Wednesday, November 04, 2009

OpenSim and virtual worlds

Apart from my work here at Bromley Colleg with Moodle and all that that involves, some time ago, I think it must be about 7 or 8 years now, I discovered 3DML and started to do some developing with buidling 3D worlds or Spots as they were called back then. Anyway I built a Spot, and trialed it with my students with really encouraging results. But then the world moved on, which is when Second Life appeared; if you look down the left side bar you will see the link or slurl to one of my sims.

If you pay a visit (teleport) over to my sim at Shimmer Island, you see that essentailly all I am trying to do here explore and develop Second Life as an extension to any other learning technology. Anyway more to the point, the other day I came across an interesting video on Second Life ‘surviving the hype curve’; if you are not familiar with these things heres a link you should find useful. Its certainly true for me, at least I like to think it is, that any new technology, no matter how seductive, is going to have to survive this curve before I give it serious buy-in, otherwise it could just be just a steep time consuming learning curve that takes you effectively nowhere. I must confess actually that I have not always taken my own advice on this one, so plunging head first into Second Life was for me anyway a somewhat high risk investment back then. So if you find yourself teetering on the edge of getting onvolved with SL, this video should give you some confidence in the likely persistent nature of the product.

For us here at Bromley College and for me in particualar, the use of virtual worlds is starting to play a regular part in course delivery, two projects last year 08/09 and more planned for this year 09/10. One issue that your institute may face however is in access to the resource, SL requires a number of ports to be open that your network admin people may respond to by simply shaking their collective heads in disbelief. But again be reassured, we have been running SL in one lab for around 18 months now and no problems.

Of course there other likely obstacles, such as the cost of Second Life, particlularly in the endless cash strapped world of FE. So we started work on OpenSim, or at least my collegeue Clive Gould did and we now have two regions running, one as a test and the other which will become live. Apart from the obvious fact that OpenSim is free, its other benefit is in only requiring one extra port to be open, 9000. If you would like more information on setting up OpenSim then please feel free drop an email or alternatively Clive runs a blog that holds all his install notes.


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