VF Charles Johnson: 'Educational uses of MUDs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For our purposes, it's important to know if we
can save our chat discussions... yep, 'log chat' is there.
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.
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).
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.
Notice that my avatar
has changed. This is a different world. Click on the Convention
& Visitor Center...
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...
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?
Did you notice the interactive
elements woven into the fabric of the space? Clickable images
on walls that are links to web pages.
(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.
That's where you came in.
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
theories we have touched on in this course
- our individual
- anything else
you want to bring up
This is neither a 'to
do' list nor exclusive; these bullets are simply offered
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...
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.
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