Shelley

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I finally got round to writing up the evaluation report on the sessions with Chantry High in Ipswich. We’ve forwarded the document to the school so we’ll post it up on this site after we have their response and additions. In brief though, our main findings are:

Technology

1. Open Sim will run on fairly ordinary mid-range school laptops with no dedicated graphics acceleration hardware but works best using Meerkat as the client software. We will be using this software for similar situations in the future.

 2.  The migration to Open Sim was very successful, meet ing our expectations in almost all areas and exceeded them in a few. The inability to make our ‘bots walk was the only major disappointment and we need to seek a solution as high priority.  

3. We suffered from a combination of inadequate network bandwidth at the school and the US Open Sim server being slightly under-powered. Increasing the server RAM did result in a small but noticeable improvement.  Purchasing our own high specification server to run Open Sim in the UK, which we will be able to loan  to participating schools if necessary will solve this issue.

 4. Configuring school computers to run Open Sim is relatively straightforward but we need to be more proactive in ascertaining the scale of school IT support when discussing logistics and to develop a full and clear advice sheet and to run through a number of standard tests before the project begins in any school.

 Educational

4. The students responded well to the environment and said they found the system very easy to use.

 5. The virtual environment and learning activities appear to have successfully engaged students. Students were very positive and a number of boys who offered a number of useful suggestions were recognised as students who often lack engagement with history.  

6. Students seemed to enjoy different ways of communicating – particularly the opportunity to interview Gwendoline directly via the skype connection. The variety of activities seemed to work and the lesson plans seemed pretty well paced. The group Apprentice-style challenge worked particularly well. The saving over of consequences also worked (decisions made in session 5 affected chances of survival in session 6).

 7. Because of the technical issues, students didn’t get to be as involved with their avatars as we would have liked. Nevertheless, they did react very strongly to characterisation and the way their avatars were treated in the world. Some students were observed to role play. They appeared to have no problem with being allocated an avatar of different gender to themselves.

 8 Open Sim was a completely novel environment. The freedoms it offers students is one of its main attractions but we should lay out clear ground rules of expected behaviour in world. Disengaging the flying mode was a good tactic.

 9. The teacher should be logged on and his view of the world shown on a main screens so that even if not all students are in world, everybody can see what’s going on.  Also, students in world looking at their own screens are aware of his/her presence and the teacher can share some of their experiences.

 

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