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Unity 3D Worlds

September 2nd, 2014 Comments off

One of the stumbling blocks of online classrooms is the lack of community building that happens almost naturally in a face-to-face classroom.  It’s difficult to, especially in an asynchronous environment, to connect with classmates and the instructor.  They are words on a screen with some photos and maybe a video.  As I transitioned from face-t0-face into the online classroom, I was fortunate, at first, to have a completely synchronous online environment in Adobe connect.  Even though we all met at the same time and spent time together, I was still concerned about connecting with my students and having students connect with each other.  As it turns out, with a few tweaks and breakout rooms, those connections develop.  Things and mindsets have to be modified so that students have time to get to know one another.  Activities have to be redesigned so that they can be successful in a virtual space.  Generally speaking it is a rewarding and very feasible method for instruction from the standpoint of learning and community.  This is not a feasible method for most education.  My position, in t his instance, is training new employees to do a job while working from home.  They are paid an hourly wage and given a specific schedule.  It’s not difficult for everyone to meet at the same time on their computers because that is the job they were hired for.

In colleges and high schools, this method is not very feasible.  Schedule will never align and asynchronous methods have to be used.  In my opinion, asynchronous teaching has tremendous value for learning and content engagement, but not for learning communities with out some artificial and deliberate activities and practices.  If done properly and with a bit of luck, those connections can be made asynchronously as well.  One of the best methods is a regular live meeting similar to what we are conducting this semester in EDTECH 531.  This gives students “face time” with each other to hear voices and interact in a spontaneous manner that can lead to community forming and connections being created.  I think the use of virtual worlds and spaces is a tremendous opportunity to really lock those connections in and build the community.  It gives students a chance to see others and how they act.

I had never heard of Unity 3D worlds before but they are promising to me.  I do have some questions that I would like explore.  The interface seems simple enough, but how complex is creating the worlds? I’ve had some experience with Second Life and I’m wondering if the object creation is similar.  How long would it take to create a simple classroom or a larger area for writing prompts?  After our meeting and exploring these worlds, I’m excited to delve a little more into it and possibly use it in my teaching at IDLA.

I’m looking forward to Minecraft.  I play it with my daughter and am excited.