what students want and teachers need


Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, spoke at an educational conference two weeks ago and discussed the results of their K-12 Speak Up Survey and she summed it up with this:

frustration among students, not just with the lack of technology in their schools, but by the lack of sophisticated use of that technology.

she broke it down saying that students:

  • have a growing interest in social-based learning
  • want to develop a personal network of expert resources
  • are looking for tools that increase untethered learning
  • want a digitally rich learning environment, unencumbered by traditional rules

does that sound like anything the OpenSim community can help with?

yes! of course i think OpenSim can achieve all of that! first i thought of sim-on-a-stick, but there’s no social aspect with it (but it is convenient to bring home). then i thought of Kitely!

when Kitely launches its LDAP and email/pass logins, that should open possibilities that can address the issues above! with LDAP i assume you might be able to tie into existing school LMSs like MOODLE and create Kitely access in that manner (i am clueless on what LDAP is and wiki said it was created with old time telephone books?)

budget is always a big deal for schools and OpenSim does need decent computers, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the current 3D projector and glasses rage in the US. the example that Kate Booth wrote about with her students in Oz speaks to how engaged students can get with OpenSim – i mean wanting to do OpenSim rather than lunch and recess? dang! =)

there are many other teachers with similar results, like Erik of Open Blackboard and his school in New York and Rich White with his incredible innovation at Greenbush Labs

for every Kate, Erik, and Rich there are a dozen teachers who are interested but lack the confidence to try it

OpenSim does take a certain level of techiness and Kitely’s new access will help lower that threshold and is a big step to the exploration and adoption of OpenSim in the classroom

another vital step, or perhaps a step behind, is time. Second Life has a big advantage on the time part – people have explored Second Life for several years now and have developed great educational tools and practices (like using SLOODLE to connect to MOODLE). unfortunately, because Second Life doesn’t allow full K-12 access and is so expensive those educational developments were more geared to university

but, in time, we’ll see more widespread educational use of OpenSim and subsequent development of educational tools and success stories which will help ease entry into OpenSim by teachers. Kitely will allow curious educators a way to economically explore the use of virtual worlds (it’s truly staggering the price difference between the two)

i have to give a nod to my subQuark (and maybe i’ll get a box of chocolates today) and give him props for his vision of our Enclave Harbour – one of the suggested solutions from Julie Evans’ conference presentation:

  • Virtual labs and lessons that include video, access to real-time data, games, animations, and 3D renderings.

ha! not just 3D renderings – 3D worlds! w00t-a-t00t-t00t! happy Valentine’s! =)

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written by Ener Hax

February 14th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

posted in OpenSim,virtual worlds

tagged with ,

24 comments to 'what students want and teachers need'

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  1. Thank you Ener, there are many educators already using Kitely and we aim to provide them with as many tools as possible to help them use virtual worlds in and out of the classroom.

    You’re correct, LDAP integration will enable provisioning students and defining access controls to school worlds based on data from the schools’ LMSs (such as Moodle).

    While it will still take a few months before we roll our LDAP support, teachers can already use our existing features to create safe learning environments for their students.

    Ilan Tochner

    14 Feb 12 at 8:22 pm

  2. The closing of SL’s Teen Grid was a huge loss, but typical of SL. Rather than actually addressing the problems, they took the easy way out and closed it. Then came the money grab of eliminating the discounts for educators.

    Whether a person is a parent or teacher or neither, children are our future. Putting this technology in their hands is the best thing we can do.

    Sarge Misfit

    14 Feb 12 at 9:26 pm

  3. “Putting this technology in their hands is the best thing we can do.” and if you do, they figure it out faster than most teachers (or adults) do!

    i think that factor intimidates many teachers, that the kids have more of a clue what is going on than they do!

    Ener Hax

    15 Feb 12 at 10:59 am

  4. I was lucky. One of my Grade 6 teachers had a Teach the Teacher day on Mondays. We would spend the weekend looking for something new to teach him about. I learned tons of new things that way and he always seemed to be amazed at what we taught him. I think that is why I am so supportive of giving today’s kids the goodies and letting them run with it.

    Sarge Misfit

    15 Feb 12 at 11:49 am

  5. Actually, it seems students want the way I home-schooled my son haha! To be frank, the Kitely LDAP support will be great, but MOODLE is already accessible, and will need to be in order to integrate it well into OpenSim activities. I DO have a question, though, for Ilan related to this. Does Kitely have the http server support in its scripting engine so such integration is possible?


    15 Feb 12 at 9:43 pm

  6. that’s awesome Sarge and truly a great teacher – i learned a lot from my students and would never lie if i did not know something, they enjoyed schooling me every chance they had!

    than ELQ, that’s good to know (i work with MOODLE)

    since Ilan will likely answer you, i’ll tack on a question i have!

    with the Kitley concept of worlds, can i set up our 16 regions to be together as a connected grid?

    Ener Hax

    15 Feb 12 at 9:52 pm

  7. Hi ELQ,

    We use the latest official OpenSim release (currently 0.7.2) which, to my knowledge, has no problem running SLOODLE scripts so I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to use Kitely with MOODLE as long as your run MOODLE itself outside of Kitely (we don’t host MOODLE ourselves at this time).

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 10:15 am

  8. Hi Ener,

    Worlds should eventually support 16-region setups but are currently limited to 1 region is size. You can’t place worlds adjacent to each other so, for the time being, you’d have to split your 16 regions into 16 different, and unconnected, regions on the same grid (comparable to 16 separate private Islands on SL).

    Worlds support up to 100K prims each. For server load management reasons that isn’t likely to change once we roll out bigger worlds. I don’t know how many prims you use on your 16 regions but if it totals more than 100K prims then that may be another limiting factor for moving all of them into the same world.

    That said, as OpenSim continues to be optimized, Amazon servers become cheaper to rent by the hour and bandwidth costs decrease the aforementioned prim limit will likely be increased eventually.

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 10:26 am

  9. thanks Ilan

    drat, that’s a huge wrinkle for us that we won’t be able to move past because our activities are throughout the fictitious town of Enclave Harbour and its 16 regions =(

    prims are fine, we have fewer than 30,000 total currently and that won’t grow by much

    ps – i host MOODLE myself and on my company servers and wouldn’t recommend you get into MOODLE hosting. there are several companies out there. but if you did get into
    MOODLE hosting, do charge well for it (for a good but inexpensive MOODLE host, see

    Ener Hax

    16 Feb 12 at 10:49 am

  10. Thanks Ener,

    I’m sorry you won’t be able to bring your entire operation into Kitely next moth. We do, however, plan to add multi-region worlds in the not-too-far future and already host worlds that have more than 50K prims so you should be able to move Enclave Harbour into Kitely eventually.

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 11:27 am

  11. Ilan, just for clarification, if I went with the current 30 region plan, I would have 30 islands on one grid? People could teleport between, no need for HG? And each island would allow 100k prims?

    If so, could those regions be joined together at a later date, with the understanding that I would have to do the rebuilding, of course?

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 3:55 pm

  12. Hi Sarge,

    All Kitely worlds are on the same grid so, once we enable inworld teleporting between worlds (and not just inside them), you’ll be able to teleport between your worlds (no need to Hypergrid teleport).

    Each world currently allows up to 100K prims.

    You won’t be able to join existing worlds but you can export them to OAR files, stitch them together on your local machine, and export that connected megaregion to an OAR file. Then, once we enable multi-region worlds, you’ll be able to create a new world using the multi-region OAR file you created by combining the separate worlds.

    Please note that we haven’t decided what the max world size will be in terms of regions but it’s very unlikely that we will allow more than 16 regions per world and it’s possible that not all plans will support all world sizes (we won’t, for example, enable creating a 16-region world on the Free Plan). Also, if your separate worlds use more than 100K prims total then you won’t be able to combine them all into a single world.

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 7:53 pm

  13. i imagine that some corporate users would like multi-region worlds. it seems as if your pricing model takes that into account?

    if i had 16 regions online, that would be 16 worlds as you have them defined and i would expect to pay for each one (16 should cost 16 times more than 1)

    i don’t know enough about the specifics, let alone how you have Kitely setup but for our needs a 4 by 4 grid is necessary

    as a price point comparison, we pay $160 and would go as high as $200 if need be. so anything less than that sounds attractive (especially your $50! but $100 is very, very attractive as well)

    one HUGE bonus for us would be that you are cloud-based and that fits very well with our environmental slant

    we are so into the environmental thing that David has this for his book:

    Our book is printed with Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Certified Sourcing which tracks wood from forest to finished book. In addition, we also receive the following certifications:

    Chain of Custody (CoC)
    The Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®)
    Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™)

    Ener Hax

    16 Feb 12 at 8:09 pm

  14. Not sure if I get it. You say world, I think grid, as in virtual world, but your explanation sort of also says “region”. Your inter-world travel is similar to HG, not inter-region teleporting. Or is it? I already understand that I wouldn’t be able to TP to, say Enclave Harbour (if it were on Kitely), but I could travel from my “world 1″ to my “world 2″. But would that travel be using a “traditional” landmark, or the use of something similar to a gate/portal/wormhole/some other thing?

    I’m actually not worried about total prims once you have mega regions up and running, I expect that to be in line with what is currently used.

    You see, being a sci-fi nut, I can easily adapt to inter-world travel and can modify Excelsior Station to incorporate that. I’m just trying to picture how it all hangs together. I’m used to creating a land mark or looking up the World Map to travel about a grid (world).

    On the practical side, I’m thinking of your 12 world (region?) plan and setting them up as enclosed habitats, with “portals” to connect them. Or maybe start smaller and “discover” new places, adding as I go, if that’s possible.

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 8:17 pm

  15. Yes, the $50 plan is extremely attractive, especially as how I was planning on spending that much to host the Station on NovaGrid, Ener. But the individual “habitat” idea is a good compromise for me. Just picture it, “Invasion of the Habitats” at Excelsior Station :-D

    You know, that actually sounds very interesting, if I can get Myriad running well. Different groups on different habitats, defending and all. Sounds like a blast :-D No pun intended …. oooooo …. I wonder if I can script the habitat to “explode” as the sign of defeat *laughs maniacally*

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 8:23 pm

  16. Hi Sarge,

    Currently you can teleport inside the same world and, once we enable inter-world teleportation, you’ll be able to teleport to any world on Kitely to which you have access.

    ALL kitely worlds are on the same grid – no HG teleport will be required to get from one world running on Kitely to another world. Each Kitely world has its own access control list – so you can restrict some people from entering some places while keeping all the worlds on the same grid. For example, if Enclave Harbour and Excelsior Station were both on Kitely, and Ener didn’t decide to block your access to it, then you’d be able to teleport between your world and hers.

    Inworld teleportation (and in the future inter-world teleportation) work exactly as you’d expect between regions running on the same OpenSim grid. You can teleport yourself, send a teleport request to others, use scripted objects to teleport you, etc.

    I stated world sizes in number of regions because that’s the OpenSim/SL convention for measuring land size.

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 8:48 pm

  17. Hi Ener,

    Our model is based on charging for user-minutes not land size so ideally you would be able to build as big a world as you want and pay the same when you are inworld. However, as running bigger worlds uses more server resources which costs us money, we need to place limits on how much resources each world can consume and/or start charging for bigger worlds differently.

    We’ve yet to figure out the specifics of how we will technically implement big worlds and how much Minutes/KC we would charge for using/storing them but what we do know is that we’re likely to set max world size as a function of the plan the user is on.

    For example, and this is just an example:
    Free Plan & Bronze Plan = 1 region max size
    Silver Plan = 4 region max size
    Gold Plan = 9 region max size
    Platinum Plan = 16 region max size

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 9:09 pm

  18. Okay, I think I get it. Kitely has/pays for cloud-based servers and so its the grid like InWorldz is a grid on servers it pays for. And so your worlds are like InWorldz regions. That’s what was confusing me. I was thinking that Kitely was hosting our own independent grids on your servers when, in fact, we’d be owning one or more regions on your grid.

    Or am I still confused. I’m used to regions being 256m x 256m, with one or more regions on a grid, otherwise called a world or virtual world.

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 9:17 pm

  19. Hi Sarge,

    You’ve got it right. All your worlds are 1 (and in the future possibly more) regions in size. All your worlds’ regions, and those of other people who have worlds on Kitely, are on the same Kitely grid. You can’t currently teleport between different worlds because of a temporary limitation of our on-demand architecture.

    Our backend enables us to provide additional access control mechanisms on top of those provided by OpenSim. This enables us to provide our users with having the best of both worlds: running all worlds on a single grid while controlling access to their worlds as if they were running on a separate grid.

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 9:37 pm

  20. Okay, glad that’s cleared up :-) I think I’ll check out the Free Plan once you get email registrations set up so I can take a good look around :-D And it certaily sounds like Kitely is perfect for a non-profit I volunteer at. We’ve been talking about creating a virtual presence.

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 9:53 pm

  21. Great to hear Sarge, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in Kitely :-)

    Ilan Tochner

    16 Feb 12 at 10:14 pm

  22. I’m jsut waiting on those email registrations :-D

    Sarge Misfit

    16 Feb 12 at 10:40 pm

  23. Well, you won’t have to wait for much longer Sarge, we’re making good progress with email/password and Twitter integration :-)

    Ilan Tochner

    17 Feb 12 at 9:42 am

  24. /me starts fidgeting in his chair like a 6-year old waiting to get out of Sunday School

    Sarge Misfit

    17 Feb 12 at 9:56 pm

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