What are Virtual Worlds?

Virtual worlds garnered a tremendous amount of attention in 2006-2009, when millions of individuals created online avatars and institutions were developing building after building on designated plots of virtual land. In Linden Lab’s Second Life®, world-class universities hosted thousands of educational projects and experiments, from recreating historical spaces to replicating renowned museums and works of art. A lot of energy was devoted to building tools, climate simulators, physics engines, and facilitating the overall capability of these platforms to simulate reality. The idea was that these environments could foster unique and immersive learning opportunities, doing so in a way that uniquely made people feel like that were together in the same place. While the hype around virtual worlds has waned in recent years, there are still compelling developments, mainly in the form of WebGL, a new way of rendering 3D objects in via a web browser, which has been applied in virtual worlds. CloudParty, a Facebook application, is a good example of the capability of WebGL, though it is more of a hangout space and does not have as strong a tie to learning as do other purpose-built spaces. Google is a leading player in academic WebGL technology, and its vast collection of user contributed “Chrome Experiments” range from an interactive timeline of satellite launches to a visualization of connected cells that enable people to create biologically-inspired patterns.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The integration of virtual worlds with VR technologies will be the next major change to this technology, with companies such as Linden Lab's repositioning themselves to lead innovations in this space. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Blending of virtual world and on campus learning spaces to enable engagement between off campus and on campus students - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Griffith University Learning Laboratory (GULL) project to use wall mounted displays in physical learning spaces, permanently showing virtual world spaces, with similar displays within the virtual world space displaying camera feeds from the physical learning space, supprting interaction between the virtual and physical tutorial spaces. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016
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Griffith University Learning Laboratory (GULL) project to use high-definition stereoscopic video capture to enable VR headset interaction with tutorial spaces