vAcademia is a new virtual worlds platform that integrates with a custom built learning management system with a host of exciting features and functionality for teachers and learners. Developed by Russian based Virtual Spaces LLC, the platform is being used in a University there, so you’ll see a lot of Russian when you try it out for the first time. The website and interface is available in English, so there’s no problem getting started.
The software is a standalone downloadable PC viewer and once installed your signed up, you just access it from your desktop icon or a specific location from their website. If you are a teacher, through the website you can set up a new class and students can view their list of courses, notes and timetables.
Where is gets interesting is the recording element! In the virtual environment each class can be recorded in 3D to be replayed back later. Now instead of viewing a 2D Machinima type movie that’s an avi file for example, the system replays back the actual events in 3D while your avatar stands there. Think of it like the Ghost of Christmas past. Your avatar is walking around a situation that has already happened. They can see and hear everyone and walk right up to there past selves, but they can’t interact. Kind of like standing in a TV show that’s happening around you.The applications for this could be endless. You could do a virtual role-play for assessment and your tutor could view the replay as if they were there. Or as a student you might want to go over a lecture you attended, so instead of just downloading a PowerPoint, you can attend the lecture over and over again.
There are a range of pre-built classroom and lecture environments to choose from, along with voice, text chat, white boards, course document folders and various collaboration tools. vAcademia is free during the Beta phase, so definitely worth a look if you use any other virtual world platforms for teaching.
Check it out: http://vacademia.com
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.