Education in OpenSim – Reflections from the OSCC

It was the OpenSim Community Conference at the weekend – which included streams on Education and Research. Although I was only able to attend a couple of sessions in-world (including my own!), the conference was also live streamed, and a video archive of the talks and presentations is now available.

One thing I really enjoyed was meeting up again with folk I know and have worked with in Second Life over the years. In particular Edmund Edgar, now the main man behind the continuing development of SLOODLE, was there talking about using BitCoin as an OpenSim currency. You can see his presentation here.

Austin Tate has links to all the videos here - my talk about Virtual Cultural Heritage projects can be found in the Education stream.

Of the conference I have to say that it was incredibly well organised, and ran very smoothly from my viewpoint as both audience member and as a presenter. The OpenSim software has really come on over the past few years, and is suitable for a wide range of production environments. With a number of technical presentations from the likes of Intel on improving the scalability of OpenSim, it seems like this trend is going to continue.

What doesn’t seem to be moving as fast (and I include myself in this criticism) is that the educational applications and uses of the platform are much the same as they were in Second Life a few years ago. Perhaps this is not surprising – it is easier to improve a piece of technology than to radically innovate pedagogy every other year. Accordingly, the progress in pedagogy is probably in smaller increments. There was a large and quite sudden explosion in the educational use of VW during the Second Life hype-cycle, and six years on from that it is only natural that innovation and progress will have settled somewhat. Less focus on ‘what new things can we do’, and more on sharing best practice, learning from each others’ mistakes and slowly progressing research forward onto more rigorous and empirical work.

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