Monday, February 22, 2010

OpenSim as a Time Machine

my avatar stading before a brave new virtual world

I've managed to run a local OpenSim server and client in Ubuntu AMD64 Karmic.  OpenSim is a 3d application server that can be used to create a virtual environment just like Second Life.  The client applications I was able to run include the Open Metaverse (OMV) viewer and the Hippo OpenSim viewer.  The OMV viewer works better for me because it has a native amd64 package.

OMV can be installed in Ubuntu by adding the following to the repositories list then using synaptic to install omvviewer-x-xx.
deb karmic main
deb-src karmic main 

I'm planning to develop islands of periods in Philippine History which students can explore.  Thus they can travel in time as represented by virtual spaces. If Freeciv can be used to study the world scale concepts of history, OpenSim can be used to look at history from an individual's perspective.  Freeciv may be for teaching the longue durée while OpenSim for l'histoire événementielle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Game based learning

I've been reading Kurt Squire's (2004) dissertation Replaying history: Learning World History through Playing Civilization III and he has convinced me of the value of using games in teaching history.  His work should be required reading for history teachers today.

Before reading Squire's work almost all game-based learning (GBL) literature I've read applies to science and mathematics teaching.  His research imho points history teachers in the right direction.  I found the case reports engaging, and the treatment of learning with game play clear.  In other articles on GBL the learning is lost in the discussion of game design and technology.

The only thing wanting for me in his study is that it only deals with face-to-face education and not distance teaching.

I also went back to playing Freeciv, an opensource game compatible with Civilization 1 and 2. I've spent hours of game play in order to understand Squire's dissertation and I can personally confirm how engaging and useful it is for teaching conceptual history.  In face-to-face teaching I use to breakdown the analysis of events in terms of the four aspects: social, political, economic, and cultural.  But students do not seem to get their interrelation no matter how much emphasis I give it in my discussion and requirements.  I think playing Freeciv will remediate this misunderstanding in students.

AI vs. AI naval battle in Freeciv

In general I think this is a landmark work in history teaching, and it also opened an entirely new field of pedagogy for me.  I've never realized how advance and numerous GBL literature is now.

More on this later on as I am ravenously digesting GBL books and articles.
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