping pong and tried to focus on the fact that even the simple 2D game is guided by certain rules and has its own goal. Even when we are playing ping pong online, we tend to think about different things while playing the game. In order to win the game, we have to hit the ball in a way so that the opponent can't reach it. Hence, it is a well known fact that most of the game we play are guided by pre made rules and have its own goal that users will reach after completing the game. We also talked about how corporate world has been using this virtual world to accomplish their success. It was surprising to know even big companies like addidas and others have been using virtual world in a way that benefit their business.

      It's hard to imagine a game in 2D or 3D that has its own educational implication. Nevertheless, there are these virtual worlds that are built using different educational strategies. However, to build a 2D or 3D software that perfectly meets an educational goal is quite difficult in my opinion. It's not just because of technical issues that underline these applications but also making people belive that these thing works can be sometimes hard. Not all the people want to spend their time playing these applications. However, after doing some research before and after my first class, I found this might be wrong.

      Second Life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its Residents. It’s a fast growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Second life was developed by Linden lab which is a privately held Internet Company that has over 300 employees worldwide. Second life was launched in 2003. Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see the numbers of people who use Second Life today.

      The first thing that caught my attention in the Second life was its features. The way we can customize the characters is simply amazing. There are games in Xbox, PS3 that let you do the customization. However, I felt customizing the characters in Second Life more interesting than other application. Users, also called Residents in Second Life, can interact with each other throught Avatars. Users can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group acitivities. Sometimes, users may find themselves engaged in generic chat for hours in Second Life. IM’s can also be used for private conversations. Morever, voice chat, both local and IM, is also available in Second Life. Unlike a traditional computer game, Second Life doesn’t have a designated objective, nor traditional game play mechanics or rules. As it doesn’t have any stipulated goals it is irrelevant to talk about winning or losing in Second Life. Thus, Second life can be used purely as a creative toolset. However, the vast majority of users use it as an entertainment medium or to interact with other Residents.

    9. Liz Jenson July 12, 2009

      When Second Life technology was first introduced, educators used routinization techniques to implement their educational strategies. (Routinization is a word that I had not heard before so I looked it up.) Educators used their past experience to determine what a typical learning environment encompassed, and created a duplicate environment in 3D with classroom chairs, tables and a screen to project PowerPoint slides. This allowed them to use this new 3D technology and encourage student interest with the novelty of a new environment. It was determined that using SL in this way was just as effective as presenting the same content in a regular 2D environment. I could see me, being one of those educators that would have set up a 3D classroom with chairs and tables, and then presented material that could be presented just as well in a 2D environment. This class is already helping me to think differently.

      My father-in-law uses Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. When he watches the news on TV and they discuss pilot errors he understands what they are talking about. I can see that a virtual 3D environment can be a good training tool. Just as the American Army game described during class, allowed a user to save the life of someone involved in a car accident in the physical world after being trained in American Army. I believe, my father-in-law could fly a plane in the physical world.

      SL was described as the convergence of the four technologies that we already use; synchronous learning, such as Centra, Web 2.0, where you create your own content, social networking where communication using blogs, chats and voice over IP are used and the 3D interface. This was referred to as a Metaverse, which is a 3D virtual world with avatars that developed from these four technologies.

      The games shared during class were interesting to hear about because I am not a gamer, and have been in the dark. I found the introduction of a virus into Whyville most interesting because the reaction of the children was not predicable. I think it is so neat that the children tried to contract the virus and then attempted to track it by following its path. This was a great way to teach them how viruses spread. I bet the children were probably not even aware that they were learning something, and that their learning could be easily transferred in the physical world.

      I would have liked to have seen the way Obama and McCain represented themselves in SL. How did they interact with voter issues and questions? Who was behind their avatars or was the content static? If someone was representing their avatars, what safeguards were put in place to make sure the Obama or McCain avatars were correctly stating each candidate’s views?

      As you mentioned during our class, most people, tend to act like themselves in SL. If they attempt to create an avatar of a different gender other than their own, or have a racial bias in the real physical world this personal quality still tends to reveal itself in SL. So how could anyone select a person to represent their avatar and correctly disseminate their political views 100% of the time?

      I would think that because comments in the chat or voice over IP could be recorded, that statements inadvertently, worded incorrectly may show up on the news and become controversial? How could the candidates be sure they hired avatar personas that were always going to answer questions diplomatically? Were questions answered in real time?

      As you described in class, was a 3D environment the most appropriate way to present them or would a 2D environment have been sufficient?

      The “Technology Hype Cycle” described by Garner was interesting. I can see how e-learning and SL, along with other technologies, have been through similar cycles. Do we always need to first explore it, use it in less effective ways, and then re-vamp our strategies about how to use it? Are there some people that can immediately identify the best way to use a new technology?

    10. Matt July 12, 2009

      Our first class discussed “Second Life” and how that fits in with avatars, metaverse, and 3D worlds in general. I am very excited to take this class because I have always been fascinated with virtual worlds and believed they were capable of much more then they have been used for.

      A few years ago I wrote a paper about the impact 3D worlds “are” and “could” make in our world. I used EverQuest as my main game of study. Norath, the world of EverQuest, was making more money from member dues then 16 REAL 3rd world countries. It also had more “citizens” then 11 REAL countries. It had its own exchange rate, meaning you could buy Norath money with real money. It had its own language, its own culture, its own traditions. So my report basically said that Norath was basically a real country other then it did not have physical land, it only had a virtual presence. I found the topic to be extremely interesting and the possibilities of these virtual worlds are limitless. I was very excited to hear about this class and I am really looking forward to seeing everything in action.

      The use of avatars and virtual worlds for education is limitless. Virtual training is one of the most effective forms of training because it gives you real life similarities but without the risks of real life training. For example, many of NASA’s most effective trainings are virtual simulations. These trainings are invaluable because you can create any environment you want without physical restrictions. I feel that is what virtual worlds bring to not just online education, but education in general. It allows educators to create the ideal learning environment for the learners. I am excited to see how this will all turn out and I am looking forward to learn more ways to implement virtual worlds in education.

    11. Joe Runciman July 11, 2009

      Initially being unsure of how our first class would be held, I was glad to find that we were taking an approach that combined both Centra and Second Life. Even with prior information from readings and videos, it was comforting to get some direct instruction in class to serve as a background as well as transition us into the actual Second Life program. In the Centra portion of class, we discussed Second Life being a metaverse, which is an online program with very few rules, a real-life economy and an environment created by users. We got some background information about Second Life, and how it came to be based on previous technology. Being a gamer since I was very young, I was amused to be discussing the track of thoughtful gaming technology, working up from Pong, Myst and up through game giants like World of Warcraft and along with fairly lesser known games such as Disney's Hot Shot Business.

      The closest I had come to experience with Second Life (besides hearing about it from friends) includes an old 3-D chat program called "Worlds Chat" and the Sims. I liked touching on the progression of avatars, from text emoticons, simple graphics, 2-D avatars and finally 3-D representations. While the Worlds Chat program was a 3-D environment, the avatars were 2-D, comprised of four different images (one view from each side of the avatar). And while the Sims is very open-ended, it doesn't quite qualify as a metaverse since there are still rules and an implied aim (get a job, eat, shower, sleep, etc), and nobody on the other end with whom to interact.

      We discussed how, based on the metaverse hype cycle, Second Life has finally just about evened out and is better received once more since people are beginning to understand that the program is only useful when one goes into it with a predetermined purpose, which is, in our case, class instruction. Second Life also has a surprising number of factors that help link it to real life. Besides the capability of interacting with other participants through both text chat and voice, the program is proving better suited to a classroom or corporate learning environment than simply an online "room" with names and no faces. The avatars help the users identify with their "other-worldly" selves, helping reinforce the illusion of simply being in a classroom, but with distinct advantages. Considering the gamer way of life, most users have simply become used to having options to customize games and online applications to their heart's content.

      I am unsure about how many more advantages will emerge with using an online 3-D environment for teaching aside from being able to explore the room during a presentation and being able to put a name to a "face." However, that is why I am taking this class, after all. I imagine this will become clearer as the class progresses and as I learn the capabilities of the program. Currently, I am just glad I finally figured out that I could not alter my appearance previously because my original avatar had been pre-created as tattoos and not worn or attached parts. It all takes one step at a time.

    12. Tony3394 July 11, 2009

      Our class on July 6 jumped right into what our session will entail. Specifically we started with what the differences and similarities were between 2d and 3d learning.
      For example, we talked about how, in a metaverse like 2L, one can create content, follow few rules, is a virtual world, can use a real world economy and it is also not a game.
      We then began to discuss how we've gotten to this point in technology. We discussed the progression over time from the emoticon type faces, to the 2d self image, all the way to the current stage of the particular avatars we use.
      When we started using second life, I admit, I was completely clueless. I have a few friends who use it, and had help prior to class from them, but the class helped immensely with my understandings of what we could do "in world".
      So far, I think the class is going to be a fun and interesting one. It looks like there is always something new to learn and to learn in a new and unique way. I'm interested to see what exactly we are capable of and then how we can progress.

    13. Brandie July 11, 2009

      In our first class session for Learning in 3D, we began by discussing the evolution of games and gamers. As games have evolved and become more complex, so have the thought processes of the. In early video games like Atari Tennis, the gamer focused on processes such as pattern recognition as this was necessary skill to win the game. However, as games became more complex, the skills that gamers needed to acquire became more complex. In games like Myst, the player needed to develop skills like problem solving and critical thinking. These are skills that can be applied outside the game world and are essential skills for academia and the workplace. Therefore, it has become important for educators to conisder the use of games and virtual environments as learning tools.

      We then discussed the definition of a metaverse, an online world in which there are no specific objectives. Metaverses are interesting because they are a convergence of already existing technologies. Because everyone meets in an online location at a specified time, the metaverse is a synchronous environment. It is the instructor’s responsibility to create instructional content, so the metaverse is a Web 2.0 tool. A metaverse has a 3D interface, which makes it like a 3D game. Because the avatars in the virtual world can communicate with each other, the metaverse is also a social networking tool. Therefore, a metaverse allows instructors to take advantage of many technology tools to enhance instruction. In a metaverse, each participant creates an avatar. The avatar is customizable allowing the participant to make a personal connection to the 3D world.

      We later discussed simulations and virtual worlds. Simulations often involve role playing. There may be quests or tasks to complete. In Disney’s Hot Shot Business, players take on the role of a business owner and must try to manage the business they create. In my opinion, simulations have many educational functions. They can be used to teach someone how to complete a task, or be used to illustrate the role of someone in a specific position. However, simulations lack the collaborative features provided by virtual environments like Second Life. The ability to collaborate and communicate with others is an important skill for the workforce. Therefore, this is an extremely useful feature in virtual worlds.

      We also discussed the technology hype cycle. Each new piece of technology goes through the cycle. At first, everyone loves the technology. Then, everyone hates it. Eventually a balance is reached and the appropriate uses of the technology are discovered. This is currently happening with Second Life. We are discovering that the appropriate application of Second Life requires a presence. There needs to be a reason for someone to be there. It requires a purpose. People need to know whey they are there. Finally, it requires guidance. People need to be instructed on how to use the virtual world. This part of the discussion really appealed to me. Prior to this class, I had entered Second Life and tried to explore the virtual world. However, I became frustrated because I didn’t know where to go or what I was supposed to do. After our discussion, I realized that my frustration developed because I didn’t understand the reason for my presence or my purpose in the virtual world.

      With these things mind, we moved into Second Life. We learned how to move around, communicate with fellow class members, customize our avatars. This was a new experience for me. I have little experience with 3D virtual worlds. Prior to using Second Life for our class, I had difficulty imagining how it could be used for educational purposes. However, once I entered our class in Second Life, I immediately felt a sense of connectedness to my classmates. Rather than names on a screen, they became actual people and I began to get a sense of who they are. I immediately began to develop a new sense of the educational implications of 3D environments as I can see how they bring new definition to an online classroom.

    14. Michelle Campbell July 10, 2009

      Our class on July 6 discussed metaverse and what a metaverse is. In a metaverse, one can create content, follow few rules, is a virtual world, can use a real world economy and it is also not a game. We then talked about how this is a convergence of existing technology. For example, we talked about the evolution of avatars. In this discussion, we talked about how we first started to think in 3-D. First we started to just make “faces” with the keyboard keys, then we went on to “happy faces” (just like the happy faces that we use to talk on AOL or even our phones), then we evolved with a 2-D appearance, then we went on to a 3-D appearance. We discussed what avatars are (an extension of a persion, a 3-D representation of an individual) so the whole class could understand what an avatar is, if they didn’t already know. We then started to discuss simulation/game, MMORPG, MOVEES, VLE, and also MMOLE. The simulation/games are played by playing roles/identities, they have balance variables and they also mimic real life actives. The MMORPG is also known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Game, these games are played with roles and identities, there are quests or adventures within the games for players to experience (one example of this is World of War craft). MOVEES, also known as Multi-user Virtual Environment Experimental Simulator, used virtual characters and usually the players solve a scientific mystery. VLE, also known as Virtual Learning Environment and MMOLE, also known as Massively Multi-learner Online Learning Environment used avatars, classrooms and it is also SCORM compatible. An example of this is Protosphere.

      After this discussion, we talked about companies that are part of the metaverse. Some of the companies that are part of the metaverse are NBC, CBS, IBM, Sears and also Adidas. After this discussion, we discussed the economy of Second Life. Second Life has an economy that used Linden which is equal to one US $1.00. In Second Life, one can buy islands (which are land) for the user. One could pay $1,000 for 65,536 square meters of land. After this, we went into Second Life to gain a better perspective on what we were trying to work on in the earlier week. We learned how to sit, fly, walk and also change our appearance. We also learned how to chat to the whole group or even one person at a time along with voice chatting. We were also taught how to jump from one world to the next.

      My overall experience with virtual learning or 3-D avatars is limited. I have played video games since I was little, but I have never really experience the 3-D learning experience with the exception of Sims, if that even counts. While I was playing on Second Life with my avatar (trying to change the appearance and such) I found it difficult. The most difficult part was changing my appearance and finding “cool” places to go in Second Life. Overall, I believe this class will open up my eyes to a greater 3-D experience that I would not find outside of this class.

    15. Amanda Golasa July 9, 2009

      The first class really got me excited to jump into the metaverse. I've always been into video games growing up and also played a few systems in college such as Xbox 360. I just never thought about putting that concept into eLearning. If I can remember how excited I used to get over Nintendo, I think that second Life will be a huge hit in the eLearning world.

      I know that second Life has been around for some time now, but the idea of eLearning is just starting to take over by storm. After my first class on Monday night, I have a lot of new views about what I thought second Life was and how it will benefit its users for eLearning purposes.

      My first thought was about how important customization of avatars is. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to change my avatars hair from brown to blonde and began getting very frustrated. If my avatar didn't have blonde hair then it wouldn't look enough like me for me to feel any connection to it and second Life. It is very important to establish this feeling early with users so that they will feel comfort in using this new idea of eLearning and adapt easily.

      Another thought I had is that I really enjoyed that other avatars looked different than me. This way I know we are all individuals and can distinguish the other avatars as separate users, or in my case, classmates. It makes it very realistic to walk around the metaverse and see very different looking avatars just as you would walk around outside and see very different looking people.

      So far these are my first impressions of second Life and I cannot wait to learn more. I hope to learn how to build objects easily and also how to communicate with other avatars easily. We touched base on both topics but I cannot wait to explore a little deeper.

    Karl Kapp
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