Sunday, March 22, 2009

Serious SL Meetup in Boulder

On March 19, 2009, I attended a Serious Second Life Meetup in Boulder in-world at the Alaskan Sandbox. This session was organized by Dr. Richard Hackthorn (RL) aka Hack Richards (SL), CEO of Bolder Technology Inc., and led by Eric Hackathorn (RL) aka Hackshaven Harford (SL), an electrical and computer engineer who works as a program manage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Participants of Serious SL Meetup in Boulder ( photo taken March 19/09)

I found out about the meetup through the SLED listserv and joined the group through Meetup
. In this session, Eric Hackathorn presented a curriculum for teaching, potential and new users of SL, some of the skills necessary to successfully participate in the 3D virtual world. The curriculum is organized into four topics including:
  1. Training Prerequisties - hardware/network requirements, download client, SL registration
  2. Basic Skills - movement, camera, exploration, communication, community, appearance
  3. Advanced Skills - Inventory, gadgets, HUD, economics, gestures, land, abuse, OpenSim
  4. Content Creation - building, texturing, scripting, particles, animations, vehicles, machinima
Eric Hackathorn developed the curriculum on a Moodle platform that is connected to SL through SLoodle and can be accesses at SLoodle is a plugin that is added to Moodle in order to connect Moodle to the in-world activities of SL. I will provide some examples of how Eric Hackathorn makes this possible with the SciLands Classroom curriculum he has developed.

To teach the topic of movement in SL the student logs into the Moodle course to view the content. In the Moodle course the student will see the "Movement" topic with resources (text and video) including: Overview, Sitting, Mouse steering and Getting Fancy. To practice movement skills, the student will log into SL and go through a maze activity in-world.

In-word (SL) maze activity (photo retrieved from, March 19/09).

To practice camera controls, Eric Hackathorn included a topic in the Moodle course called "Camera Control." Again the student goes through resources, in the form of text and video, to learn about camera controls in SL. To practice camera skills the students complete an activity titled, "Schrodedinger's Box." In this activity students use their camera skills to look into a rezzed box. Once they are viewing what is inside the box, they are to take a picture and upload the image to the assignment location in Moodle.

Box to look into to see what is inside for the camera control activity (photo taken March 19/09)

From my perspective, this seems to be an effective way to teach new users skills in SL. It allows them to use the Moodle or LMS platform, which many are comfortable, to view the content and instructions and then go in-world to SL to practice what they have learned.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Designing Your Future Workshop

On the evening of Thursday, March 12 at 9:00 P.M. I attended a workshop titled, Designing Your Future. This workshop was put on by TLE and instructed by Cathy Anderson-RL, who self declared herself as new to teaching in SL. The workshop was designed to help become familiar with tools necessary to better adjust to the future, make decisions and better understand how to become a futurist.

At this workshop I saw two new tools of interest to me. The first was a blue box sitting at the front of the room. As we came into the room, Cathy asked us to click on it to register our attendance.

Attendance Registration box (photo taken March 12/09)

The second tool Cathy used was called a "Bright Web Browser Screen." This tool allowed the group to view web pages in SL.

Bright Web Browser (photo taken March 12/09)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SLoodle Workshop

On Monday, March 2, 2009, I attended a Social Presence in Virtual Worlds (SLrl) workshop on SLoodle. This workshop was hosted in-world by Josmas Flores at Insula Docta TCD (slurl The workshop took place in a wonderful auditorium as shown below.

Auditorium on Insula Docta TCD (photo taken March 2/09)

Sloodle (Simulation Linked Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a 3D online education system for SL that integrates with Moodle, an open-source CMS. The workshop presented some of the features of SLoodle including a Registration booth, Choice tool, Web-intercom and SLoodle HUD.

Since I am a Moodle user, I was very excited to see how the CMS interacted with SL. It must first be understood that we were in-world accessing the tools to interact with Moodle. To begin we had to register into the Moodle course by clicking on the SLoodle registration booth (left-booth shown in image below). This opened a new browser window to the registration page of the Moodle site it was connected to.
SLoodle Registration (left) and Enrolment (right) booths (photo taken March 2/09)

After completing the registration, through a confirmation email, I was able to enol into the course by clicking the enrolment booth (right-booth shown in image above). Viewable through my web-browser, this took me to the course located in Moodle. The purpose of registering and enroling from the in-world location was so that the connection could be made between SL and Moodle for the two to begin communicating.

Once registered and enroled into the Moodle course we were able to try some of the tools integrating the CMS with SL. The first one we looked at was the Choice tool which allows students to vote and see the results in either SL or Moodle. For example, we were asked to vote on what type of pizza we like with some participants voting in-world and others voting in the Moodle course. Participants were able to view the choice results from either the SL or Moodle environment.

The second tool we tried was the Web-intercom. A chat-room that brings a Moodle chat-room and SL chats together. When participants in SL text through local chat and Moodle participants text through the connected Moodle chat room, both groups can see the text chat.

The third tool we saw was the SLoodle HUD (Multi-function SLoodle Toolbar). This tool is described as enhancing the SL user-interface. When wearing the SLoodle HUD we were able to use a selection of classroom gestures, see a list of the Moodle user names from participating avatars or write entries directly into our Moodle blogs from SL.

One question individuals may have is...why do we want a virtual world, such as SL, to communicate with a CMS like Moodle? When we begin to look at some the items limiting access to SL we quickly see factors like high-end computer requirements and complicated interface emerge. By connecting SL with Moodle we allow lower-end computers and individuals who find the SL interface confusing to communicate with in-world participants through the Moodle environment.