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MUVE :: Blog :: Design degree show on Second Life

May 08, 2007

See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/1/hi/education/6609333.stm

So the question is: What is the benefit?  

This falls into the category of duplicating RL events in SL. At the moment, given that you can only have about 30 people in the SL room at any one time, I would say that this has more publicity value than virtual value. Of course this should change as the technology improves... Still a worthwhile experiment on some levels though.

Personally I see these type of events as an initial stage as the format matures. Of course 'duplicate' events (RL to Virtual) will always exist but do that have the most  value from a teaching and learning perspective? Is this is simply using the MUVE paradigm as a means of communicating an event more widely rather then doing something 'new'?  In the same way that email is a bit like a convenient snail mail.

It is interesting that the visual arts and drama are wading into SL. Is it the case that disciplines that are inherently visual or physical will find SL most useful? Medical uses would be another example of this.


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Posted by MUVE - David White


  1. (I was going to post this lot up as a separate post, but it seems relevant to this question)

    Simulation and abstraction in Second Life.

    Leeds Met has purchased two sims in Second Life, which we've joined together to make a double sized island. This generous allocation of space is allowing us to explore the debate about whether it's best to recreate real life, or take a more abstract SL-centric approach to building. We've decided to do both. Our plan is to have accurate real life simulation at one end, completely abstract and weird at the other, and a blend of the two in-between. I thought use this post to outline our thinking so far on this.

    Real life simulation (North end of LeedsMet FAS)
    The first thing that my colleague and fellow CoP team member, Graham Hibbert, did when our island emerged out of the virtual sea was to use his amazing PDF to SVG to Second Life technique to build our real life 60s art school. If you haven't seen the video of this build, I highly recommend that you check it out.

    This instant, dehydrated building in a box has provided us with an architecturally accurate virtual recreation of the place that we work. It is quite eerie chatting to Graham on the steps outside H-building, then logging into Second Life that night and chatting to Graham on the steps outside H-building. There are many arguments against merely recreating what exists in real life (I have articulated some of these quite strongly in the past), but I have been slowly coming round to the idea that there are a lot of really good reasons for simulating real life as well.

    The familiarity with a space and the associations you make with a location has a significant effect on your mental state. When Graham and I meet in his Gallery in Steiger, it's like going round to someone's house. I feel welcome, but I wouldn't start redecorating. When we are in the SL H-building we feel like we are at work, (I mean that in a positive way. We like being at work), and we think like we do when we are at work. We collaborate and exchange ideas. We get excited about stuff we've done and stuff we plan to do. Being in our friendly, familiar H-building puts us in an appropriate frame of mind.

    The familiarity of the building is also important for Noobs. It provides a safe, familiar haven in a scary new world. Students can find their usual desk space and set it as their first 'Home' landmark. It makes logging-in again a less daunting prospect, and so encourages greater uptake of the technology.

    The simulation of a real building also helps colleagues who are befuddled by the whole Second Life thing to get a handle on it. I'm finding that non-tech staff can see how easy it is to use Second Life to do practical things like planning out the final year art exhibitions. It's then a small step to run this virtual simulation at the same time as our real exhibition. Suddenly we have a slurl on our degree show posters, and people who can't (or don't want to) come all the way up to Leeds, can still see the work in context.

    Another use for an architecturally accurate build is for pre-enrolment familiarisation. Leeds Met is very keen on providing new students with as much support and assistance as possible before they arrive in Leeds. We recognise that the first few weeks of a student's experience can have a massive impact on their long-term prospects. Virtual H-building gives pre-enrolment students the opportunity to get a feel their new home.  It also provides an opportunity for these new students to meet others in the same position, and to make social connections long before they meet face to face. For some students, this could make a significant difference to their ability to engage with University life when they commence their studies. This is not something we have implemented yet so I can't say for sure how successful this might be, but if I was leaving home for the first time, I'm sure that my worries about the future would be eased considerably by this familiarisation process.
    The fantastic example of 60s architecture that is H-building (not everyone agrees with us on this) is due to be demolished in a couple of years time, so this virtual version will live on as a nostalgic ghost of our old home.

    Completely weird and abstract (South end of LeedsMet island)
    The idea behind this land is to facilitate the development of ideas in the 3D space. The island is divided up into 64 individual plots, and LeedsMet group members (and Emerge group members if you want a bit of space to play - IM me, Cubist Scarborough) can plonk some random ideas in the middle of a plot, and grow them using the free tools provided. We've already created a few tools that might be useful for this. I've created a marker-board tool for writing and drawing onto a prim. Graham has developed some Flickr to SL tools, SL to Flickr, SL to Twitter and some really interesting stuff with SMIL. We're looking at various ways of calling web content into SL, and spitting SL data into databases and onto the web. I'm particularly interested in finding new ways of displaying text, and I hope to post something up about this soon.

    75% real. 25% unreal.
    As I mentioned earlier, H-building is getting knocked down at some point, and we will have a brand new art school to work in. One of the ways that we are using our plot of land in SL is to visualise the ideas that colleagues have about what they would like to see in an ideal art school. I've gathered all of the mad fantasies about what an ideal building would look like from staff across the school, and we are building it (when we get a spare minute). It is highly unlikely that the actual build will look anything like this, but that is not really the point. The 3D visualisation of our desires greatly enhances the consultation process, and gives staff an opportunity to see and walk round their contribution to the debate. The flexibility of building in SL allows new ideas to be rapidly added, and different scenarios explored. The knowledge gained from the exercise will inform the decision making process as it progresses, and will strengthen our arguments for getting what we want.

    25% real. 75% unreal.
    As well as activities that support our bricks and mortar based art school we are, of course, interested in the significance of MUVEs in art education. As practicing SL artist ourselves, Graham and I have discussed at length what this might be, and have had some small scale success with a select group of undergraduate and post-graduate students.
    If we are thinking about and simulating an ideal real life art school, then should we not also be creating the ultimate SL art school? Do we need a school for educating future virtual designers and artists? There are a lot of arguments floating around about this, but I don't think it wouldn't do any harm to have a go at building one. Perhaps the blank canvas approach that our friend at Leeds College of Art & Design, AnnaBeth Robinson (AngryBeth Shortbread), is taking with her students on the Digital Media course is the most appropriate way to tackle this. Art schools have traditionally provided studio space for the creation of artefacts, with staff available to mentor, facilitate and hopefully inspire students. Perhaps the ultimate art-school in Second Life is not a building at all, but an empty island owned by the student group.

    Ian TrueloveIan Truelove on Tuesday, 08 May 2007, 21:04 UTC # |

  2. I like the idea of this real - unreal split. I agree that they are useful for different reasons.

    David WhiteDavid White on Monday, 14 May 2007, 09:06 UTC # |

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