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Education in Virtual Worlds

High Fidelity VW

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A new world.

Where can you create a new world when you don't like the one you are living in or when you want to make it better? Who does not whish right now to be able to move to a better world? Linden labs, the creators of SL (Second Life), have now created it; HIGH FIDELITY. After having spent a lot of time reading about the new virtual world and after visiting several sites there I was able to begin to understand what possibilities people and, in this case, teachers will have, using this fantastic world when it is ready.

 

For the time being, there are unlimited possibilities for everyone to build their dreams. The first thing I did to get there was to download and install Steam and High Fidelity for free which is really easy to do.

The second thing was to enter the world, that was one of the strangest experiences I ever had. I found my avatar floating in the black space of the sim viewing only a bright blue horizon and when I wanted to see how my avatar looked like, I discovered that it was a blue creature, a kind of android. Soon I was able to get a "normal" avatar or a robot. Most avatars are Asian looking.

After that I started travelling to different places, it was all white and because the world is in the beta phase and really only interesting for builders, scriptors and creators. There are at most 20 people at one time, the rest of the time there are about 7 people, which makes it easy to interact with all of them.

It turns out that everyone has got a pagoda and a Zen garden to live in and underneath there is a huge private platform to put all kinds of textures and builds that people have to upload most of the time as the market place of the world has a very limited selection of objects.

At the moment nobody has an inventory, so anything you take from market place for free has to be either rezed or returned.

The incredible thing is that each person has a platform, it is so interesting for teachers because it is a huge big space to teach in for free.

The downside at the moment is that there can not be much interaction as there are not many things to buy on market place, so building a scene would not be possible unless you upload everything yourself.

Making machinima (videos in world) is still only possible to a certain extent as the space navigator (3D mouse) does not work in the world, light is a problem too, too dark black or too bright white, the avatars have no facial expressions or gestures per se, and there are not many scripts around.

But why is the world promising and what is new?

ADVANTAGES and NEW uses:

This fascinating virtual world is accessible via desk top. In High Fidelity you are able to share interconnected virtual reality environments, use any scripting language to build complex interactive experiences and share processing power.

You can share your desktop with others, the avatars can gesticulate like a real human by using Oculus rift or HTC Vive as HMD (Head mounted displays) and XBOX One Controller, Razer Hydra, Oculus Touch, Vive Hand Controllers or Leap Motion Orion as hand controllers. These devices are expensive at the moment, but they may become cheaper soon.

All these possibilities to use new devices and interact in the world mean new ways of learning and that means teachers can be creative and find ways of teaching through all the variety of media used with High Fidelity.

It would be a shame not to take the challenge!

This step may only be conceivable to experts on virtual world teaching who also use games. It would be a real advantage if teachers could code and build or if they stood in contact with someone who can.

I see High Fidelity as a further development, so in some ways this reflects how fast teachers and schools have to adapt in order to keep pace and be able to offer state-of-the-art education. Missing this step would mean throwing education one century back. Wouldn't that be deadly for any economy in any country?

As education ministries and schools are normally neither willing, or nor able to react fast, engaged teachers are the only hope, they can learn to use the worlds and create a new methodology in their free time if they see it as a chance. But how? Building groups via social networks of like minded teachers and cooperating internationally is the most effective shortcut to the future.

Educators still have the choice of keeping the well known "Chalk Era" and isolate themselves or start exploring and using VR (virtual reality), VW (virtual worlds), gamification and AR (augmented reality) to make a new world of learning. In one to two years it may be too late.

 
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