Category Archives: Sloodle

SLOODLE wins 4th Novatica Award

From http://www.stellarnet.eu/news/2009/11/03/50/ :

In the 4th edition of the Novática Award for the best paper published by the journal in 2008, the jury has selected the article of Daniel Livingstone from the University of the West of Scotland and Jeremy Kemp from San José State University on “Integrando entornos de aprendizaje basados en Web y 3D: Second Life y Moodle se encuentran” (”Integrating Web-Based and 3D Learning Environments: Second Life Meets Moodle”).

The article was published in the issue #193 of Novática (May-June 2008), within the monograph “El futuro de la tecnología educativa” (“Technology-Enhanced Learning”). It appeared as a spanish translation of the English special issue appearing simultaneously in UPGRADE. The editors of the monograph have been Carlos Delgado-Kloos from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Fridolin Wild from the Open University of the UK.

The Award, consisting of a diploma, will presented in Madrid, November 13th, 2009, Friday morning, within the frame of a Software Quality event organized by the Spanish Ministry of Industry and ATI, the Spanish a IT association that publishes Novática.

The Jury was composed by the Editors of the Technical Sections of Novática, the Chief Editor of our journal and a representative of the Board of ATI (Asociación de Técnicos de Informática), the publisher of Novática.

Details about the awards event (in Spanish) are here.

Links for the week… #clex09 and BJET VW

Last week I managed to remember to buy the Guardian on Tuesday for the education supplement. But didn’t find time to read it all. And so I managed to miss news of the release of JISC Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience (CLEX) report “Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World” till the day after. Brian Kelly covered it here, and included the following quote from the Grauniad:

The “Google generation” of today’s students has grown up in a digital world. Most are completely au fait with the microblogging site Twitter; they organise their social lives through Facebook and MySpace; 75% of students have a profile on at least one social networking site. And they spend up to four hours a day online.

It looks like a good report, but it’s going to have to wait for reading time – I have marking to do. But I think the Grauniad got it wrong with the claim that Most [students] are completely au fait with the microblogging site Twitter – I think the reporter got students and edu-bloggers mixed up on that one. Some students, but not most. Not yet, at any rate. For the record, the report itself only has two instances of the word twitter – one in the index.

If you want the report highlights, you can grab the podcast here.

Then as if I wasn’t already feeling overloaded, BJET’s special issue on Virtual Worlds is now online. Lots of excellent papers – including a colloquia paper by yours truly and friends. Subscription required – if you work in HE, your institution might already subscribe.

And lastly, the ning group “The Future of Education” is hosting a series of webinars – some excellent speakers lined up. Tomorrow night (though too late for me, sadly) is Chris Dede. His talk is titledEmerging Interactive Media: What to Use, When, and How? If you attend, tell me how it was.

Patenting the future of eLearning

Edit: With some embarrassment I have to report that a significant amount of the post below is wrong… with the root being mis-attribution of the patent on 3D eLearning to Blackboard. My source for this has also now been updated. The overall worry that someone is trying to patent 3D eLearning remains, however. It’s not Blackboard doing the patent, and so I will score out some of the sections of this blog, but I’ll leave the text intact otherwise. The basic worry remains. djl – 7th May 2009

With VirtualWorldWatch reporting that almost all of UK higher education institutions are now actively using virtual worlds (to some extent at least) and virtual worlds for children (Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, etc…) make virtual spaces a natural habitat for the newest generations of learners, it seems that virtual worlds have an assured place in the future of eLearning.

VirtualWorldNews regularly features news of new platforms and partnerships in this area, and the famous Second Life has found a home alongside platforms such as Forterra’s OLIVE, OpenSim, Croquet, Sun’s Project Wonderland. New arrivals Metaplace, RealXtend, Caspian Learning’s ThinkingWorlds and a range of offerings from my near neighbours TPLD sit alongside bespoke customizations/mods of commercially available games such as Neverwinter Nights (e.g. Altered Learning for key skills) or Unreal and a huge host of purpose built serious games and simulations. See e.g. SeriousGamesSource.

All in all, the future looks very promising for virtual worlds in education. Sadly the future might be less rosy than it appears. Some readers may be aware of the complex legal actions taking place in the US where VLE/LMS market leader Blackboard are currently trying put one of their main competitors out of business by patent suit – a process that continues even though the original patent was rejected by the US patents office. This is complex and messy – with Blackboard taking a very aggressive stance in the courts on the basis of what was a patent with a huge amount of prior art out there. Although the original patent has been rejected by the USPTO, a continuation patent has been awarded, and the legal fight is far from over. Blackboard now spend considerably more on lawyers than they do on software development. Lots more from Seb Schmoller and Michael Feldstein.

One thing particularly disturbing to me is the discovery (from Seb Schmoller’s discussion) that Blackboard have a patent application in for a “3D Learning Environment”. Despite not actually having a 3D learning environment product, or doing any development at all in this area (at least as far as I am aware – other than a $25,000 greenhouse grant awarded to Ball State a little while ago), Bb have applied for a patent. And using the continuation process they will quite likely seek to extend this patent over forthcoming years – while keeping the original filing date (see Wikipedia for a basic outline of this bizarre process). This is what they’ve done in their current case against Desire2Learn, and there is no reason to imagine that they won’t aggressively seek damages and license fees from vendors in the 3D eLearning market in the future. Every company and product that I’ve mentioned above is potentially under threat from this. Companies that have been innovating and developing new products and systems coming under threat from a company that decided not to bother developing new software or technologies when a patent application would do.

Seb also notes that this 3D patent (from a company that doesn’t do any 3D software, remember) is not part of Bb’s patent pledge – where they pledge not to pursue open source software vendors or users. From eLearning provider to patent troll in a few short years.

And as if this wasn’t enough, patents on how virtual world servers communicate with clients are at the heart of another patent battle (this time between Worlds.com and NCSoft) and if upheld will then be used by Worlds.com to pursue Linden Lab (makers of Second Life) and others. And again, Worlds.com are using patent continuation to gain patent cover over techniques and ideas developed since the original patent – which then gain the same application date as the original, and can then be used to seek money from other companies using what are standard and commonsense software and network engineering methods to build their products. While Worlds may be less likely to put the competition out of business, licensing standard algorithms will add to costs to providers of other platforms.

Software patents are a mess, but there is no sign that the US will abandon them or substantially reform the current system. Meanwhile, its a worried wait to see what is going to happen in Europe, where decisions are due soon as to whether to adopt a more US styled approach to software patents, or to adopt our own (hopefully more stringent) standards of technical innovation required for patentability.

Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces

Edited By: Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Liz Boyle

Games-based learning focuses on the exploration of high-quality computer games and associated software tools for education and training.

Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces: Techniques and Effective Practices disseminates knowledge on the theory and practice of games-based learning, promoting the development and adoption of best practices. Through a combination of theoretical chapters as well as practical case studies, readers will benefit from expert knowledge and learn from the experiences of both researchers and practitioners from across the globe.

Edited by three of my colleagues, includes a chapter on SLOODLE, and a foreword from Kurt Squire. More here, including a link to a limited preview. The book will be released sometime this month.

Exit Reality… Enter Hyperbole?

Just a couple of weeks ago SLOODLE 0.4 was launched… which extends SLOODLEs integration with Moodle considerably – allowing, for example, slideshows (for presentations, galleries, or whatever use you like) to be prepared easily in Moodle then shown in Second Life. A week earlier I was shown some work at the University of Ulster who’ve extended SLOODLE to guide students through interactive learning objects in Second Life from a Moodle page – a Moodle page that also allows the students (and their tutors!) to track their progress through the 3D exercises. We’ve been using Moodle web-chatrooms to archive and provide web-access to Second Life chat for over two years now. LMS/virtual world integration is something I’m very interested in. And so I had to read up a little on ExitReality’s news “Web-based 3D Technology integrates Learning Management Systems, Moodle and Blackboard into the 3D web

Its quite different from Second Life – the core idea being to provide a 3D space ‘attached’ to any and every web-page out there on the interweb. However, from what I can see the LMS integration seems to be little more than using the LMS as a ‘launch pad’ and authentication tool for access to the 3D space – and once there few of the rich customization features available in Second Life are present for users. The owners of a space can modify it to their hearts content, but the visitors power over even their own avatars is relatively limited.

Time for some translations.

From the ExitReality web site:
Unlike other 3D technology, ExitReality does not require going to a closed virtual world destination such as Second Life or Google Lively with separate logins. All these virtual worlds can now be accessed by anyone on the web, once the ExitReality Internet browser plugin has been downloaded and installed.
Like a few other virtual world platforms, soon to include Second Life, ExitReality can be accessed once the appropriate Internet browser plugin has been downloaded and installed

From the Press Release (link above):
ExitReality is a free Internet plug-in that allows anyone to view every web page in 3D or convert their 2D website into a customisable virtual world.
ExitReality is a free Internet plug-in that allows anyone running an ActiveX capable browser on Microsoft Windows (only) to view every web page in 3D or convert their 2D website into a customisable virtual world.

In saying all of this, bear in mind that ExitReality may well be a better solution for many users than Second Life – but you need to know who your users are going to be and what you hope to do with your virtual world once you have it. There is some fairly balanced discussion from the Second Life educators mailing list late last year picking out some of the pros and cons here:
https://lists.secondlife.com/pipermail/educators/2008-September/026147.html

I’m going to quote Bruce Sommerville on this, a Second Life educator who’s spent a lot more time with ExitReality than I have:

In short, there is the *potential* to create interactive and immersive educational activities in easily accessible web pages, especially if a community of educators gathers around the technology, as it has in SL.

I’ve yet to see evidence that the potential is really being met, but look forward to seeing more compelling examples of immersive teaching spaces in ExitReality over time.

SLOODLE @ MoodleMoot UK 2009

Its been very quiet here the past few weeks – a reflection on how my work has been anything but!

Earlier in the month SLOODLE 0.4 was released – and update which introduces quite a few new features. More over at http://www.sloodle.org/ .

On the ‘launch’ day I was at MoodleMoot UK, where I gave a presentation which covered a little of the history of SLOODLE as well as an overview of what it does/can do. The presentation and the first few minutes of the audio are online here:
http://moodlemoot.org/course/view.php?id=8

Give me an extra magical hour some day, and I’ll make a SlideCast of this…

SCORM scorned?

On the SLOODLE project, we’ve been asked from time to time if we provide support for SCORM. As Gia, our Sloodlebrity, once responded… “Why would we  do that?” – and indeed it’s something that we could do, but till now there hasn’t been enough compelling reason to invest the resources into it. (Though we did do a small proof of concept – just to prove it can be done!)

As schools throughout the UK get move involved in using a variety of VLE/LMS, so are publishers getting busy trying to sell them content to put on their shiny new VLEs. IUsher has a post on this – pointing out quite clearly that whatever SCORM compliant indicates, it has nothing to do with quality… also provides a fairly good explanation of what SCORM is: Schools Get Treated with SCORM

Forthcoming events – online and in-person

Details of a few forthcoming events relating to virtual worlds and education – online and in-person workshops through October and November. And closing with a new site keeping an eye on developments in virtual worlds for education…

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SLEDcc final update – Sloodle

I still haven’t finished writing my notes from SLEDcc, and now ALT-C is already over, and I’m on the train home… oy. Something of a record breaking day for blog entries today as I turn notes into posts, so I’ll keep it brief. This post rounds up the Sloodle related activity at SLEDcc. A case-study, new free standalone tools, and our own flash-mob stylee meeting.

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quizHUD – Exploration and Assessment in Second Life

A delayed post this…

Last week we released the Sloodle quizHUD for use in Second Life. This is a Second Life user interface ‘HUD’ extension which allows students to explore a 3D environment and participate in assessment (formative or summative) in that environment. There are some obvious similarities with the some of the tools created for the PREVIEW project (see previous post), and some significant differences. More details below…

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