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  • NMC Virtual Worlds is a program of the New Media Consortium. Our mission is to help learning-focused organizations explore the potential of virtual spaces in a manner that builds on community knowledge, is cost-effective, and ensures high quality. NMC Virtual Worlds provides a palette of premium custom services for education and training, and conducts an ongoing series of events, conferences, and programs. A suite of pro bono services and fellowships are a central aspect of the organization, and reflect our deep commitment to learning and access.
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Evaluating Realism for Virtual Supporting Characters

published 18.Oct.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

I recently caught up with Catherine Zanbaka, PhD, Principal Research Engineer BAE Systems AIT.  Catherine shared  how she and a few other educators worked with a couple of PhD Students from UCSC and ran a study to test “Supporting Character Realism” (SCR) in a virtual bar in Second Life.  They had three different types of avatars — human controlled, bots, and those with SCR.

The abstract of the course was as follows:

Convincing and compelling virtual environments that are populated with rich characters demand consistent, nuanced, and realistic behavior that is integrated in the surrounding environment.  Inadequate and unscalable traditional Artificial Intelligence based approaches have made it impractical to apply this level of character depth and detail to large environments.  We introduce the concept of Supporting Character Realism (SCR) for virtual avatars by identifying the capabilities of agents which have the ability to work in tandem with traditional “main character realism” approaches by demonstrating consistent and nuanced behaviors that blend into the surrounding background environment.  Next, we propose several metrics for evaluating agents attempting to achieve this level of realism and test our proposed metrics in a rich social interaction experiment placed in a virtual bar amidst a variety of human and computer controlled patrons.  Finally, we gauge the performance of a set of both traditional scripted bots and prototype AI-driven agents designed to target our concept of SCR.  Our results show that SCR is not only a distinguishable and measurable metric of agent realism, but also a technically achievable goal within the reach of modern AI techniques.

Such research demonstrates one of the many ways educators can explore virtual environments for teaching, research, exhibiting, and more.  You can learn more about this fascinating research!

Check out the virtual bar used in the research as it is located on the NMC campus in Second Life.

If you are interested in a virtual campus of your own, check out the virtual properties that the NMC Virtual Campus has to offer.

18.Oct.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Educators in Second Life: East Carolina University

published 01.Oct.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

We recently reached out once again to NMC Campus Virtual World members to check in on how they are currently using Second Life for education.

We caught up with Sharon Collins and Paul LaMere of ECU and gained some insight on their fabulous program that utilizes  the virtual world of Second Life.  Paul, Technology Support Technician for the Early College Second Life Program, shared the following information with us:

The East Carolina University Early College Second Life Program (ECSLP) is a visionary approach to providing academically challenging college course work to high school students. The program is run through Academic Affairs at ECU and has been in existence since 2009.  The ECSLP is open to high school Juniors and Seniors in participating counties surrounding East Carolina University, located in Greenville, NC, who wish to earn college credit through ECU classes taught virtually using Second Life.


Subjects currently offered this semester (Fall 2012) include English, Sociology, Anthropology, Intro to Computers, Web Design and Personal Finance. Each class has its own unique virtual classroom area where student and faculty avatars meet each morning at set regular class times.  The students are physically located in their respective high schools and log onto Second Life each morning to attend their ECSLP classes Monday through Friday during the first period.

In an era where budgets are stretched and resources are limited, this method of delivering quality education is invaluable to the schools and the students alike. The students are enthusiastic about their courses and at the same time they are earning college credit and gaining valuable college experience.  Their academic performance is exemplary and  some of the instructors remark they do better than their face-to-face classes because of the interactivity and simulations created to enhance each course.

The East Carolina University Early College Second Life Program is growing each year.  In the Fall semester of 2009, we had 36 students.  Today, we currently have 74 high school students from five different high schools in three different counties enrolled in the program and taking virtual college courses. We hope that number will continue to grow in the coming years.

For more information on ECSLP, feel free to contact Paul LaMere, Technology Support Technician, ITCS Academic Computing, East Carolina University @ lamerep@ecu.edu.

If you are interested in a virtual campus of your own, check out the properties that the NMC Virtual Campus has to offer.

01.Oct.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Welcome Back NMC Virtual World Art Sims!

published 28.Sep.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Have you heard? An exciting new development has occurred!  We received not one, but TWO anonymous donors on the night of our inworld “goodbye” party to our art sims.  The donors both agreed to sponsor the sims, with one sponsoring Ars Simulacra and the other sponsoring NMC Campus West for at least one more year and perhaps more!

NMC Campus West is still set up with an amazing show of early SL art from 2004 to 2007!  Please stop in and see the creativity using Second Life as a medium. If you are so inclined, shoot the artists a message if you admire their work!

Stay tuned for upcoming photos as we set up a new exhibit on Ars Simulacra!  You will be able to see the amazing work of Suzanne Graves, as well as an exciting collaboration that will be announced soon!

Thank you to our anon donors!  We are excited and honored to be able to continue showcasing the wonderfully talented artists in Second Life!

28.Sep.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Saying goodbye to the NMC Art Sims…

published 25.Aug.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to the sim that houses the Aho Museum(NMC Campus West) & the sim of Ars Simulacra.  Both sims, provided by the New Media Consortium, have showcased some of the finest artists Second Life has to offer since 2006.

Please join us as we celebrate the past 6 years of creativity, imagination and celebration of the arts.  We will travel down memory lane and visit art from as early as  2004 to current day art in SL.  Our celebration begins at 6pm slt, Sunday  August 26th.  We will take time to explore the two sims, reminisce and listen to some fantastic music.

At 7pm slt, we have invited the musician Andreus Gustafson aka Anj to perform at the stage on Ars Simulacra.   Anj is a vocalist and multi-instrumental performer.   He has performed in Second Life since the summer of 2007.  Musical styles include alternative, pop and progressive rock with a definite electronica influence.

The Aho Museum on NMC Campus West will house art from 2004-2006.  As you travel north to Ars Simulacra, the art featured will be art created from 2007-2012.

Special thanks go out to Larry Pixel, aka Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium.  Dr. Johnson provided the vision for the NMC Campus in Second Life as well as the two art sims to showcase SL resident art.

Thanks go as well to builders and artists CJ Carnot, Stella Costello, Ravenelle Zugzwang, Forseti Svarog and dozens of others who have been involved in creating the beautiful spaces on both sims.

At its largest point, the NMC Campus Project spanned a total of 110 sims. Today, the project still hosts more than 50 sims where some 75 universities deliver courses and educational programs on a continuing basis.  Art has always been a part of the project — the Aho you see today is the second museum to stand on that spot, and was designed by CJ Carnot.

The original Aho Museum was designed and built by Forseti Svarog, and opened on the very first day the NMC Campus Project opened to the public in June, 2006.  In 2007, Tayzia Abattoir assumed the post of Curator, and has guided the collection for nearly six years.

Please join us at the entrance of the Aho for this special occasion, we would love to see you there!

25.Aug.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Welcome Colegios Peterson!

published 08.Aug.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

David W. Deeds, Ph.D., who has headed up several inworld campuses already,  has now brought Colegios Peterson to join our NMC Campus. Dr. Deeds, the Educational Technology Coordinator at Colegios Peterson in Mexico, shared that they will be using the inworld campus parcels for Information Technology in a Global Society (International Baccalaureate course), Cybernetics (National Autonomous University of Mexico course), as well as teacher professional development.

He noted that they have four campuses in different parts of Mexico City, so they will also be used as the mutual meeting place so they do not have to bother with traffic. Virtual meeting spaces such as this one save a lot of  time and hassle when it comes to travel. Kudos on the development of the new inworld campus goes out to Dr. Deeds and Colegios Peterson!

As we were chatting, David was developing the parcels preparing for an inworld meeting this coming Friday, August 9th 2012.  Below are a couple of photos of  the meeting space being set up until they have time to further develop the parcels.

In a virtual world like Second Life, yes you CAN rez a space age “Jetsons” looking building for a meeting! Colegios Peterson can be found on the sim of  Teaching 6.

If you are interested in a virtual campus of your own, check out the virtual properties that the NMC Virtual Campus has to offer.

08.Aug.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Student Art Exhibition in Second Life: National Chiayi University

published 17.May.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Dr. Mary Stokrocki, Professor and Area Head of Art Education, Fullbright, recently shared a story with me about using Second Life for education. Dr. Stokrocki is conducting research about multi-literacies as well as cross cultural research.

On April 26, while teaching on her sabbatical, Dr. Stokrocki arranged for her undergraduate students from the National Chiayi University in Minshong Taiwan to have an art exhibition opening in Second Life called Taiwan Now.

The university is a combination of an agricultural school and normal teaching college and is famous for its agricultural research, especially orchids and  peanuts.

This was the  first time for many of these students who hardly speak English to be in  Second Life, and Dr. Stokrocki could not use a Chinese keyboard. Imagine the challenges they overcame!

In this introduction to Visual Culture and Art Education class, 40 students chose different avatars: robots, animals (lizards, cat, dogs, unicorns, or wolves), and the remaining avatars were human. The curator, Second Life Avatar Jules McWhinnie (RL name of Jules Crook) from the Ed Media Center in Second Life, greeted them.

Because this was their first time interacting  in Second Life, they enjoyed connecting, gesture exchange, and general fun. Students scanned their artworks (many digitally made) and uploaded them into Second Life. The graduate students are also learning to use Second Life as a medium to create virtual sculpture and digital stories, and to conduct avatar interviews.

Professor June Julian from Philadelphia University of the Arts owns the island in Second Life where the exhibit is located and uses it for research. The exhibit will be open through June 1st and can be visited here.

Dr. Stokrocki also has an ArtArk parcel on the NMC Campus in Second Life that her graduate students are using to learn to create virtual sculpture and art.

If  you are interested in a virtual campus of your own in Second Life, check out the available properties that NMC’s virtual campus has to offer.

17.May.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Triple A Learning Opens NMC Cybercampus

published 06.Mar.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Triple A Learning, a company that produces online workshops for International Baccalaureate and other teachers, has opened a cybercampus on the NMC’s Teaching 2 sim!

Triple A’s new Second Life location will be used in conjunction with training modules produced by David W. Deeds, a longtime NMC lessee and member, whose current school’s virtual facilities are on the nearby sim of Teaching, also located on the NMC Campus.

Their virtual campus participation is evidence that international school educators are becoming increasingly interested in games-based learning in general and 3-D virtual worlds such as Second Life in particular. Triple A will also have an OpenSimulator region in JokaydiaGrid so teachers can learn about both Second Life and OpenSimulator.

Feel free to drop in on the sim of Teaching 2 to take a peek of Triple A’s inworld facility.

If  you are interested in a virtual campus of your own in Second Life, check out the available properties that NMC’s virtual campus has to offer!

06.Mar.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Let’s Talk Sustainability

published 17.Jan.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Global Kids held their second talk show in the virtual world of Second Life on Friday January 13th, where students produced and presented a live show to audience members. The  show delved into the important issues of electronic waste  and climate change.

Student hosts Jackie and Javon are in the 11th grade. They presented material, introduced guest speakers (Delia Lake-SL and Makayla-SL), asked questions of the audience members and included fun, interactive games where audience members were encouraged to move about and participate.

Using various props such as a globe, a plant with scripted “gasses” to demonstrate how more carbon dioxide is escaping into the atmosphere rather than being absorbed by trees, videos, ppt presentations, ice melting in water,  notecard givers, and game/quiz stations  inside Second Life, they discussed and demonstrated the difference between the terms Global Warming & Climate Change and the harmful effect that e-waste has on our environment.

Over 20 people were in the audience and participated in the talk show presentation. Kudos to the student producers, hosts, and all involved in these wonderful, informative shows!  We will post a video of the presentation in the near future so stay tuned!

Check us out and learn more about the NMC campus and what we have to offer as far as land availability.  We also offer our conference center for lectures, shows, presentations & conferences to NMC members. Contact carol@nmc.org if interested.

17.Jan.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Join Global Kids for their Upcoming Live Second Life Show!

published 10.Jan.12 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

Global Kids will once again gather in Second Life to produce and take part in a live virtual world talk show called “Let’s Talk Sustainability.”

We would love for you to take part in Let’s Talk Sustainability as audience members,  this Friday, January 13th from 5pm-6pm EST.

There will be two separate shows/topics occurring back-to-back:

Climate Change – What is the science of climate change?  Are there solutions to climate change that we can take action on now, or is it too late?

Electronic Waste – What is  e-waste and why is it the United States’ biggest export?  What are the global consequences of e-waste, particularly for developing countries?

Join us at the New Media Consortium Convention Center for these two exciting live shows!

To participate as audience members, please fill out this form.

10.Jan.12 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Upcoming Art Exhibit!

published 14.Dec.11 by Carol Pfeifer/Tayzia Abattoir

The full sim exhibit celebrates ART with MUSIC, MOTION, LIGHT & COLOR.  Join us in Second Life on Sunday, December 18th at 12pm slt.

STAR DANCE-Created by Gwen Carillon

In the above 3d light sculpture, the pieces glide gracefully to mimic a beautiful dance.  You cannot see the motion and movement, or hear the music and sound of the pieces in this exhibit …unless you drop by and see them!

The exhibit can be found on the NMC Campus sim of Ars Simulacra in Second Life. We invite you to explore the question that is so often asked these days: Is art created in a virtual world, really art?

GEOMETRICS #1 & 3-Created by Maryva Mayo

Here you see the Geometrics wall art, created to display smooth motion of  shapes and color. These pieces will keep you mesmerized.

According to Wikipedia, art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression.

KINETIC SPIRALIUM-Created by Lea Supermarine

The Kinetic Spiralium, one of the pieces in this exhibit is truly an amazing work art.  The overall geometric shape is formed of cubes and lines forming intricate shapes of their own. The piece gently turns within a transparent  black casing while soft subtle colors strategically placed lend yet another interesting element to the piece.

While you may not be able to physically feel the art in a Virtual World you can take it in visually & emotionally, as well as experience the music, motion, and interactivity.

NEW ART #1-Created By Spiral Walcher

The New Art #1 piece in the above photo is a beautiful kaleidoscope-like sculpture. The vibrant colors and light variations change constantly.

I welcome you to come see for yourself. There are over 30 artists that have work on display in the sim, and some have more than one piece. Walk up to each piece in avatar.  Dare not stand in one place and try to view the exhibit with your camera, as you will miss much of the motion, sounds and the interactive properties of some of the pieces. Listen, observe, interact and enjoy!

14.Dec.11 Blog Read more Comments (0)