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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Carbon Free 2018

My virtual world project for level 5 students was named Carbon Free, so no real surprises on what is likely to be required here. The project requirement is to create a desk to application written in Java that will simulate the electrical consumption of a small residence that is powered from renewables.  As with the presentation of all my virtual world projects the purpose for me is to see how the environment can be structured and presented in such a way that it produced a viable pedagogical ly sound solution. As with earlier ventures I have made use of Note boards notecards, interactive simulations and activity logging to a MySQL database.

On arrival a series of four numbered note boards explain the task and how to proceed with the simulations; note rotating carbon molecule was purely aesthetic.

At this point students are made aware that there are five renewable energy types hey need to understand and these are:- Water turbine, wind turbines, Solar cells, solar collectors and wood burning stoves, though this last category seems to have dropped from inclusion recently. While each of the builds is powered by a combination of renewable energy resources, there will be a particular notecard based tutorial accessed through a picture in each of the builds. 
The image here shows the eco warrior’s solar pod; as with all the builds you can purchase scripted versions at Slmarketplace or free unscripted versions at Openworldz. The pod is powered by a wind turbine, solar cells and a solar collector. 

The screen shot below taken inside the pod shows a number of domestic appliances some of which are switched on (green messages) while other are switched off (red messages); an appliance can be switch on or off by simply touching. 

On the wall of the pod a power monitor can be touched on that will report on the consumption of appliances, the power available and carbon saving and this is data that students are able to use as a means of verifying their own simulated results.

The tutorial that can be accessed in the pod is for a wood burning stove shown in the image here. Touching the picture will dispenses a note-card that explains the physics and then poses a question to be solved; each question has randomised values so students will receive a unique version.

Once the question on the postcard has been solved then the postcard is dropped into a postbox outside each of the builds.

The virtual world learning project ran for a week and the six participants clocked up close on 600 transactions, a busy and as far as I can tell very successful time. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Azimuth Island project 2017

The project for my Level 4 and 5 students has now opened in OpenSim on Azimuth Island. The project presents students with an experiential situated virtual learning space populated by a collection of classic astronomical telescopes to explore developed in recent history in thee UK.

Azimuth Island

The principle mission is to learn the basic principles of telescope design that will encoded into desktop program written in either the C or Java languages. The main learning zone is based in a virtual model of Woolsthopre manor, the home of Sir Isaac Newton.

Woolsthorpe Manor

The touch event data loggers are functioning really well and have recorded 600 touch events and over 250 lines of real time conversation from a group of six students to my SQL database. The learning simulations have received good responses from the whole group.
Given that the learning from the virtual world will be transferred into a desktop application and given the fact that some students were not able to attend the class I decided to send an email suggesting we commence a series of tutorials in-world as a means of both support for those who have completed the exercise and assist those who are not able to attend the group session.

Inside students use 3D simulations to learn about Focal, length, Resolution, magnification and other working characteristics

Learning Simulations

Monday, 22 August 2016

Free space for Educators from ImageLearning

if you are a virtual world education and would like some free space for classes then ImageLearning are about to be making several locations available for educational groups looking for unique spaces to gather for discussion.  Any locations will they say be be "as is", in that ImageLearning will simply be providing a virtual space in the first instance it seems. This very generous offer has been made possible by the fact that not all of the current spce owned by them is currently used, though I guess this may change so I would recommend getting in quick on this one, and of course I am certain that any donations would be appreciated.

I have copied below some of their suggestions that you may find useful:

A traditional, formal amphitheater.
A cinema.
A legal courtroom.
A stone church sanctuary.
An airport lobby.
Meeting rooms in a fire station and police station.
Hospital ER, Physician's Office and Morgue.
Television studio with multiple sets.
Hibachi Restaurant.
60's Diner.
"Old Time" School Classroom.
Pizza Parlor.
Rustic Beach Bar.
Small Beach Cabins.
Large Beach with surf and sand.
Undersea area for diving.
Small Old Mansion on the Sea.
Deepwater Fishing Trawler, for small groups.
Onboard a jetliner at 30,000ft.
SciFi Locations Aboard the Starship Imagine
Dining Room/Mess.
Flight Deck.
Formal Briefing Room.
Bridge Conference Room.
For that "unique" experience:
A sinking ship.
A burning building.
A haunted psych ward.
Coming Soon: Medieval Village.

ImageLearning also say that "We are developing several new spaces of various kinds, and will make many of those available as we are able." So if you are interested then teleport over to

If  have questions, feel free to contact John Jamison, PhD.via email or Virtual Bacon in-world

through email, or leave a message in-world for Virtual Bacon.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Virtual Lab

Following my previous posting on the virtual laboratory this latest blog is by way of a progress report on that project. The building itself I decided need some small changes to internal textures, which simply meant renewing floors walls and ceiling. My first task surrounding the requirements for assets was to construct some suitable workstations.
Fig 1
The screen shot image 1 one show the Centre Workstation. At present the doors and draws are static, but I can animate these is that’s a requirement. The gas taps I intend will be interactive as function the functionality for the Benson Burners, and is the case for power sockets.

Fig 2
Talking of interactivity, the taps can be turned on, and producing a steam of water that flows and pools into the sinks accompanied by the sound of running water, all of which will go to increase the sense of real and hopefully immersive nature of the user experience see fig 2.

Fig 3
The screen shot fig 3, shows a similar workstation placed along the lab wall. I managed to download a nice microscope build as an iar file from opensimcity, and I want to work on these so that the eyepiece displays the media of a microorganism growth. I have included a negative pressure cabinet on either end of the workstation, but not sure until I meet with the team if they will require and interactive features, but far so good I feel. Please stay in touch for further updates.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Bio Med and Functional Skills in the virtual world

Following my presentation at the College HE day on the use of virtual worlds I have subsequently received two project requests, the first was from our Bio Med team who asked would it be possible to have virtual lab that students could use to become familiar with equipment and use. So first things first I went about setting up a sky platform and installed a build; I actually found this one at OpenSimCity, and after making a few texture changes fig 1.

Fige 1

I met with a couple of team members, where I am pleased to say they agreed and we talked about some details of use and functionality.

The second request came from Functional Skills math’s, and just like with Bio Med, my approach basically was, can we get the virtual world to do something for us that the vle does not, and of course my answer to that is provide a simulated life experience, it really is important I think not to simply reproduce vle or documented content and drop it into a virtual world. And so my plan is to present students and staff with an urban set of life experiences, and as a starting point using a cafĂ© facility where students can order beverages and food, work out their payment and change, then sit down chat and enjoy the virtual ambience see fig 2.

Fig 2

This is the basic setup, and I have used an existing urban style sim that we already have running for this.  I will be getting my head down for some serious building and scripting in the days ahead on both projects, So if you are interested then please stay in touch and as always feel free to comment.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Crypto Island

Fig 1
If you have read the previous pot then you will no doubt have realised that is referred to the considerable success of the Only Rocket Science project that ran in 2014-15, so did I run any project 2015-16, of course, I just hadn’t got around to blogging. The project for the last academic year was Crypto Island see fig 1; the clue is in the name, and the project was designed as a case study for me to investigate the use of serious games. As a pedagogical tool, the use of games, often popularised as gamification using points scores, badges and leader boards can bring a competitive enthusiasm and engagement to learning. While these interventions may prove effective early on, eventually participants can often come to feel punished or controlled by a system that relies completely on extrinsic rewards. Moving away from the view that a game is a tool used to support learning, and that instead the game is a medium through which one learns, presents the opportunity to consider the more intrinsically rewarding benefits of serious games, in essence that the game should not only be fun but produce emotional, behavioural and cognitive engagement, in a combination that is key to success (Iten., N.  & Petko, D. (2014). Learning with serious games: is fun playing the game a predictor of learning success? British Journal of Educational Technology doi:10.1 1 1 1/bjet.12226).

The sim transported students back to the period 1942 when Britain was at war, see fig 2.
Fig 2

fig 3
Students were tasked with learning about and then cracking encrypted messages. The game element I introduced was for them to decipher the code before damage from nightly air-raids see fig 3 reached a predetermined value. In the event that the target value was exceeded, then the encryption would become correspondingly more difficult.

fig 4
Students start by learning the fundamentals of encryption based situated in an old factory learning space, see fig 4. Where materials are presented on notecard dispenser boards in a low resource demanding format. The emphasis at this phase is for collaborative problem solving, making successive attempts at testing and evaluating their learning using in-world online cryptographic engines. Submission uses notecards that are returned using covert drop points, in this case public letter boxes. Once the practice sessions are complete, actual messages are delivered through telephones placed at various locations around the sim; in order to retrieve message students would have to wait for a telephone call (ring), at which point they simply touch on the telephone to receive a notecard; a particular feature I felt had the further effect of encouraging exploration and collaboration. Once the cyphers have been decoded, they are once again recorded on notecards and returned using the drop point network. When all messages have been correctly deciphered, air strikes will cease, effectively ending the game.



Friday, 15 July 2016

Only Rocket Science

This has been a really good year for virtual world projects. My student project for the academic year 2014-15 level4 and 5 was Rocket Science. The benefits to my students I feel are twofold: first, in using the medium, they acquired the knowledge, understanding and competence to complete the task; second, they experienced the advantages of collaborative, virtual, social, synchronous communication afforded by the visual learning styles of the 3D environment.


Virtual learning would be presented as a signposted, linear, walk-through workflow series of activities, from Orientation to Simulation, as shown below in Figure 1.
The main learning space comprised three tasks that cover Boost, Coast and Recovery phases of the rocket’s flight. The stages are presented as a signposted, linear, walk-through series of activities, carried out using similar workflows that are presented as:  introduction notecard boards, exercise boards, calculator boards and a drop box. Fig 2.
Fig 2
The final simulation stage draws the together the work of the previous stages. It presented the students with a full set of flight-profile calculations, dispensed once again from the notecard board. Upon completion, the notecard was saved and a copy dragged to the drop-box. Students could then check their results by launching a rocket: touching the green button at the centre of the launch console table produces a series of drop-down options prompting for input parameters, after which a soundscape introduces the countdown and launches the rocket.  Figure 3.
Fig 3
If you are interested in the reading more about this, my research proposal report has been published on the Compass website from the by the University of Greenwich. As an added incentive for me, I was given the Research Award for 2015-16 for research from Bromley College, very encouraging, there is also a YouTube if you would like to take a look, feedback welcome.
The project in fact received even more exposure when I was asked to deliver an impromptu presentation to the JISC ConnectMore16 conference in June.

I have since been receiving requests from within Bromley College for more virtual worlds specifically Functional Skills and Bio Medical science, so please stay in touch for developments.
Bye for now Skipper

Monday, 4 August 2014

Virtual World Student Feedback 2013-14

Taking the form of a virtual field trip for a wider project, the students task was to explore the alien world of Bopak3, created using Open Simulator. 

Foundation Degree Yr1
On the planet, Bopak3, a star ship had crash landed randomly scattering Dilithium crystal essential to it propulsion system across the virtual landscape. As crystals were of different types they had to be classified by group and identified using both colour and location. The students were encourage to plan and collaborate for the task in order to optimize the limited time they would be allowed to spend in such a potentially hostile environment.

Foundation Degree Yr2
Each student was required to establish a habitat on the planet were energy production would be made available entirely from the renewable resources of wind, solar light and combustible materials such as alien wood.  
In order to gather the necessary data on wind and solar energy, students would need to visit the location and use data from weather stations combined with their own observation and assumption regarding the day night cycle.
Each student was provided with an individual habitat with its own unique combination of solar energy technologies.

In order to add to the emersive realism each avatar came ready installed with spacesuit, boots, gloves, helmet and backpack life support

If you would like to see the feedback reports then please teleport over to Coders Central in Second Life and download the PDF files.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Free Lounge for Conferencing

Now I actually have my own sim in Second Life where events can be held, facilities  created and builds maintained, I tend to forget that unless you actually have a plot of virtual land, then being able to facilitate such things as even a general conversational type of meeting can be problematic. With this in mind I decided to create the Lounge

You can make use of the Lounge for small meetings and conferences at no charge, though of course any donations are welcome. I did want to provide something though that was a little more than just a virtual space where avatars could meet and chat. At the Lounge you will find shared media access to the Internet, a set of programming tools, if your meeting is along the lines of software design and finally and interactive whiteboard. To accompany the functionality of the place, you will also find some ambient features like bird song and running water. 

Please feel free to teleport over and take advantage of the Lounge and of course pass on any screen shots and comments.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Free Speaker Buddy

If you teleport over the the main hall at the Coders Central sim on Shimmer Island at Star Beach, you will find that I have installed a panel for Free Speaker Buddy.

Speaker Buddy is a nice little HUD free-be for teachers and educators working in SL as it will allow you to prepare a talk ahead of time, and so not wear your fingers out frantically typing as you try to speak to the audience.

What is more you can add additional comments or take questions, and Speaker Buddy will pause and restart at the last point.

Speaker Buddy communuicates lines numbers to you on a private channel, so you will not get lost, as well as communicate embedded private comments.

If you take a copy of Speaker Buddy, please let us know how you get along by replying to this posting.

Skipper: )

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Museum changes

After working on various features of my sim here at Coders Central Star Beach over the summer, I decided to take a look the museum of computing facility and get down to incorporating some more content. As you enter the museum you will a stand dedicated to Sinclair computers and its here that I have just uploaded new resources to the ZX81 display. The presentation and animation includes three slides of content plus a rezzing motherboard. More additions are in the pipeline, so please feel free to teleport over anytime. I hope you find this latest addition interesting and useful and pleased feel free to comment.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Life on Mars Report

The overview and feedback from a 32 question student survey of the Life on Mars project is now available in the small hall of the main building here at Star Beach Shimmer Island. The project itself was the result of work carried out by a group of level 5 Foundation Degree students here at Bromley College currently enrolled on the Network Computing course. The project was established in order to provide students with a virtual world field trip to the planet Mars. The project itself was in support of a final year assignment to produce a desktop simulation for a solar powered lighting and heating control system written in Java. In order to give student avatars a realistic experience of the planet Mars the following was carried out: - the terrain was terra-formed and suitably textured. For effect, the sound of wind was introduced, as was the arrival of random particle dust storms. Each student was allocated a unique combination of building components, which they formed into a connected accommodation unit. A small weather station was placed on the surface that relayed temperatures and wind speeds throughout the Martian day that was reasonably consistent with those found on the planet. Finally, each avatar came ready installed with spacesuit, boots, gloves, helmet and backpack life support. Please feel free to download the pdf and comment to this posting.

regards Skipper

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Collaborate on mobile development

With so many students arriving at College with their own mobuile devices and developers working on scalable apps, its good to find a website where you can test your pages across a whole range of platforms thanks to the Mobile Moxie emulators. Even better if you would like to collaborate in real time with app testing, then teleport over to Shimmer Island here in Second Life. Thanks to the benefits of Shared Media you can now get together and access this web resource using our emulator panel at the landing point. Please come along and give it a try and feel free to comment.


Friday, 28 October 2011

First of the Shared Media Displays

If you recall from an earlier posting where I had installed a new building at my landing site for this sim, I intended using the space in part for displaying some interactive shared media content for educators. Well here is the first one, took a while I know. If you have use for a diagramming tool and not come across Creately yet, then I think it is well worth paying a visit to the site. There are a number of pricing models available, including a free version that has plenty of features. The models available cover Business Diagrams, User Interface Design, Software, System, Network Diagrams and more. It was the inclusion of software design particularly UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagrams and Database design diagrams that particularly took my attention. You will find that in creating a new document the examples list will provide sets of templates, some of which seem to be partially complete, these would be particularly useful for teaching. As well as the many diagrams available, the user interface also includes a standard set of drawing tools, basic shapes, arrows, call outs, you can add notes, comments and share your diagrams thought the free version limits you to five of these. Upon completion diagrams can be exported in either png, jpeg or Creately format. As a unique virtual trial I decided to create a shared media block at my landing point here in Second life, so feel free to get a couple of avatar friends together a try it out, and let me know your impressions.

regards Skipper

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Coding in the sky

The new academic year is about to start for my Foundation Degree students in software Development and I have been thinking of ways that I could incorporate Second Life into the delivery. Thinking about where to hold these sessions, I must say that I was impressed by some of the low cost Holodecks that are around for purchase in SL Marketplace at the moment and was tempted to buy one in, but I do like to apply myself to a little building now and then and decided instead to create a sky platform for the purpose.

I have introduced a little background ambience into the feature by including a visual running water effect, running water sounds and some random bird songs. My plan is to run regular evening, probably once a week, after class programming and design tutorials. I am using the Firestorm viewer at the moment, principally because it supports shared media on a prim, without all the compatible SL mesh issues that seem to have defeated my own PC for now. This means that I can make use of web resources such as an online C compiler, there is a nice compiler available here, and a screen shot of myself running a simple C program.

Another board that features our College vle, so that we can make use of portfolio exercises and also we can post directly toForums, a third and final media board displays a web based poster of student avatar images and names.

Not sure yet whether we shall be using voice or text chat for the conversation, but I will take the popular vote on that. If we do use text chat, then I shall install a logger so that we can review the sessions.

Back soon with some more news, bye for now Skipper