One of the tasks of our Virtual Worlds Project Team was to help establish the Begonia Island Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines for our school’s virtual worlds community.
Part of the process in establishing the Code was for members of the Project Team to suggest words that they felt described the kind of virtual space they wanted Begonia Island to be.
You can view the Code of Conduct Display below or the full document on SlideShare.
I recently met with teachers from our Religion, Philosophy & Ethics Faculty after they expressed interest in learning more about the use of virtual worlds in education. They were particularly interested in hearing about the work already being done by our Year 6 teachers with Quest Atlantis as well as our new private 3D virtual space, Begonia Island.
Although I had planned to take them on an in-world tour, including a teacher display, the school’s wireless network had other ideas! However, I was still able to show them a slideshow with a number of screen shots. (This was still enough to see their faces light up!)
The current teacher display on Begonia Island is a very basic one and plans for the future will include a Staff Centre, to house resources for educators.
For the staff of the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics Faculty, I can see why virtual worlds would be a highly appealing tool. They are always searching for ways to engage their students as often they are reluctant to participate in activities. Because student participation is done via their own customisable avatar, this offers greater opportunities for a deeper connection with others, more so than traditional forms of online communication. You can click here to read more about the experiences of students at Northern Beaches Christian School.
So, now the seed has been planted and they have lots of “food for thought”. Plans are already underway to create a place of worship, inspired by the wonderful work of the Virtual Anglican Cathedral.
I look forward to posting about our progress in the coming months!
Sharing resources is something that seems to come naturally to most educators and the same can also be said for many OpenSim users. This culture of sharing and assisting others is something that we also want to promote on Begonia Island.
Begonia Island is actually made up of four simulators or “sims” as they are known. We have the ability to edit the terrain in these areas as we wish, adding to the look and feel that we wish to achieve.
Whilst exploring some virtual worlds resources, I came across a variety of terrains by OpenSim user, Norse Writer. If you are new to setting up your own sims or have limited time to devote to the task of terraforming, I would highly recommend downloading these terrains.
Norse Writer provides you with the zipped .raw file, along with screen shots in an Upload Terrain Guide to explain the procedure for the Hippo Viewer. At the time of writing this post, there were eleven different terrains available. Even for a complete developer newbie like me, it was very simple procedure!
Once the upload process has started, it takes around five minutes to complete. However, I found it very exciting to watch as the new terrain appeared!
Begonia Island now has four areas with beautiful terrain that will provide the perfect blank canvas for our students to create different areas of interest.
One of the many advantages of having an OpenSim server hosted by ReactionGrid is that you are provided with the tools to easily manage your virtual space. As a school administrator, there are a number of tasks that you need to do quickly and easily. This is where RDP comes in!
I had no idea what this acronym even referred to and went straight for the trusty “define” feature in Google! I soon learnt about Remote Desktop Protocol under the guidance of Kyle Gomboy, CEO of ReactionGrid. Kyle, also known as Dr_Manhattan on Twitter, took me through the process of setting up a remote connection to our ReactionGrid server. I learnt how easy it was to create users and change passwords. If anyone had told me that one day I would be learning about RDP and using DOS commands to manage a server, I would have laughed!
At the moment, users are created one at a time. However, only basic information is required so the process takes only seconds to complete. In the future, it will be possible to create users using data directly from our Active Directory accounts. This will make the process of creating large numbers of users even easier.
One of our Year 6 students referred to learning with virtual worlds as “the future of learning”. Steve Collis has written an excellent blog post about virtual worlds being an integral part of learning just as a school’s SharePoint, Moodle, Blackboard or other type of intranet may be. This is why the easy management of these virtual spaces is crucial. I agree with Steve, just as students find it quite normal to access their school’s intranet, their school’s virtual world should be and will be seen in the same way.
This experience highlighted some very important points:
- Having the right support in order to tackle new tasks with confidence is crucial
- In order to successfully manage a virtual worlds project of this nature, schools need access to simple tools
Many thanks to Kyle and the ReactionGrid team for their assistance!