Today was the SL demonstration for the IUP Council of Trustees. Dr. Beverly Chiarulli (Anthropology) and Dr. Allen Partridge (Communication Media). We actually got together Tuesday and went over what we wanted to so and say. I think the demo actually went well. Al opened up with a brief discussion of Virtual Worlds and really placed them in their proper context. I especially liked the analogy he related (I believe he heard it from an Intel engineer, but am not sure) that the stage we are at with virtual worlds (SL, There, etc) is similar to the early 80s when we thought that Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL were the Internet but were really just the tip of the iceberg.
My contribution was next. I talked about how while our initial goals of using SL for both education and research were on their way to being realized, we had also realized the benefit of collaboration. This was something that I truly think is one of the big advantages to participating in IUP’s Crimson Island in SL. With everyone working on the island and there being no formal division of the island, you run into people from departments and colleges you would not normally talk to or see since they are located physically across campus. It is also easier to strike up a conversation in SL (for better or for worse) with people you have just met. Anyway, I then went on to talk about how these 3D environments will certainly help my students experience a site, like my Parthenon model (which still needs work), in a way that photos and slides could never duplicate. While I was talking, Al flew his avatar around Crimson Island and into the Parthenon – this was displayed to the Council on a huge flat screen monitor that I wish I could watch sports on. At this point I turned the demonstration over to Bev.
Bev talked to the Council about how Archaeology Island allowed us to bring our research into our teaching (her work in Belize and mine in Cyprus). Al flew his avatar to Archaeology Island and landed next to the Mayan temple we are constructing. He had arranged with his students to have them all on the island working on the temple. He had also told them all to dress up, and look nice….oh and human. They often experiment with their avatars’ appearance and are quite creative (Super Mario, a teddy bear with weapons racks, etc.). It was actually quite amusing to see them since almost all of them were wearing tuxedos. So Bev showed them the temple and explained how we were going to make all three sites (the Mayan temple, PKAP, and the shipwreck) interactive so that visitors can participate archaeologically in various ways. Anyway, I think the demonstration went well and the Council members asked several good questions and certainly seemed interested in the technology.