Online School

I’m interested in creating interactive online lessons using 3D graphics for online high school. In fact, I’m interested in creating an entire environment along the lines of the MMORPG worlds, only it would be a school. Anyone know who might be interested in such a project?

hello, i’m interesting, as a novice panda user, want to learn from other experimented peoples. Just let me know when and how is .

I worked on a project like that for a Bible college- except it was a 2d mmorpg engine in visual basic. I think it’s a great idea but ours never caught on with the students and worse supporting alumni who viewed it solely as a frivilous game. Be warned that something like that can have political undertones in an educational setting.

WHat was really cool was being able to go to a lecture in the game and interact with the environment etc.

JB SKaggs

What science education researchers have found is that virtual environments that attempt to replace the school environment are not effective. What was absent from the literature were environments that augment the environments, situations that normally can’t be done in school due to budget or ethics.

That may be true, but also shortsided. The number of students who are getting their education online is growing substantially. So while I don’t believe online education, especially in science, can equal hands on experience, the idea is to improve the quality of the product that already exists. Manipulation in an a 3d enviro beats text any day.

Here’s an excerpt from an article published on the CITEd Research Center site:

"Research suggests that educational MUVEs should not solely focus on the virtual environment; support from the teacher and time for self-reflection are also important. For example, in Revolution, a virtual community in which students can experience the American Revolution, students take on the roles of seven different characters living in the community. They also participate in teacher-led discussions that encourage reflection and sharing of ideas. Such teacher guidance is an important part of the learning process when using MUVEs (Francis, 2006). "

So we can’t leave it to the environment, there still needs to be enriched involvement from the teacher. As a teacher who has worked in both online and regular classroom environments, I can tell you that in some ways the online interaction is more rich than the face-to-face. And more one on one with each student. I was surprised by that myself when I moved into an entirely online environment (unique though with a lot of teacher-student interaction, not like NovaNet or E20/20).

The second half of what you say is absolutely true and that should be incorporated by all schools, but I am focusing on entirely online education, which, like it or not, is a growing segment of the educational market. It is here to stay. I’m in Oregon and we have a nationwide “Charter” school run by a private company that is raking in cash and signing up kids like mad (that isn’t who I work for, I work for a tiny little online charter that also has a hands on tech component).

Well, I’m as new as you. What I’d like to do is find interested people and put together a grant to create a MUVE that is more substantial than the current efforts. One that is an entire virtual school. Students log in and they are on a 3D campus to explore.

It would have to be rigorous and incorporate substantial student-teacher interaction and get away from a WoW look. Although, some aspects of WoW would work great.

Here: think about learning about the food web in a basic bio class. Students may draw a poster board or look at a picture in a book with a little trophic level pyramid and they sort of memorize the 10:1 ratio of each trophic level, etc. Or maybe they go out to the school parking lot and count species there. Whatever. What if the logged in went to their bio teacher who told them to go and fill out a pyramid. They have to explore the world and find, I don’t know a thousand producers (packaged in lumps of 10 or 20 or something), a hundred primary consumers, 10 secondary, 1 tertiary. The last would be hard to find. The whole thing takes about an hour to complete, and in the end, they got it. There are only so many mountain lions that a region can support. They could maybe explore different types of ecosystem, collecting some from a pond, from the taiga, etc. In some ways, I think this would be better than how this is taught in most classrooms.

I could give you 1000 examples of how this would work and work well using existing technology. I just don’t have the capability of doing it all myself. I’m still working on making the panda bear appear.

You are really close to me, by the way, since I’m in Eugene.

If I could find people interested, I’d look for a grant. Well, I’m looking for a grant now. I would just like to see this kind of project get off the ground. I don’t see why Blizzard doesn’t do something like this. Think of the cash districts pay for textbooks each year. There are thousands of students working entirely online now. If you charged, say, $30 subscription and maybe a licensing fee for each one, that’d be good for the company and good for the school.

Sorry, I responded twice. I just thought of more to say. So if you are interested, let me know what you can bring. I don’t know how far to go with this, I’m testing the waters. Check out the article in another post about MUVEs.

I know some companies are using secondlife (Intel I think) for something similar. I can’t find the news article I bookmarked on it so I’m afraid I don’t have any more details on that.

wltgbarrett, I didn’t explain myself terribly clearly, I was talking about classroom replacement where one would sit in a virtual classroom as well as programs that attempt to replace the teacher (what you were talking about). Online only interaction does have potential, and beneficial to some learning styles, but the basic classroom interaction is still there.

Information vs. real world interaction.

The strengths to e-learning is that information is passed efficiently to the student. The student can go at their own pace. It is cheap. And the student is many times not subjugated to the pressures of innappropriate activities- drugs, drinking, binge partying that can accompany some high school or college campuses and such reduce dropout rates.

The weaknesses is many times without a physical instructor knowledge is only learned short term. (Easily fixed through online moderation) But the biggest drawback I have discovered is that students (children or adult) do not develope a social network.

What you are describing is good for highschool, where the social network is less important than for college. But in adult education what your money is really purchasing isn’t the knowledge (though that is there), but the social contacts to open doors and get things done. That is where online schools collapse because very few professors and admin are willing to endorse a student based solely on online interactions. Furthermore many parents secondary aspects for college is the hope that their children will meet educated people for marriage prospects. That doesn’t really work for online schools either.

BUT if a student learns the courses and then aggressively applies themselves to overcome those drawbacks then they many times have a HIGHER knowledge content than real life students. (Athough it will be hard to convince parents of that. I personally serve on a board of directors for an online theological school, but I will be sending my daughter to a brick and morter school.)

To read a quality discussion on education in the online world visit and the discussions posted their by education professionals worldwide.

One last note:

Kids remember game info. For years afterwards kids remember who to play and even the secrets of gaming. Yet they forget real life studies such as civics, history, etc. I feel if you write your game to simulate the lesson accurately with real reward and consequence you will be doing the world a favor.

Example in our online game we had real life minstry challenges:

Lack of potable water.
Spread of Hepatitus.
Gang attacks.
Parasite infestation.
Abuse and slavery of children and women etc.

The student would be assigned one of these problems and then they had to go and solve them in the game. For example the spread of hepatitis and parasites was interconnected to access to clean water. Solve the water problem you begin t solve the others. (we even had the politics involved with local taboos about water sources racism etc)

I plan to try and reimplement the idea in a few years when I have more computer friendly board members :slight_smile:

Anyway every student who played the game remembered the problems and solutions becuase they had gone out and figured it out even though it just online- versus sitting and just memorizing data.

I support you and if you need a bouncing board for ideas feel free to contact me.

BTW you’re in Oregon? I used to live and work with troubled kids in Coos Bay. But now Im in Kansas what a different world this is!

JB SKaggs.

yeah, that’s the thing. There has to be interaction. Study after study shows that the most important component is the dynamic relationship between teacher and student. There has to be a live teacher. The teacher just doesn’t have to be physically right there (not saying it isn’t better for the teacher to be right there, though, I still think it is!) But the teacher has to be involved in every aspect, planning, implementation, and direct instruction. That could still be done through a MUVE utilizing chat and IM functions and engaging students in an immersive virtual environment.

I use chat all the time with students and in some ways it is better than face to face. They are more communicative about what exactly they aren’t getting (most of them are anyway) and there is no social pressure to just get it, if you know what I mean. Also, i can always see that Joey isn’t getting it and give him unsolicited help in his mail box, that works very well, and you can see it: Joey’s bombing division with decimals, send him a PDF ppt showing him step by step an example, and turn around and he’s getting 100’s. Feedback is: yep, Mr. Barrett, that really helped.

If Katie doesn’t know some operation, maybe multiplication with radicals, send a help file. Katie reviews it on her own and moves on. These are interventions that are difficult to do in classrooms of 25 or more students, but online it’s no sweat at all.

The problem I see is the utter blandness of online curriculum. Not the sort of special projects like Second Life’s Terra World or the individual pieces here and there, but the overall piece. Programs that replace the teacher are next to useless, imo. And those that do have some teacher involvement rely heavily on text-only material, or maybe some 2D images, but nothing very visually engaging or intellectually stimulating. I’m working on one of the providers now to upgrade their product and we’ll see.

But while I can see where MUVE’s have the potential, and I know first-hand the effectiveness of online learning, I don’t have the expertise to develop something like a MUVE like this.

So anyway, this community seems a great place to get ideas and pointers and that’s why I’m posting here.

Here’s another part: Private entrepreneurs are filling this market, no problem there, it’s like textbook companies. But there is a lot of cash to be had. That’s not my interest, I just want to see the product. But it isn’t like there is no incentive to put together a great product. It costs something like $600 per student per class to educate a kid. A company could create a Blizzard like server system and charge schools a base licensing fee + individual subscription fees and it would be cheaper for the schools and the company could rake in dough. Forbes estimates 50% of students will be online in the next decade, that is enormous potential market growth. Millions of potential customers, all brought in through a hub, the school, so the per user take is more than a typical user subscription for something like WoW.

Anyway, thanks for the comments, croxis.

In fact, I’m teaching right now. Gotta go explain linear equations!

Okay, I posted this at 11:01, I’m editing it at 11:33, and in between a student totally learned how to find the equation of a line given two points in point-slope form.

Her final response: “Thank you. Now I am going to do number 2 and let you know my answer in a min. ok?”

Online really works, but it could be so much better.

And here it is six minutes later:

ent at 9:31 AM on Friday
Student: y=2x
Sent at 9:37 AM on Friday
me: hey
okay, that was fast
just a sec
that is correct, ma’am
i think you have the hang of this
Student: awesome.
I think so too

yes to all these things. Also, I think potentially more customizable, easier to implement differentiation (though of course within the limitations), potentially better at delivering more one on one time to students who need more of that.

I think what I am talking about addresses both these points, some of which you bring up later with excellent examples.

I am talking mostly about high school. Definitely some real elbow rubbing is needed at some levels. But some of that could be remedied wih real life conferences and other means of getting around. Schools would have to fill in the gap. I think higher ed still should be face to face, for the most part. Maybe I’m still in the box too much though.

My kids too. And I agree with all you say here. But there is a demand for online ed.

thanks, definitely will do that. I think there is a role for Moodle to play in all of this. I use moodle now and as far as being customizable it’s great.

Yes. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Real life applications in a real world. Problem-solving. All within a MUVE.

I appreciate your comments. I haven’t quite mastered the format of this bulletin board and don’t yet know how to distinguish the new posts from old, but I’ll look for that and look for future posts. Any contact interested in pursuing this would really be helpful. And maybe the moodle discussion would be the place for it.

Eugene, but just relocated from Albuquerque. What a difference! And went from fully immersed in a drop-out recovery program to an almost entirely online school!

Man I miss Oregon. Two of the Nations best Italian restaurants are in Oregon. Gepetto’s in Salem and Coquille, Pizza in Coquille old fashioned 1950’s style cracker crusts that have vanished everywhere else. Anyway I divulge.

You have a wonderful idea- but I think your first step would be the same as any game:

Sit down and create a game design document, clarify your goals and methods and then start otherwise you’ll get lost in the POTENTIAL direction offered by Panda3d. Like trying shop at WalMart, you go in for a soda and come out with a lawn Gnome, towels, groceries, and bermuda shorts. But the soda got lost.

I’d be willing to proof read your design doc and give crit’s and encouragements.

JB SKaggs