Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Media on a prim in OpenSim, how educators can use it

Working and educating in a virtual world can be a lot of fun, but sometimes you also want external tools to appear in this world. The best way for this is to use MOAP (Media on a prim)

To use MOAP (Media on a prim) in OpenSim you need a viewer that can show this. The viewer needs to have a so called 'webkit' built in, to show a webpage or any other media on the side of a prim. This webkit is not always the same, like the Singularity viewer until recently had an older version that did not really work great with https formatted websites and gave some kind of SSH error.
Now it is up to date, like the Firestorm viewer for OpenSim, both are now capable of showing many sites so the webkits are updated to the latest version. I tried some educational websites, to see if it was possible to use educational webcontent on our 3DLES EDUgrid.
 First on my list was Voki, a website where you can create talking heads for free. This can be a very handy tool to have some item in your virtual world explained. So I created this character that welcomes new visitors in the virtual world and explains a bit what the visitor can do here. On the right you can see the working version and below a picture of the voki in the 3DLES virtual world. In order to get this working on the prim I only had to copy the given link of the Voki to the media settings of the prim side and change the settings of the horizontal and vertical scale and offset, so that it fits. And I did not want to show the control bar over this prim so I untagged this option.

Voki in the welcome area of the 3DLES EDUgrid
The learningapps website offers all kinds of quizzes that you can create for free. These 'apps' can also be placed on an object in the virtual world, and they can be controlled by clicking with the mouse. So a student can do any interactive quiz in-world.

Learningapps puzzle on a prim
Also embedding youtube video's is an option that can be done quite simple, the only thing that needs  to be changed is the URL of a video so it will be fullscreen (embedded). You can do this by copying the link of a video and replace /watch?v= in the URL to /embed/  so the url should look like this... Below you can see how this looks in the virtual world.

Youtube video on a prim
These three tools run fine on both the Singularity and Firestorm viewer. Any other tool, like Prezi, Quizlet and only ran on the Firestorm viewer, when Singularity was not updated yet. The update solved the problem. (updated June 1016) 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Windows tablet will save education in virtual worlds?

Last november I spoke at the the first National Congres on Education in Virtual Worlds in Tilburg (NL) about what the future might bring. And tablets was one of these hot future items.

Lots of schools are using (or planning to use) tablets, most of them use iPad at the moment. But on an iPad it is not really possible to work with virtual worlds like OpenSim and Second Life. The only solution I found for iPad is 'SL Go', which allows you to log on a server that connects to the virtual world, creates the graphics for you and sends the stream to your tablet, for only 10 $ per month (only available in the USA at the moment), but it does not run voice chat yet. 

Surface Pro 3
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
With the new Windows 8 tablets and '2 in 1' systems a whole new world opens for working in virtual worlds. Now we can have a full Windows tablet running our favorite software to enter OpenSim or Second Life. With even the audio and voice chat working. Starting at € 300 we see brands like: Asus, Acer, Dell, Medion, HP, Sony, Lenovo, Samsung and even Microsoft in the higher range with their Surface Pro series. These tablets offer full Windows so you can work with all your favorite software tha you used for all these years but now on a tablet, including the software to enter OpenSim and Second Life! 

Archos 80 Cesium running
Singularity viewer.
So I did a little test and bought myself a cheap Windows tablet (Archos 80 Cesium - 8" screen) at the local drugstore in our village for 125 Euros ($145), and installed the Singularity viewer on it. After logging in at the 3DLES grid I found everything working fine. It loaded all the graphics fast, navigation works well with the on-screen navigation arrows (a bit small on a 8" screen) and even voice chat works fine. Just wear a headphone and use the microphone in the tablet. So I tested it some more to see if I could also do some video conferencing using Big Blue Button, which also worked fine. The webcam at the front does the work. The only thing that is not really great is shortage of memory. 16 Gb is not really enough to have a great running tablet and the 8 inch is actually a bit too small, but it is a start. So anyone who wants to use a Windows tablet for OpenSim of Second Life, go for the 10 inch with at least 32 Gb memory.

This month we had the Dutch National Education Show in Utrecht (NOT) and I expected to see a lot of Windows tablets there running educational software. Unfortunately not so many as I hoped. So we should spread the word that a Windows tablet is the best choice for education. Want to see the videoreport of my trip, watch this...

Want to see some more about this item?
  • Short video of the National Congres Education in VW at Fontys Tilburg (NL), click here.
  • Video of S√łndermarkskolen, Denmark that used Dell tablets for a 3D project on the 3DLES demogrid, click here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Education in Virtual Worlds

Until now I have been working with language educators all around Europe in the TILA project and did some research at the University of Alcal√° de Henares in Spain for the 'Spanish Language Route' project. Finally this Spanish project decided to use the Unity3D platform to create their course, mainly because this project did not need a virtual platform where people could meet and talk, they just wanted to create an interactive language game and sell it.
Presenting area on the TILA grid
But besides language education there is so much more to explore in educational virtual worlds, like walking in historic scenes, visit a Roman fort or ancient Egypt, see monasteries from the inside, explore buildings that are not open to the public or do not exist anymore.

For all the Dutch readers, there will be a FREE conference about 'Virtual Worlds in Education' at 13 november at the Fontys in Tilburg (NL).
More information about it can be found here.

Watch the new 3DLES video: