Several HUMlab researchers have a strong interest in “embodied learning” in graphical virtual environments and in many of our educational projects we experiment with this notion. One example which has been previously mentioned here (and for instance in Patrik’s blog) is the Virtual Wedding project in Active Worlds, and another platform that we use is Traveler â€“ a graphical 3D environment with voice communication and spatial sound where participants are represented by often perceptually unrealistic avatars (for example big heads).
Far-reaching contacts with the creators of the program and with parts of the OzGate community have led to many interesting joint activities. We host the European OzGate server here in the lab, and in return we get all the technical support we could ask for from Oz and his companions.
As part of the activities carried out by a Swedish national network for ICT in academic language education (ITAS) this platform is tested and evaluated as a space for practicing oral communication online in language education at a distance. Student groups meet inworld to carry out communicative exercises and the teacher is able to move about in the space and observe different groups communicating simultaneously without disturbing each other, due to the affordances of the spatial sound. We also use the space for discussion meetings with the ITAS network, and on Thursday the 27th of January at 5.00 pm CET there will be a new gathering on the topic “What works? Different communications media for different purposes in language education at a distance?”. An opportunity to test the program ahead of time will be given tomorrow, Wednesday the 26th the same time. Anyone interested in participating and trying this program out can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the meeting is available here. You may also want to read my blog post about some of the issues that are discussed in the suggested literature, or this interview with Oz, which among other things touches upon issues such as virtual/real, representation, identity, graphic communication and the future of online communication.