Virtual Worlds vs Virtual Reality: a Comparison of Immersive Experiences

After a decade in virtual worlds and a few years of exploring virtual reality (VR), I believe I understand the difference and predict that both have purpose and potential for learning. In my view, a virtual world is a persistent “land” space and virtual reality is a disposable “bubble” experience.

Virtual Worlds are persistent spaces of land

Virtual worlds can be visited again and again. One can explore spaces, build them and watch communities grow. An example is the Community Virtual Library which has recently undergone a huge move to a new space near educational writing/publishing communities.

The Community Virtual Library (CVL) houses a main library building, a networking hub, a pier on the beach for events, a library pub, four exhibit/gallery/display areas, an art study group space, book discussion space, virtual poetry garden, book orchard, and other immersive experience locations. Library Land (on Cookie Island in Second Life) can be visited over and over just like a physical place. CVL is a real library.

Virtual Reality is an experience bubble

An example of a VR experience is my recent “walking out on a beam over the city”! It felt so real. Looking down below, my knees were shaking and then a helicopter came by right at eye level.

Other “bubble’ experiences (meaning one time experiences- then ‘pop’! it is gone) include: climbing an ancient rock structure, stabbing zombies, shooting arrows at medieval warriors, and working inside a rocket ship to troubleshoot the engine. While most developers focus on entertainment, there is obviously potential for education in virtual reality.

Teachers should use with caution as studies have not fully examined the impact on the human brain. VR can sometimes feel as real as the physical world, making it nearly impossible for young children to distinguish between virtual and physical world experiences. Reality is changing and anyone working in virtual worlds understands that they are “real” places.

One of my favorite VR experiences so far is Google Tilt Brush. It is like stepping inside an empty canvas of space to create digital art! Similar to programs like Paint, Photoshop or other applications, you choose colors, brushes, textures and tools to create and sculpt in 3D. What is amazing is that you can save your 3D work and share it with others allowing them to step inside. The ability to share work with others is unique to this VR experience and similar to the collaborative work I have experienced in virtual worlds. Most VR experiences are limited to a short period of time with little opportunities for user-generated content as developers create the space in programs like Unity or Unreal Engine.

Social VR is on the horizon with Facebook opening a VR platform on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. This social interaction will look entirely different than the learning communities already available in virtual worlds. Most of the demonstrations I have tried focus on entertainment because developers find it too expensive and time-consuming to research educational needs for high quality accurate subject-specific content. In virtual worlds, educators and experts themselves can build and share accurate content for learning.

Augmented reality may be more useful for consumers than virtual reality as it layers information into the physical world rather than separating us from it. Augmenting of a digital space is certainly possible in virtual worlds as content is layered and embedded.

As we enter 2018, nobody can predict how virtual reality and virtual worlds will evolve. Currently, they are very separate ‘animals’ and I find the potential for collaborative (constructive) learning in virtual worlds to hold much more potential than VR. This fall, I worked with the Community Virtual Library to create a research center for the Dickens Project which centered on A Christmas Carol and the Victorian Era. Twelve research presentations were shared within a simulated “London” with live tours, events, and readings throughout the month of December. A virtual library connects the traditions of high quality literature throughout the past with technology tools available today while connecting learners across the globe in real-time. I find that more amazing than a disposable bubble.

Stories and Art in 3D: Wander the Watercolours

Artists and writers have new media opportunities to explore with digital tools.  For example, artist CK (Creakay Ballyhoo in the virtual world of Second Life) created watercolour (spelled that way in her part of the world!) paintings in 3D to illustrate a story presented in a virtual world.  Read the story of a little girl on a watercolour wander.

A group of educators, the Virtual Pioneers, take virtual field trips to simulations in Second Life.  A recent trip allowed the pioneers to wander through CK’s story paintings.  This machinima shows the educators inside A Watercolour Wander.

The Virtual Pioneers  are an open group, welcoming others to come along on virtual adventures.  Through collaboration with groups like this, the Community Virtual Library strives to connect virtual communities with high quality simulations.  This machinima illustrates how the future of libraries and the future of education may include mixed reality and amazing new ways to enter art, history, and all subjects for all learners.  Learning will never be the same.

When Did You First Enter a Virtual World?

A twitter chat question asks “When did you first start using virtual worlds and what subject do you teach with it?”
As school librarian, teaching information literacy, I heard about the virtual world of Second Life over ten years ago and signed up in 2006. My “rez” day (the day we first came into a virtual world) is June 9, 2006. Almost ten years! Continue reading

Give Immersive Learning a Try! Don’t Just Read about It

Gamification and learning through immersive virtual experiences is the talk of the town in education fields. Virtual reality is expanding with systems like Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens. And one of the most popular (if not THE most popular) videogame virtual worlds across the planet is Minecraft. Young children can build with virtual building blocks and learn about math, science and many other subjects through immersion.

But how many teachers have actually experienced immersive learning themselves? Here’s your chance!

Medieval Quest is coming to the Community Virtual Library in Second Life.

Medieval Quest Coming Soon

A beautiful Medieval village, complete with King Arthur’s Court, was built by Brant Knutzen at the University of Hong Kong. Through collaboration with the Community Virtual Library, plans are underway to provide live tours with a role-play quest. All participants can choose parts to role-play and participate at any level desired.

Sound like fun? Here are the initial planning session times (Second Life Time- SLT- Pacific Time zone). More information about the role-play dates will be forthcoming.

Monday Jan 25th 6pm SLT Medieval Quest Planning Meeting (Share roles and overview)
Saturday Jan 30th 7am SLT (Continue sharing roles and training) Prepare Press Release to send for publicity

Meet at the Community Virtual Library Exhibit area

I am tentatively choosing the role of “The Lady of Shalott”. There are numerous places to find free historical clothes for your avatar. The Medieval Quest is based on the concept of bringing literature to life through role-play and simulation.

Lady_of_Shalott_001

LadyofShalottwHORSES_001

This project is a demonstration of how learning has changed and is changing. Don’t just read about it….come give it a try!

Dickens Project in a Virtual World Opens Dec. 12

Issued: November 7, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACTS
Caledonia Skytower, Seanchai Library
thedede@comcast.net
THE DICKENS PROJECT Returns
to Benefit
The Community Virtual Library in Second Life

Dickens Poster from Seanchai in SL
Bradley University, Second Life – A popular festival, first presented in 2012 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens’ birth, is returning to Second Life this December in a limited form, to benefit The Community Virtual Library. The festival is presented free to all Second Life Residents and donations will be accepted for the Community Virtual Library: a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, connecting residents with information resources, reference services and serving as a networking tool for information resource professionals.

The nine day festival will open on December 12th, centering on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, presenting the novella in a variety of adaptations (including unabridged), in sections and in its entirety. The work is presented at different times to make the live readings accessible to residents from different parts of the world. Other works from within the author’s vast canon are featured and interactive information on the times and work of Charles Dickens can be explored.

Seanchai Library will produce the 2015 edition of The Dickens Project, presenting nearly fifteen hours of live readings between December 12 and 20th, and holding a dance and music event “Fezziwig’s Ball” on Saturday, December 19th. The final event, a marathon “All Read” presentation of A Christmas Carol performed by a relay team of Seanchai Staff, is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, December 20th. The final event schedule for The Dickens Project will be released in early December.

In 1843 Charles Dickens prefaced his about-to-be classic tale with these words: “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” He began the novella in October, and it went on to become the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season, selling six thousand copies by Christmas and continuing to be popular into the new year.

Dickens set out to weave a story of humanity, kindness, and benevolence which he had failed to do with under-selling Martin Chuzzlewitt. He would do so “without browbeating or scolding, or mounting a soap box.” His book centers itself upon Christmas, but aside from the title and the timing of the tale, is not a religious tract. The story centers on the transformation of a single soul from miserly rigidity, to generous compassion. Dickens did something entirely unheard of foe an author of his stature in his time: he self published to book. He hired and supervised the illustration, oversaw the book design and consulted on the advertising. His publishers Chapman and Hall, who had demurred on the project, served only as his printers and received a fixed fee from every book sold.

The 2015 edition of The Dickens Project will take place in the Community Virtual Library’s exhibit space in it s home on the Bradley University Sim.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bradley%20University/31/171/24
It will also be accessible from Seanchai Library’s parcel immediately to the east.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bradley%20University/100/209/28

Seanchai Library (Shanna-key, which means “Storyteller” in Irish.) was founded in March of 2008 in Second Life. Thousands of stories, and hundreds of authors later, the program remains dedicated to promoting the power of stories to transform and inspire through live voice presentations: “We bring stories of all kinds to life, in Second Life.”

ACRL Virtual World Interest Group Event Invitation

The ALA Association of College & Research Libraries Virtual World Interest Group is sponsoring a gridhop. You are invited to join us! You may pass this invitation to other interested individuals.

ACRL gridhop to Jokaydia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?”

You may be familiar with the current discussion of virtual worlds beyond Second Life. Educators and librarians are exploring numerous virtual worlds as a platform for information delivery, immersive learning, global collaboration and professional development. Attending this event may help you expand your knowledge and skills in virtual worlds as well as network with other professionals. The goal of the ACLR Virtual World Interest Group is to explore and share virtual worlds with professionals in libraries, education, and other fields.

Here are the details…..

You are invited to our monthly ACRL Virtual Worlds Interest Group meeting which will be a gridhopping event to a different virtual world. Library builder, Barbara Janson (Avatar: Barbarathelibrarian Magic), will lead our tour.

Name of Event: GridHop to Lifelong Learning Library in Jokaydia ( a virtual world library visit)

Lifelong Learning Library in a virtual world

Date: Sunday, Sept. 23 11am SLT

Where: Meet at the Community Virtual Library in Second Life
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Info%20Island/13/84/24

Before the meeting, it is suggested that you download the Imprudence Viewer to use for our trip to Jokaydia at
http://wiki.kokuaviewer.org/wiki/Imprudence:Downloads

You could also sign up and create your JokaydiaGrid avatar at

http://www.jokaydiagrid.com/

You may want to use the same name as your Second Life avatar, so you will be recognized! Further instructions accessing the grid in Imprudences are as follows:

Click on Grid Manager and choose “jokaydiagrid”.

(You can click on Add New Grid if needed.)
Grid info should look like the following:

Virtual Book Discussion: Beyond the Blogosphere

After reading Beyond the Blogosphere: information and its Children by Aaron Barlow and Robert Leston, which I filled with post-it notes commenting on the digital revolution and how it has changed libraries, educations, and our lives, I thought it would be cool to ask the authors to discuss the book —virtually. Both authors quickly replied to my email agreeing to attend a virtual world discussion in Second Life, which would be sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries Virtual World Interest Group (which I am leading for 2012-2013).

Continue reading