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iPad and OpenSim

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It is no news that iPad fever sweeping the world, but for eLearning it causes grief and some retooling. Many eLearning tools output to Flash and it’s not just video but interactions such as tests, software simulations, and so on. Some of these interactions simply can not be recreated by other means (especially complex, multi-step software simulations). With iPad’s massive appeal and the slowness of Android or Chrome-based tablets to enter the market, the iPad is becoming the de facto tablet in business and schools.

I just read a post about a 1,000 student private school which is making iPads mandatory next year for all students from the 4th to the 12th grade. I do like the use of good technology for education and using tablets can eliminate the need for books and their subsequent weight toted about by students (much research has been done on the negative affects of heavy book bags on developing children).

There are other tablets out there, such as the Kno which is made specifically for education, but they have been slow in coming to market. I have been keeping an eye on the Archos 10.1 which is available for just under $300 but it has not made much of a splash. The sheer volume of iPads out there just make it the easier one to buy and the standard to measure all others against.

I have a client that deployed 2,500 of them last month and they are ordering more! Another client was an early adopter and has over 5,000 in their organization. For me, designing to the iPad is increasingly a “must”.

What about laptops compared to tablets when it comes to education?

The Google Cr48 with the Chrome operating system is being deployed for free in some pilot programs with schools and is designed to run off of the cloud. You can’t install programs on it and, oddly enough, it has no caps lock (a feature this two finger, head down typist would greatly benefit from) but it also faces the iPad ubiquity challenge.

Some colleges evaluating tablets and laptops have found that students are more likely to take notes and be attentive in classes when using tablets. This is in large part due to the tablet’s form factor – it is designed to lay flat and be used much like a paper notebook. You can’t “hide” behind the screen as easily as you can with a laptop. Farmville crops just have to wait until class is over!

How does this affect OpenSim?

Currently, there is no decent way to interact with an OpenSim grid via the iPad. Even with the Google Cr48 laptop, you can’t install a viewer. Browser-access seems to be the only viable option for accessing OpenSim grids but so far no one has launched a suitable way to do this. As Ener Hax reported on iliveisl, Canvas by Tipodean made a small splash in December but seems to have gone silent (five images on Flickr don’t instill much confidence in me nor does Ener’s unacknowledged invitation response). Linden Lab’s Project Skylight using Gaikai‘s cloud-based gaming service also seems to be stagnant but looked very promising.

WebGL might be the answer but would seem to be at least a year off for most of us. Ener Hax explored this with KataSpace and posted a review and a video – this seems the closest thing so far and is available for anyone to try for themselves.

Assuming a workable browser-based solution does come along, how would a finger driven display work for moving your avatar through an OpenSim world?

It would be nice to have iPad and tablet access to OpenSim grids and would help our own endeavor of Enclave Harbour, as well as that of many educators. A “read only” access would meet many needs and keep the browser from becoming a gaming engine (think of this similarly to the Flash authoring environment as the regular viewer where you can build and script and browser-access asĀ analogousĀ to SWF content online where you can interact but not create).

OpenSim is a great tool and, to stay relevant, some way to view it on an iPad is needed.

reposted from subQuark

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written by subQuark

February 24th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

posted in OpenSim

tagged with ,

8 comments to 'iPad and OpenSim'

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maria Korolov , Ener Hax. Ener Hax said: w00t! @subQuark blogs & i get the night off – iPad and OpenSim http://bit.ly/hDG1IB *time for a martini! then build something . . . * [...]

  2. Graham Mills

    25 Feb 11 at 12:34 am

  3. Great point Graham, it is something I have hesitated looking into because creating meshes in an app such as Blender distances virtual worlds from students. Any intermediary tool will add to the learning curve and thus reduce the number of students exposed to virtual worlds. This is from a logistic and time-based rationale.

    It takes X time to have students up and running in OpenSim and then X time to have them up and running in Blender – adoption would then be less.

    However, for our endeavors, Unity 3D may work out very well. Our intent is not to have students build in-world (although I’d like a sandbox for them).

    I’ll need to look into that, Unity 3D may provide a very workable way to access our “field trips” and that would mean this would be more easily available to a greater audience. Thanks Graham!

    David Miller

    25 Feb 11 at 7:16 am

  4. my challenge with the rezz unity dealio is that it looks like concurrency is less (that’s the opposite of what i would have thought) and it sits on their server

    after my experience with Reaction Grid’s server, i don’t want to risk our adoption on shaky setups (in the comments of Graham’s link they talk about some server issue and that makes me cringe)

    also, the cost might be a bit high if it is a $50 license per region per month (although it may be a one time license with a $20 per month subscription – if that $20 is per region per month, then forget about it! we pay $10 per region now, adding $20 to that would make this low margin endeavor impossible)

    our current server setup is rock solid and in 4 months i have only had to restart one region and that was due to some crazy scripted loop from Dream Walker (and in my books, this is 100% valid and i want to see things like that happen, it shows her experimentation with scripts)

    the only other reboots i do are for windows updates – this is the way OpenSim can run =)

    BUT . . . this approach is the right direction especially if client hardware load could be lessened (sounds like a good machine is needed and that makes this accessible to a smaller number of students, not larger) and concurrency load addressed (again, seems cockeyed to pay more to have lower concurrency)

    good job though to the Rezz team, it is rather impressive! =)

    Ener Hax

    25 Feb 11 at 7:53 am

  5. I wasn’t especially advocating the Rezzable viewer — just pointing out that it exists. I’m still a bit vague as to how it works. Can folk on the web trigger scripts and do they see the effects without hitting refresh? I suspect not.

    My experience of server stability is, and continues to be, weird but I’ve yet to have a crash during a class.

    Graham Mills

    26 Feb 11 at 8:29 am

  6. our problem on Reaction Grid is that we had 10 times the regions that we should have had on the hardware they setup for us. at which point does a provider step in and say “it won’t run like that”? as b00bs to OpenSim, we accepted whatever Reaction Grid told us. now we know better, but they did us a disservice by not being emphatic about having 16 regions on 2 cores and 1.5 gig of RAM

    i put in tickets and certainly outlined my woes here and the best solution given was to reboot the server. had someone said that a sim the way you think of it is one core and one gig of RAM, then it would have been clear that our setup would never run well

    it’s a hard balance – they want to give freedom to their clients but it is also their reputation for performance

    i certainly praised them a lot in the beginning but in the end, they are the experts, or so i thought but they did not give me expert advice

    everyone is learning and maybe they were not ready to have a user like myself – i am increasingly learning that i am a power user – after seeing what the city of Edmonton accomplished, i can see that i am a one person dynamo compared to many. it’s not easy for me to say that about myself (low self-confidence and self-esteem)

    in the end, caveat emptor still pertains and for $15 less we have many times the hardware and i can just do my own thing and i share that thing here, many times with a skewed perspective but always from my perspective =)

    Ener Hax

    26 Feb 11 at 10:17 am

  7. Mandating iPads means more kids in this, the digital generation, are consumers only rather than teaching them to be the sort of creative producers they have to be to be competitive in life or to add to what we all have to draw from for our own creativity and enjoyment. I despise that the iPad (which I like as a device) actually makes it illegal (and impossible without jail-breaking) to do any sort of programming directly on the device.

    Seren Seraph

    28 Feb 11 at 3:57 pm

  8. 100% agree with you Seren – i like the iPad (although, like subQuark, i want an android tablet) and can certainly appreciate it fitting the needs of the masses. but the masses also like watching loads of TV . . . and are not overly creative. many people have the ability to be creative but American culture encourages consumerism, not creativity

    if an iPad allowed for some apps and was powerful enough to run them, i could see myself working in Illustrator under a tree on a nice day but i guess Steve Jobs does not want me doing that – he must think it’s okay to kill people because he does allow MafiaWars on the iPad . . .

    Ener Hax

    28 Feb 11 at 7:37 pm

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