Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CS 820 Spring 2009 - Classes 1 and 2

Greetings to our CS 820 Usability and Interaction class. Paul Thor and I are delighted to share this class with you.

We have met twice using Adobe Acrobat Connect (Breeze) and Second Life in April 2009. Our second SL class session was smooth as we moved from our Breeze discussion to building skills in Second Life.

Our first class focused on these Second Life skills:

During our tour, we visited a coffee shop, the solar system, a Japanese tea room and we returned to the ground to remove and rebuild the castle in about 15 seconds or less. The tour device kept removing content too fast for comfort. *blinks and grins* I need to reset the scripts before we use it again.

During our second class, we used the Build button in the bottom center of the display to learn how to rez or create a primitive shape (called a prim), name our box, set the permissions for it, create a simple script, color it and take it into the inventory. We also noted how content that is returned to us is returned to the Lost and Found folder in the Inventory.

Our class building activities included:
  • create a box
  • name it using the General tab
  • set the permissions to copy/mod/transfer
  • used the Contents tab to create a New Script
  • used the Texture Tab and color white icon to color the box
  • copied our box using the shift key and one of the green, red or blue arrows
  • used the shift key to left click both boxes
  • used control L to link both boxes into a single object

Once we were finished editing the box, we clicked it and noted that it stated in the local chat log that the box was touched. This feature is handy for collecting automated measurements during usability tests.

With this script, we can collect a log that lists the interaction objects that are touched. In the preferences menu (ctrl P), and the Communicate tab, you can display the time in the chat log and store it for later use.

We also tested a student project from a past class. Students received a copy of the procedure for the test plan by touching a box that gave them a notecard with the test cases and instructions on it.

Notecards are Second Life content files that allow us to add text, and drag objects, images, landmarks and other content from the Inventory to the card for easy distribution.

As time progresses, we will examine different types of interfaces, how to texture your creations, how to prototype your class project and conduct usability tests with our class. In addition, you will receive freebie folders of content, including vehicles, tools, a touring HUD, a notecard with landmarks for visiting other sites, more texture folders, scripts, sounds and access to an online tool that writes scripts for you.

See you at the residency and online! *cheers*

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HASTAC III Traversing Digital Boundaries

Dr. Sharon Tettegah and I, as editors of a book on Identity, Learning and Support in Virtual Worlds, introduced it at the HASTAC III conference on Traversing Digital Boundaries.

What was unusual about the session was that I gave my presentation from Second Life, using an impromptu feed over Sharon's laptop into the live conference session. After all, we were traversing digital boundaries and what better way to do it than through a spontaneous connection?

Blended reality conferences are not new; we have been conducting mixed avatar and live conference sessions since 2006, but with a lot of prior planning. The photo on the right is from the October 2006 NMC Symposium with the MacArthur Foundation.

Our HASTAC III panel discussion was spontaneous, did not require advance technological planning and was designed to support a variety of delivery models.

As a presenter in Second Life, we had no audio or video feed back into Second Life, so I could not hear or see the live conference attendees nor could I hear my co-presenter. When she appeared, typed a welcome note, asked me to introduce myself, we were on our way to hosting a fun session on identity and learning. It reminded me of being a newscaster in the field, waiting for the cue to begin.

The night before the conference, I ripped my custom-created gazebo apart and into a stage, hoisted my slide viewer against the castle, and let the castle and garden plants form a backdrop for the session.

We had a great time and would like to thank the organizers of HASTAC III and the participants for such a warm welcome!

Friday, April 17, 2009

TCC 2009 Worldwide Online Conference presentations

Greetings! The TCC 2009 Worldwide Online Conference is a great opportunity to explore the content and share ideas with over 1300 educators in 90+ international presentations and keynote addresses on education, technology and tools.

While the live conference sessions have ended, each Eluminate session was recorded and remains in the archives. In this post are images from the Second Life sessions that were either held synchronously in Eluminate or only held in Second Life, including Melita Farley's Using Blended Learning to Increase Skills in the Workplace (video recording) and Media Rich Intake Environments for Learning in Virtual Worlds by Annie Jeffrey, Scott Grant and Emily East, held solely in Second Life.

Both of these sessions featured gardens and elegant learning spaces that are designed to relax the mind and invigorate the spirit. The Media Rich session also included tours of a Music Garden and a Chinese College.

It is not too late to enjoy the sessions and discuss the topics with educators, instructional designers and administrators from around the world. Join the TCC conference 'OHANA (a Hawaiian word for family) and participate in future TCC conferences.

On April 2, Nick Noakes, Jeff Hiles and I hosted a TCC pre-conference session in Second Life. The slides from that session are embedded on this blog and available at Lyr Lobo's Slideshare under the title Poised at the Edge of the Unknown: Surviving and Thriving in Second Life.

To my great delight, my Tuesday, April 14, 2009 presentation on Digital Learning Environments Context Sensitive and Imaginative Classes in Second Life was full of new SL users. The slides are available under Lyr Lobo's Slideshare and I'll add content from this session in a later update to this post. Racing to get to a meeting. *laughs*

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Defense GameTech User's Conference

Many thanks to Peter Marion, Director, Kent Fowler, Karen Cooper and the Defense GameTech User's Conference team for inviting me to give a presentation and two tutorials at their conference.

The Defense GameTech Users' Conference was held 9-12 March, in Orlando, Florida. The conference plays a key role in enhancing the training of Warfighters. The topics were excellent and both keynote luncheons featured fascinating content.

John Gresham, (spelled with an 'e') is a renowned scholar, game designer and researcher of content for Tom Clancy. He presented a historical retrospective that made the international state of affairs come to life. What an eye opener!

Maj. Gen. Lessel, a visionary force in the Global Learning Forum and Air Force game simulation activities in Second Life, gave a keynote address that made me feel as if he had taken me by the hand and we were touring the Air Force virtual world activities and game simulation research together. It was an amazing journey.

Another conference highlight were the talks given by Dr. Andrew Stricker on the Global Learning Forum's Game Simulation Kit and Erica and Sam Driver's virtual session on the interactive tools and mind mapping capabilities of Second Life. They presented from within Second Life. Check out their document on How to Give New Users a Good First Experience on how to foster great immersive Internet experiences.

After enjoying Erica and Sam's session, I left the auditorium and ran back to my hotel room to present my session on Teaching in an Avatar World as my avatar Lyr Lobo in Second Life. By presenting it virtually, I could rez demonstrate some tools, give meeting spaces and related content to the SL participants and interact with both the live and virtual audience comfortably.

Earlier in the conference, I offered two tutorials that featured basic Second Life skills, designing content and creating activities.

My compliments to the Defense GameTech 2009 team for hosting an excellent conference!

Monday, April 06, 2009

CS 820 Spring 09 Begins

Greetings to CTU's CS 820 Spring 2009 class on Usability and Interaction!
You've heard of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition? No? Well, for those who are not fans of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, they are a humorous set of rules that offer bits of wisdom. I jotted down a few to guide our discussions early in the course.
Calongne's Rules
(for Usability and Interaction)

Rule 1: Uncertainty is not our friend.
(or the user's friend, for that matter!)

Rule 2: The "change your mind task" is the most commonly performed task. We should see a "change your mind" task in each usability test and final project.

Rule 3: Save time and number your discussion contributions. It is easier to tell when content is missing.

Rule 4: When in doubt, the general rule for every assignment is to "describe 3-5 of ...."

Exceptions include the number of user classes in your user profiles activity (2) and the number of pages required for your informal lessons learned paper (2-3).

Rule 5: We get very excited when a student makes a mistake or demonstrates a lack of understanding. It is an opportunity for learning. Points are not deducted until the activity is complete (or we grow tired and the course ends).

Rule 6: Learning comes first. It just looks like rule 6.

Rule 7: Check back for more rules! Don't hesitate to propose new rules. *grins*

TCC Pre-conference Session in Second Life

Poised at the Edge of the Unknown...

Aloha from the TCC Pre-conference session!

Nick Noakes, Jeff Hiles and I (Cynthia Calongne), hosted a humorous presentation on the challenges that perplex educators who are new to using virtual worlds called Poised at the Edge of the Unknown: Surviving and Thriving in Second Life.

The content ranged from simple to controversial topics, drawn from our experiences and insights from the past three years.

Featured here are a couple of pics taken after the session (click to enlarge them). We had 27-50 attendees join us during the course of the evening. *cheers* See you at the TCC Worldwide Online Conference, April 14-16, 2009!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

You're a SlideShare RockStar!

Wow, many thanks to the SlideShare Team and the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2009 (VWBPE09) for hosting my presentation on Teaching in Virtual Worlds: Identity and Culture!

Punk'd, doh! *laughs*

Well, despite the grand April Fool's joke, the session was full and we had a grand time playing a trivia game while exploring identity and culture during the conference session.

During the session, an enthusiastic group of educators answered trivia questions while the presentation viewer tracked their responses and provided feedback in whispers. I created the game using Sendao Goodman's 2007 trivia viewer for several presentations this month, including the Game Simulation Kit presentation for the New Media Consortium Symposium on New Media and Learning.

Visit Lyr Lobo's SlideShare area to see my other presentations and visit the SlideShare Education page to enjoy more educational content. I have also embedded a Slideshare viewer on my site for easy access to the Game Simulation Kit content and notes below from the Teaching in Virtual Worlds: Identity and Culture session.

Slideshow Notes

Slide 1 An avatar dances with a robot that looks like her avatar on the first two slides, representing the freedom of the curious mind.

Slide 5 depicts Eric McLuhan on his first day in a virtual world, presenting his research on hieroglyphics as an early form of animation. He presented it in context, dressed as a pharaoh. Eric McLuhan in Second Life - Playing Media Ecology.

Slides 8 and 10 depict Sarah Robbins-Bell (Intellagirl Tully), AJ Brooks, and the Linden Lab educational representatives, Claudia Linden (teen grid) and Pathfinder Linden (main grid, SLED).

While anonymity offers great potential for roleplay and self expression, students and educators need to recognize each other, especially when recognizing accomplishments via end of term grades.

Slide 11 sets the scene for situated learning, diversity and how we articulate and share our thoughts and opinions during knowledge construction in a virtual world.

Through audience interaction, we learned that a sophisticated virtual world avatar is not required to implement change in a virtual world.

Slide 12 adds Seifert Surface, famous for his Crooked House and mathematics sculptures, and Peggy Sheehy (Maggie Marat of Ramapo), known for pioneering the first middle school in a virtual world (Suffern Middle School in NY).

The human barometer activity featured on slide 13 was adapted from the GlobalKids demonstration of it on slide 12.

Slide 14 refers to how simple avatars can influence growth in a virtual world. Pictured is the former CEO of Linden Lab Philip Rosedale and his avatar.

Slide 15 notes that virtual worlds are on the rise, and with it is avatar creation, identity and self-expression in virtual worlds.

Slide 17 looks inside two avatars to the wireframe view, noting that we meet minds in a virtual space. Avatar development, movement and gesture can be quite sophisticated, as noted on Slide 18.

Slide 19 Alan Levine (CDB Barkley) of the New Media Consortium and formerly with the Maricopa Learning eXchange is featured in his furry avatar amid a community of librarians, educators, administrators and instructional designers.

Slide 20 Only one avatar is seen, but three of the robots could be worn as an avatar. The name over an avatar is how we distinguish real people from objects, as evidenced by Slide 21 at the conference sponsored by Dr. Dobbs Journal, Sun and IBM.

Slide 23 refers to the fantasy subculture (Middle Earth).

On slide 24, the lady on the right by Daden Limited is not real. She is a bot and can interact with avatars via a text-based conversation.

Slide 25 Howard Rheingold is a well-known educator and author on social media. This session is his first Second Life session at the New Media Consortium (NMC) in October 2006.

Slide 26 A Colorado Technical University (CTU) class interacts with content and creates 3D objects. On the right, the book that is floating in front of Lyr holds course content and moves with her avatar as she interacts with the class. Not all of the class members look human, noted by the charming box bot on the left.

We can experience life from the perspective of others, as noted during the usability tests conducted in class in Slide 27.

NOAA's Eric Hackathorn has dressed his avatar, Hackshaven Harford, as Grace Hopper in Slide 28 for a presentation to the NMC Symposium on New Media and Learning, March 25, 2009. He also disguised his voice using a voice changer, and then demonstrated the difference to the delight of the session's participants.

Slide 29 in Lyr Lobo on the far left and Slide 30 features Virtual Worlds designer Stella Costello of the NMC on the far right.

Slide 31 shows how graduate students set their appearance at the start of an MBA class in Second Life.

Slide 32 CTU students meet for the first time to roleplay as CEOs in a case study and problem-based learning activity.

Slide 34 offers links to additional content.

I'm off to work on the next project!

April Fool's!