ESL Cyberlearning Summary Video

August 28, 2013

By Nicole Yankelovich

As described in previous blog articles (“ESL Instruction Using Open Wonderland” and “NSF Funds Wonderland ESL Project at STCC“), WonderBuilders has been working with the English as a Second Language faculty at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, Massachusetts to deploy a Wonderland environment for English-language learning. This video, created as an update for the NSF project sponsors, provides an overview of the project.


OWL Showcase: STCC ESL Virtual Campus

December 3, 2012

By Nicole Yankelovich

Please join us for an informative OWL Showcase on Wednesday. We will be visiting Springfield Technical Community College’s (STCC) virtual campus currently being used to teach English as a Second Language (ESL).

OWL Showcase: STCC ESL Virtual Campus
Wednesday, December 5th
1-2pm US Eastern time
(see event time in your time zone)
Registration on Eventbrite required

WonderBuilders has worked with the STCC faculty to create an extensive learning environment for ESL students.

Collage of STCC virtual campus

Selection of STCC virtual campus spaces

In this US National Science Foundation sponsored project, two ESL classrooms are completing their first semester-long deployment of Open Wonderland. During the tour, attendees will have the opportunity to try out some of the in-world activities designed for students including recording audio conversations, going on an activity scavenger hunt, participating in a photo hunt, and creating a custom fair booth.

Registration is required for this event. Since this not a public world, the URL for the server will not be made public. The login information will only be sent to people who register using the Eventbrite link above.

If you plan on attending and have a smart phone, please consider taking some photos using Instagram so you can more fully participate in the “photo hunt” activity. You can see a preview of this activity in the ESL Department’s recently published Photo Hunt album on Facebook as well as a preview of the Multi-Cultural Fair Booth Activity.

If you are not able to make the tour on Wednesday, there is a possibility of another tour on Sunday, December 16th at 2pm US Eastern time. If enough people express interest, we will set up a second tour on that date. To express interest, please leave a comment on this blog article or post a message on the Open Wonderland forum.

Wonderland Showcase – iED Boston 2012

July 13, 2012

By Nicole Yankelovich

At that Immersive Education conference in Boston last month, eight Open Wonderland community members from 6 different countries joined me remotely to show off their work. Here’s a brief summary of the worlds and features presented during the showcase. In all cases, the presenters have agreed to leave their spaces running on the community server. If you missed the conference, you can explore the spaces on your own. Simply log on to the community server and use the Placemarks menu to navigate to the different spaces.

WonderBuilders Outpatient Clinic

I began the session by showing one of the simulated medical spaces created by my company WonderBuilders.

WonderBuilders Outpatient Clinic

WonderBuilders Outpatient Clinic

This virtual outpatient clinic is designed for communications skills training. Each of our virtual clinical spaces comes with a soundproof observation room with one-way windows so that instructors and others can observe students during role-playing scenarios. This space also features a non-player character that speaks, a poster with links to different portions of the space, an App Frame for organizing documents, and pop-up questions using a modified version of the Sheet Suite developed jointly by WonderBuilders and the University of Missouri.


Michael Gardner from the University of Essex talked about the +Spaces (pronounced “positive spaces”) EU-funded project aimed at engaging citizens in policy-making. Michael showed excerpts from this role-play video:

To learn more about the use of role playing in the +Spaces project, as well as the Wonderland modules developed as part of this project, see these previous WonderBlog articles or search the blog for articles by “Bernard Horan.”

Entrepreneur Space

Johanna Pirker from Graz University in Austria took us on a tour of the space she created for teaching entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneur Space

Entrepreneur Space from Graz University

This space includes an informal area for students to get to know one another, an area for presentations, and a work area where students, mentors, and instructors can collaborate.


Roland Sassen demonstrated WonderSchool, an on-line school that takes advantage of Wonderland’s ability to run shared applications within the virtual world.


WonderSchool with the Alice programming environment.

Roland demonstrated how he can teach students to use complex software such as the Alice programming environment from within the virtual world. He also demonstrated other dynamic applications running remotely inside a VNC Viewer window.

Seekers School Maze

Chris Derr, head of the Seekers School, talked about using Wonderland in his innovative curriculum to motivate kids who have had difficulty in other school situations.

Seeker School student activities

Seeker School student activities

The students spent the past semester learning how to build Open Wonderland worlds, including making their own 3D models in SketchUp and creating simple animations using Wonderland’s EZScript capability. Among other things, the students created a fun maze, mountain climbing challenges, and a colorful spinning roof.


Ryan Babiuch from the University of Missouri iSocial project showed one of the many learning spaces used as part of their curriculum for remotely teaching social competency skills to students with autism spectrum disorders.


iSocial space used in teaching students with autism.

This curriculum was pilot tested this past semester in two schools. While the data has not yet been fully analyzed, the initial results were extremely positive.


Michel Denis and Gery Winkler from ImmerHire showed the Survival on the Moon space they use to help assess logical thinking skills.

ImmerHire - Assessing Logical Thinking

ImmerHire – Assessing logical thinking in the Survival on the Moon scenario.

The ImmerHire environment is intended to help employers evaluate communication, personal, and social skills of job applicants using a range of virtual role-play activities.

STCC Virtual Campus

Kristy Perry, an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) professor at Springfield Technical Community College, showed one of the spaces she designed on the STCC Virtual Campus.

STCC Virtual Campus - patio

STCC Virtual Campus – patio

This patio space is intended as a venue for small group projects and conversation practice. The STCC Virtual Campus will be deployed for Level 2 ESL students starting in September.

Wonderland Wednesday Projects

Jonathan Kaplan, our Wonderland architect, demonstrated the three Wonderland Wednesday community projects that he has lead. These projects – Telepointers, EZMove, and Subsnapshot Import/Export – were all developed collaboratively on the Open Wonderland community server. In the weekly Wonderland Wednesday meetings, developers worked together using NetBeans and other shared applications.

Telepointer demonstration

Telepointer demonstration

The new Telepointers are considerably more aesthetically appealing than the old telepointers. More importantly, they now work when you have control of a 2D application. For multi-user applications such as the Whiteboard, this is particularly helpful as it allows users to see where everyone else is working.

Be sure to visit the community server to see these spaces and try out the set of Wonderland Wednesday features.

ESL Instruction using Open Wonderland

April 26, 2012

Mary Beth Ogulewicz By Mary Beth Ogulewicz, J.D.

Mary Beth Ogulewicz is a lawyer as well as an ESL and Criminal Justice professor at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). She seeks to empower her students by helping them become fluent in English and preparing them for a career in law enforcement and related fields. She is also interested in the connection between health, wellness, the strengths movement and successful living.

Springfield Technical Community College and WonderBuilders have embarked on creating a 3D virtual college campus pursuant to a 3 year National Science Foundation grant.  WonderBuilders is working with the English as a Second Language (ESL) Department to enhance opportunities for students to practice conversation.  The virtual college campus will allow students who have limited opportunity to interact with native speakers and partake in campus activities to meet in-world with conversation buddies as well fellow students. Among the goals are increased conversational competence, higher levels of engagement with the college, and increased matriculation rates.  Curriculum activities for each level of English are being planned. Additionally, to assist students, various campus offices such as Financial Aid, Registrar and the Health Office will hold office hours in-world. Below are some of the activities we have created thus far.

Simon Says

ESL students gain technological proficiency by engaging in a game of Simon Says.  This fun introductory activity builds confidence for students who may have lower technology skills. It also embeds vocabulary and prepositions for Level 2 language students.

Conversation Buddies

Due to family and work obligations, ESL students often have limited time to engage in authentic conversation with native speakers. With many students working 2nd and 3rd shift, the virtual world provides an optimal platform for students to meet native speakers to engage in conversation at times that fit their busy lives.

Academic Advisor

Students often need assistance navigating the myriad of problems that arise with paperwork, registration, academic and campus life.  A student’s relationship with her/his academic advisor is critical to success.  Acting as a mentor and advisor, professors are a tremendous resource and often the only person on campus that a student will turn to for help.  The virtual world allows those conversations to occur at times convenient to the student and most importantly fosters the success of the student.

Health Office

Among the most daunting experiences for a second language speaker is a visit to a physician’s office.  In-world students can build a relationship with a campus physician’s assistant and practice the difficult medical language necessary to successfully interact with medical personnel, thereby ensuring the health of themselves and their family.


Collaborative learning is essential to development of workforce skills. Students can meet in-world and collaboratively create written work and projects, as well as practice speaking the target language.

Multicultural Fair

This project highlights the confluence of students’ skills: technology, creativity and language.  Students research their native countries and then build their individual booths to display their research.  Students visit the event in-world, practice questions and then have the opportunity to record and practice their English.

Project Status

We will continue to work on software development and curriculum integration through the summer, testing the environment as we go along with current students. We will run our first pilot class with second level ESL students in September. We invite you to follow our progress on Facebook.

NSF Funds Wonderland ESL Project at STCC

December 15, 2011

By Nicole Yankelovich

As I announced at the recent European Immersive Education Summit, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to create an immersive environment for teaching English as a Second Language. You can read more about the project in these two press releases:

STCC Press Release

WonderBuilders Press Release

The project is currently in the design phase. One of the particularly nice aspects of this project is that it involves multiple departments at the school. I am currently working with students in the photography department coaching them on how to take and edit photographs for use in 3D modeling. In January, I will be working with graphic arts students to show them how to build models of buildings on their campus and apply the photographs as textures. In addition, I’ll be helping to train staff from various departments such as Financial Aid and Student Affairs on how to staff office hours in Wonderland so that ESL students can practice their conversational skills with actual college staff volunteers.

By the end of the project, STCC plans to have curriculum for four levels of ESL instruction in Wonderland.

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