Ignite 2010 Virtual Worlds Conference

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It’s hard to believe that our OpenSim Project was officially opened to students just a few short months ago in May.    Since launching this project, it has been a real privilege to be involved in both face to face and online conferences and presentations.  Recently, we were asked to share our TechnoSpirit Project at the Ignite 2010 Conference held at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

The Ignite 2010 Conference is organised each year with both face to face and virtual worlds sessions that are held “in-world”.  Therefore, I was able to be a presenter without leaving my home! 🙂

The focus of the presentation was how we created the TechnoSpirit sim using existing OpenSim resources as well creations by our Virtual Worlds Project Team.  We also looked at how the use of virtual worlds can motivate reluctant learners, even when the topic may seem unappealing to them at first glance.

Special thanks to Dean Groom (Manager, Educational Development Group, Learning & Teaching Centre, Macquarie University) and Jo Kay (Freelance Digital Designer and Educational Technology Facilitator) for their wonderful assistance in preparing for the presentation and Adrian Bruce for the in-world images.

The TechnoSpirit Project

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We have recently completed an exciting project in conjunction with the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics Faculty called, TechnoSpirit.  For the past three months our Virtual Worlds Project Team has been involved in the development of a sim that was used as part of the Year 8 Personal & Spiritual Immersion Week.

Instead of participating in regular classes, Year 8 Students had the opportunity to be involved in a number of activities centred around the theme of Personal & Spiritual Development.  A list of various electives were available to choose from that were between two and three hours in duration.

One of these electives was TechnoSpirit, exploring how symbols are present in our everyday lives, different types of religious symbols, places of worship and developing a personal symbol and place of worship.

Initially, it was hoped that the students could have the opportunity to create their own place of worship using the OpenSim building tools.  However, we soon discovered that there was scope to develop so much more!  Below is a copy of the Notecard featuring Landmarks to the different locations on the TechnoSpirit Sim. (Please click the image to enlarge it.)

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Despite some technical difficulties mainly due to issues with our school’s internet access, we were thrilled with what the students were able to achieve during the three hour time slot.  The students had very little experience with virtual worlds or 3D building yet created truly beautiful and remarkable places of worship.  You can click here to view the TechnoSpirit movie on YouTube or click here to view our TechnoSpirit images on Flickr.

Now it is time for us to reflect:

Did our virtual world provide students with a more engaging environment for teaching and learning activities?
What were the successful aspects of the project?
What could we change or improve for future projects?

It is exciting to see that our project has brought attention from educators around the world with an interest in virtual worlds in education including the Jokaydia Unconference (May 2010), Tech Talk Tuesdays Sessions (August 2010), Expanding Learning Horizons Conference (August 2010) and the Macquarie University Learning & Teaching Week (September 2010).  Of course, none of this would be possible without the support and involvement of staff and students at our school.  In particular, I would like to thank the members of the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics Faculty who do an incredible job and are truly amazing to work with! 🙂

Congratulations to everyone involved in the TechnoSpirit Project and we look forward to embarking on our next exciting in-world project!