Educators – what would you most like to see next in OpenSim? February 19, 2010Posted by justincc in opensim, opensim-applications, opensim-dev, secondlife, virtual-environments, virtual-worlds.
Hi folks. I might not have talked about this much before but one of my chief interests is finding ways in which OpenSim can be better adapted for education and business uses, either as a standalone installation or as part of a larger grid.
I do think that it’s still very early days yet for virtual environments (VEs). Graphically, clients are primitive, especially compared to the latest video games. Outside of research labs and universities input devices are poor – trying to navigate a 3D scene using a 2D mouse is very unintuitive. And backend VE infrastructure systems are either proprietary or only just beginning to gather steam (OpenSim, for instance, still being alpha level code with its fair share of bugs).
Perhaps more importantly, I think that it’s also still extremely early culturally. To me, it’s a bit like the early days of the cinema where people where early films were little more than a fixed camera pointing at a stage. We’re only just groping beyond the naive ideas of ‘3D websites’ and exact in-world replicas of classrooms and offices. I think that it’s going to be quite a while before we really know how to use the medium.
Nonetheless, I’m always fascinated to hear of how people are experimenting with OpenSim and other virtual environments, with an eye to using them to achieve their goals. For instance, it was great yesterday to read Paul Sweeney’s report on a lessons-learned meeting for UK-funded virtual-world education projects, a meeting at which OpenSim was mentioned quite a few times. Among other things, this adds to the discussions of emerging educational VE uses in last month’s UK Virtual World Watch report and to the earlier activites in this space.
In fact, what I’d like to do today is concentrate on educators (in which I also include trainers, museum curators and anybody else providing a learning experience) and ask them a question. What would you most like to see next in OpenSim? Here are a few (!) candidates off the top of my head.
- Higher stability and reliability.
- Mesh-based objects instead of/as well as prim-based ones.
- Easier configuration.
- Better integration with existing Second Life based educational system such as SLoodle.
- A proper guest system where users can log in with guest accounts (e.g. Purple Guest, Blue Guest, White Guest) without needing to create an avatar account first.
- Implementation of missing Second Life features such as the ability to take groups of objects into inventory.
- Bundling within OpenSim of currently 3rd party-sourced components such as Groups and Search.
Don’t restrict yourself to this list – please feel free to nominate anything you like. To simulate the limited resources available, it would be really great if anybody commenting could restrict themselves to just one (primary) choice.
I should also make the disclaimer that I probably won’t get much free time to implement any of these soon – already I’ve had to put experiments with updating sculpties from scripts on the backburner. But I’d be very interested to hear from educational users what their priorities are and this may still influence others in the community both directly and indirectly (that’s one of the great things about open-source).