nmc virtual worlds

  • 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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Case Studies

  • Shiloh Restoration Project
    The aim of the virtual version of the Shiloh Community Restoration Project was to create two historical recreations; the Shiloh-Rosenwald School and the Shiloh Baptist Church. This virtual environment provides a rich atmosphere to explore the ... more→
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Your NMC Campus Story: Jan Baum

published 07.Apr.10 by Beth Sachtjen

“Your NMC Campus Story” highlights the many ways in which educators are using the NMC Campus in Second Life to spark innovation, learning, and creativity. This post introduces us to Professor Jan Baum of Towson University and her Hype project as part of a Global Design Collaboration program.

I have an ongoing collaborative art and design project that utilizes digital media in several forms. This semester’s iteration is the Global Design Collaboration. I used the NMC listserv along with other professional SL listservs to put out a call for participants. The response was excellent and far ranging. I received interest from a number of US institutions as well as institutions from Scotland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Thailand and I think a few more. The core group is Towson University, Winthrop University and the University of Dundee in Scotland. Other interested parties may join us in Second Life and participate in less central ways; the project is open for collaboration. The faculty involved in the project, myself, Kim Voigt from Towson University, Courtney Starrett from Winthrop University and Sandra Wilson from the University of Dundee, have given our students a design problem titled Hype. We ask students to examine the idea of hype and using digital design software design an object based on their design research. We are using Second Life in a number of ways. Each student has an interactive display board where they will post an image of themselves, their design research and concept sketches along with notation about their design thinking and response to the project. [Rachel Timmins’, aka Granule Admiral, display board is available.]


All participants meet in Second Life on pre-arranged dates for discussion, design reviews, and get to know each other. From this we hope students will identify peers that they are interested in collaborating with. Collaboration will consist of dialogue as well as sharing digital files and influencing each other’s designs. We are encouraging students to use all kinds of communication technology for the project: Skype, email, blogs, etc. Each student will have a version or versions of the resulting object/design digitally printed or rapid prototyped in Real Life. All of the work will be presented in a gallery format in one of the galleries on the Towson Innovation Lab.

I am cataloging the project at
And we are using as a constant interactive space.

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Learning in a Virtual World: Using SL for Medical Education

published 05.Apr.10 by Beth Sachtjen

Our friends Spiral Theas (Robin Heyden) and Chimera Cosmos (Liz Dorland) presented at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference on a Continuing Medical Education event that was designed, along with John Wiecha and Elliot Sternthal, for family practice physicians and an article the team published in the Journal for Medical Internet Research.

Additional Information can be found the following places:

Presentation Slides:
Robin’s Blog post of the presentation:

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Your NMC Campus Story: Dr. David W. Deeds

published 05.Apr.10 by Beth Sachtjen

“Your NMC Campus Story” highlights the many ways in which educators are using the NMC Campus in Second Life to spark innovation, learning, and creativity. This edition’s journey is brought to us by Dr. David W. Deeds.

Mister (now Doctor) David W. Deeds leased Lot 8 (1024 square meters) on Outreach from the New Media Consortium back in late 2006 as part of his PhD research. His first dissertation paper featured a snapshot of his avatar, Deed Davids, sitting on the turf marker. As a professor in Woosong University’s (Daejeon, South Korea) International Business Department, he succeeded mainly in annoying his New York University cyberneighbors, while also managing to teach the basics of Second Life to his learners and write some more papers on using virtual worlds in education, which have confounded and/or irritated scholars worldwide. David studiously ignores all academic writing conventions but still gets published, so several diehard traditionalists have reportedly put a “fatwah” out on him. His students did run their own SL t-shirt business and promote some educational charities via “Virtual Woosong.” Linden Scripting Language served as the foundation of “Intro to Programming” courses. But re: SL, Woosong University professors and administrators never really “got it.”

One of the Woosong-days accomplishments David’s most proud of is the fact that he helped several colleagues get started in SL. Christopher Surridge (Christopher Flow in SL), of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, said: “In addition to being a pioneer and driving force in developing educational media in virtual worlds, David Deeds has also been a passionate and effective facilitator. David’s early support of my own modest educational programs in Second Life made possible basically everything that has happened since. He generously offered space in Second Life for my students, as well as students from Dubai and Japan, to join, learn and grow together in an exciting virtual environment. Without David’s support and encouragement, I would never have begun my adventures in virtual space.

It wasn’t until David joined a computer science department at Shingu College (Seongnam, South Korea) that things really took off. He made SL an integral part of almost all of his IT classes, taking over 500 students inworld to teach them computer-aided design, programming…and English. David and colleagues still find it funny that of all SL has to offer re: education, it was the chance to practice English “anonymously” with other learners that most excited his students. His kids hosted classes from around Korea and Japan as part of their English language exchanges. Several English-teacher colleagues also joined in and conducted joint classes with other schools throughout Korea. David expanded to a larger lot on Outreach and then was given turf on Sloodle as a reward for helping with their beta testing. Ultimately, SL’s fate at Shingu came down to video cards. The school had invested heavily in labs full of computers that are truly nifty…except that their video cards are just barely adequate for SL…David lost the budget battle for upgrades. Lot 8 soon became redundant and so was abandoned. David still intermittently visits the now-empty plot and sings “The Way We Were.”

After butting his head for years against the “kimchee ceiling” of Korean universities (you could win a Nobel Prize in Software Engineering and they’d still consider you primarily an English teacher), David decided to make a move to international schools as of 2009. His first school was in Georgia (not the state, the country), where people believe avatars steal souls…that assignment didn’t last long.

He started at Changchun American International School (CAIS) in China as of the summer of 2009 and, in addition to creating “Virtual CAIS” in SL, introduced OpenSim to middle school students as part of their technology classes. It’s been and continues to be a big hit. CAIS has an OpenSim environment (Caisland) hosted by ReactionGrid and has also created a local version because of Internet connection problems, which will hopefully be solved soon. As the school’s IT Teacher/Manager, David is stretched pretty thin, but as of 2010-2011 there’ll be another IT Teacher on board and the goal is to dramatically increase the use of SL for teachers’ professional development. Virtual CAIS will serve as “teacher boot camp” for virtual worlds training. Substantial progress has been made this year and colleagues from the directors down are enthusiastic about SL. Changchun is pretty isolated and so the idea is for teachers to regularly attend inworld meetings of the International Society for Technology in Education, among other organizations. Mary Pazsit, CAIS Principal, said: “We’re very excited about the possibilities of the 3D Internet classroom, not just for computer science teaching but for cross-curricular instruction as well. We hope to have every middle and high school teacher trained in using Second Life and OpenSim as of next year.”

David has been invited to present at the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) Global Learn Conference in Malaysia in May. He’ll be speaking about his experiences teaching using both SL and OpenSim…his topic: “Web 3.0: The 3D Internet Classroom.” He’s planned a live demonstration of both the SL and OpenSim environments, so wish him luck…he’ll probably need it. As for right now in SL, he’s preparing a middle school art show for an upcoming parents’ day. Parents will log into SL and visit Virtual CAIS, enjoy some virtual snacks/drinks and peruse their kids’ masterpieces.

You can share “Your NMC Campus Story” by writing

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05.Apr.10 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Your NMC Campus Story

published 01.Apr.10 by Beth Sachtjen

If you’ve ever peeked at our NMC Campus Case Study, you know that the NMC Campus Project is at the core of the New Media Consortium’s presence in Second Life. Over the years we’ve grown from one sim to nearly 100; developing a multitude of projects, hosting many events, and creating public spaces along the way. While we are proud of this project and what it has allowed us to accomplish, it isn’t exactly why we use virtual world’s platforms in the first place. Putting it simply: the NMC is a community.

Flourishing underneath the canopy of the NMC Campus story there is an entire ecosystem of even more narratives unfolding every day on the NMC Campus- these are Your NMC Campus Stories. Each day the NMC Campus is home to a wide range of events, university classes, art installations, explorations, discoveries and many more types of innovation, learning, and creativity.

“Your NMC Campus Story” will be a regular feature on this blog that captures a small snapshot of the work our community does, a taste of the learning experiences occurring here, and a window into virtual worlds through the scope of our community’s efforts. Share your story by emailing

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Viewer 2

published 23.Mar.10 by Chris Holden

So… who’s tried it? First made public during the SL Pro! conference, the new viewer’s steadily gaining more publicity and I hope users.

There are a whole slew of improvements to the interface designed to make it easier for new users but of most interest to us as developers is naturally the shared media. In a nutshell this is web media on a prim, interactive and independent of the old parcel streaming media properties so there are no longer any limitations on how many different sources of streaming media can be playing in one place at one time. The fact that it’s interactive also means that we can now incorporate many existing digital learning tools into our Second Life environments, web pages, video and even interactive flash.

I’m particularly interested in this as depite our best efforts, meaningful educational content is frequently a bit thin, in part because the technology of SL can be clumsy or not best suited to some aspects of this content, so it may be omitted entirely or simply recreated in a less than ideal form in-world. Now, we can use other technologies where appropriate and augment this with what a 3D virtual environment is best at, leading to richer and more meaningful experiences than could previously be created in any of the available media.

If you have a great idea for this and are looking for help to develop the next generation of educational content in Second Life, do please contact us as we’re already testing, experimenting and preparing to lead the way!

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How did you do that?

published 16.Mar.10 by Chris Holden

how to 1

I had some queries about alpha windows during the conference as I used them for the Loyola build so here’s an example that also demonstrates how to tackle an age old problem in Second Life – Gothic arches. Use this method when you have openings defined by an alpha channel in a larger area of texture to give them solidity in the reveals and mitigate some of the alpha ordering issues.

how to 2

It’s pretty simple really; create a solid wall inside the prim that contains your alpha opening. Given a wall thickness of say 1m, make your inner wall 0.95m to avoid texture flashing when viewed from a distance. This enables you to not only create alpha windows set in larger textures, but also allows more complex shaped openings than basic prim work would allow as over lapping prims inside the wall aren’t visible!

Good luck with your builds!

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Loyola follow up

published 16.Mar.10 by Chris Holden

As I used the build at Loyola to demonstrate various aspects of the development process at SLPro! I thought I’d follow up here with a picture of the completed development, including the Church on the left.

Loyola Regents

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How was it for you?

published 03.Mar.10 by Chris Holden

The week after SLPro! and we’re already assessing it’s success and our performance. Feedback so far has been very good but we could always do with more so if you haven’t already do please get in touch with us and let us know what you thought.

Also, if you weren’t aware we have made available slides, audio & more where available for you to browse after the event:
Tom Hale’s (T. Linden) content
Presentation Slides
Audio Archive

As if SLPro! wasn’t enough, we’re also gearing up already for our own 2010 NMC Symposium on New Media and Learning March 23, 2010 – March 25, 2010 to be held in Second Life. Register here!

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SL Pro! Opens Tomorrow

published 22.Feb.10 by Alan Levine

cc licensed flickr photo shared by NMC Second Life

SL Pro!, a conference for professional Second Life® content creators, opens tomorrow. The NMC was contracted by Linden Lab® to run the logistics and host the conference. So far, more than 200 people have registered for this three day event that we describe elsewhere as:

SL Pro! will provide a forum to join in conversations with Lindens like T and Babbage, artists such as AM Radio and Stella Costello, innovative builder/scripters such as CJ Carnot, full service developers like Kim Anubis and the NMC, business innovators like Jonty Glaser of Stiletto Moody, talented scripters like Vex Streeter and Seifert Surface, and many other well-known professionals as they share hard-won secrets and tips.

In addition to these sessions with experts, over the three days of the conference, there are Content Creation Challenges as well as exhibits from our sponsors and Linden Lab.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by NMC Second Life

But its not too late to cross the line and register!

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22.Feb.10 Blog Read more Comments (0)

Results of New NMC Two Minute Survey on Virtual Worlds

published 12.Feb.10 by Alan Levine

Recent results for the NMC Two Minute Survey on What’s Happening in Virtual Worlds have been tallied and posted at Also available is a 10-page listing of educational projects submitted by respondents.

Some highlights include:

  1. The data indicate that virtual worlds have moved through the bulk of the hype surrounding them, and are now at the point where we are beginning to see real success, albeit also at a much more realistic level that early visions imagined.  Most survey respondents (70%) placed Virtual Worlds on the right side of Gartner’s curve, with the highest proportion placing them on the Slope of Enlightenment (35%) or even the Plateau of Productivity (4%), suggesting that many are starting to see very practical and effective uses for virtual worlds.
  2. Contrary to statements that virtual worlds are passé, our data suggest that, among educators, interest continues to be strong or growing.; Nearly two thirds of respondents report their level of activity is about the same or higher than two to three years ago. About one third (36%) report lower activity, and a number of factors may be seen as influencing that result, including people who came to virtual worlds early and left before pedagogical practice caught up with the interest in virtual worlds, or people new to the experience from whom the hype may still be new. In any case, the results clearly indicate that use of virtual worlds is very much alive among educators.

    These data indicate that virtual worlds have moved through the bulk of the hype surrounding them, and are now at the point where we are beginning to see real success, albeit also at a much more realistic level that early visions imagined.  Most survey respondents (70%) placed Virtual Worlds on the right side of Gartner’s curve, with the highest proportion placing them on the Slope of Enlightenment (35%) or even the Plateau of Productivity (4%), suggesting that many are starting to see very practical and effective uses for virtual worlds.

  3. Second Life® is the dominant virtual world platform among survey participants, 76% of them citing Second Life as their virtual world of choice. Few others event registered with OpenSim and Teleplace (Qwaq) listed by a few users. Second Life, being the most mature of the social virtual worlds, has been the highest public profile too so it is really no surprise to see this result.
  4. In terms of adoption, a full 43% of respondents believe the steep learning curve or negative press/perceptions have played a role as a barrier to their use of virtual worlds in their institutions.  Right behind this, at 17% of the results, is a lack of pedagogical models as a significant barrier of adoption.

Finally, a wild card in this is really something not related to virtual worlds directly but rather the infrastructure to support it. Virtual world environments perform poorly on wireless internet connections and slow wired connections. Many institutions cannot afford fast pipes on a large scale for virtual world users. There are measures afoot in this country to expand ultra-fast internet connections and if this gets adopted on a large scale (and hopefully it will sooner rather than later), a faster pipe may breath some new life into virtual worlds allowing a new round of experimentation and use as the bandwidth highway adds some new lanes.

A list of examples of projects shared by the survey participants is also posted as a PDF download for reference.

See the full details on the survey at

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