Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a short note to wish everyone an excellent holiday!

Soon to come: posts on the Global Learning Forum in Second Life and our last CS 820 class. *smiles and waves*

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CS 820 - First Practice Project

During our Week 6 session, we discussed interface metaphors, learned how to build an intermediate project and discussed linking primitives into a single object.

For the class project, we created a stool, fountain and lamp from a tube. Using a few simple steps, we shaped, twisted, turned, and textured our tubes to demonstrate Second Life building capabilities.

The goal was to learn a few new Second Life building skills while gaining familiarity with the build/edit menu's interface. It takes practice to grow accustomed to unfamiliar terminology, and next week, we will reinforce what we learned as we model our low fidelity prototypes and discuss how to transform our use case scenarios into usability test cases. See you in Second Life!

NMC Rock the Academy Fall Symposium

If you missed out on the NMC's Rock the Academy Fall Symposium, check out the latest tools, techniques and strategies at the NMC website. The conference program includes chat transcripts and content from the sessions.

Here is the new Tardis by the NMC, where visitors can enter and be swept away as they navigate to other NMC research sites in Second Life.

For you Dr. Who fans, the room is much larger inside the Tardis (depicted on the right). A large wall map on the wall opposite the door shows the growing archipelago of the NMC's education grid.

Our imaginations were stimulated by novel techniques and tools, including Voice Threads, Open Access courses and Gardner Campbell's session on using the BBC and new media, as well as the later sessions on using wikis and YouTube effectively. Some of the presentations were larger than life (pictured on the right).

My Back to the Backchannel presentation (available on Slideshare) included how to weave cell phone podcasts and back channel microblogging tools, like Twitter, into our course designs.

Beth's wonderful Open Access strategies are seen flowing around the edges of my exhibit booth at the NMC. If you get a chance, check out the Literature Alive! booth with its wonderful Pete the spider.

The program ended with a fun demonstration of survivalist performance art. The scene was set by glasses that when worn, allowed the attendees to see zombies lurch after the crowd. Fortunately, the presenters came prepared to thwart the threat and to demonstrate their point in a most picturesque manner.

Want to know more about it? Visit the NMC Rock the Academy content and the NMC!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CS 820 Class, Nov. 5th

After a wild week of classes, conferences and cool tools, I'm back online! *grins* This post serves as a record of this week's Second Life accomplishments in CS 820 and the plans for our next class.

Our Week 5 class began with a discussion of research and our analysis of the IAS Moodle. For Second Life skills, we studied camera controls and avatar movement. In addition to moving on ground, the class learned to fly and land!

We discussed the range of the text chat log (20-40 meters from your avatar) and the concept of spatialized voice over IP in Second Life.

Next, we reviewed virtual world physics via a simple collaboration activity. The students created spheres, enlarged them, made them physical and learned to pass objects between avatars.

To learn new 3D modeling skills in a virtual world, each student rendered a tube and learned to change its shape to create a one-prim stool, fountain and lamp. We learned to texture a single face of the project by using the Select Texture radio menu in the upper left corner of the build/edit menu.

Texturing the lamp led to a discussion of alternatives for horizontal and vertical repeats, a subject that we will reinforce in a later lesson. *grins* If you would like a copy of the lamp project, textures and instructions, left click the lamp sculpture at Acheron LV426 on the grass next to the castle.

We ended the class with a quick discussion of how to prototype our initial project ideas. My rough draft of the Security Control Interface Portal (SCIP) took about 5 minutes to model. The strength of 3D prototyping is that it gave the class a context for discussing alternative features, styles and behaviors.

For tomorrow's class, we are going to take student project ideas and model them, examining alternatives and planning textures. Our new virtual world building skills will include:
  • Linking Objects
  • Editing Linked Parts
  • Setting Permissions
  • Transfering objects
See you online! *waves*

Saturday, November 01, 2008

CS 820 Class 2 - Moodle Analysis and Camera Control

Wednesday's CS 820 class in Second Life was great fun as we shared our research and writing topics, discussed the analysis of Moodle and learned to use Second Life.

If you have issues running Second Life smoothly after touring in it, your cache may be congested. Use the ctrl key + p to access the preferences (under the Edit menu), select the Network tab and the Clear Cache button. Quit Second Life and restart the software. It will take a minute to clear the cache.

Initial Recommendations from the Moodle Analysis:
  • Need for consistency
  • Location of assignments and handouts
  • Integrate with campus email
  • Embed a link to Outlook access for MyCampus
  • Schedule sensitivity for full-time working students
Second Life Camera Control:
  • Lock your camera on an object or avatar with the Alt key + left click
  • To circle around the object or avatar, use the View menu, Camera Controls and the left-hand wheel - can also do it by holding down the ctrl key + alt key + left mouse button and moving the hand slowly.
Building Content in Second Life: First Activity
  • Click the Build button
  • Select a shape (we used spheres)
  • While in edit mode, hold the shift key and drag an arrow to copy the sphere
  • Stretch the sphere by selecting the Stretch radio menu in the top left corner
  • Drag on one of the white, green, red or blue boxes. White is proportional; Green, red and blue stretch in a single direction (x,y, or z - left-right, forward-back, up-down)
Student Project Ideas:
  • SCIP - Security Check-in Point
  • Digital Dashboard
  • Moodle
Next Wednesday at 7:00 PM Mountain time, we will discuss how to leverage our interface metaphors in the low fidelity prototypes, learn a few more Second Life building skills, and discuss the next assignment. See you online!