CETIS Multi user virtual environments workshop

November 21, 2007

The afternoon sessions are organised as parallel workshops and I join the strand looking at MUVEs and games. Apparently the most popular workshop.

Daniel Livingstone is presenting about Sloodle a crooss between Second Life and Moodle. I have been meaning to find out more about this for quite some time as we have a lot of free and re-waorkable material in Moodle that could well be the raw material for some interesting experiments. Dan showed the architecture for Sloodle as consisting of an extra communicaton layer to reach from Second Life into the Moodle database. Andy Powell from

Educause made the interesting observation that this meant that in effect the Sloodle team had needed to engineer an API for Moodle. Dan said that this had been constructed only to work with the proprietary Second Life at the moment but certainly it could be the basis for something like that. Michael Gardner then commented that if so he and his team working with the open source Sun Wonderland would be able to draw on the same basis and that would be a good way to go.

The examples Dan showed were a calendar reflected from Moodle into 2nd Life, deadline poles (an object drops down a pole as deadlines approach), a drop box for sending things back from 2nd life and a feed for a chat between 2nd Life and Moodle. All interesting and another prompt to think about how best to build on this work in OpenLearn.

Mark Bell then presents about his work with Ted Castronova at the Synthetic Worlds Institute at Indiana. The team at Indiana involves people from the game industry. He mentioned a few projects – London Town (interact with Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens), dusk and a virtual Congress. But mainly he plans to talk about Arden, the world of Shakespeare. He positioned his work as based on a view that the virtual world is a valid place for experiments and could be seen as a “petri dish” for social science experiments. They used the Multiverse engine to build a version of “Shakespeare’s Somerset”. The result was not a working system – needed to switch platform NeverWinter Nights (not good enough), Second Life (too expensive), Metaplace (still alpha). There were fundamental tensions in trying to produce such a big project, Academic investigation v fulltime development team. He did suggest that it was just possible that developing a core support team to produce e.g. 2nd Life environments for academic use might just work. But his main solution is to switch to smaller scale expermiments and specific questions – the result was a less ambitious London Nights Shakespeare that worked. Mark’s own research looks at economics theory and he wants virtual worlds to test money supply theory. Mark is working in second life on a game called dusk, based on Ray Bradbury’s Carnival books – pay outs on games varying across spaces built.

His lesson from his work was make more mistakes, he felt he had learnt so much. Four approaches recommended in the end:

Little experiments

Creation of new, vast worlds

Observation of natural experiment

Work with commercial sector


Mark also mentioned that Second life is offering an http-requester that allows data to be exported. Worth noting if we do develop some use of 2nd Life with Moodle.

In the questions accessibility came up with the suggestion that a 3d environment represented by sound. This reminded me of the work that my colleague Martyn Cooper carried out on “Human Factors in 3D Audio Virtual Environments”.


3 Responses to “CETIS Multi user virtual environments workshop”

  1. hollins090164 Says:

    Thanks for the great write up! Will eagerly read the rest of your blog.


  2. Mark Bell Says:

    Above comment is mine on PaulH’s computer

  3. Patrick Says:

    And thanks for the great talk Mark – I have already referred to it in a meeting about what the OU should be doing in 2nd Life. I took from this that the sort of things were don’t be too ambitious, do build a chance for people to join in, and see it as a way to reach out to get data. Hope those match to the message that you meant to give!

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