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VF Charles Johnson: 'Educational uses of MUDs and MOOs'

Welcome Roos. I have assembled some material for you in the interests of saving time and effort, yet starting our discussion from a common knowledge base. The series of images below storyboards an excursion in the Active Worlds MOO for you. This is a fully object-oriented virtual reality environment. If you have time I strongly urge you to go to the Active Worlds homepage, install the free software plugin and explore. My server at work won't allow it. If that's the only access you have, this page will have to do. (It's a very poor second to actually navigating your way through the worlds, though).

There is also a dedicated Active worlds Educational Universe. Worth a look, as it hosts worlds built by universities, schools and other educational institutions. I chose to lead this excursion into the non-educational Active Worlds environment because I didn't meet anyone in the educational version. This one is well populated.

When you first enter the Active Worlds Universe, you find yourself under the globe in the screenshot below. You are dressed as a tourist, because that's what you are. You will be addressed by 'bots'. Ignore them, they are just programs. Depending on your internet connection, you may want to go make a cup of tea while the graphics load. I can function over a dialup connection.


Active Worlds Ground Zero

There are 750 worlds in this environment, and you can go to any of them via the links in the Tab Controls box. You can also see how many people are in each one. Don't shoot off yet, I want to show you around a bit.

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750worlds

There's a panel on the right that tells you how to move around. Basically all you need right now is the arrow keys, and it's useful to know that if you can't get round an obstruction, 'SHIFT + forward arrow' gets you through it. Also good to know that there's a 'Teleport back' button in the toolbar at the top of your screen...use it if you get stuck.

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Help and support

There will probably be a number of avatars around. Most or all of these are representatives of real people. Cross-dressing is common, and some choose to represent themselves as non-human objects like a vacuum cleaner, or R2D2. You can only be male or female tourist. 'Esron' below, is a male tourist. 'Raindancer' is a citizen, and has customised her avatar as Genie, from that old sitcom. Change your gender in the menu bar if you like. It can be liberating. Check out what you can do with the other buttons in the toolbar at the top of your screen, too.

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Avatars

Below the graphics screen you'll see the chat that's going on around you. Pretty clean on the whole, but a lot of flirting... This World is rated 'G', which mean it is meant to be safe for kids. I have seen a person ejected [by a bot] for overstepping the mark.

Banter

For our purposes, it's important to know if we can save our chat discussions... yep, 'log chat' is there.

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Chat settings

 

Now, if you are ready, we'll explore. Head for the gate that says Mountain Myst's 'Worlds to Watch', and follow the path. Keep going, you'll come to a bridge. Cross it and proceed to the circular area with the whorly things.

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MountainMyst's Worlds  to Watch gate

 

The moon was just setting when I took this, but the snow had stopped. Go to the 'gate' on the left, where I left my cursor (curse that cursor!). When you click on the gate, you 'll be teleported into another world. Let the graphics load before you move. Don't fall into the lake unless you can swim. (Use the teleport back button if stuck). There's a sign to your right that will take you where I want you to go if you click it. (It's a bit of a walk around the lake otherwise).

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Worlds to Watch portals


This is the sign I told you about, over to your right. It takes you to the big sign board you can just see on the other side of the lake. Click it.

Link to BluPearl directory

Notice that my avatar has changed. This is a different world. Click on the Convention & Visitor Center...

BluPearlDirectory

Just a mo while the graphics catch up...and march on in. Look around, click stuff, explore. I'll be waiting for you in the bar...

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Convention Center Entrance

Well Hel-lo there! Two vodka martinis and a sex-change later, and I want to talk 'Online Learning' with you. How do I look?

The new me

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Did you notice the interactive elements woven into the fabric of the space? Clickable images on walls that are links to web pages.

Interactive wall

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(1) I think there's audio linked to the piano (and speakers near the bar)... Try the elevator (2) There's a button on the wall inside. Windows upstairs also open by a button.(3) That's where you came in.

View of Ground Floor

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Discussion guidelines:

I'd like to gather the group's reactions to this experience, in terms of:

          • an environment in which to deliver learnables
          • an environment in which to have discussions
          • an environment in which to learn
          • an environment in which to facilitate
          • educational theories we have touched on in this course
          • our individual teaching contexts
          • anything else you want to bring up

This is neither a 'to do' list nor exclusive; these bullets are simply offered as suggestions.
Feel free to ignore them completely if you choose...but but come up with your own.
I'd like to attempt a less compelled and more free-range discussion; I'm taking a risk as a facilitator in so doing, but I feel enough confidence in the group to relinquish a degree of control.

One final note, on a practical point of procedure; if/when you enter Active Worlds, it will ask you what you want to be called... can I suggest that we adopt a [first name]+[Roo] strategy, so that if we should meet in there we'll recognize each other? eg RobRoo, MirandaRoo etc...

The only reason I have not attempted to conduct this discussion within the MOO is that we are such a small group... chances of synchronicity are therefore a bit slim.

 


Immediacy / compelling / synchronous / recordable / intuitive / deep or shallow / pedagogy and andragogy / class size / lag time / collaboration / constructivism / community / functionality / management / inhibition / motivation / flexibility / access / equity / learning styles...

Well folks, this Roo is tired. I'm heading home, see you all back at the ranch. I hope you will spend some time exploring on your own...and come hopping home full of insights and observations.

Roo heads home

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