At the Wonderland Wednesday Education / Training Brainstorming session on October 13th, 2010 we started the session by brainstorming about problems people were currently having related to teaching, then we reviewed several upcoming grant opportunities, and ended by talking about some big ideas that might be considered "transformational." I'm putting the grant opportunities and large idea discussion notes first, since the links to the grant opportunities might be helpful to others. At the very end is my attempt to list and categorize the problems people came up with.

Screenshots from this session are posted on Facebook.

Grant Opportunities#

After the brainstorming about problems, we got together as a group and talked about some ideas for large-scale Wonderland projects that might be appropriate for one of the upcoming grant opportunities. These include:

Large project Ideas#

Here are the ideas we discussed:

Easier creation of interactive models and simulations.

  • Making use of the 3D world we have.
    • in-world building tools

Transforming existing open course work content into a usable virtual world form.

  • collaborative video viewing
  • organization of material
  • Community additions

From the Forum#

On October 11, 2010, Josmas Flores wrote:

Just to start the discussion, educators seem to be very interested in connecting virtual worlds and VLEs. Something like what the sloodle guys are doing by bridging SL and moodle .

I have been recently asked to work on a piece about the use of Bots in education, so it would be great to hear any ideas or uses in that field too.

Some of my research colleagues use the building tools in second life to create constructionist experiences (collaboration and social construction).

Other than that I can think of a couple of things that, although are not directly connected to education, might create a smoother experience. Advanced camera controls, customisation of avatars, avatar profiles, avatar indicator of state (away), etc.

Problems with teaching in the virtual world#

Here are the contents of sticky notes created in-world. The question people were addressing was what problems they have had teaching, particularly in the virtual world. They were asked to think about the whole process, from preparing materials, to instruction, to post-class activities.


controls are not all that responsive: especially camera (students are used to other systems)

networking problems (firewalls, etc.)

entry level for programming modules is quite high (java experience needed).


A lot of freedom of control is given to all users --Teachers and students alike. (Collision, Gravity, Avatar configuration, right-click menu, etc...)

Audio difficulty often distracts from curricular instruction.


In computer class students are often concentrated on their screens not on the teacher.

This is a great opportunity.

Why not: even in the classroom we communicate with them using virtual learning systems. Then the transition to every body being elsewhere will be natural.


Audio can often be distracting; take user out of experience.

Making it engaging; sometimes they expect a "video game-like" experience

Knowing/awareness of student engagement on other end

It would be nice to have age-appropriate avatars


in the virtual environment: -teacher and students have the same ability to control learning objects

  • audio problems
  • students who have difficulty typing have a hard time sharing over text chat and on sticky notes
  • inability to use avatar in a social way when controlling a PDF viewer


  • dozens, hundreds of students
  • "native" (fast) client
  • presenter's tools ("remote control slide show")
  • USB webcam interface
  • turn text chat on/off
  • interface text chat with Jabber
  • video player ;-)
  • scaleable interface (larger fonts), "Universal Access"



  • H2 achieve COPA compliance (child privacy on-line)
  • H2 network between schools, i.e. federation of worlds
  • H2 combine Virtual worlds and the web, i.e. getting good enough performance of web browsers 'in-world', so that people can have a shared seamless experience.


In online training, it is hard to mix live interaction with offline work (eg class vs "homework").

The format of online interaction still seems to be more formal than face-to-face, for example in the affordances for turn taking.


knowing what the user/student is doing - replay

with virtual worlds, still have lack of expression - only verbal

are people paying attention?

--- In the real world, there seems to be a disconnect in the user experience between student & teacher and even among students working on group projects


Getting users into the world quickly. First time loads are long.

Confusing top level menu. Too many options that are related to development or debug.


Russ: Wonderland Wishes

  • More/better gestures and facial expressions
  • Avoid needing to wait until world fully loaded to move.
  • Ability to move and change camera position when controlling an application
  • Better camera focus, e.g., click something to enlarge it.
  • Easy import and removal of display material
  • Easy classroom construction
  • No echo without headset
  • A better sticky note. I copied and pasted the above. Now I'm adding this directly. No bullet. Also, it would be nice to be able to expand the sticky note.


Nicole's synthesis of the problems#

I've made an attempt to list and categorize the problems resulting from the brainstorming session.

Infrastructure Issues#

  • Scalability
  • Performance
    • Load time too slow
  • Networking and Firewall problems
  • Audio problems
    • Echo
    • Requirement to use a headset
    • Background noise can be distracting
    • Audio issues ruin experience of immersion

User Interface Issues#

  • Problems related to camera controls
    • Not responsive enough
    • Not enough options
    • Different from other systems
    • No way to control camera while in control of an application
    • Need a way to enlarge or focus on an object
  • Menus and controls
    • Students given same controls as teachers
    • No way to simplify UI for novice users
    • No way to turn text chat on/off
    • Many menu items / features are intended for developers / world builders
  • Sticky Note limitations
    • No bullets
    • Can't resize
    • Can't export content
  • Avatars
    • No child / teen avatars
  • Gestures and Expression
    • Can't gesture while in control of an app
    • No way to capture student expressions
  • Accessibility
    • Lack of universal access
    • No way to enlarge fonts, for example

Other Issues#

  • Attention issues
    • Students focused on screen rather than on teacher
    • Impossible to tell if students are paying attention
  • Expectation issues
    • Students have overly high expectations based on video games
  • Lack of typing skills
    • If students can't type, using text chat and sticky notes is hard
  • Integration with 2D content
    • Need more seamless integration of web content with 3D world
  • Lacking support for informal interaction
    • Need affordances for turn-taking
  • Replay
    • Hard to know what student has done
    • No way to "replay" the action
  • Getting started with OWL programing is challenging
    • Not suitable for entry-level student projects

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« This page (revision-10) was last changed on 29-Jun-2011 21:05 by Josmas Flores