The limits of virtual worlds in academic research

After the MUVE session at the JISC CETIS conference I was interested to see this article in the MIT Technology Review which outlines some of the problems faced by academics when trying to exploit the potential of virtual worlds and games in their research. In the article Edward Castronova outlines some of the problems his team faced when they tried to build a MMU game to test out economic theory. Although there is undeniably potential in these technologies for education and research, there a huge challenges to be faced by academics who are trying to build systems which are comparable to commercially produced ones.

As I reported in an earlier posting, Mark Bell (who worked on the Arden project referred to in the TR article) presented at the MUVE session. If you are interested in finding out in more depth about the issues the Arden project faced, then it’s worth listening to the podcast of his presentation as he gave a very full and frank account of his experiences of trying to create engaging MMUs with part time research students and a limited budget.

Multi User Virtual Environments and Games @ JISC CETIS Conference 2008

Schools programmes no more on Channel 4

I just saw in today’s Guardian that Channel 4 are axing there morning schools programmes from next year and replacing them with web-based interactive materials. According to the report, there will be a mixture of online games and projects based on social networking activities and sites; and Channel 4 admit that they are taking a gamble with this approach. Though I did like this quote: “It was very clear that we had to do something, . . . “because at the moment what we do is spend £6m commissioning TV programmes aimed at 14- to 19-year-olds and then put them out in the morning when they’re at school.”

Education is central to Channel 4’s remit and funding. I just hope this initiative doesn’t go the same way as the ill fated BBC Jam.

One approach to content creation and IPR

Leigh Blackall, Otago Polytechnic, is the latest contributor to the Penn State Terra Incognito series on open educational resources. In his post he describes the approaches that Otago is taking in developing and reusing educational content and the development of IPR policies to help staff use existing content. This ” acknowledges staff and student’s individual ownership over their IP, but encourages the use of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license as the preferred copyright statement on works published with the Polytechnic’s name.” Leigh also outlines approaches to staff development in using blogs and the use of wikieducator to create and share content.

An interesting article on one institution’s journey towards creating open content and how they have integrated various technologies into staff and student practice.