Posts Tagged ‘design’
I have recently learned about a small non-profit that is working to deliver ICT support to rural educators in Nepal.
That’s right, Information & Communication Technology in the villages and classrooms of the Himalayas.
- is self-powered (solar-rechargeable batter)
- is operated with a wireless “wand”
- has a built-in audio system
- comes loaded with CC-Licensed content (games, videos, songs, etc.)
The device projects the “desktop” onto a wall and comes with a hand-held mouse (the “wand”) to navigate. The prototype has been field tested and now they are looking for volunteers to help search for—and evaluate—content that can be loaded into the drive. (Most classrooms in rural Nepal have no electricity, much less an Internet connection.)
I would write a bit more; but, I am up to my elbows producing some educational content…gotta go. Holler at “azwaldo” at gmail dot com, anytime.
One of my earliest design gigs in virtual worlds was the development of a HUD* used by students learning the Chinese language. After four or five years, that design is still in use. The image below is from the Chinese Island simulation.
* Heads Up Display – an interactive display with buttons and text that mediates their interaction with the virtual environment.
Note the blue dialog prompt, and the HUD in upper and left perimeters.
Early next year, a group of Monash University students will enter the virtual world of SecondLife™ to experience a variety of simulations; a restaurant, an airport, a medical clinic and a train station. Later, they will actually travel to Italy for a program of study, abroad.
The virtual environment in which they will immerse themselves is modeled on the neighborhood in Italy where they will be staying. The simulations are designed to prepare them for their visit. They will study maps, use currency, become familiar with local fixtures…like signs.
In support of the Italian Studies project, I am developing interactive objects—mainly the scripts—to provide a number of interactions. Students can open a “wallet” at the “ATM” and withdraw virtual currency, then visit a coffee shop and…maybe purchase a cappucino. On touching some of the things they see (think “mouse click”), the name of that object appears as text in Italian and they hear an audio-stream pronunciation of the term.
They will be required to buy tickets, read a public transit schedule, and complete many other tasks during their lessons.
My mother and I did something similar before our visit to New York City. After opening Google Earth and “roaming” the virtual streets around our hotel to prepare for our trip, we were able to navigate that neighborhood as though we had been there before.
So, thanks Mom…for helping field test this sort of technology.
The new Spicy Vanilla group was granted a 24 x 24 meter plot in the Poster Session region for the recent education conference in which to display the Basic Skills Gauntlet (BSG).There was also a live presentation; but, let’s not talk about that.
Poster Plot granted for display of Basic Skills Gauntlet
The BSG project has gained momentum and the activity seemed more than a mouthful for conference goers; so, a smaller bite-size version was wedged into the 576 square meters. The configuration and components were chosen by selecting several modules that are in working order. (One attendee asked an insightful question: What do [you] consider to the basic skills? Skills addressed in the demo version at the conference included use of Inventory, Ctrl-Alt zoom and pan, and familiarity with sit targets.)
During much of the conference the BSG site—and the entire poster region—seemed quiet. This worked out, as there were plenty of bugs to chase down. At times, a brief flurry of visitors would leave evidence of folks having jumped in with both feet.
BSG Scoreboard with multiple scores displayed; a sign that visitors were having a go. Cooper Macbeth, seen in list here, had high score for the event. (The “10:64” entry, midway in list, puzzled me for hours until I realized my User Reset button – added just days before – was carving into the scores list in a bad way.)
Near the end of the final day, a number of visitors tried the activity and hung around to offer feedback, ask questions, and just chat about the conference in general.
A happy little project was born of the event, itself. On day two of the conference, I noticed my own lack of consistency in describing the activity to visitors. There was also the fact that I was not hanging ’round 24/7. Wanting to provide a user with an effective tour—introduce the activity and some of the principles addressed—I decided to cobble together a widget that does the job, automatically.
And the Guided Tour Chair was rezzed. ESCape camera control, then sit, and the object moves camera position and focus while loading a narration via sound file. Also whittled away at a HUD version of this interaction. There seems to be more flexibility for designing instruction with the HUD, but it also requires more of the user; get it, find it, and wear it, as opposed to the simple sit-n-learn.
A project-site-specific version of the Guided Tour Chairs Site Preview HUD can be found by following this link with this SLURL. And, if you are curious and the tour chairs just don’t do it…
It is like being on auto-pilot, watching ideas emerge.
Occasionally, and often when designing a new widget, my brain passes a threshold of excitation. A particular number of signals fire in succession, a precise amount of cells move into an altered state, or a particular alignment of neurons forms some new and unique network whose cells collectively squish an incredible chemical cocktail into my tank. Senses raised, I step aside inside and marvel at the very fabric of time being woven around in space, pushed and bent far enough outward that it reaches back inside again.
I am addicted.
This also happens in unexpected, random moments. If I am out and about, I will usually look around to see who else is paying attention.
A week ago, I was reading a blog when a question posed by its author caught my attention. Previously isolated ideas swirled and collided, distinct elements in a gaseous state, until saturation occurred and that airy moment condensed into solid realization.
Apparent problem, meet possible solution.
I was sitting under my laptop with no one nearby; no need to look around. The only person that might share this was the blog’s author.
Minutes later, I had a short message drafted relating my conjecture to the stated problem. One last, lingering thought; a bit of reflexive evaluation to indulge itself in consideration…then click; I press the “Submit Comment” button and the whole event passes into calm, quiet release.
Fleeting, but intense.
Yes, it was brief. But you can’t judge creative moments. That is what I have learned…because it did reach out into space and time. Days later my hair fairly bristled as I read the email sent in response.
Thank you, this is great!!!!!!
Verification. Resolution. Validation. I had forgotten about the comment I submitted, completely. Who knows where serendipity takes us? Any brief moment, when shared, might lead to new realizations spawning bigger ideas; especially possible in this case, given the nature of that person on the other end of the message.
Such rare, creative moments must be where we are closest to perfection. No matter what I am right now, I am doing my best when random notions gather momentum and propel my thoughts beyond control; because then I just step aside and this world sorts itself out, one problem at a time.
And my grey matter squirts a bit of endorphin, perhaps reinforcement.