OpenSim Educators’ Consortium


I have been following a discussion in LinkedIn’s Virtual World group that has taken a shift into an area of interest to me. It will come to no surprise to the reader’s of Ener Hax’s iliveisl blog to learn that this shift was loudly accented by our own Ener.

Linda Rogers (Bread and Roses | Music Island), whom I have a deep respect for and who has a comprehensive knowledge of Second Life, started this shift and brings up a great point in a conversation with Ener.

With heavy editing below, here is part of the thread to set the stage for my two cents.

Linda: I frequently run into educators that are new to Second Life, because one of the places they tend to visit (if they are interested in the Arts) is my music series. It is amazing how frequently I meet educators in their first week who are just blown away by things they have visited, the virtual Dresden Museum, the virtual Sistine Chapel, historical sims, science sims, space and ocean sims. AND they want to bring their Grade 3 class to see something and explore. That’s when they find out with a shock that Second Life is not open to children.

These educators want a world with the quality and depth of content of SL available in a child-friendly environment.

Ener: well the good news is that educators can have that same experience in OpenSim! =)  because everything that was built in Second Life can be built in OpenSim. a teacher could build it themselves, create a consortium of like-minded teachers and do it as a project, or even hire others

Linda: Linden Lab has indicated clearly that they are disinterested in retaining Educators.There’s clearly room for someone else to take that ball and run with it.

Ener: if a group of teachers can organize, then a great number of things can be built. i think if all disparate OpenSim educational efforts could loosely come together, people would be surprised at the tremendous volume of educational material out there. Linda, you hit on a very good point and i believe that it is up to teachers to form this and not some corporate entity =)

Linda and Ener have hit upon a very good point indeed!

Second Life was the first “create anything you want” virtual world that saw mainstream media attention and attracted many people who did come and build fantastic places.

We all know what Linden Lab thinks of education – the layoff of many that dealt with education, such as Pathfinder Linden, the closure of the teen grid, and the cessation of the educational/not-for-profit discount.

Second Life does have a large amount of interesting builds and, unfortunately, many have disappeared due to a number of factors. However, there is no longer the need to pin all hopes on a corporate entity that will make choices to serve itself over that of education.

The advances and stability seen in OpenSimulator make it nearly as viable as Second Life. The one exception, in my opinion, is the physics engine.

The challenges in creating an educational consortium, which could be as simple as a list of Grid URIs and a sentence about each, include some of the following:

  • semi-private grids, such as our Enclave Harbor
  • grids existing on local servers, in the school or district
  • classroom grids on local machines, such as Eric Nauman’s
  • grids behind firewalls
  • grids on teacher’s personal computers at home

There are further variations but even with hypergrid-enabled regions, not all grids will be able, nor necessarily want, to connect into a large consortium. With Second Life, we were all in this one single “walled garden” which invoked a community feel that made it more natural to want to share your work. Often, sims were paid for from school budgets and did not represent as deep a personal investment as some OpenSim grids do. To compound this, many Second Life builds were heavily comprised of “things” that were bought or found for free.

To use Enclave Harbour as an example, Ener has created every item we have in-world, even trees. This makes for a more personal investment into OpenSim than in Second Life. Buying a chair for fifty cents is easier to share with others than a chair you may have spent a few hours creating. Add to that the more “gritty” feel that running your own server has and its expense and somehow it feels more emotional than it did in Second Life (even though we pay what one educationally discounted sim cost and have 16 sims). This may simply be my own bias, but I am protective of Ener’s work and value it greatly. I confess to not seeing much value in being open to the public. It may sound callous, but I bet my feelings are not that different from others who have gone through the trouble to establish their own grid and have all of their content custom-made.

However, a consortium of educational OpenSim grids could have great value in the larger scheme of K-16 education.

I would like to see this consortium include linkages with community colleges and universities. The educational grids could serve as “feeders” to higher education institutions and this is something that would hold value to me. If students going through Enclave Harbour resulted in a higher number of students pursuing science studies in college (particularly STEM with emphasis on reducing its gender gap), then I would open our grid up because this meant that a real relationship existed between us and a college (or colleges). This would add value to our grid in a way that benefited us and the partnering college, in effect our program would have value to the students and to the college.

If you are interested in being part of a listing of educational grids, even if you are fully private, let me know. I would be glad to start a listing (perhaps even self-registration via public Google Docs). Private grids being listed may help others gauge the size and richness of OpenSim educational work in a way analogous to Second Life and spark new ways to look at OpenSim for education.

reposted from subQuark

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written by subQuark

June 27th, 2011 at 8:43 pm

32 comments to 'OpenSim Educators’ Consortium'

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  1. Hi Ener,

    There are already quite a lot of learning and teaching activities being held on Kitely with dozens of worlds specifically dedicated to education. The Virtual World Education Roundtable recently moved from Reaction Grid to Kitely (at least temporarily, see ). Unfortunately, as most of those activities are being held in private worlds your site visitors won’t be able to enter them.

    Kitely is a good choice for educators who want to try out OpenSim-based grids. Setup is super easy, the deployment is fully automated and they can have their own worlds up and running within minutes of signup. Kitely enables educators to test the latest official OpenSim release without requiring them to mess with any of the technical issues that sometimes still pop up when running OpenSim.

    Kitely enables educators to easily import OAR files from the multiple sites that provide them so they don’t have to start building their worlds from scratch. In addition, they can use our web-based interface to easily export anything they build as OAR files so they can test Kitely for free without having to worry about loosing assets if they later decide they wish to move their builds to another commercial grid or their own OpenSim deployment.

    I apologize for the marketing spiel, but as Kitely is currently the easiest and least time consuming way for educators to dip their toes in OpenSim and, for the time being, it is also free I thought it was worth mentioning.

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 12:08 am

  2. Vendor lock-in is the culprit in the history of virtual worlds, e.g. legions of freaks have always combatted Microsoft monopoly since decades.

    That’s why the Immersive Education Initiative iED has created Requirements focussing on multi-platform and cross-grid Use…

    A good starting point for Our Educational Requirements:
    Immersive Education Initiative iED

    This, for the purpose of “Creating Once, Experiencing Everywhere”, ultimately to create an Education Grid… Our Use Case…

    Check the video

    Again, first the Use Case, then the Requirements, then the Tool… not the other way around.

    Vendor lock-in to a Tool doesn’t look for a Use Case… Simply said, if no Use Case, then no Use… Thus, go get a drink, there is no need for a tool actually…

    Normal IT procurement processes also follow this path. RequirementOne offers a Totally FREE tool for Project Management, Time Management, Requirement Management and Gathering, Issue Tracking, Request for Proposal (RFP), Sourcing and Request for Quotation (RFQ).

    These normal procurement issues seem to gone lost during the Second Life saga.

    Linden Lab knew it all along… LL namely sponsored the Thinkbalm Decision Making Guide, which clearly described competitors already implementing a browser-based virtual world viewer. This study also pointed out the Use Case approach, and the need for Requirements Management…

    This study was published in 01-2010, before the Viewer 2 rollout, already describing Viewer 3 technology in 2009!!

    Meanwhile, a simple virtual world selection tool, Virtual World Finder, has been created by Daden Limited to help businesses and organisations choose between competing platforms for their projects.

    Kitely should watch out about the Legacy Promotion of vendor lock-in, because the iED people have already identified a competitive cloud computing system that enables cinema class rendering, VastPark…

    VastPark has been accepted as a candidate Immersive Education virtual world platform

    VastPark meets Educational requirements, even for Cinema Class rendering!

    And lo-and-behold, VastPark clearly promotes “NO Vendor Lock-In” on their main website…


    28 Jun 11 at 1:39 am

  3. Hello Ilan, David here (I am the author of this post) and yes Kitely is a great way (from what I have heard from Ener which includes in person conversations).

    No need to apologise for marketing, your comment helps educate others.

    Now I will challenge the “easiest and least time consuming way” statement by offering up my experience with Ener’s sim on a stick.

    I am in a situation at my work where I would not be able to test Kitely because of firewall issues. To further compound this, many people can not run executables which I understand is how Kitely works. And, to a smaller extent, not all people have Facebook accounts.

    Sim on a stick avoids all of that and despite Ener’s modesty, it is a very clever deployment of OpenSim and makes it drop dead simple to test and build on a Windows system, despite firewalls, or needing a third-party account, or admin rights.

    Yes, there are no multiple users, but to see and get a feel for the latest OpenSim, Ener’s stick work is hard to beat. And it is also free and will remain free (I sponsor the 66 cents a month for the site and take her out for burritos to compensate her for her work on that site).

    That said, Kitely is a very cool offering and I can’t wait to see the commercialised offering. Best of luck!

    David Miller

    28 Jun 11 at 10:17 am

  4. what??? you pay me in burritos! cripes, you have a past due balance in that case! =p

    and thank you for the kind words, not like my head needs to get any bigger! =D

    yah, sim-on-a-stick only requires Windows and the ability to download a file. no executables, no craptacular fartbook account (/me hates fartbook), and with DreamWalker’s BAT files, pfft, you can’t get any simpler! *sends McDreamy a virtual burrito*

    but Kitely is very neat and only time will tell if it’s a good model (seems good to me, but what do i know?) – people will use “free” all day long and for all that i can fault with Linden Lab, i can’t argue about the $70 million they make a year!

    Ener Hax

    28 Jun 11 at 10:24 am

  5. Hi David,

    You’re right, the existing requirement to have a Facebook account can be problem for people who don’t wish to create one but we will allow people to use alternative login options sometime in September so this won’t remain an issue for long.

    People who have their firewalls configured to access SL should be able to access Kitely from the same computer without a problem using the same virtual world viewer that they already have installed. People who have rirewall issues will indeed find sim-on-a-stick a great way to test OpenSim for building locally on their own computer but will still miss out on the entire social interaction aspect unless they succeed in getting it to work on their network (which requires some technical know how).

    Accessing Kitely does require a very small digitally signed browser plugin to be installed (less than 800KB) but it shouldn’t require Admin rights to do so and people who have a problem installing it may very likely have a problem installing the virtual world viewer that teachers need to access their virtual worlds (whether Kitely-based or using sim-on-a-stick). For people who don’t have this problem, Kitely Plugin is much faster to download and start using than the much bigger sim-on-a-stick solution.

    I believe a very good way for people to start checking out OpenSim is to try installing the Kitely plugin. If it works for them then great, they now have a fully functional and connected OpenSim environment to work in. If it doesn’t then they should definitely download and use sim-on-a-stick. This will enable them to create locally and import whatever they create into Kitely once they’re ready to share it with others.

    I think the important thing is for educators to know they have very affordable (and sometimes free) options and start taking advantage of this great technology’s potential without fear of being locked into using any one particular provider.

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 11:07 am

  6. Hi Eurominuteman,

    We are the farthest possible from trying to force vendor lock-in: we use freely available open sourced solutions, we contribute improvements we make back to those projects so that they are available for everyone, we have openly stated that we will support multiple open-sourced platforms concurrently, and we already enable people to easily export whatever they create inside Kitely to an archive they can import into other grids.

    See our MetaMeets presentation for additional info:

    Regarding architecture capabilities, cinematic quality rendering comes from using high-polygon count meshes and many shader effects. Many modern open-sourced systems support this, including v2 SL viewers, realXtend, VastPark, etc.

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 11:25 am

  7. well, for what it is worth, Kitely is “Officially Ener Approved” =)

    Ener Hax

    28 Jun 11 at 1:00 pm

  8. Hi Ener,

    Thank you!

    Being Officially Ener Approved is worth a lot :-)

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 1:32 pm

  9. And a quick note about vendor lock in — yes, VastPark has an open source product (in addition to their commercial platform) and, if you’re a school capable of running it on your own, you’re avoiding vendor lock-in.

    However, if you don’t have the in-house technical expertise to do that then you have a problem — there aren’t many vendors offering VastPark hosting (or OpenQwaq hosting or OpenWonderland hosting or Sirikata hosting).

    By comparison, there are 55 vendors (that I know of — I’m sure I’m missing a bunch) with more appearing all the time — that can host your OpenSim region. So if you decide to leave Kitely, you download your OAR file (one button export — very smooth — nicer than any other hosting vendor out there) and you can take your OAR and run it at home, or upload it to any other service (though some commercial grids like InWorldz or Avination may want some assurances that the OAR does not violate anyone’s copyrights before they upload it for you).

    Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing Kitely roll out alternate logins, voice, and hypergrid — when those are in place, it will be a VERY competitive platform for enterprise uses.

    Maria Korolov

    28 Jun 11 at 1:54 pm

  10. and in addition to the hosts that Maria mentions, there are a few OpenSim gurus that can dial into a box (say you have your own or lease your own) and install OpenSim for you. i have been quoted both $300 and $500 for this one-time type of consulting

    Kitely will truly offer a viable and inexpensive option to educators, once they roll out additional access means and have real billing in place (i am too nervous about the money to venture into it atm)

    Ener Hax

    28 Jun 11 at 2:35 pm

  11. Hi Maria,

    I completely agree with you about the difference between having the theoretical freedom to move between vendors and having practical and affordable alternatives. You are absolutely right, amongst the current virtual worlds solutions only OpenSim offers real vendor migration options for people with a limited budget.

    I believe that within 6 months most of the features listed in our MetaMeets presentation (see above) will be rolled out. Alternate logins are already planned for September, Hypergrid support will probably be not too long after that and voice support is pending on the expected developments of the Whisper solution (which I hope will be made available soon).

    Our goal is to make Kitely an affordable platform for anyone wishing to use standards-compliant and non-proprietary virtual worlds. We have a lot more work to do but we are developing our capabilities at a very fast pace (80% of our development time is spent on backend improvements that we don’t blog about).

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 2:35 pm

  12. Great comments about vendor lock-in. I like it :-) I added a Facebook question > What virtual world configuration do you prefer?


    28 Jun 11 at 2:50 pm

  13. “The one exception, in my opinion, is the physics engine.”

    This is true. I see in the latest Opensim dev blog on JusttinCC’s site, it talks about work to bring in a port of the Bullet Physics engine. Games such as Grand Theft Auto 4 use Bullet. For Opensim and Physics certainly keep an eye on this space.

    “/me hates fartbook”

    My term for facebook is a lot worse that fartbook! But my view is if a service like kitely can benefit and expand Opensim then I have no problem with one option being Facebook based login. As the old testament says: Opensim success in one area shall beget success in another.

    “And lo-and-behold, VastPark clearly promotes “NO Vendor Lock-In””

    …was therefore a little bemused by their “Request a Quote” button at the bottom, “Developer Zone” requiring sign-in. But I agree, there is a case where an educator may need to engage outsourced services due to lack of time and skillset. Havent signed up to assess the products yet, but will if I get time.

    Breen Whitman

    28 Jun 11 at 2:58 pm

  14. Hi Ener,

    Thank you for considering our financial state, our operation is extremely capital efficient due to our automation (that is where we spend most of our development efforts). We are not going to run out of money anytime soon. That said, we are a business and we do need to start making money if we are to have enough resources to develop Kitely to its full potential.

    Unless there are big surprises, our billing solution should be in place in early August and we’ll start working on adding additional access means right after that.

    You really shouldn’t be nervous about trying out Kitely, we wouldn’t continue to offer our service for free if we couldn’t afford to do so. If something were to suddenly change and cause us to be unable to continue providing free access before our billing is rolled out then you’ll be able to export your work to OAR file(s) and upload it somewhere else while we finish developing our billing solution.

    Ilan Tochner

    28 Jun 11 at 3:05 pm

  15. 1. “Regarding architecture capabilities, cinematic quality rendering comes from using high-polygon count meshes and many shader effects. Many modern open-sourced systems support this, including v2 SL viewers, realXtend, VastPark, etc.”

    Thus, an enhanced requirement for future Opensim versions :-)

    2. VastPark takes full advantage of Web services and the Cloud to provide a robust and scalable platform

    3. Professional IT Service Management: This is an issue, where first generation platforms & utility providers fail completely… Implementing sustainable IT quality & risk management in virtual worlds… Who has ISO 9001 quality management ranking among those utility providers? Not even SL…

    I saw that VastPark provides professional IT Service Management, the kind that the big boys do, like IT Infrastructure Library ITIL and Capability Maturity Model CMM… This makes them supplier compliant for US Dept. of Defense… Take a look at their fully blown 1st and 2nd level help desk support… 3rd level support is where the developers are…


    28 Jun 11 at 11:58 pm

  16. What a fantastic discussion here! It makes an educator so excited to see the point we’re at with the ease and availability of virtual worlds. I’ve been frustrated at the lack of ability to show teachers in places like public schools with poor IT support or firewalls with necessary ports closed how to get a sim up and running easily. But with services like Kitely and sim-on-a-stick, the options really are opening up. What I love is the ability to build out a sim and post the OAR for people to download and use. That was my intro to Kitely when I posted a Parthenon OAR and someone announced they had loaded it into a Kitely account within minutes. I think part of what makes this sharing possible is the open source ethos behind OpenSim itself. Of course, some people are going to want to protect the content of their sims for business or other reasons and that’s fine, but the ability to make copies of these amazing learning environments and distribute them is going to be a real game changer if we can keep an inventory of what’s out there.

    Another thing, I’m thinking of HyperGridding our school’s sim but I really don’t get how it works. If you or Ener would like to exercise your usual brilliance on a post I would appreciate it. I mean, say I am able to figure out how to enable it properly, then how do I teleport to another grid? I mean, I don’t get it down to the level of where I click or type or what to type in. Such a noob!

    And thanks for the mention, David!

    Erik N

    29 Jun 11 at 12:36 am

  17. @Eurominuteman Many thanks for your info re Vastpark. It looks interesting.

    Is the VastPark viewer the only way to view the Vastpark server scene? Or can an SL viewer do? Is the VastPark Viewer opensource too?

    Breen Whitman

    29 Jun 11 at 12:41 am

  18. Eurominuteman

    29 Jun 11 at 5:40 am

  19. @Erik I heard about this solution in order to do hypergridding

    Universal Plug and Play UPuP

    Universal Plug and Play UPnP in Opensim Users Archive—A

    NewWorldStudio is a mixed solution, and can be operated as standalone AND/OR connected to the Internet via Hypergrid for visitors. Universal Plug and Play UPuP technology enables Connectivity Behind the Firewall versus Dedicated Server

    But apparently this solution presents a bandwidth conflict with your Internet provider and their Terms of Service if you enable external access… so I dropped following this for the moment…

    For an internal configuration it may be feasible…


    29 Jun 11 at 5:53 am

  20. “Who has ISO 9001 quality management ranking among those utility providers? Not even SL…”

    Well, LEGO Universe does… haw haw


    29 Jun 11 at 6:14 am

  21. hey Erik! the absolute expert on hypergridding to everything and anything is Maria from Hypergrid Business. she routinely goes to all available grids to update her Hyperica listing and also because she is passionate about it

    Ener Hax

    29 Jun 11 at 7:23 am

  22. @Erik – I was the one who saw your tweet and uploaded the parthenon oar to Kitely :)
    While I am not a great fb user, I find it does have its uses, and currently Kitely is one of them although I am looking forward to alternative logins. However, I love the fact that it is so easy to make a world like yours accessible to so many people so quickly. Although I am a great fan (and user) of sim-on-a-stick (thanks so much Ener!) it obviously can’t provide the almost instant accessibility to unknown others that a Kitely world can.
    In my mind I liken a build on an opensim grid, where ever it is hosted, as being like a Word Doc attached to an email – you have to work hard to make it available to other people, its easy to miss or forget to send it to someone, people to whom it isn’t sent won’t even know it exists, and even those who do receive it may not have the right software to read it. Uploading your build to a kitely World is more like creating a blog post – you can limit access to a chosen few but in general you make it open for all to experience. (And yes Ilan we do need that dynamic list of Open to Everyone Kitely worlds :) )

    Clare Atkins

    29 Jun 11 at 5:49 pm

  23. whoops – meant to include the link to Erik’s student’s world – it is
    here –

    For information on Hypergridding, the best resource that I know was created by Pathfinder (before he got seduced by Jibe :) ) and is here –
    It clearly explains what hypergridding is all about and how to give it a try!

    Clare Atkins

    29 Jun 11 at 5:53 pm

  24. Eric —

    Ener is absolutely right. I am all about the hypergrid!

    Instructions for how to start doing hypergrid teleports are here:

    Basically, you either walk through a hypergate, or you type the hypergrid address into Map-Search — where you would normally type a region name.

    For a bunch of hypergrid destinations, see our hypergrid directory: (currently undergoing a big renovation — stay tuned!)

    I also recommend checking out The Hypergates, a very useful network of hypergates linking all the most popular grids — and some small ones run by individuals as well:

    Easiest way to start your travels is to log into OSGrid, go to the Samsara region, and click on the hypergate there. You’ll get a list of destinations — pick one and off you go! If you get lost out there in the wilds of hyperspace, just close your viewer and log back in – and you’ll be back on your home grid. (Lots of other OSGrid regions have hypergates — Festa 24H has two different kinds.)

    If your home base is on ReactionGrid or JokaydiaGrid or another grid running the old version of the hypergrid protocol, Pathfinder’s Hypergrid Adventurers Club has been doing tours to other HG 1.0-accessible grids, and I recommend that you check them out (thanks, Clare, for the link!).

    If you want to make your own grid hypergrid-accessible, if you’re using a third-party hosting provider, just ask them to turn hypergrid on for you. If you’re running it youself, it’s tricky. I recommend using the pre-configured Diva Distro, but you still have to forward your ports.

    Maria Korolov

    29 Jun 11 at 8:28 pm

  25. Thanks all for the HG links all! Clare your document and blog metaphors make me think of how my mind is blown every time I save or load an OAR. I just love the impossibility of all that virtual reality collapsing down to a bundle of bits. It’s truly amazing to me.

    Erik N

    29 Jun 11 at 8:59 pm

  26. Oh, hi Maria! Funny I didn’t see your post because I started writing then had to go put the kid to bed and came back to it later.

    Thanks for all that great info about HG. I have the latest Diva and ports forwarded so it’s accessible outside the firewall so maybe it won’t be such a complicated thing after all if I just read what Diva says about settings to change. New adventures await!

    Erik N

    29 Jun 11 at 9:41 pm

  27. ha ha! i have a blog post for today

    *copies Maria’s invaluable HG tips*

    thanks Maria, you are the Goddess of HG! =)

    neat perspective Erik! that puts into words how i feel:

    I just love the impossibility of all that virtual reality collapsing down to a bundle of bits. It’s truly amazing to me.

    Ener Hax

    30 Jun 11 at 9:17 am

  28. Capability Maturity Characteristics of Virtual World Service & Utility Providers


    1 Jul 11 at 7:22 am

  29. dang, i like that graphic quite a bit Euro! thank you for posting it and it is spot on imo =)

    Ener Hax

    1 Jul 11 at 7:37 am

  30. Sustainability and continuous improvement are in the interest of virtual world service & utility providers… is a portal for you as a consumer to Report Complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies


    1 Jul 11 at 2:27 pm

  31. This one goes a step further…

    Capability Maturity & Im-Maturity Characteristics of Virtual World Service & Utility Providers


    3 Jul 11 at 1:07 am

  32. It seems that Science Sim has several capability maturity gaps…

    Careful! No Terms of Use, No Contact Address for DMCE, No Authorized Officer Name, No EU-VAT-IdNo., No Commercial Registry No., No Imprint…


    3 Jul 11 at 7:56 am

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