subQuark

Archive for the ‘education’ Category

OpenSim on an Android tablet vs. a desktop

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written by Ener Hax and reposted from the iliveisl blog:

sometimes people ask me what i think about OpenSim and tablets. most in the OpenSim community know about Lumiya but those that ask me are typically outsiders (them!) and include people in the corporate eLearning that have seen how we have used it as a free 3D video studio (old post by subQuark)

Lumiya works very well (there was an update last night – after i had taken these pics!) but it is not the desktop experience. i still use Imprudence 1.3.2 which is what is shown below. newer browsers render more nicely than version 1 viewers but the screen shots below are simply to show the difference

i don’t know why my avatar doesn’t render out, i have seen other people’s screen shots where theirs do – must be an enersyncrasy or maybe i’m so bright you have to wear shades =p

would i use Lumiya for more than simply checking it out?

no, there isn’t a case where i would suggest Lumiya over a desktop to interact with anything i make. that said, if it was the only access someone had to something like our Enclave Harbour project, then i would be okay with it. i think our “3D illustrations” for science field trips will work in Lumiya

the second image shows the tower crane and nuclear power plant components and would be usable in conjunction with the workbook. the experience would still be immersive in that a student could walk around the builds but it wouldn’t be as rich as a desktop

i believe that as tablets become more powerful (or are inevitably morphed in favour of tablet-sized ultra PCs with detachable keyboards) then we will have rich OpenSim experiences – it’s just a matter of time =)

 

lumiya-compare_002

Haxor Lunar Lounge in Kitely – one of two kid-friendly clubs in Enclave Harbour

 

lumiya-compare_003

old school nuclear power plant in Enclave Harbour

 

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Written by subquark

June 12th, 2013 at 9:44 am

Posted in education,virtual world

Tagged with

Weather for Jan Brewer and Creationists

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Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, was asked if she believes global warming is man-made and her response was:

Everybody has an opinion on it, you know, and, uh, you know, I probably don’t believe that it’s man-made. I believe that, uh, you know, um, weather elements are controlled maybe by, uh, different things.

Fortunately, you don’t need to have an opinion or believe in the weather or global warming. Neither are things of faith and neither cares if you believe in them or not. You don’t need to believe in transistors or electricity to use a cell phone either.

The short answer, for Jan and anyone else that thinks science is a belief system, is the sun and our atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if God made the sun and Earth or if the Big Bang did (or if God made the Big Bang knowing that from it we would exist).

If you go outside on a sunny day, you can feel the sun on your skin – it’s warm and that’s solar radiation (sunlight). We are just the right distance from the sun so that we are not too hot or too cold.

If you go outside, you can breathe – that’s out atmosphere. Our atmosphere exists because gravity (the Earth’s mass) can hold onto the gases that make up the atmosphere.

Some other planets have atmospheres but something unique to us is that water can exist in all three forms (phases) as a solid (ice), liquid (water), and a gas (water vapour – humidity).

The water cycle is very important for the weather and for life on Earth. Water from the oceans can evaporate and condense into clouds. Clouds and water vapour in the air help make a warm blanket around the Earth. That’s why deserts get cold at night – low humidity (but that makes for a good hair day Jan). Water is great at holding in heat and letting it go later (latent heat).

In fact, that’s why we call water vapour a greenhouse gas. It helps the atmosphere act like a greenhouse and keeps our planet warm at night. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is also a greenhouse gas and is naturally occurring. The ocean’s absorb and release carbon dioxide and that helps regulate how much CO2 is in the atmosphere.

Photosynthesis produces CO2 at night and humans exhale some CO2. Carbon dioxide is natural and very important for life as we know it – to help keep the Earth at the right temperature for us.

So why do we always hear the greenhouse gases are bad if they are natural and important?

More CO2 means that Earth’s atmosphere acts as a warmer greenhouse and that means it gets hotter outside.

We don’t really know how big an effect we, as humans, have related to CO2 but we do know that we have been adding lots of CO2 to the atmosphere since the Industrial Age (combustion releases lots of CO2). Since we can control how much CO2 we release, shouldn’t we at least reduce how much we are adding since we know what it does?

We know that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is adding more greenhouse gas. We know that greenhouse gases hold in heat, so shouldn’t we at least take responsibility for what we add?

Jan – the weather is mainly the sun and our atmosphere; that’s a nice and concise answer and it doesn’t matter if you believe in it and you don’t have to forsake your God either.

Join us next week when we talk about why the sky is blue (UV light scattering), how clouds reflect sunlight (albedo), and how Earth’s spinning affects weather (Coriolis effect). All without making anyone have to give up on God . . .

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Written by subquark

December 4th, 2012 at 10:12 am

Posted in education

Tagged with ,

Sample exercise in a virtual science field trip activity

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Science is typically thought of as compartmentalized and discrete pieces of information and taught in a vacuum. In reality, science is part of day-to-day life and not separate at all. When I see news of science being rejected or painted as a this or that argument in the American educational system, particularly K-12, I become frustrated. Those individuals denouncing science as some form of dogma don’t seem to have an issue driving automobiles, flying across the country, or using mobile phones and computers – all impossible with technology (applied science).

Science is a tool in our toolbox of life that can help us understand the world around us. It allows us to create sunglasses, live and work in greater comfort, and even carry a library of 10,000 songs in our pocket. As such, science is intertwined in our lives and is not simply a set of discrete and separate concepts.

In writing a virtual science field trip workbook, I have science activities and exercises. An example of an activity is a nuclear power plant and within that activity there are supplementary exercises.

Real field trips are like this also and, unlike a text book, field trips can offer an opportunity to explore more than the topic at hand. This virtual nuclear power plant has more learning opportunities than only nuclear fission and those are incorporated into its learning objectives because learning science can be more than studying discrete concepts.

A holistic approach to science education isn’t the current norm is school where we have schedules, curriculum, standards, and the real task of reaching 20-30 (or more) in a very short time period. However, for self-paced education done at home, these constraints are reduced and a student can take additional time to learn more. The exercises I include are part of the virtual 3D location that the student can enter and explore first hand.

In Enclave Harbour, a virtual municipality, there is a nuclear power plant where a nuclear reactor is being constructed and, as part of that, a tower crane is in use. A tower crane is a fantastic way to illustrate simple machines because it is minimalistic in design and utilitarian in function. The concepts of levers and pulleys is easily demonstrated and explored, and this presents a wonderful opportunity to “weave” in some additional science into this field trip activity.

One of the tasks in this “extra” exercise is to calculate the mass of the crane’s counterweights. Other tasks include calculating lift capacities at various distances along the crane’s jib and the mechanical advantage of block and tackle systems. These exercises are intended to bring about an awareness of how science is always around us and that it is not a dogma.

The student is provided with the dimensions of the counterweight, the density of its material, and the formulas needed. In this case, steel counterweights with a density of 8,000 kilograms per cubic meter and overall dimensions of  2 meters long, half a meter wide, and 1 meter tall. Volume (V) is determined by multiplying length (l) times width (w) times height (h). The mass (m) of the counterweight is its volume times the material’s density (ρ, the Greek letter rho).

  1. V = l · w · h
  2. m = V · ρ

In this example, we first find the volume of one weight which is 2 m · 0.5 m · 1 m = 1 m3 (one cubic meter) and then calculate its mass with 1 m3 · 8,000 kg/m3 = 8,000 kg.

There are three counterweights on this crane for a total of 24,000 kg or 24 metric tons. This exercise continues with calculating that the crane can lift 12,000 kg at its farthest end and calculating maximum lift at other points along the jib. Also covered is the mechanical advantage through its block and tackle, which is six, meaning that 2,000 kg of force is required along with 6 meters of cable for every meter that the 12,000 kg is lifted.

This physics exercise on simple machines supplements others in Enclave Harbour such as an overhead crane and screw jacks at the desalination plant and pulleys in a vertical-lift bridge.

Science does not exist in a vacuum in the real world and supplemental science programs such as Enclave Harbour allow ambitious students to see how intertwined it is. Understanding this helps us make better and more informed decisions in life.

towercc_001

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Written by subquark

April 29th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

FERPA and OpenSim grids

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This post by my virtual world guru, Ener Hax, was too timely not to repost here:

i have written about FERPA a few times in the past, but always in relation to Second Life

FERPA is an American privacy act specific to K-12 and universities – the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. many countries have similar laws and some teachers and professors use Second Life despite violating FERPA, which the Second Life privacy policy allows. Linden Lab collects user account information (of course, or how could it have a log in service) and also “may collect and retain any other information relating to your account data or in-world activities including chat or IM logs, . . .”. that last bit is where FERPA can be violated

iRule

i know that's right! =p

it is against American law to disclose a student’s grade on an assignment or course through any means without the student’s written permission (or to disclose any personal information). FERPA is so tight that even a school within a university can not share student information with another school in that same university without the student’s written consent!

to go further, K-12 teachers and university professors can not share grades via email unless it is 100% secure. a teacher at My High School can never send an email regarding grades or personal student information to a student’s Gmail account

that’s what brings me to write this post – Google’s new privacy policy. Google offers their convenient enterprise solutions to educational institutions to use and include email, docs, video, blogs, and almost every Google offering (many schools do use these services)

under FERPA, a school can outsource email but only if the service provider is subject to the same terms that the school is. Google is not subject to FERPA and the burden is on the school and not on Google to be compliant with FERPA

this same compliance applies to virtual worlds. that’s why the safest way to implement OpenSim is on your own institution’s firewalled servers or possibly via sim-on-a-stick (which is ideal since it is a closed individual system – dang, i need to start selling sim-on-a-stick and buy that south pacific island!) =)

this doesn’t mean that educators and students can’t use Kitely, In-Worldz, or 3rd Rock; it just means they need to not talk about grades while in-world
ferpasSezNo

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Written by subquark

February 16th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Posted in education

Tagged with

An Argument for the “Simple Look” of OpenSim

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I keenly read Ener’s posts and I am almost as passionate about virtual worlds but from a slightly differing perspective. They can be a wonderfully immersive media that can increase user engagement particularly in training and education.

In education circles we like to discuss learning styles such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (tactile). There are other models as well and today we recognize that learners often use a combination and that the styles for a learner may change day to day.

The more styles we can intertwine into educational materials and techniques, the greater the chances are that our learners will learn what we are teaching them.

Reading text and looking at illustrations access certain parts of our brain. Writing information relative to what we are learning accesses other parts of the brain (thus the value of written activities). Reading aloud accesses yet different areas as does teaching our newly learned information to others (such as a mentoring program).

With virtual worlds, I believe we engage additional areas of the brain as well as parts of the brain accessed via “standard” learning styles. Virtual worlds allow us to engage with the learner’s imagination and trigger thoughts of touch, smell, sound, the visual, and the kinesthetic (such as a scripted object reacting to the avatar) – the same senses we access in a real life situations. This increases the learner’s engagement, the immersion provided by the imagination, when their avatar is placed into a virtual world.

I contend that we may even engage more deeply with the user because of the simple look that OpenSim presents as contrasted with more sophisticated graphics such as Blender imported into Unity. This simpler look, sometimes referred to as cartoon class in comments to Ener’s blog, forces the user to fill in details and use their imagination to a greater degree.

Playing ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ is something done by millions but I don’t believe it engages the imagination as much as OpenSim can. Think about how Legos engage the imagination, how the unseen movie monster is typically scarier than the one revealed, or playing army or having a tea party when you are little. The imagination lets us fill in what we think the situation calls for.

Happy Halloween and think about how scary the dark can be when our minds are left to wander and wonder.

Ener’s 2011 pumpkin – rather friendly, of course :)

 

also posted on iliveisl

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Written by subquark

November 1st, 2011 at 12:12 am

My work PC’s energy cost

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One of the tenets of Enclave Harbor is to help raise environmental awareness while teaching middle school kids a little “real life” science via virtual field trips.  It is fitting to look at the environmental costs of computer usage since we are using OpenSim on a dedicated server that is on 24/7.

Today a perfect opportunity arose to explore this on a personal level.

I use Defraggler regularly on my work and home computers. Today I updated to the latest version of Defraggler and it has a new “Health” tab (see below). I was intrigued at the total number of hours that my work machine has been powered on.

My work PC has been on for a total of 14,924 hours over the last five years. I am the second “owner” of this box and the only time I leave it on overnight is for Blender renders (time consuming 3D graphics and animations).

If this power supply runs at 500 watts that means the PC has used 7,462 kilowatt-hours of electricity during that time.

In the US, the average cost per kilowatt is 13.4 cents (June ’11 national average – double that for Hawai’i). It has cost my company $999.91 in electricity to power this computer over the last 5 years. That’s only to power the box and does not include the dual monitors or any servers I access for work files.

Let’s compare my machine’s ~$200 a year cost with two hypothetical scenarios – one in which the machine is on eight hours a day, five days a week for 50 weeks a year and one left on 24/7.

  • 8 hours X 5 days X 50 weeks = 2,000 hours or $134.00 a year in electricity
  • 24 hours X 7 days X 52 weeks = 8,736 hours or $585.31 a year

That is a difference of $451.31 in one year! Or 4.37 times more electricity!

If we extend these scenarios to a company with 300 employees then we would have a difference of $135,393.00 in one year!

The numbers speak for themselves.

also posted on iliveisl.com

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Written by subquark

September 15th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Posted in education

Tagged with ,

OpenSim Educators’ Consortium

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I have been following a discussion in LinkedIn’s Virtual World group that has taken a shift into an area of interest to me. It will come to no surprise to the reader’s of Ener Hax’s iliveisl blog to learn that this shift was loudly accented by our own Ener.

Linda Rogers (Bread and Roses | Music Island), whom I have a deep respect for and who has a comprehensive knowledge of Second Life, started this shift and brings up a great point in a conversation with Ener.

With heavy editing below, here is part of the thread to set the stage for my two cents.

Linda: I frequently run into educators that are new to Second Life, because one of the places they tend to visit (if they are interested in the Arts) is my music series. It is amazing how frequently I meet educators in their first week who are just blown away by things they have visited, the virtual Dresden Museum, the virtual Sistine Chapel, historical sims, science sims, space and ocean sims. AND they want to bring their Grade 3 class to see something and explore. That’s when they find out with a shock that Second Life is not open to children.

These educators want a world with the quality and depth of content of SL available in a child-friendly environment.

Ener: well the good news is that educators can have that same experience in OpenSim! =)  because everything that was built in Second Life can be built in OpenSim. a teacher could build it themselves, create a consortium of like-minded teachers and do it as a project, or even hire others

Linda: Linden Lab has indicated clearly that they are disinterested in retaining Educators.There’s clearly room for someone else to take that ball and run with it.

Ener: if a group of teachers can organize, then a great number of things can be built. i think if all disparate OpenSim educational efforts could loosely come together, people would be surprised at the tremendous volume of educational material out there. Linda, you hit on a very good point and i believe that it is up to teachers to form this and not some corporate entity =)

Linda and Ener have hit upon a very good point indeed!

Second Life was the first “create anything you want” virtual world that saw mainstream media attention and attracted many people who did come and build fantastic places.

We all know what Linden Lab thinks of education – the layoff of many that dealt with education, such as Pathfinder Linden, the closure of the teen grid, and the cessation of the educational/not-for-profit discount.

Second Life does have a large amount of interesting builds and, unfortunately, many have disappeared due to a number of factors. However, there is no longer the need to pin all hopes on a corporate entity that will make choices to serve itself over that of education.

The advances and stability seen in OpenSimulator make it nearly as viable as Second Life. The one exception, in my opinion, is the physics engine.

The challenges in creating an educational consortium, which could be as simple as a list of Grid URIs and a sentence about each, include some of the following:

  • semi-private grids, such as our Enclave Harbor
  • grids existing on local servers, in the school or district
  • classroom grids on local machines, such as Eric Nauman’s
  • grids behind firewalls
  • grids on teacher’s personal computers at home

There are further variations but even with hypergrid-enabled regions, not all grids will be able, nor necessarily want, to connect into a large consortium. With Second Life, we were all in this one single “walled garden” which invoked a community feel that made it more natural to want to share your work. Often, sims were paid for from school budgets and did not represent as deep a personal investment as some OpenSim grids do. To compound this, many Second Life builds were heavily comprised of “things” that were bought or found for free.

To use Enclave Harbour as an example, Ener has created every item we have in-world, even trees. This makes for a more personal investment into OpenSim than in Second Life. Buying a chair for fifty cents is easier to share with others than a chair you may have spent a few hours creating. Add to that the more “gritty” feel that running your own server has and its expense and somehow it feels more emotional than it did in Second Life (even though we pay what one educationally discounted sim cost and have 16 sims). This may simply be my own bias, but I am protective of Ener’s work and value it greatly. I confess to not seeing much value in being open to the public. It may sound callous, but I bet my feelings are not that different from others who have gone through the trouble to establish their own grid and have all of their content custom-made.

However, a consortium of educational OpenSim grids could have great value in the larger scheme of K-16 education.

I would like to see this consortium include linkages with community colleges and universities. The educational grids could serve as “feeders” to higher education institutions and this is something that would hold value to me. If students going through Enclave Harbour resulted in a higher number of students pursuing science studies in college (particularly STEM with emphasis on reducing its gender gap), then I would open our grid up because this meant that a real relationship existed between us and a college (or colleges). This would add value to our grid in a way that benefited us and the partnering college, in effect our program would have value to the students and to the college.

If you are interested in being part of a listing of educational grids, even if you are fully private, let me know. I would be glad to start a listing (perhaps even self-registration via public Google Docs). Private grids being listed may help others gauge the size and richness of OpenSim educational work in a way analogous to Second Life and spark new ways to look at OpenSim for education.

also posted at iliveisl

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Written by subquark

June 27th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

OpenSim – Cheap and Easy Ed Tech

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A US House bill looks to eliminate Ed Tech spending as they “trim the fat” from the Federal budget.

Many Education Technology programs fund expensive endeavors and many of those endeavors are only realised at more privileged schools. Two challenges with the more expensive technologies often come in the form of on-going training for teachers and the maintenance of associated hardware. Many schools in the US have unused technology gathering dust due to a lack of training in their use or overdue maintenance sometimes due to cost. I see 3D projectors following that same route in time – broken and lost 3D glasses, LCD projector bulbs that cost far too much, and the novelty of 3D wearing off for students (a past post of mine on this).

Education Technology includes many types of technology for use in the classroom and in “virtual” schools. In this definition, virtual schools don’t have much to do with virtual worlds. They are a distance learning approach to help reach out to students that are unable to attend a brick and mortar school (this is a gross over simplification on my part). Half of the states in the US have adopted some form of virtual school and we should expect this to grow in importance, adoption, and efficacy.

While trimming Education Technology can be short-sighted, I have always looked at Science in the classroom as a discipline that does not need the “latest and greatest” in order to be effective and even exciting to students.

I did immensely enjoy the multimedia auditoriums that I taught in when I was with Miami-Dade College but that may have had as much to do with teaching as it did with my love of creating content with Flash. It was fun to see my work displayed on a big screen with state-of-the-art audio. However, I also have taught in a secondary school setting where resources where limited and the first school I taught at was one where I would bring my own VCR, strapped to the back of my scooter, to my classroom. The VCR comment should sufficiently date that time period!

Regardless of State or Federal funding, or of the wealth of a school district, technology does not always need to be expensive. OpenSimulator is open source virtual world software and can be run on average computers. While not every student in America has access to a computer, a good deal more students do than those with access to the “latest and greatest” education technology.

If you are in a situation where you do have the latest technology then more power to you but for many schools, even before this proposed budget cuts, education technology was a yearly line item that was often crossed out.

In those situations resourceful and passionate teachers find ways to excite their students and I have seen fine examples using OpenSim for this. A semi-technical and patient person will be able to install OpenSim on a server but barring a server, much can be done with Ener Hax’s “sim on a stick“. The latest version of OpenSimulator is available online as a zipped file that can be run on a USB drive or simply copied to anyplace on a PC (unfortunately this build does not work on Macs).

The “stick” version is for individual use and not for collaborative group work like you could do with a server deployed version (for server installation, see Dr. Lopes’ five step install instructions). Many activities can be done with this stick version when you view it as a tool and 3D application. Science is my focus but OpenSim can, and is, used for architecture, storytelling, filming, engineering, and art.

Imagine creating a water cycle that students could walk around in rather than just looking at a drawing, or having students create a giant plant cell as a project. You are more limited by your imagination than by technology.

Having Federal funding cut for Educational Technology is a shame with long term repercussions but that does not mean your students need to suffer.

Be innovative and explore the possibilities.

With OpenSim on a USB drive, you can explore this while riding the train or maybe visiting the in-laws (shhh, I don’t really mean that . . .).

http://simonastick.com

cinema

cinema lobby built on a USB thumb drive

cinema

cinema lobby built on a USB thumb drive

reposted from iliveisl

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Written by subquark

May 17th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

iPad and OpenSim

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It is no news that iPad fever sweeping the world, but for eLearning it causes grief and some retooling. Many eLearning tools output to Flash and it’s not just video but interactions such as tests, software simulations, and so on. Some of these interactions simply can not be recreated by other means (especially complex, multi-step software simulations). With iPad’s massive appeal and the slowness of Android or Chrome-based tablets to enter the market, the iPad is becoming the de facto tablet in business and schools.

I just read a post about a 1,000 student private school which is making iPads mandatory next year for all students from the 4th to the 12th grade. I do like the use of good technology for education and using tablets can eliminate the need for books and their subsequent weight toted about by students (much research has been done on the negative affects of heavy book bags on developing children).

There are other tablets out there, such as the Kno which is made specifically for education, but they have been slow in coming to market. I have been keeping an eye on the Archos 10.1 which is available for just under $300 but it has not made much of a splash. The sheer volume of iPads out there just make it the easier one to buy and the standard to measure all others against.

I have a client that deployed 2,500 of them last month and they are ordering more! Another client was an early adopter and has over 5,000 in their organization. For me, designing to the iPad is increasingly a “must”.

What about laptops compared to tablets when it comes to education?

The Google Cr48 with the Chrome operating system is being deployed for free in some pilot programs with schools and is designed to run off of the cloud. You can’t install programs on it and, oddly enough, it has no caps lock (a feature this two finger, head down typist would greatly benefit from) but it also faces the iPad ubiquity challenge.

Some colleges evaluating tablets and laptops have found that students are more likely to take notes and be attentive in classes when using tablets. This is in large part due to the tablet’s form factor – it is designed to lay flat and be used much like a paper notebook. You can’t “hide” behind the screen as easily as you can with a laptop. Farmville crops just have to wait until class is over!

How does this affect OpenSim?

Currently, there is no decent way to interact with an OpenSim grid via the iPad. Even with the Google Cr48 laptop, you can’t install a viewer. Browser-access seems to be the only viable option for accessing OpenSim grids but so far no one has launched a suitable way to do this. As Ener Hax reported on iliveisl, Canvas by Tipodean made a small splash in December but seems to have gone silent (five images on Flickr don’t instill much confidence in me nor does Ener’s unacknowledged invitation response). Linden Lab’s Project Skylight using Gaikai‘s cloud-based gaming service also seems to be stagnant but looked very promising.

WebGL might be the answer but would seem to be at least a year off for most of us. Ener Hax explored this with KataSpace and posted a review and a video – this seems the closest thing so far and is available for anyone to try for themselves.

Assuming a workable browser-based solution does come along, how would a finger driven display work for moving your avatar through an OpenSim world?

It would be nice to have iPad and tablet access to OpenSim grids and would help our own endeavor of Enclave Harbour, as well as that of many educators. A “read only” access would meet many needs and keep the browser from becoming a gaming engine (think of this similarly to the Flash authoring environment as the regular viewer where you can build and script and browser-access as analogous to SWF content online where you can interact but not create).

OpenSim is a great tool and, to stay relevant, some way to view it on an iPad is needed.

reposted on iliveisl

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Written by subquark

February 24th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

The future for virtual worlds

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Virtual worlds are experiencing rapid growth due to several factors and their future is being defined now.

The first, and most important, are the availability of alternatives to Second Life. There have been, and are, other virtual worlds out there, but with the ease of in-world building tools, Second Life has enjoyed widespread adoption.

Secondly, the cost of the alternatives. The finest OpenSim hosting is a fraction the cost of Second Life. While we have 16 “sims”, in reality we have four SL-equivalent sims when measured by hardware. This results in about $40 per sim versus $295.

A third reason for OpenSim growth is adoption. As more people try it out and report their successes (like Ener Hax at iliveisl.com), more people venture out from Second Life or venture into virtual worlds for the first time as true users.

When OpenSim becomes as common place as Apache then it may become a “one-click install” much like WordPress and MOODLE are through GoDaddy, HostGator, and many hosting companies.

OpenSim is relatively new; it takes a few years for technologies to become the “latest thing”. Twitter was started in 2006 but was not saturated with media coverage until 2008 and 2009. OpenSim also has the burden to overcome some of Linden Lab’s stigma.

Currently, Second Life is a closed system requiring an account specific to it for access. It is natural for others to use this same model for OpenSim. After all, Second Life enjoyed over a hundred million user hours in the last year; not a bad model to want to emulate.

However, to quote Mitch Wagner today: “Second Life is not successful“; so perhaps emulating that model may not be the most prudent approach. It is easy to think that in running your own commercial grid you will not make the same mistakes that Linden Lab has. However, running a grid with 100 concurrent users is vastly different than 80,000.

In my opinion, which is admittedly biased, creating a community grid that is “better than Second Life” will always tie you to a Second Life comparison and inhibit innovation. Placing the same people in the same roles using the same model yields the same results.

“Community” grids have their place of course, just like blogger or Ning, but they lack the flexibility and freedom of self-hosted solutions. In the end, the abillity to host OpenSim on your own server will prevail, much like today’s internet and intranets.

OpenSim grids will, and do, have firewalled intranet-like portions and also external hypergrid-enabled parts.  After all, universities have their websites hosted by their own IT departments in their own data centres, why would they choose a third-party community grid to host their virtual worlds? True communities will emerge from hypergrid technology just as Justin Clark-Casey presented in his Oxford Masters dissertation.

There will always be individuals who choose to be part of communities just like being part of a Farmville group or LinkedIn, but for educational or business use, OpenSim will be on your own turf.

OpenSim will have “arrived” when it is no longer the focus as it is now; when it becomes a part of standard server software and easily implementable by corporate and institutional IT departments, and even individuals like myself who use it for eLearning and education.

Virtual worlds are still novel but will eventually become another tool to communicate with, just like the many technologies that make up today’s web.

eneronastick2

the one & only Ener Hax

If you looked at Second Life during the media frenzy a few years ago but could not overcome obstacles to adopt it, it may be time to explore OpenSim. You can even set it up for free and build real content that you can use for eLearning like I have spoken about for the eLearning Guild. In fact, the techniques I presented work very well on a USB deployed version of OpenSim!

I have gone to exclusively using “sim-on-stick” for my eLearning endeavors because I don’t need to hurdle our corporate firewall to obtain access to the proper ports. For educational use, we use SimHost as our solution provider because our grid needs to be accessible by students.

Using SimHost is analogous to using a website host and they offer the most hardware for the dollar and are run by a core OpenSim developer and an OSGrid administrator.

There is no time like the present and it is a very exciting time for virtual worlds.

reposted on iliveisl.com

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Written by subquark

November 10th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Posted in education,elearning,virtual world

Tagged with