Corwin Carillon (aka Nick Noakes) : Dec 14, 2006 05:36pm
Monday’s Buzz field trip was excellent. Some 37 people gathered on the Casablanca sim to learn about the Virtual Morocco project of the Johnson & Wales University, in collaboration with the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism.
We were shown a number of builds including a souk, a mosque, a garden, a cafe and a lovely beach. This project began last Spring with Ann Enigma and her colleague Desty Kenzo. The students went to Morocco on a study trip. The purpose of the trip was to provide an opportunity for students to use their academic skills to study the country and the culture by interacting with it immersively. Once they had the idea, they presented the concept to the Ministry of Tourism in Morocco, who agreed wholeheartedly and enthusiastically to both the educational goals of the project, and to leveraging the Second Life platform has to showcase Morocco. For Ann and Desty, it was a perfect opportunity to combine real life travel, experiential learning, and Second Life (SL). For the SL sim project, they used the principles of project-based learning, so rather than recreating a classroom in SL and trying to teach with a lecture, they asked the six students (5 computer graphics and new media majors and 1 business marketing major) to recreate their experiences of Morocco in the Casablanca sim in SL. Each of the students had roles. For example Bjornson Donaldo, Kyle Childs and misterchris Oxberger were builders/designers, Robyn Ophelia was in charge of marketing and content. Desty said that they managed to form a cross-disciplinary team across colleges, Technology, Business and Hospitality. In response to a question about their experience of the project, misterchris said “the experience was great – we’re all pretty big nerds so it was great working with people who were interested in working on a new medium” and Bjornson said that “after becoming enrolled we worked extremely hard to do what we have done.”
Ann then introduced us to a few of the scripts they have developed during this project, including a few tools to monitor how people use this space such as the “Detector” – a Flash application where you can visualize the use of the island in real-time. On the screenshot of the web visualization of the detector tools, the most popular spots on the island can be seen and people’s paths through the space as they visit are also shown. [Ann mentioned that this tool is at the beta stage and that they'd be releasing it for educators and other non-profit uses soon]. We also could take an “Info Fez”, a hat that would provide the wearer with information about the location in certain ‘info hot spots’. Other tools that they are working on involve integrating some RL data with SL, such as live information from Yahoo’s weather site.
Ann mentioned that the idea of this build is a “best of” Morocco, where you can ‘experience’ visiting the country without actually traveling there. There are vendors in the souks, soccer that you can play, a Mosque that you can visit, and hookah you can smoke and tea you can drink in the cafe. They are also looking into hosting a live moroccan concert that will stream live video and audio from Morocco. We were then taken on a tour of some the different locations by the students who were able to be with us (thanks all of you for the tour!)
As Ann said, “There are really two goals to this build: to educate people about Morocco, and hopefully, to entice people to visit the country.” From this field trip, I think we all feel that the students, Ann and Desty have fulfilled this goal!
If you are interested in either using the Casablanca island space for a cultural or educational event, or you would like to use their tools (tracking or web-integration), then Hilary Mason (Ann Enigma) would love to hear from you. You can contact her at hmason [at] jwu [dot] edu.