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.

+Spaces

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.

WonderSchool

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

WonderSchool

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.

iSocial

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

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.

ImmerHire

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.

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Open Wonderland 2nd Anniversary

March 31, 2012

By Nicole Yankelovich

This month marks the 2nd anniversary of Open Wonderland. In the release meeting last week, the group brainstormed about some of the past year’s highlights.

Wonderland Wednesday Projects

Wonderland Wednesdays continue to be a great way for developers to both learn more about Wonderland development and contribute to the community. They are also an excellent testing ground for new features and bug fixes. In the past year, we have completed one Wonderland Wednesday project, EZMove, and are close to finishing the more recent Telepointer project.

Telepointers: All evidence points to Jagwire
Telepointers: All evidence points to Jagwire

New Monthly Release Cycle

Starting in January 2012, we put into a place a monthly release mechanism. The main goal was to ensure that when people download the Wonderland binary, they are running a recent stable version. With the previous system, someone could download a binary that was almost a half a year out of date, which was causing support issues.

The new system has had a number of unexpected positive consequences. We are now holding monthly release meetings to review which new features and bug fixes should be included in the release. In addition to being another venue for developers to meet and discuss issues, these meetings have provided us with a framework for reviewing bugs and feature enhancement requests (RFEs). During the meetings, we can also enlist volunteers to tackle problems or work on RFEs.  Developers are pushing to get code finished in order to have their code included in the next release. We never expected changing the release cycle would have an impact on progress, but it’s turning out that bugs are now getting fixed at a faster pace with more people participating in the process.

Immersive Education Participation

It has been particularly gratifying to see the number of Wonderland projects being presented at the Immersive Education (iED) conferences.  Community participation in my remote keynote “show-and-tell” session at the most recent European Immersive Education was amazing. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the video, or read the blog post about the event.

Community members participating in the Euopean iED conference

Community members participating in the European iED conference

Although I’ll be attending in person, I have signed up to do another similar session at the upcoming Immersive Education Summit in Boston June 14-16. Please contact me if you cannot attend the summit in person, but would like to show off your Wonderland world or Wonderland feature in the Boston show-and-tell session.

Start-up Activity

This year there has also been some activity on the business front. The WonderHealth team from Vmersion is looking for funding from the Knight Foundation to create a social networking environment for people with common  health concerns. The new environment will allow participants to hear from doctors, share experiences with one another, and discuss educational media together.

Also in the healthcare space, WonderBuilders has entered their new VMed Learning Spaces product offering into the MassChallenge start-up competition. VMed Learning Spaces are a collection of simulated clinical settings such as a doctor’s office, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, a maternity ward, etc. that medical, nursing, and other allied health students can use to practice critical skills.

VMed Learning Space by WonderBuilders

Example VMed Learning Space by WonderBuilders

Please cast your vote for both these projects on their respective competition web sites to help them gain momentum.

Press Coverage

In the past year, Hypergrid Business and other news outlets have picked up quite a few stories originally posted on WonderBlog. A search for Open Wonderland on Hypergrid Business reveals stories published about Wonderland’s use in Africa, in the +Spaces debating project, in the Singapore Games Village project, in an English as a Second Language project, and in the Virtual Cockpit. You will also find reports on new Wonderland features such as drag-and-drop of Microsoft Office documents, exporting of objects, and streaming a Wonderland world to a tablet.

Hypergrid Business Search Results Page

Hypergrid Business Search Results Page

Final Thoughts

We are looking forward to another year of community projects, collaborations, and interesting activity around Open Wonderland. If you have a Wonderland project you would like to highlight on the blog, simply email a few paragraphs and a screenshot or video to me or to info@openwonderland.org and someone will work with you to edit the article and publish it as a guest post.

Last year on the Open Wonderland anniversary we ran a series of educational workshops to commemorate the event. We’re in discussion about how to commemorate it this year, so please keep your eye out for a discussion the forum on this topic.


EZMove Now Available

December 16, 2011

By Nicole Yankelovich

We have now completed our second successful Wonderland Wednesday project. EZMove, a tool that makes it easier to move objects than the standard edit tools, is now available for download in the Module Warehouse. Here’s a quick video that shows how the feature works.

The primary thing to remember is that all EZMove functions are available when the ALT key (OPTION key on a Mac) is pressed.

For specific details on how to use EZMove, refer to the EZMove documentation.


Wonderland Session at E-iED Conference

November 28, 2011

By Nicole Yankelovich

Today a number of Open Wonderland community members gathered to do a (mostly) remote presentation at the European Immersive Education Summit in Madrid. Presenters, connecting remotely from 6 countries, described 9 different Wonderland projects. Four community members donated portions of their virtual worlds for the presentation. They have all generously agreed to leave these spaces on the Open Wonderland Community Meeting Server for others to visit. You can find them using the placemarks “Gran Via,” “iSocial Garden World,” “Entrepreneur Space,” and “Cockpit 3D.”

Michael Gardner from the University of Essex moderated the session from Madrid, projecting Open Wonderland from his computer for the live audience to view. Carlos Delgado Kloos, one of the local hosts, did the first presentation, also live from Madrid. He talked about the Gran Via world created at University Carlos III de Madrid designed for Spanish language learning.

Gran Via world for Spanish language learning

Gran Via world for Spanish language learning

Next the group moved to the iSocial Garden World space where Krista Galyen from the University of Missouri provided an overview of the iSocial project. She explained how this sample space, as well as many others they have developed, are used to teach social competence skills to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

iSocial project overview in the Garden World space

iSocial project overview in the Garden World space

Following Krista, iSocial’s lead developer, Ryan Babiuch, described a key module used in the iSocial project called the Sheet Suite. He played a Sheet Suite demo video in-world to illustrate how the system works. The Sheet Suite allows instructors to create multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, and other types of sheets that display in-world on the heads-up display. There is also a web tool for creating and managing sheets, as well as a reporting tool that aggregates sheet results and provides the ability to export the data to a spreadsheet. The University of Missouri has made the decision to open source this valuable tool for educators. When available, we will ask the team to write a detailed blog post on how to create and use sheets.

Next on the tour was Johanna Pirker’s Environment for Startup Entrepreneurs. Johanna, a graduate student at the University of Graz in Austria, took us to visit the informal café space where entrepreneurs can get to know one another informally. She also showed us a space for creativity and brainstorming, and another for more formal presentations.

Environment for Startup Entrepreneurs

Environment for Startup Entrepreneurs

The final space we visited was the Cockpit 3D, introduced by Michel Denis from Internet 3 Solutions in France. In this room without doors, decision makers are immersed in data that can help them in the decision-making process. The attractive room design includes many different applications on the walls as well as a table that accommodates 10 seated avatars.

Cockpit 3D space designed for decion-making

Cockpit 3D space designed for decision-making

We used this space to demonstrate a number of other projects. Bernard Horan from the University of Essex talked about two tools he has developed for the EU-funded +Spaces project. To show off the Office Converter, he asked Michael Gardner to drop a PowerPoint presentation into the world. This was converted, on the fly, to a PDF document that appeared in front of us.

Example of a PowerPoint presentation appearing in world as a PDF

Example of a PowerPoint presentation appearing in world as a PDF

Bernard also described the Twitter Viewer, a tool that allows users to display a live twitter stream in-world.

Slide showing Twitter Viewer in use

Slide showing Twitter Viewer in use

Next, Bob Potter, an agile programming enthusiast from Canada, demonstrated the Cardwall tool he developed initially to support the agile programming methodology. Based on people’s interest in using the tool for general brainstorming, he modified the Cardwall to make it more general. Now users can configure the wall with their own column headings and even pop sticky notes off the wall into the world. He has made his Cardwall presentation slides available for those wanting more information about the project.

Cardwall presentation next to an example cardwall

Cardwall presentation next to an example cardwall

José Dominguez from Trinity College Dublin demonstrated two Wonderland Wednesday community projects. He had Michael Gardner demonstrate the Subsnapshot importer/exporter by dropping a basket of toys into the world that had been previously exported from a different Wonderland world. Opening the Object Editor window, Michael showed how the objects in the basket were children of the basket. By exporting the parent object, it is possible to make a backup copy of the items and save them on your own computer.

Basket of toys shown in-world and in the Object Editor

Basket of toys shown in-world and in the Object Editor

Each of the four spaces demonstrated in this session were created using Subsnapshots. The world builders each exported their space and emailed me the resulting .wlexport file. I then dragged and dropped each .wlexport file onto the Community Server. This produced the four spaces, complete with applications and object properties.

José also demonstrated EZMove, a tool for easily moving objects around in-world by holding down the ALT key and dragging. This project is still a work in progress, but should be available in the Module Warehouse as soon as the Wonderland Wednesday developers have a chance to polish up the code. The current version is installed on the Community Meeting Server for anyone who would like to try out the new functionality.

We ended the session seated around the conference table for a Q&A session.

Question and answer session around the Cockpit 3D conference table

Question and answer session around the Cockpit 3D conference table


EZMove Progress Report

July 22, 2011

Following up on Jonathan’s June 7th post Top ideas for the next Wonderland Wednesday project, I wanted to let everyone know that we selected the EZMove project. The idea behind EZMove is to provide end-users with an easy way to move objects around. The current scheme requires right-clicking on an object, selecting edit from the menu, and then using the movement tools. With EZMove, users will be able to simply hold down the Alt key and drag an object to move it. Once that’s working, a variety of other movement options will be added, such as letting you move an object closer or farther away by using the mouse wheel or letting you rotate the object using the arrow keys.

With only one design session and four coding sessions so far, the Wonderland Wednesday participants have made excellent progress. We were even able to test some code this past week. Here’s a short video clip I captured during the test to show you how the project is coming along.

While moving worked quite well at the origin of the world, it worked less well in other locations. If we tried dragging an object in the Dev Zone, more than a thousand meters from the origin, the object would jump before tracking the mouse. The majority of this last coding session was spent figuring out that problem. We’ll test it the fix this coming Wednesday to see if the problem has been resolved. If so, the group will tackle one of the other types of movement next.

If you would like to attend one of these Wonderland Wednesday coding sessions, please drop by. The announcements are always posted on the Open Wonderland Facebook events page. Everyone is welcome. It’s an opportunity to see real work getting accomplished in the virtual world and it’s fun to help test the new code even if you are not able to contribute to the software development.


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