Literacy Project: Trials, Tribulations and Other Stuff

Looking back its been just over three months since I last posted; the best laid plans of mice and men eh? And the Literacy Project? Well…

Trials, Tribulations… (or Skip to ‘and Other Stuff’)

A work plan designed for funding A started… oh we now have funding B; half A. Still 80% of the work plan to complete though.

Suppliers agreements signed… oh wait we might not pay that invoice… it should have been this contract too.

Weeks pass, timelines change, content delayed, deadlines missed.

Etc., etc.

… and Other Stuff

I do wonder sometimes why I try to do this for a living. Seeing the first levels of the Literacy Project complete reminds me. There’s so much to deal with freelancing in the educational environment; bureaucracies, politics, egos, funding agencies, etc., etc. But it’s also where the students are and if my work is to make a difference, and I’m passionate about it doing so, that’s where I need to be too. In my view this project will make a difference. So it’s been got on with *smiles.

The whole project has been stripped down considerably from the original intentions, which isn’t such a bad thing in my view. In part this is to manage the build within a tighter budget, but it is also about giving a stronger focus to individual game-play. There are some aspects of multi-user still incorporated, as can be seen in the accompanying video, but task wise I have concentrated the play around the individual at this stage in the research. Too many aspects added to the play will, in my view, make it more difficult to analyse where the project may or may not be succeeding in terms of its learning objectives. If it is thought that group activities will add to the learning then this aspect can be added at a later date and compared against individual play.

I have also deliberately left out incorporating a designed community aspect because it interests me to see if a game community will develop of its own accord. This version of the build may provide some leads out to establishing community but, at this stage, community will be student driven rather than project driven. Again, this is another aspect that may be added at a later date and used as a comparative tool for learning analysis.

As seeing it in action will tell you far more than any words will, without more ado, on with the walk-through video. I suggest you access HD for best viewing.

A way to go in the development yet but the main programming functionality is complete. Now its more about building each of the remaining levels, designing the accompanying tasks and then adjusting the existing code functions to accommodate the new material.

Each level will scaffold more of the educational content using different tasks to present it, but functionally the student will basically go through the same process as shown for Level 1. The level designs however, and the purpose of the tasks, will be sufficient to make each level feel different and keep the game-play engaging.

So back to the workshop for me. Comments and/or critiques appreciated as always.


Next in the Series: Changes to the Rewards System


17 thoughts on “Literacy Project: Trials, Tribulations and Other Stuff

    • Thanks Clare.

      All coming together in the end. Happy to say too that Kitely/OpenSim has lived up to the hype. Not a single crash and really not too many problems, with the odd exception of some hair-pulling tussles with scripts not quite working as one would expect them to. You know me though… bulldog tenacious so a work-around usually found.

      All that said too I think this build also shows the maturity of the opensim platform now. Is definitely coming of age *smiles


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    • Thanks Justin.

      Re the viewer, no it’s not a modified one. I made the decision however that I didn’t really want to have to do too much user education in terms of interacting with the viewer, so have run as much as I can through the HUD. The only viewer interface use so far is the initial HUD wearing and where the llTextBox function is used to capture the task answers. The HUD also ensures information isn’t lost due to IMs or chat or dialog boxes being missed, as is so often the case with new users.

      Immersion in the game-play also had a large part to play in my removing the interface from the scene. It enabled me to theme the (HUD) interface that I would present to the user, fitting it in with the surroundings and to present the information required for the game-play in a game-like manner. You can see how out of place the textbox feels when it pops up. Imagine chats and dialog boxes and notecards thrown in and you can see my reasoning from an immersion point of view.

      In terms of immersion there are arguments that suggest it is more effective when the avatar dresses in sympathy with the environment and I would agree with this. It would however necessitate a lot more Inventory use than just wearing a HUD, so that will be up to the individual educator to consider whether they have the time to integrate its use into the learning.

      And thank you for the stellar work you are doing on opensim that makes this all possible : )


      PS: After the above spiel I just realised what you may have been actually referring to in your question. *slaps self* I edited out most of the viewer interface when producing the video.

      • Thanks for the reply Aaron. I was actually interested in both aspects. As you probably know, your issues with the complexity of the user interface are common to many educators and I’ve seen many approaches to deal with it in the past. There’s demand for a viewer, particularly from educators, which can simplify things as required (i.e. disable inventory dialogs altogether, disable arbitrary teleport, etc.). Unfortunately, as far as I know there’s no sustained viewer project out there which can do that kind of stuff as of yet.

        If you’re using an existing viewer, don’t you still have issues with a learner hitting the inventory buttons, teleporting around or doing other things which may confuse them or take them out of the learning experience?

      • Yes Justin, there will always be those issues though I have attempted to reduce them as much as I can; especially in terms of circumventing the game-play.

        Let’s take the levels that the player get to through the portals; these work as holodecks so are rezzed on demand and deleted when vacated. Landmarking them to teleport to serves no purpose because if you aren’t ‘in the game’ then the levels aren’t there.

        In terms of interactions, if the HUD isn’t being worn, i.e., the game isn’t being played, there’s really nothing else to do on the sim, so to speak. All game objects interact with the HUD so cannot be ‘used’ outside of game-play.

        All levels’ objects also check the users’ attained level (managed by the HUD). Levels that a user has not yet reached respond only with an error message, i.e., you have not yet gained this level, so getting ahead of where one is up to is fruitless.

        I have even put in ejection objects, e.g. where a bridge can be ‘brought into play’ through a task, trying to circumvent the task by walking under the river will result in being tp’d back to the starting bank through collision with these object types. The final project will also have fly disabled for a similar objective.

        All that said, yes people will poke around. But my view is that if the designed game-play is captivating enough, it will entice the student to engage in that play rather than fiddle with the interface. This is where we need to be heading in virtual world learning spaces; creating places that engage to the extent that not being present to them isn’t an option, because it’s just so much more fun than mucking around with the other bits.

  2. Pingback: Literacy Project: Level Walk-Through | Amazing WWWorld

  3. I am really impressed by the video. The HUD is great, is that hooked up to a database to collect all users movement and other info?
    I saw you had to get the hud from the inventory, maybe you already know you can also have a hud appear automatically by OsForceAttachToOtherAvatar, if you allow that.
    I love to see how you scripted this all. Congratulations.

    • Thanks Nick.

      Re hooking up to a database, unfortunately the turn of events with funding put paid to a number of added extras. I’d love to, at the very least, be capturing the wrong answers as that information would be very useful for adapting the learning to better target the student cohort. At the present time however, from a programming perspective, I will only be adding an email function to inform the lecturer which students attain which levels.

      I’d also like to hook the level attainment into a leader board down on the sim landing pad. I think bringing a little competitiveness to the game-play would enhance the ‘game’ aspect. Truth told I’ve got a pocket full of ideas that will not make it into this version but, with the final issue of the product being creative commons, I’m sure there’s more development that’s going to happen down the track.

      And thanks for the heads-up re OSForceAttachToOtherAvatar. I did reckon that there was such a function, given a similar ability in LSL, but was waiting till the HUD was complete before searching it out.


      PS. Am hoping to do a few technical videos on the ‘how it all works’ aspects. Might just have to wait till it’s all built and I’ve finished my MA (MA Education in Virtual Worlds) assignments for the year *smiles.

      • One more tip you might find usefull is that you can get rid of the User Interface by pressing ctrl-alt-F1 on most of the viewers (it would be great if there was a script to get rid of that). Oh, the HUD connecting is this one: OsForceAttachToOtherAvatarFromInventory

      • Yes the interface hide is known. The only problem with that is that it will also hide the Input Text box that I use for capturing the answers so just going to have it leave it there : )


  4. Pingback: Literacy Project: Moulding Clay | F/Xual Education Services

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