This is a 2 minute 8 second video explaining and demonstrating the Metaverse program in my classroom.
A Metaverse is a virtual classroom – similar to D2L and Elluminate. The similarity is the chance to interact with students virtually. The current software Open Wonderland (OWL) was developed by Sun Microsystems. The project was jettisoned when Oracle bought Sun. The project developers continued to develop the software as an open source toolkit for developing 3-D virtual worlds for use in education and business.
I was thrilled to present my Wonderland MiRTLE (Mixed Reality Teaching and Learning Environment) at the International Immersive Education Summit – the Media Grid – in Boston in May of 2011. I was so pleased to meet and work with the OWL developers of the software. Upon returning to my home school, the first thing I did was: Tear Down the Walls! It was a dramatic change. I took my classroom MiRTLE from the “traditional classroom seating arrangement” that is depicted in the video linked above, and transformed it into a beautiful outdoor scene.
I have worked in collaboration with St. Paul Community College’s Computer Graphics and Visualization Program for several years. Warren Shaeffer is the Program chair and Martin Hoerth is my technical assistant – I could not have done any of this without these two talented individuals. Warren is a consultant for Virtual Learning Labs, a company in St. Paul, MN. This is where I want to be after obtaining my MARA degree – working with these giants in Virtual Education and Training.
As Minneapolis Public Schools adds nodes to the Metaverse in additional high schools, and as we upgrade our server from OWL to RealXtend – another open source virtual world software. I loved the graphics of this software – the graphics are so lovely. Pasi Mattila from the Oulu, School of the Future in Finland demonstrated this platform for me. While OWL is looks “real-ish” – RealXtend takes on a more sci-fi fantasy look. The functionality as a interactive and collaborative teaching tool is still present – and more robust because it uses C++ as opposed to java scripting. This makes it a bit unwieldy for a non-programmer to go in and change the code. But my interest lies in archiving the experiences and activities of students inside of the VR learning environment.
- Under the Water – Developed by LudoCraft – RealXtend Screenshot from http://www.ludocraft.com/realxtend.html
The ability of a virtual classroom to provide a meeting place, for sharing and communicating is remarkable. As a World of Warcraft player since launch, I know that what one does in a virtual world is as real as reality. Gamers may have experienced some of this “reality of the unreal” (an idea coined by Slavoj Zizek – a Slovenian philosopher) when they have jumped their character off the edge of a tall building, or cliff, and their stomach react in the same way as if one was riding a roller coaster.
I am looking forward to working with the students at St. Paul College this year to design (they will code) learning activities that supplement my units. An example would be a walk in camera facing a scene with some sort of motion – perhaps birds flying, or deers leaping across a field. Students could make adjustments to the shutter and aperture, checking on the exposure meter, and then “capture” the scene. This would project the “photo” for them to examine. They could experiment with the camera in three dimensions, in a safe, and fun, learning environment.