iPad and OpenSim

posted in: education, elearning, virtual world | 1

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