Posts Tagged ‘instructional 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.
First CC-licensed script is now completed for the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference. This is part of an activity that finds more collaboration in two days than most previous projects saw…ever!
The TouchMeObject script is meant to ease the set-up of a simple “giver” object. Add to a sign or poster or kiosk, whatever…then drag items from Inventory that are to be delivered when user touches the object. Script detects that change and commits those items as gifts. Several behaviors are managed just by editing variables.
Instructions at each step.
Take it for a spin if you’d like, see if it works…holler with any feedback. Please distribute willy-nilly.
I wonder: Do folks still write example scripts like this…commented to the teeth to help new scripters sort things out? (Especially in OpenSim where users seem to know what they’re doing.)
Update: Demo stays for a while.
I have designed a new tool, and now invite you to try it out.
At last year’s VWBPE conference (previous post) I wanted to give visitors a quick, customized tour of a design I was presenting…even when I was AFK.
Demonstration vendor in
my parcel, in Urdu
This “Site Preview HUD”
- combines scripted camera movement with audio narration
- is “touch to wear”
- is temporary, nothing is added to Inventory
- quickly shows the points of interest in a region or build
I am not selling this object.
This is not an advertisement.
This effect is new to me; so, it may be new to others, as well. I would be happy to share full-perm copies with the right users. (The hard part is creating .wav files, setting camera coordinates.)
You can find* it here: SLURL
There is also a Notecard at the demo location. Please share that—or this link—with others.
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 LEA project has reached its first critical juncture. Documents are there, pared, and shared; notecard invitations to group collaboration passed about liberally; tools for communicating on site have been deployed. Land is claimed, and
…a few rough sketches now dot the landscape or hang in mid-air, waiting for what comes next: the one question which must be answered before much else happens…
What is our objective?
At the beginning of each year as a science teacher I evaluated my classroom curriculum, rearranged topics and re-prioritized lessons; I shuffled the deck. Often a science department, district committee, or state board would hand down a new set of curriculum guidelines. This usually meant simply identifying what items in the new list I was already addressing.
Nothing to see here, folks; move along.
But then, every few years, the federal government, scientific and—let’s face it—corporate communities decide to crumple up the old list, toss it in a basket, and start from scratch. With the release of new science education standards in April, the National Academies of Science have endorsed a new deal.
They’ve called for a new deck.
I have typically been pleased to see the changes in focus, the new language for science learning that comes with new national standards or guidelines. This round is no exception.
It is worth mention that these new standards are not a mandate, are not supported by all states. Many states will never recognize their merit, and others will take years to implement through adoption and articulation. With science education curriculum guidelines, there actually is no such thing as a national standard. That is just what some of us call them, out of convenience.
I also know that where the rubber hits the road is in each teacher, department, or curriculum committee’s interpretation of such standards. Every lesson is one person’s spin on what was prescribed. This applies to content providers, too. Folks who make textbooks, for example, are jumping on these standards like they are putting out a fire. I have seen it. And, different users interpret standards differently.
This also applies to the design of The Virtual Cell. Where we go with this new compass we have been given is up to us. What we do with the full region granted for this demonstration follows from our own interpretation of those same standards.
The discussion has begun regarding how to address standards, how to provide support for classroom instruction that is targeted and effective yet still wide-ranging in its application. After all, “if it doesn’t address my state’s guidelines, I cannot use it”.
Yet, one size will never fit all. While chatting at a recent conference exhibit of an activity for new users, one educator observed that there should be more notecards (with instructions). I had heard this same comment once already, just before the event. Later, the next day, another visitor observed “there are too many notecards.” I just heard that very same comment again, for the very same design, yesterday.
They are all correct, of course. There are too many notecards, and…we need more notecards. It should be black; and, it really should be white. You just have to “remember who your audience is.”
To emphasize a point and begin making the case for a particular design approach, I must mangle a maxim:
You can please all of the people with some of the content.
You can please some of the people with all of the content.
But, you can never please all of the people with all of the content.
With three months to build an interactive, standards-based, highly engaging and interesting activity—with three months to make upwards of three to five hundred lesser decisions (best guess, conservatively)—with three months to organize a collaborative team willing to offer their work free of charge in the interest of helping to further demonstrate that virtual worlds really do have a place in the classroom…this issue needs to be resolved quickly.
A number of performance indicators in the new standards are obviously ripe for a virtual world experience teaching about the cell. And, it is just as obvious that one could quickly bite off more than one can chew, if you look at the list. With three months to build, the question becomes “What might we achieve?”
But, to digress for a moment, what we might achieve depends on who is pitching in…even if only offering 2¢. For this project to reach its potential, if the build even begins to approach what I try to imagine, any number of experienced—dare I say, expert—content creators will have played their hand.
- a wizard has conjured a vehicle,
- several members of one group of biologists have expressed an interest,
- a SecondLife™ entrepreneur has offered to make introductions to various said experts, and
- a fantastical feline has been purring about some pretty proper prims.
So, to table the “standards” conversation for a moment, I’ll ask an even more practical question. It looks like it’s my deal…
The first collaborative design has officially begun with its first meeting to discuss the project. (Please see previous two posts for more about project, group.)
Four group members have been active in early discussions about the first collaborative design; all were able to make time to attend…very encouraging. Two members have similar professional roles in common, two have been long acquainted, in world. All share a sincere interest in effective instructional design in the virtual world.
It seemed to be a productive session. I was pleased to find discussions moving rapidly; but, hoping to finish within one hour meant cutting in once or twice, to move along in the proposed agenda. I hope that the polite avatar showed up…the one who decided to interrupt the others.
I have been passing out a notecard with the following:
Group Mission: 1. To design a series of projects that deliver effective educational content while providing the best user experience we can muster. 2. "Learn from the pros." To observe the design principles and techniques of professional content creators in SecondLife™ and share that knowledge.
In this post I begin to try to live up to that last bit: sharing the knowledge. I hope to make regular—if not frequent—entries in this blog to record observations, describe the circumstances encountered by the group, and generally report on the process.
One aspect of this will involve fielding surveys to solicit input. Many educators are familiar with this; attend a curriculum development seminar and expect to fill out a survey or three.
Hopefully, those group surveys will stir up collaborative juices, and open a dialog among educators and expert content creators, as well as provide helpful feedback to inform the process. I return to writing the pre-workshop surveys right after posting this.
One priority for me in the meeting, as acting “team leader”, was to emphasize the need for each of us to find effective ways to communicate; with each other, as well as within the group. Studio Wikitecture taught this lesson clearly; effective design collaboration follows efficient communication.
Studio Wikitecture has served as my model for creating a dynamic mix of creative folks. However, without using the Wiki-Tree (image above, YouTube video), sharing of content (objects, scripts, textures) becomes an issue that must be resolved; the topic already emerged at the meeting. A Google Group forum has been created, but will need to prove itself as a useful tool among the team members as the custom forum did with Wikitecture.
We might find the combination of commenting and change-notifications with Google Drive spreadsheets provides enough of a “forum”. And lastly, without use of a wiki and Reddit-style voting for ideas, we have not even begun to approach the layers of communication used in the Wikitecture projects.
But, the project is only officially one day old.