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Best of Virtual News : IMO

I got a ping recently asking me to post more consistent blogs recapping my take on the top five virtual world announcements. The requestor was asking for a weekly recap-to which I replied ‘gulp, how about we start off with monthly’? So without further ado-here is my take on the announcements within the last (ok this blog will be more like a 6 week review) month in no particular order.1) Google Earth Gets “4D” Capabilities And Revives Ancient RomeI think the idea of being able to be immersed in a historic space to teach, explore, learn, or play will change the way different cultures view one another, increase the future generation’s awareness of the importance of world history and offer the opportunity for people who can’t travel to still immerse themselves in a place in time. How cool is that? Way, imo.2) Virtual Reality Helps War Heroes Recover From BurnsThis is one of the more heart warming uses of virtual reality, burn patients wear virtual reality goggles and immerse in a game called”Snow World’ (natch) to take there mind off of painful treatments they endure. Watch the below clip and see for yourself!VR has come a long way baby-3) A Realer Virtual WorldIn April we had a TechChat on the Internet of Things (which you can watch below) a concept of a world where inanimate objects communicate with us and one another over the network via tiny intelligent object. Recently Forbes wrote an article on an effort MIT has underway to build sensors designed to tie real and virtual worlds together. “These devices are designed to be like wormholes that let you tunnel through to a second reality,” says Joe Paradiso, MIT. “Second Life is detached. We’re tying it into the real world.”Sign me up for a badge ASAP!4) NASA Selects 3 Proposal Teams for Learning Virtual WorldBeing a space junky (yeah, shuttle launch tonight!) I paid attention when NASA announced they where creating a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO). In late October NASA announced that they have whittled it down to three players who will present at Goddard Space Station, and yes I am jealous. You may ask why would NASA create an MMO? They sum it up well on their site,”The power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining recognition. NASA is in a position to develop an online game that functions as a persistent, synthetic environment supporting education as a laboratory, a massive visualization tools and collaborative workspace while simultaneously drawing users into a challenging, game-play immersion.” Nuff said 😉5) Second Life Opens New World of Opportunity to Ontario StudentsThis article discuss how educators are using Second Life, blogging and other web 2.0 type tools to disrupt the normal learning process and engage more deeply with their students. This one is near and dear to our heart as well here at Cisco as we are passionate about technology and learning. In March we held a Second Life TechChat on Learning 2.0 which you can watch below, excuse the audio as it isn’t the best quality.Empowering teachers and students with technology-simply rules.I didn’t include one of my own posts — cause that would be totally shameless pandering, unlike what follows — about our Cisco Live in Second Life TechChat on the open developer Cisco Application Developer Platform taking place on November 20, 2008. We had our rehearsal today for this one and I think it is going to be a very interesting discussion. At the last moment we were happily able to add an external speaker to the mix. Corey Wilson is a Product Specialist at Sagem-Interstar for the XMediusFAX Fax over IP (FoIP) solution suite and he will discuss the new XMF SP and its use of the AXP interface to replicate faxes back to the data center based on available bandwidth. I encourage all you Linux developers to come out and explore the opportunities AXP offers and learn more about the Think Inside the Box contest now under way. We hope you can join us for this discussion in Second Life or on the web via this blog.Is there a piece of virtual worlds news that you think should have made the list? I don’t doubt it and encourage you to comment accordingly.

Get Your Ghoul On

For many moons now the Cisco team had produced serious programming for virtual environments. To date we have only held one event that was solely produced as a reward experience for our virtual environment audience; the first year Second Life anniversary party we held in January 2008. That being said we are all about fun here in Cisco Corporate Event Marketing, really we are. So to that effect we are holding a Halloween party in Second Life on Frightday, October 31st, from 3:00-5:00 pm Pacific/Second Life Time at Cisco Live in Second Life.We will have free costumes, a game with prizes for the winners, and virtual candy for all attendees. Let us say”Thank you from Cisco” for supporting our virtual environment events and join us for a mix and mingle in a relaxed space. So come on out and trick or treat with the Cisco virtual environments team for a spooky good time! imageDannette CiscoSystems [aka moi] as your dark lord :-)

Watch the Archive of the Empower the Remote Workforce TechChat

This TechChat featured Calvin Chai, Security Solutions Marketing Manager and Carina Reyes, IT Manager, Virtual Office Services, both from Cisco. During this TechChat, Chai and Reyes discussed the primary challenges businesses face in rolling out teleworking and how Cisco Virtual Office can help by providing extensible secure network services for business productivity, including data, voice, video, and wireless mobility.Listen to this discussion to understand the environmental factors and business trends for teleworking and how the combination of hardware, software, and services offered in Cisco Virtual Office address:* Flexibility and productivity for employees* Security for the remote workforce* Scaling IT resources* Business resilience and pandemic planning* Talent attraction and retention for the business* Green best practices and initiativesClick play below to view the archive of the event.Please complete a short survey on the TechChat.More resources:Dowload a PDF of the presentationLearn More About Cisco Virtual Office

Rock Band 2

I am enjoying the new Rock Band 2 pages in the consumer area of a visit if you haven’t checked it out yet.

Gaming and Education

As anyone who has read more than one of my blog posts knows, I am an avid gamer…not very good mind you but I love it. At Cisco we have an internal email alias that folks can subscribe to if they are interested in virtual worlds, 3D environments and of course games. The other day an interesting article was sent along regarding World of Warcraft (WoW) being used to get children engaged with education. The forwarder, Steve Hall a Network Consulting Engineer with Cisco Advanced Services DCN practice, was kind enough to write-up a blog post on the article and its findings.

I ran across an article the other day and found it very intriguing. It’s titled “‘World of Warcraft’ Gets Kids Interested in School“. Huh? It was something I just had to check out. How can a game do such a thing? Shouldn’t a game distract kids from school work? Doesn’t school get in the way of playing computer games?I have to say upfront that I do play World of Warcraft (often referred to as WoW) to some degree, but not nearly as often as most do. However, I am very familiar with the game and the mechanics of its various components.The article mentions an after school program that has under-achieving students sitting around playing WoW. These students go on to do better in school. The contention is the game teaches the kids many skills that are valuable to excel in today’s school system.Math: There is a lot of math “under the hood” of Wow in just about every aspect from Character progression to combat. It is not necessary to know this math but the students in this program seemed to want to know what is making everything work. Knowing the formula for weapon damage, which takes in a WoW character’s physical attributes (strength, agility), items being used (which may contain damage modifiers as “enchantments”) and the opponent’s defense skills and armor. Keeping those factors in mind when making character progression decisions can only help a player. The right decision will result in a more powerful character in the game. Social Skills: Wow is a social game and as a result players must interact with each other to progress. This interaction is often typed in the keyboard as chats. Players who are rude or insulting in the chat are quickly “flamed” or simply ignored by the other players. Being polite and social is rewarded with help when needed. The students also formed a group in the game called a guild. This involves a guild structure with leadership and guild officers to administer it. Also, the teens are interacting with many players in the game who are just playing and not there as a learning exercise. I would think the social aspect would not be nearly as beneficial in a virtual world designed specifically for learning. There is something to interaction with others who are there for a wide variety of reasons.Scientific Process: WoW is more than merely game played in the virtual world created for it. Players often start entire web sites dedicated to providing information and discussing the finer points of gameplay. According to the article,”Players used reasoned arguments, backed up hypotheses and even brought statistics to bear on issues that they faced near the higher levels of the game”. This introduction to thinking scientifically is often not noticed and it was refreshing to see it acknowledged for what it was. As a WoW gamer myself I can attest to all these points. All the skills mentioned are definitely aspects of the gameplay of Wow. In the past I never realized that they can actually be teaching tools. I will, of course, continue to play WoW and will now try to forget all this “learning” that can take place-. I don’t want to take all the fun out of it! Steve Hall,Network Consulting Engineer, Cisco Advanced Services DCN Practice

Here, here to another WoW fan at Cisco and thanks for sharing Steve! The referenced article details an interesting use of gaming to engage students and hook them into the idea that learning can be cool. There are so many examples of virtual environments being used to educate and interconnect people of all ages. For example, my nephew is really into WolfQuest which a previous science teacher introduced him to when he was working on a school project on wolves. My nephew has always been into wolves as they are one of our family totem animals, we are all of Muscogee decent, and has lots of books and reference on wolves. He said what hooked him on WolfQuest though was being able to join with friends and/or make new friends to form a pack. To quote the web site, “The WolfQuest experience goes beyond the game with an active online community where you can discuss the game with other players, chat with wolf biologists, and share artwork and stories about wolves.” I guess there is something to this notion that interactions are a primary driver for exploration and discovery, and therefore learning. I knew being a gamer was a good thing and now I appreciate my hobby even more than before.