Archive for April, 2008
- Do students use their own credit cards for payment information and the purchase of Lindens? Or, perhaps you’re not certain because it’s up to students to make arrangements?
- Is there grant funding of some sort that makes $Lindens available to learners? Who distributes those funds to learners? What sort of tracking is required?
- Does your institution make funds available for the purchase and distribution of $Lindens to students? Again, who distributes those funds, and what sort of tracking is required?
- Do you personally fund your students’ needs for $Lindens from your own avatar’s pocket?
- Is there some other accommodation made?
Here’s the issue with which I’m struggling. My institution is looking at all possible issues related to the use of SL with learners, and we have a pilot project in the planning stages for the Fall semester. The issue we’ve discussed focuses on projects which requires learners to have $Lindens available to their avatar; given our student demographic, we expect to have learners that do not have access to a credit card via which than can acquire $Lindens. Further, we may have learners which can not afford any additional expenses. So, we’re looking at all of the possibilities and are curious what others are doing. I have been and will be asking around; as soon as I pull some information together, I will post it here.
Continuing the sessions I attended at the vBusiness Expo by Clever Zebra; the last session for the day (for me) was a panel discussion facilitated by Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins, “Perspectives on the future of Second Life and other virtual spaces for education.” The panel included Jeremy Kabumpo and buridan Simon (SL names), and in all honesty, it was one of the better sessions I’ve attended at any conference.
To briefly introduce the participants, Jeremy Kabumpo – Jeremy Kemp in RL – is from San Jose State University; he created the heart murmur sim and is teaching in SL for the third semester – a workshop for information and library sciences. buridan Simon is Jeremy Hunsinger; he teaches communication courses in Second Life for the University of Illinois-Chicago.
As Intellagirl noted, the focus of the panel was to step past common questions like, “What makes Second Life cool for education?” and “What are some of the projects we’ve seen?” The discussion focused on more forward-looking questions that begin to engage the environment in more depth. I’ve noted a few of the questions they addressed with my notes interjected.
What changes would make virtual worlds more effective learning spaces? Accessibility represents a critical issues, as Jeremy Kemp noted early in the discussion. I believe this is absolutely a critical issue, particularly for the vision impaired. I recently encountered (in the last two days) a professor who is visually impaired; he’s done previous phenomenal work regarding accessible technology, including I was told a graphing calculator for the vision impaired. Currently, he’s working with others perhaps including a prominent private company with heavy investment in Second Life to improve the accessibility of the virtual space. There’s an underlying issue here as well; for the sake of the vision impaired, we can not rely on individuals to “tag” objects accurately within a virtual environment. As my new acquaintance noted, that process is too unreliable for it to realistically work. The accessibility technology he described focused on the use of artificial intelligence engines to process objects and information to add standardized meta-data accessible to those that can not see the visual environment.
A separate issue, which came up as a backchannel conversation as well later during the conversation, was suggested by Jeremy Hunsinger; it’s not the the tools within the environment that need to change in SL as much as the teaching and learning methods utilized within the space. I agree entirely but will elaborate below (and in a forthcoming blog post regarding a session I attended a week or so ago).
Why have virtual worlds become such a hot topic in education? How do we move past the novelty stage: the “wow isn’t this neat” type thoughts regarding SL? One of the first answers was, “This isn’t new. We’ve been doing this for quite a while.” The reference was to VRML and other previous iterations of virtual environments; Harvard’s River City project was also mentioned. The comment was absolutely true, but it previous iterations of virtual environments, in my opinion, happened more in isolation on desktops rather than available and publicly accessible via the internet. The internet-available, networked virtual environment makes Second Life significantly different from the older virtual environments mentioned by the panel. The nature of the networked environment has contributed to the critical mass necessary to create a buzz within the educational community and larger world-community at large.
To move beyond the “wow isn’t this neat” type thoughts regarding SL, I believe, simply requires time. Every significant new technology has had the same novelty effect; the duration of that reaction is influenced by the magnitude of the difference between the new technology and the previous technologies on which it expands or which it enhances or replaces. Ultimately, I believe many educators have moved beyond the novelty stage; they’re the ones producing research reports and continuing to innovate in the environment. Until we reach the point of widespread adoption – possibly the point of “80% of Internet users having a Second Life account” statistic – virtual environments will continue to be “neat” to a significant portion of the education and global communities.
Are virtual worlds “creepy treehouses?” How do we ensure genuine interest? Or can we? Creepy treehouse is an environment that we create for learners to “entice” them, but it turns out that learners wouldn’t choose to interact in that space on their own. That means that educators are the ones driving the adoption of the technology. So, are we merely bringing users into a “creepy treehouse?” I’ve encountered this term before, but not in a manner in which it was well defined enough to understand the concept. My first reaction was that this is exactly what education does with learning management systems; aren’t all LMS’ nothing more than “environments that we’ve created for learners” that the learners wouldn’t choose to use by their own devices? Absolutely.
Here’s the higher level problem as I’ve conceptualized it over the past semester. While I’ve supported faculty teaching in online spaces for the past 6+ years, I hadn’t the opportunity to teach online as a faculty member until this semester. Through all of the many (13+) internet-based distance learning courses I took as a student, I never felt disconnected; the environment never seemed impersonal or dispersed. However, I think education as a whole has likely experienced the same thing I have since then. When I was taking those courses (1999-2005), I really didn’t have an “online” life outside of my courses; I did a few other things online, but since social networking hadn’t taken off like it has since then, the most engaging activity online, for me, was my courses. NOW, however, I am engaged in a very large educational technology community via blogs, my news reader, twitter and Second Life. As a result, the class I’m teaching seems far removed and separate from my online life; it resides and occurs in a different, walled-off environment of Blackboard. It’s a creepy treehouse. I think many other faculty and students are experiencing the same thing even though their “online life” may exist in a different circle or via different tools (Facebook, Ning, MySpace, discussion forums and groups etc). The challenge, then, is to integrate the two worlds – bring my class into these other spaces; push class information and activities into the social spaces of students.
How can we accomplish that? First, for both internet-based and virtual environment-based learning, we’re seeing it happen with tools that integrate information into social tools like Facebook: the Second Life friends application, Blackboard pushing out a Facebook application in the near future etc. Second, for Second Life and other virtual environments, I think learners will “meet us in the middle;” as we hopefully move toward interoperability between virtual environments and standard communication protocols, learners will also become more involved in virtual environments (the 80% of users by 2010 statistic noted above). Once that happens, the creepy treehouse phenomenon fades as the tools we’re using simply become another social networking tool.
As this discussion was going on with the panelists, the audience engaged the issue of “digital natives.” I’ve stated it on numerous occasions in multiple spaces, but I think the idea of a digital native is a myth. Younger users are not necessarily more computer literate or more proficient using the new tools; there are users, that may be younger, that are, but I think the factors truly influencing greater proficiency and literacy with technology are: access to technology, exposure to new technologies, early school environments, parental use of technology, etc. I *know* that many of the 18-22 year old learners in my class were completely unaware of Web 2.0 type technologies like collaborative writing tools, blogs, news readers, virtual environments, social bookmarking and micro-blogging; I’m just as certain of that as other faculty, in other situations, are that their students are all using those tools. What’s the difference between our students? It’s not their age. It’s their access to technology, their early learning environments, their parents use of technology etc. Similarly, my daughters are aware of virtual environments, blogs, collaborative writing tools and a few other things, and my best friend’s boys, who are roughly the same age, are not as aware of the same technologies. Why? I’m an educational technologist working with the technologies on a daily basis; my best friend and his wife have careers in different fields. Sounds a lot like the age-old educational argument: nature vs. nurture.
IBM’s private. Pre-cursor to private grids more widespread? How will this impact education and the virtual worlds?
I don’t have many thoughts regarding this question that I haven’t already noted. Jeremy Kemp doesnt’ think private grids will negatively impact education; in fact, he suggested it may make it easier to get grant funding given private, secure server space in which to conduct research and protect learners. Specifically, Kemp has found through surveys of his students that interaction with strangers is often perceived to be interruptive and to make the experience less pleasant.
On the flip side of the coin, Jeremy Hunsinger dislikes the notion of private grids because of their potential to limit learning opportunities and to lead us down a path of reinventing the wheel. I agree entirely; the primary affordance of Second Life, in my opinion, is that it puts all faculty and learners in the “same space” much better than the internet does; you can “see” who else is in a space. You can serendipitously meet someone in a space who has similar interests, background and experiences; that is a powerful tool. If we start walling off educational efforts from one another with private grids, we handicap the true effectiveness of the virtual environment and make potential advances like interoperability irrelevant. Personally and professionally, I will always encourage any institution to make their resources available to others; there’s mutual benefit in open sharing of resources.
Again at Clever Zebra’s vBusiness Expo in-world; the second session I attended was “Collaborative Work in Virtual Worlds” by Dr. Eilif Trondsen. Eilif is the Director of the Virtual-Worlds Consortium for Innovation and Learning with SRI Business Consulting. Certainly, the session was focused on how virtual environments can enhance the workplace – rather than a traditional educational institution; however, that has direct applications for the “business” side of educational institutions. Several key notes from the presentation . . .
Initially, the fourth slide from the presentation – which is available at Slideshare – focuses on how virtual worlds can increase the level of engagement of work. The image describes enhanced immersion, visualization, interactivity and social context. Also, Dr. Trondsen described how many firms – large and small – are using Second Life as a collaborative meeting and work tool, including Sun, Cisco, IBM among others. A key issue is having a safe and secure environment; Dr. Trondsen alluded to the recently announced agreement between IBM and Linden Lab to establish a privately held and controlled Second Life server behind the IBM firewall. As he described this benefit, he offered a specific scenario for collaboration within the private sector.
The most intriguing aspect of the presentation focuses on a survey conducted by SRI Business Consulting; the full survey report is available from the SRI Business Consulting News site. The potential benefits noted by the 8th slide, I think are relatively understood by educators with experience in Second Life. I do want to call attention to and comment on a couple of other slides.
When I first broached the idea of Second Life with my institution’s IT group, one of the very first questions focused on the security and control issues. It’s not surprising that it turned up as an important issue in the survey; fortunately, the development of what I believe will be Linden Lab’s new business model may resolve those issues.
The most important issue noted by the survey was that virtual worlds must be “Easy to Use.” I think the answer to this issue focuses more on the types and quality of training made available to employees expected to use an environment than it does on the capabilities of a particular system. Despite much of the grumbles about the Second Life interface, I really don’t believe, personally, that it’s really that terrible of an interface. I’ve seen much worse. Certainly, enhancements could be made, and building could be easier, but I think we often lose sight of what the system actually is. No matter the environment, creating 3D content with actions scripted to them will, for the forseeable future, require more than casual technical skill. Exactly how easy do we expect it to be? Or, do we need better training provided to the end users of the system?
The first issue is the more critical one here. In the past week, I’ve encountered this issue no less than five times through 4-6 different conversations/sessions held both in-world and in “meat space.” On Friday, four members of my institution met with 8 individuals working in training-related fields for contractors and organizations associated with the space industry here in Houston. The focal point of that meeting was how to convince management stakeholders of the value of virtual environments for training and collaboration purposes. Chris Collin’s presented a Thursdasy session at the vBusiness Expo focused specifically on the topic, and I’ve had conversations with individuals within my organization about how to convince stakeholders and to get general buy-in for using virtual worlds as an alternative to meat space meetings which require travel and/or video-conferencing which requires expensive equipment. This is a significant issue which I’ve talked about before, but I’m going to be working to synthesize many of the ideas I’ve heard in the past two weeks and hope to blog specifically about how to convince stakeholders of virtual environments.
I’m attending various sessions of Clever Zebra’s vBusiness Expo this afternoon; the first session of the day, for me, focused on conducting research in Second Life. In particular, the second speaker of the session was Typewriter Tackleberry (Mark Bell, co-author SL for Dummies); Mark focused on a survey tool he’s developed to be used entirely in world. This tool will certainly have relevance to any researchers working in and through Second Life.
The premise behind the tool is a need to be able to conduct survey research in-world without, as Mark put it, “breaking the immersion” of the virtual environment. In short, the primary solution for conducting research in Second Life, at the moment, is to “push people out to the web from Second Life.” This creates an incongruous situation for users of completing a survey about a virtual environment that they’re no longer in. To resolve that issue and potential impact it may have on research, Mark worked with SWI (Strategic Worlds Initiative, if I remember correctly) to develop a survey tool that’s entirely in-world.
As Typewriter described it, survey respondents simply: pick up a survey from a distribution point, wear it as a HUD, and complete the survey on screen. Two significant features he described were (a) the survey moves through the questions automatically as each is completed and (b) the survey recognizes the individual avatar and stores that information – that allows the survey to be resumed if SL happens to crash for the user while they’re completing the survey and precludes avatars from submitting multiple responses to the same survey.
Typewriter described the architecture as relying on llHTTPRequest to PHP to MySQL. Of course, to many educators, that’s greek. Ultimately, that structure allows the data to be transparently transferred to a web-based database from which it can be exported to a variety of other file formats for use in data analysis applications like SPSS or Excel.
One situation this does create, however, is that the specific survey details must be created within the HUD each time – i.e. the HUD needs to know who owns the survey, where the data will be sent etc. It sounded as though Typewriter will be offering this as a service, at least initially; basically, any organization or researcher that wants to use the instrument will work with Typewriter to have the survey created with the architecture and then administered in world. With my audio cutting out a couple of times, I couldn’t tell if this will be a fee-based service or if it’s something that’s going to be available; I’m assuming it will be a fee-based service since it will be time intensive for Typewriter and/or the team working on the tool.
The next logical step for this tool is to further integrate the web-based tools with the SL tools; I can imagine but don’t have the skills to develop a web-based interface which researchers may use to set up their survey and the data store for it; the survey HUD then is generated automatically delivered to the user.
A very interesting note from the presentation; Typewriter is working with the Institutional Review Board from his institution to discuss the status and nature of survey research in Second Life; in many research situations, the request should be able to be expedited or exempt. His approach has been to explain the tool as basically being the same as a web-based survey tool (SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang); it’s just a different interface within a different environment.
This is great, relevant work for educators and the private sector alike. I’ve really appreciated the vBusiness Expo program as it blends both sectors into a single conference program. It’s a worthwhile look if you haven’t already; the program is available online at Clever Zebra, and I believe the slides from the presentation should be available there in the next week or so, as well.
This morning/afternoon I attended a workshop that demonstrated a variety of Teaching Tools for Second Life. I absolutely appreciated the workshop and those involved in making it happen: the host institution, the faculty moderator and the facilitator. It’s these kinds of activities that make Second Life of keen interest to educators; there’s simply not another technology that brings everyone into a common workspace like Second Life does.
With that said, as an instructional designer and technologist, I have several significant pedagogical issues with the tools that were demonstrated. Each of the tools I saw demonstrated have, in my opinion, little to no useful place in Second Life. Worse yet, I believe they may actually be counterproductive to the development of quality learning experiences in Second Life. I think this is at the core of the “quality use of Second Life” question. My opinion may be perceived as being too harsh, but I’ll explain.
I don’t want to refer to the tools specifically because I do not want to denigrate the individual tools or the individual who created them; the developer is a fantastic educator for whom I hav ea great deal of professional respect. What I do want to do is to discourage the transfer of traditional assessments and learning tools into a virtual environment which has much greater capabilities and potential.
By and large, our classrooms are much more limited than the real world; it’s not easy or in many cases possible at all for learners to perform a skill in the classroom in the same manner they would perform the same skill in a real-life situation outside of the classroom. For example, in a business entrepreneurship class, it’s not possible to have learners engage the process of actually starting a business; that requires too many actions and resources that lie beyond the capabilities of the classroom. So, we cover the concepts and processes in as much detail and in as innovative ways as possible afforded by textbooks, new media, interactive technologies, classroom activities and the online environment. We then use an assessment instrument of some sort that hopefully provides a valid and reliable estimate of how learners would actually perform if they were to in fact start a business. So, out of necessity, we resort to tools that estimate how a learner would perform in the real world – in an authentic environment once they’ve left the classroom.
The virtual environment, in contrast, creates a unique opportunity to abandon the estimates and the not-so-reasonable-facsimiles of performing real world skills in a real world, authentic environment. In the case of the business entrepreneurship class, it IS possible for learners to actually start a business within a virtual environment, Second Life in particular. They can conduct market research within an actual, living market; they can fabricate actual prototypes of a product; they can bootstrap the business or seek funding for the startup; they can have actual customers purchasing products. Given enough time, they can engage every phase of the business startup process. As an instructional designer, the transfer of classroom tools and assessments that estimate how learners will perform in the real world to the virtual environment is, at best, incongruous, and at worst, counterproductive. They do not belong.
But wait . . . many will say, “We have to have some sort of assessment?!” Right, but I argue that the manner in which we assess learners needs to change; we need to take advantage of the affordances of the new environment. BUT for now, I’ll concede that argument, for argument’s sake. Even if we MUST conduct traditional, exam-type assessment, I ask, “Why do we have to do that within the virtual environment when we already have internet-based tools that do the same thing and perhaps do it much better than any currently-available tool in the virtual space?” Any learner that can access a virtual environment can also access any web-based learning management system that is guaranteed to have an integrated assessment tool. The two environments aren’t and shouldn’t be mutually exclusive; even if we want to teach a class entirely through a virtual environment, that doesn’t mean that ALL activities have to occur within that space. In fact, it’s MUCH more efficient to use both environments; we should leverage the particular strengths of each application.
If that’s not enough, one of the other participants commented, “We need to keep this as simple as possible; many of our students are not strong computer users.” We know that’s true; even strong computer users engage a learning curve within Second Life. Even if there’s disagreement about my arguments above, should we not still leverage the assessment capabilities of LMS’ rather than developing less reliable and more clunky tools to do the same thing in Second Life? for the sake of our learners?
First, I want to pass along this news:
Science lovers in Second Life now have their own gameshow. Second Question debuted this week at the SpinDome in SciLands. Second Question is a fast-paced science themed show of rapid fire questions, quizzes, audience participation and, yes, prizes! Check it out Every Thursday, 7pm SLT. Read about this and everything else going on at Second Life at
That’s relevant and intersting news for educators, but highlighting that news story gives me a chance to mention the source. The Latest at Second Life is a daily, one to two minute podcast that is, “Your link to “The Latest” of what’s happening in Second Life. Who’s doing what, how to find it, and what’s new and different in the Linden Lab metaverse.“
The Latest at . . . series is well worth a look, in my opinion. They cover a variety of topics on a daily basis with 1-2 minute podcasts: “Whether you’re into YouTube, Google, eBay, or the goings on in the President race, stay up to date on each of your favorite sites with The Latest At… one minute podcasts recorded every weekday with flare from media expert David Lawrence.” You can see the full list of offerings at the link, but a few of the titles perhaps of interest to instructional technologist type folks (like me) are: Facebook, Google , eBay, YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, MySpace, WindowsLive, Slashdot, Delicious, iTunes and Wikipedia.
I’ve found most of the series useful and interesting; I just wish I could figure out how to get my 4GB Nano iPod to play podcasts back-to-back like it plays songs; that would make things much easier to listen to the short update podcasts like this one.
After reading the blog and viewing the video, Photosynth immediately comes to mind. Blaise Aguera y Arcas showcased the technology at TED in 2007. However, the View Finder project extends the possibilities.
All of this is contained within the links above, but for a convenient, if not confusing summary, the first step is to scrape Flickr (or ostensibly, any photo sharing website) for photos; those photos are spatially analyzed to determine the perspective from which they were taken. The photo can then be accessed via a spatially aware interface; this creates a photographic montage overlay of the given location. Photosynth accomplishes that.
View Finder extends the capability to match the perspective of a picture to that of a sketch up recreation of the location within Google Earth. The result? Using Google Earth, we’ll be able to “browse” around every structure on Earth (that’s has a sketch up counterpart) and see it in photographic detail as comprised of the pictures taken from the given perspective and shared via the internet.
Confused? Comment and I’ll try to answer ;-) Or, watch the View Finder concept video again ;-)
Two days ago (April 2 @ 4:40pm CST), I polled my Twitter educational technology community and friends to find out what their experience may have been with running Second Life on a Mac Book Pro: “Macbook Pro Second Lifers – any issues with your machine running Second Life? am interested in jumping from Dell to MBPro.“ I received a good number of replies, and I’ve since had folks check back in, asking what I had learned. So, I’ll summarize and then copy each comment I received below.
In summary, if I were to “average” the responses, I think the answer would be, “The Mac Book Pro works hard to run SL but generally does a good job as long as you have the latest update.” As a reference, check the Second Life website for the the official Mac system requirements.
Each comment I received to my original question is copied below.
- mine runs hard but it works fine…i have a 2.4ghz intel w/2gb ram.
- CPU puts off heat nd fan runs but my machine does fine.
- Myself personally I have had very few problems. There have been reports though so mileage may very.
- After 15 mins, I froze regularly for 2 months despite work-arounds. Now with the update, I rarely freeze.
- make the switch, you won’t regret it. I have a MPB with an Nvidia 8600 card and have regular problems, but I’ve not updated yet
I realized I had one more question. I’m a PC user – never have used a Mac beyond the occasional opportunity to point and click around. I’m moving in that direction now, not because I want to switch per se, but because for what I do (and most of you) professionally, I believe I need to learn it. I have every intent of running Boot Camp and/or Parallels on a Mac Book Pro to allow me to continue running the Windows-based applications with which I’m familiar – to mitigate the impact of my Mac OS learning curve (yes, I know it’s supposed to be easier, but you see… that mouse only has one button.) So, I next asked if Mac Book Pro SL users ran SL on the Mac side or the PC side of the machine, assuming one of the two aforementioned applications: MacBookPro SL users – you run SL on Windows side of Mac w/ Bootcamp or on Mac side?. The responses I received are copied here:
- mac side. considering the load it puts on OSX i think that it would not do so well on the windows side. (parallels)
- I use my MacBookPro for SL and I don’t use Bookcamp at all. SL works great. The Fios connection has greatly improved my experience.
- I use the Mac for SL in 10.411
Semi-breaking news is worth a mention here followed by an educational and instructional design type perspective. The story was scooped by Reuters, although apparently ahead of the wishes of Linden Lab & IBM. In short,
IBM said on Wednesday it will become the first company to host private regions of the Second Life Grid on its own servers, marking a new focus by Linden Lab on serving corporate customers.
There are additional links to the story below which are drawn from my diigo/delicious feed; as I add additional stories to that feed, links to them will show below. Check back for updates.
Before I get to the implications and issues I see relevant to education, I *have* to point to point out a blog post written in late September of 2006 that predicted a transition for Linden Labs into the business of being a “secure virtual host . . . perhaps focusing on enterprise islands.”
Now. Potential implications and issues.
First, I believe this may reinvigorate the declining hype curve regarding Second Life, or perhaps more accurately, it will create a new hype curve. Big business entered Second Life initially looking to explore and exploit the marketing potential of the platform. In contrast, this move by Linden Lab and IBM focuses on the collaboration potential of Second Life for global organizations: reducing travel costs, increasing communication, establishing deeper relationships within an organization, etc. It will be interesting to see how many businesses jump into (or back into) Second Life for the collaborative possibilities; if the hype curve does heat back up, it may benefit educators attempting to sell administrators on a Second Life
Second, the initial report, along with earlier speculation, suggests that this is a transition in business model for Linden Lab. They are uniquely positioned to be the unquestioned leader for managing secure, private servers for corporate & organizational clients . . .
As originators of Second Life, likely minders of the open source platform development, and a 3D world hosting service, Linden Lab could roll out another platform that would be compatible with the original, but which was improved in a number of ways . . .
This transition enable subsequent changes which have further applications.
Third, with Linden Lab transitioning it’s business model to focus on private, secure Second Life servers for corporate/organizational clients, it becomes feasible, from a business perspective, to open source the server simulator application. Open sourcing the current server application would facilitate the rapid development of the platform by the community-at-large; plus, institutions could explore and innovate on local, private secure simulators without connecting to the main grid. That’s particularly important for K-12 classrooms; a K-12 institution with a local sim and controlled access to the main grid could engage Second Life locally and then branch out to the main grid, with proper classroom supervision. Essentially, the open sim could better integrate Teen Grid activities with the main grid without increasing the risk to young learners.
Fourth, one of the first issues mentioned by IT personnel when I first raised the SL question focused on the concern that all of our SL assets would be stored on servers other than our own; that raises questions around disaster recovery, backup plans, data recovery and business continuity which are critical for the institution. Having the option of either using an open source sim behind our own firewall or having a private, secure server hosted by a company focused on that service may overcome objections raised by IT personnel to SL projects.
Fifth, the early reports all suggest that interoperability is becoming a reality. At the very least, the interoperability between the private, secure sims and the main grid is a reality, for IBM at least, and as that business grows so to will the development of established interoperability standards and protocols. If this transition leads to open sourcing of the simulator, the worldwide development of an open sourced simulator would simultaneously require and facilitate interoperability as well.
There were a few other thoughts floating around. Most of them are related to open source sim; if something else surfaces, I’ll post here. The articles I’m tagging related to this story are below.
You may have seen various notes regarding the testimony yesterday before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications & the Internet; it focused on Online Virtual Worlds. One of those testifying before the committee was Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel), the CEO of the New Media Consortium (NMC). Mr. Pixel’s testimony has been made available via the NMC website; it’s definitely worth a read, and of course, there’s significant buzz around the testimony within the blogosphere. A couple of reflections after reading the testimony at the NMC site.
First, I’m just glad it was Virtual Worlds and not steroids. I’m an avid baseball fan and am weary of that discussion, regardless of how important it may be.
Second, I appreciated that the first issue Larry mentioned was the lack of access in the US to broadband network services in comparison to other countries. Near his closing remarks, he suggested it’s important to pursue “programs that add capacity to the woeful state of our information infrastructure and bring it to the communities and neighborhoods that currently have no or very poor access to broadband services.” Having heard more in depth about this issue at the EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional meeting in late February (live blog notes), it is or should be a significant issue with political implications for all educators.
Finally, I think the record of testimony offers eloquent advocacy for virtual worlds and, in general, educationally relevant technologies and infrastructure. As I continue to pursue Second Life projects within my institution – seeking buy in from decision makers – I will definitely be pointing to Larry’s testimony, or at least segments of it, as an overview of the issues related to and the benefits of virtual environments.
As an aside, on top of the content, the manner in which the testimony is presented at the NMC site – via CommentPress (WordPress extension) – is a good example of what micro-commenting can afford educators. If you’ve not encountered that technology before, several blog posts explain the tool (Web-logged, CogDogBlog).