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Category Archives: Virtual Reality

Sim-On-A-Stick

Snapshot_002I have been playing around with a program called Sim-On-A-Stick which allows you to create virtual worlds on a flash drive. These can then be shared with a class, to give students a virtual space to learn in. You have to download OpenSimulator as well, and a viewer which will allow you to connect to your sim-on-a-stick! All of this is not for the faint-hearted, but there are step-by-step guides to help you navigate all of this geekiness!

Once installed properly you can begin building a virtual world. This also has quite a steep learning curve, but I had my teenage son on hand to give me a few pointers. Again there are plenty of how to videos to help out if you don’t have a teenage son spare! A few years ago I explored Second Life to see what value it might have for me as a teacher. I was impressed by the obvious benefits for language teachers in particular, but underwhelmed by the experience. For language teachers surely Skype offers more chance to get together with students or distance lessons.

The cost also put me off as did the proscription against under 18 year olds! Using Sim-On-A-Stick, however, age concerns go away. Although one use of a virtual environment is to display material via links to websites, or create physical worlds to explore as a virtual museum, if you like, to my mind the most exciting option is to use the virtual world as a space to allow students to construct representations of, say, the Colosseum in Ancient Rome, or a typical Medieval town! It thus has similar properties to Minecraft. You could even get students to build a large walk inside computer!

I have to say that at the moment the technology is such that I think the benefits for education are limited, but it does make for an interesting idea for a project, and gives students something different to do, which is always a plus!

It is great fun using Sim-On-A-Stick, and I would certainly recommend playing around with it.

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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Second Life, Virtual Reality

 

The XBox Kinect

I was at a very interesting presentation at the ICT Conference in Johannesburg yesterday, about how the XBox Kinetic had been used in a small rural primary school near Vryheid, and how effective the staff felt that it was in uplifting English language and Mathematic skills. The Kinect, formerly known in typical Redmond fashion as Project Natal, introduces gesture-based computing to the XBox.

The following video explores how this is being used in the school:

What is clear is that this has enormous potential! What is not so clear is how it can be used in the classroom. One point to be made is that the XBox itself is an Internet connected computer in its own right, and can therefore double up on purpose.

Will it enable immersive virtual simulations? A kind of Second Life where you and your avatar are kinetically connected? These are fascinating prospects, and open up huge possibilities. Only time will tell.

In the short-term, I’m not about to rush off and try to convince my principal that this is the most vital piece of kit that I need! On the other hand, it might be something for the school games club to get, and share with teachers willing to try it out!

 
 
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