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.
The first OpenSimulator Community Conference will be online on September 7th and 8th this year. This is a big step forward for the now quite widely used but still officially ‘alpha’ status virtual world. Having had a few student projects active in the OpenSim based Jokaydia Grid this year, I’ll hopefully be able to submit something of interest to the proceedings.
Peter Miller reminds us that it’s Open Access week again, and shares instructions in a nice and brief tutorial that will get you set up with OpenSim on a USB stick and loading and saving sim archive OAR files. Very handy. Peter also points out usefully that OAR has some limitations – notably that it does not preserve (for now at least) information on who actually created the objects in the archive. I guess that that is one area where OAR (and OpenSim itself) could be improved – with the ability for objects & entire sims to preserve real IDs for creators, and attached licenses.
My own contributions for Open Access this year are little to do with virtual worlds – but over on 3dgamedev.wordpress.com I’ve been posting tutorials, labs and comments on 3D game development with OpenGL.
Writing today at the Innovation in Application Development event in Stirling, put together by Scotland’s Colleges (formerly SFEU). Just now Nigel Kennington is demonstrating using Alice to teach programming, and discussing what aspects of computer programming can be taught with Alice. He’s had a very good experience in the lower levels – with much higher engagement from students.
Next up is a demonstration of using XNA, and this morning there were a pair of Apple talks on iPhone development. I’ll be closing the day talking about teaching programming with scripting in Second Life and OpenSim. As this talk is for colleges where many students will be under 18, I’ll be focussing on OpenSim. I was going to use Tony Hirst’s feedshow but it seems to be broken – but you can grab the ‘presentation’ part of my talk (I’ll try to spend more time actually *in* OpenSim, showing how it works, and what can be done) from delicious here:
More developments on the story posted last week… Linden Lab have now established a developer program for developers wanting to work on Second Life/OpenSim interoperability projects. So a grid-of-girds with avatars/users able to connect to different grids is on its (slow) way forward.
With fully open source competitors like Wonderland starting to compete for educators attention, Linden Lab are wise to proactively position themselves for a world which combines institutionally hosted private and open virtual world grids and a public grid.
One of the criticisms sometimes leveled at Second Life is the proprietary nature of the platform. However, for quite some time work has been progressing on an open source server, OpenSim (the client has been open source for some time now). I know of a few people using OpenSim in education (either instead of or alongside Second Life), but one of the major issues for the future of the education market might be the challenge of creating large grids of connected OpenSim servers linking together many universities.
Particular problems might be in sharing avatar details or transferring objects (while respecting permissions, rights and roles) between different servers. Interestingly, according to Linden Labs VP of Technology, this is a service that Linden Lab themselves might one day provide for the OpenSim community. As related here in a Reuters interview.