Monthly Archives: October 2008

Communicating to impact your organization: If No One Sees It, Is It Innovation?

A wonderful piece on the New York Times on communicating findings and results in todays modern age -with todays modern communication tools.The abbreviated version on Slashdot sums it up

The article focuses on the suggestion that Lee’s use of YouTube to demonstrate his innovations has done a better job of communicating his ideas than more traditional methods could. Quoting:”He might have published a paper that only a few dozen specialists would have read. A talk at a conference would have brought a slightly larger audience. In either case, it would have taken months for his ideas to reach others. Small wonder, then, that he maintains that posting to YouTube has been an essential part of his success as an inventor. ‘Sharing an idea the right way is just as important as doing the work itself,’ he says. ‘If you create something but nobody knows, it’s as if it never happened.’”

Are the days of writing 30 page research articles numbered?  Is it more effective to use todays modern communication tools to demonstrate results & report innovation?Drew and Edusim

STUDENTS, EDUCATION, AND SCALABLE VIRTUAL WORLDS PART 2

As a K-12 immersive education designer, developer, and researcher for the past several years I have come to several relatively clear observations, some of which I want to outline below. As stated in Part 1 of “Students, Education, and Scalable Virtual Worlds” I emphasized that the capability that 3D virtual worlds possess far outpace the capacity schools have to leverage the technology, which is the unfortunate truth currently. There are, however, built in motivators that schools and teachers operate by that will ultimately lead schools to adopt, and teachers to use 3D virtual environments as learning tools inside the classroom eventually on a large scale. The same motivators that brought projectors, interactive whiteboards, and multimedia in general into the classroom are the same systems and motivators that will bring these 3D virtual environments into the classroom in time.

Teachers have proven through time that they will adopt multimedia and technology for classroom instruction if it (1) extends into their lesson in deep and meaningful ways and (2) is a stable platform with low effort to maintain. Given teachers time constraints they have very little time to problem solve technology that is not working in a stable way. Another motivator or tendency is that teachers are very open to learning new skills, in fact they are rewarded for learning new skills with “Professional Development Points” which they use to maintain their certification to teach. Once the Cobalt platform is stable and ubiquitous, and Cobalt world development merely involves dropping and arranging models from the (for example) Google 3D warehouse, or students leveraging Sketchup to create their own models, then a legitimate broad scale professional development plan and program can be created to train teachers to leverage this technology inside their classroom with students. One fundamental will surely be that Cobalt will reach the “stable and deployable” phase well before most schools are “one computer per student” schools. This is among the reasons I stress the integration and focus of 3D virtual worlds on the classroom interactive whiteboard. Interactive whiteboards are a relatively low cost solution for involving the entire classroom with immersive technology. Interactive whiteboards are hardware that teachers are familiar and comfortable with. Interactive whiteboards keep teachers from having to run tech support on 20 plus laptops during any given classroom lesson. Finally Interactive whiteboards provide a deep learning experience by bringing a directly manipulatable “augmented reality” experience to the 3D virtual objects. Connecting classroom together with Cobalt multi-user session would further expand the learning experience in collaborative classroom learning sessions.

Of all the possible platforms, why Cobalt? The answer revolves around the logistics of how schools operate. For the most part schools have firewalls limiting most “Client/Server” based options to the outside world (they have to due to e-rate funding), with the exception of port 80 and 21 (and even with those very filtered content), you will be lucky to find much more open. Being that Cobalt is a peer to peer based platform a teacher wanting to take advantage of its learning experience would not need to spend time waiting on a request to get any particular outside port open (to connect to a server) from the network administrator, Yet would still be able to connect to other classroom/sessions inside their local network. Cobalt’s peer to peer based architecture is perfectly aligned with how school run their networks (due to e-rate requirements) and is the ideal architecture for broad scaled 3D virtual world deployment into the classroom.

In conclusion I hope it is clear why (1) 3D virtual environments are destined for the classroom on large scale and why (2) Cobalt would be a preferred platform for the large scale deployment. I look forward to your comments and observations. Find out more about the Cobalt project at http://www.opencobalt.org

Students, Education, and Scalable Virtual Worlds Part 1

(Cross post from the future invented Cobalt blog)Technology is making possible learning opportunities that only a short time ago were very difficult to imagine inside the classroom.  It is now possible for students that live cities, states, even continents away to connect & learn together by sitting down at their computers or collecting around their classroom interactive whiteboards for deep, collaborative, 3D virtual learning session together, in environments that place them collectively inside the content they are studying.  Placing students inside the volcano to explore and imagine the process that occurs prior to an eruption, placing them on a civil war battlefield, or inside the human lung to discuss the process it uses for oxygen exchange.  A scenario  that places the student in their content for constructing meaning and learning in deep and collaborative ways.  Currently the capability that 3D virtual worlds possess far outpace the capacity schools have to leverage the technology,  but in time schools will leverage this technology as a fundamental tool in the classroom, when the Cobalt platform is ubiquitous, and teacher professional development is widely available.As an immersive education designer, developer, and researcher I get the privilege of actually getting into the classroom 2 full days each month to work with students, and expose them to Cobalt virtual worlds.  I learn from them the way they approach the medium, what they want it to do, how they want to interact with it.  I watch them explore, create, imagine, and learn.  I have seen ideas born, as kids eyes widen with discovery.  I have watched knowledge become constructed one virtual block at a time.  The importance of the Cobalt project can not be overstated in my belief.  The capacity it has for deep, immersive, collaborative learning is greater than any book, image, or video.  It encourages discovery and exploration, because in these environment you are there, manipulating virtual objects and collaborating in a deep and meaningful way.In Part 2 of “Students, Education, and Scalable Virtual Worlds” I will elaborate on some of the fundamentals I see as being necessary to truly bring these environments into the classroom at a large scale, taking the attitudes and capabilities of the student, teacher, and schools into consideration.  I will elaborate on ways virtual worlds can be leveraged using existing hardware and methods classroom teachers are used to.  And finally I will elaborate on the importance of ubiquitou Cobalt software and worlds and why I believe the Cobalt platform is the only platform that can properly scale to meet the needs of the K-12 classroom environment.Learn more about the Cobalt project at: http://www.opencobalt.org  !

Old – But More Relevant than Ever: Virtual Worlds, Mobile Media, and our Current & Future Customers

-
I first posted the “high order bits” post back a year and a half ago in July 2007, however it is as relevant as ever now.  Though the graphic is showing its age (It was developeed before the Iphone, and well before Secondlife had anywhere close to 1 million users), the rate of change we are seeing with virtual worlds and mobile media make this worth remembering.   It is almost a certainty that for content providers (Like us) …. we have 2 platforms emerging (having emerged in the care of mobile media) to leverage and come to grips with.

current_trends.jpg