Virtual Reality vs Virtual Worlds

Several UW VW Avalumni have been exploring virtual reality tools alongside Suzette Lewis, graduate of the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds Class of 2012.  Valibrarian (Dr. Valerie Hill) and Suzician (Suzette Lewis, doctoral student at UW) presented a session on virtual reality and the future of libraries at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference in March 2016.


Currently, virtual reality developers face a challenge of providing the collaborative experience of interactivity for learning that one finds in virtual worlds, such as building together and sharing content. VR developers are scurrying to build immersive experiences and the potential is obvious.  Suzette shared the new HTC VIVE with Val who was able to visit a beautiful simulation of Icelend and a program for drawing and painting in 3D.  Val quickly made a rainbow with a pot of gold and found the Tilt Brush program intuitive.

Children enjoy building in Minecraft and now have the option to enter Minecraft in 3D  using virtual reality systems, such as GEAR VR. The educational potential for Minecraft has been documented in recent research articles and more research is needed before recommending virtual reality platforms for those under the age of 13 due to lack of understanding about cognitive development in relation to VR.

Teachers and librarians will soon be exploring virtual reality systems and the UW Avalumni believe evaluation for best practices is crucial.  Choosing the best tool for curriculum content will be necessary as digital citizenship once again brings new challenges to 21st century students.




Collaborating on Oculus Rift

Graduates of the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds Program continue to collaborate long after graduation.  Isn’t this a great example of constructivist learning in global digital participatory culture? No matter your age bracket, we are all digital citizens connected through constantly evolving digital formats.


Several UW Avalumni colleagues met with Suzette (Class of 2012 and PhD Candidate) to experience the difference between an immersive virtual reality headset and a “traditional” virtual world like Second Life.  Valibrarian shares her experience from the perspective of an information literacy specialist. An advantage of constructivist learning is the inclusion of all of our perspectives and talents merged together to move us forward in the rapidly changing information landscape. Plus- this is fun!

“Actigons” – What shape is your class?

What’s missing in most online classes?  A classroom!   3d tools give us the opportunity to address that.   But not only do we have a room with chairs – we can make it any shape we want.   What shape would fit what you like to teach?

Inspired by the virtual training I took at the University of Washington, I kept looking for more virtual education.  I found some other cool classes at Boise State and the University of the West of England where I baked these ideas further.   I’ve presented on these concepts before, but now coined the term “Actigons” to mean a shape designed for our class.   “Acti” because it’s interactive, and “gon” (greek for shape, like polygon) because the shape is key.

You can

See ya online!

Collaborating under the Speed Boat

Whew!  I finished my project for my Games and Simulations course I took from Boise State University.  After taking 3 courses from the University of Washington I was hungry for more, and discovered Boise State hosts come classes in a virtual environment (Second Life in this case®).  Apparently, comes with a Master’s degree too.  That’s nice bonus..


I had also been trained in a set of collaboration techniques called Innovation Games®.  I picked one – Speed Boat – to experiment with.  They work brilliantly in face to face settings. But many of today’s teams are distributed. There is a web interface version for some of the games. It is nice because it even lets you create some of your own games!  My goal is to find ways to capture that buzz we have in face to face meetings in a virtual environment.  So far, I have found that reading slides does NOT do it (chuckles)

This 9 minute video shows a tour of 14 graduate students starting in my Nexus and gathering to test our my spatial version of Speed Boat.

Direct link: 

Here are the points we covered in our tour:

  1. Underwater think tank
  2. Nexus starting point
  3. Walk through slide gallery
  4. Interactive spatial speedboat build with custom programming
  5. How it fits in existing game systems for Innovation Games® and 3dGameLab®

By the Numbers

After my presentation 14 students took a survey to offer feedback.   I also got informal narrative feedback from a couple other graduate educators.   Out of the 15 numerical questions,

  • one was perfect,
  • 7 had only 1 or 2 dings (score of 4),
  • 5 had 3 or 4 dings (score of 4)
  • 2 had 5 dings (score of 4)

So out of a sample size of 14,  46% of the questions were good, but 30% of the respondents gave me a B (80%, or 4 out of 5) instead of a perfect score.   Lets look at the two distribution of questions.

What worked

Everyone gave me a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for “Uniqueness of design”.   Woot!  That’s what was going for, so I’m happy about that.

I scored well on these questions.  (88% of the respondents giving me a perfect score, and 12% giving me a B (80%, or 4 out of 5)

  • Quality of Design
  • Uniqueness of implementation
  • Adaptability
  • Progression
  • Application to content areas
  • Re-usability
  • Transferable knowledge

I look forward to working with folks on more builds for training and professional collaboration!  – See ya on the grids – @AgileBill4d

MOOCs and Constructivist Information Literacy

The rise of the MOOCs (massive open online courses) over the past two years has been widespread throughout major universities.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of a MOOC?  What information literacy skills are necessary for learning on a massive global scale in digital culture?

A UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds graduate, Dr. Valerie Hill, joins a panel in Second Life to share a session sponsored by the American Library Association ACRL (Association of College and Research Librarians) Virtual World Interest group.

“MOOCs & Constructivist Information Literacy”

Presented by: Valibrarian Gregg (Valerie Hill), Ilene Pratt (Ilene Frank) and Michele Keba

Sunday October 27, 2013 12-1:30SLT

At the Community Virtual Library Meeting Space in Second Life


Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds Class of 2013 Graduation

UW Avalumni celebrated five years of virtual world learning with the graduating class of 2013. The new graduates shared Infoville, the culminating project of the course, as graduates of previous University of Washington Certificate in Virtual Worlds classes, family and friends witnessed a successful completion of a unique and inspiring program.

Valibrarian (Dr. Valerie Hill from the UW Avalumni Class of 2010) created the video with screenshots. Val shared, “I was disappointed to crash repeatedly during the ceremony and festivities, so I tried to get shots on three different computers. The avatars were all “grayed out” making the quality of the shots unusable and the audio was full of clicking sounds! Although frustrating, I believe this illustrates our learning how to move forward through constantly changing digital hardware platforms, updates and formats without letting tech issues stop us. Unable to capture machinima shots, high hopes for filming this exciting graduation event were dashed. I used animoto to create a slideshow and downloaded it into Adobe CS5 to edit with a few lines from the audio speeches.”
The animoto version of the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds Class of 2013 (without the speeches) is also available.

A look back at the past

Val was able to record last year’s graduation with a tour of the Virtual Media Museum built by the class of 2012. She says, “The Virtual Media Museum may be my favorite machinima edit, so far. Filming the event with night shots made it difficult to really see the environment, even though it added to the realism of the festivities, so I switched to mid-daylight at the end of the tour during the bird flights over the museum. I think this machinima demonstrates collaborative immersion in multi-media as we “fly” through past formats.”

The class of 2011 built the award winning 3D environment Maya Island which Val shares in a machinima called “UW Virtual World Class o 2011 Graduation”. Graduates shared tours of the island throughout the year and dispelled the “end of the world” hype of 2012 surrounding the Mayan calendar. The tours allowed participants to interact with a variety of education resources: hieroglyphics, ancient astronomy, and music and more.

A graduate of the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds class of 2010, Val shared a mixed-reality machinima of her own graduation (where she was class speaker). Val states, “This virtual graduation was as real as any physical world event from my life and I was honored to have shared it with others through video which led to a colleague across the globe entering the UW program. When Stylianos thanked me for sharing my experience during his commencement address the next year, I realized we were experiencing something that has never been done throughout history- pioneering virtual territory across space for high level academic work.”

Val wonders if the UW Certificate in Virtual Worlds Class of 2009 archived photos from the first graduating class. She says, “I remember when I first heard of the course offered from the UW Ischool. I met a librarian at the American Library Association Convention in Chicago in June 2009. Having just finished the course, she highly recommended I enroll because I was researching the use of virtual worlds for education and libraries for my doctorate. Then, I remembered that I had met the instructor (Randy Hinrichs) in Second Life at one of the camp fire learning sessions on ISTE Island. I remember right-clicking on his profile and seeing that he was associated with the University of Washington. We conversed about SL, education and librarianship.. The ability to right-click on a person and read about their interests is a great tool for professional networking (pre-twitter). Twitter is like a fast-paced virtual world without any immersion or any of the artistic appeal of a creative 3D environment. Today, we live in participatory digital culture in a default mental state of distraction. I have no idea what the future holds for virtual worlds as I see education rapidly embracing MOOCs and mobile devices. I do know that I am thankful to have participated in a high level virtual world program, sponsored by a well-respected school of information (my profession), that no quick app or massive webinar could possibly deliver.”

Math in 3D: Exhibit & Tour by UW Avalumni Cooper MacBeth

Visualization of math in 3D presents opportunities for student learning that are not possible in the physical world.  For example, a person cannot easily picture a billion cubes or walk inside them and manipulate them physically.  In a virtual world, millions and billions of objects can be rezzed and compared.

Cooper MacBeth (RL Daniel Patterson) has been researching cognitive thinking and math instruction and recently displayed his work at the Community Virtual Library in Second Life.  Shots from a live tour at the CVL Exhibit and the “Sushi Bar” learning space can be viewed in Valibrarian’s machinima.  Watch and learn math in a new way!


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