3D interactive environment
- 3D Interactive environments are often referred to as virtual reality or interactive 3D and have a figurative appearance. Much like our own world, this type of world allows interaction with other (networked) beings as well as manipulation of objects (Loeffler & Andersen 1994). They are a kind of virtual habitat.
See also: virtual environment (overview of various virtual environments), Web 3D technology (overview of web 3D technologies), 3D modeling (overview of modeling tools), 3D file format (overview of file formats). For education, a good standardized web format is X3D
3D interactive environments became relatively popular by the end of last century. From its start, some educators and educational researchers have been investigating these spaces. However, the "killing application" are shared computer games, in particular MMORPGs.
- Desk-top virtual reality (Users look at a world on a screen, typically used for gaming or social worlds). There are many variants, e.g. web 3D technology or video games
- Immersive virtual reality (Users are immersed)
- Attempts to use a 3D interactive environments, (i.e. virtual habitats based on desktop virtual reality) are not new. For example, Active Worlds did provide a educational separate server space for years, e.g. Daniel K. Schneider had his students play with it 1997.
- The problem with most of these environments is that there is not much to do, so why use it once the "dressing as avatar" and "let's build a home" effects loose their attraction ? Here is an incomplete list of typical useful applications:
- Role playing
- Mission training
- Procedure training
- Meetings (with enhanced support for non-verbal communication)
Indexes & communities
- Avatar teleport (indexes several virtual habitats. But some of them are dead)
- Virtual Worlds Review
- Les environments virtuels collaboratifs en réseau qui utilisent le langage VRML
- Virtual WorldLets (large portal with ads and frames).
- Mix3D Resources (En/fr)
News / Blogs
- Hiperia3D News
- Metaverse One Blog by Damon Hernandez
- 3D On The Web: CHEAP!!!
- 3pointD.com by Mark Wallace and friends
- Virtual World News
- There are some Wikipedia articles that include useful information.
- Association of Virtual Worlds publishes free green (business buide) and blue (consumer) books.
- Content Migration Between 3D Online Learning Environments by Greg Jones, 2007, ()
Services and software for virtual environments
Here is an incomplete list of online services and software for 3D virtual environments. See also 3D file format.
- Proprietary formats (services)
- Second Life (SecondLife.com). Currently the most popular it seems, includes educational activities.
- Active Worlds (multiple server spaces). This technology has been around sine 1995 and is still popular. However, they don't seem to answer any emails regarding educational worlds ....
- DigitalSpace Traveler
- There. An other on-line world
- 3D Network Professional Virtual Enterprise Initiative (web3D-based)
- Proprietary educational worlds (services)
- Quest Atlantis is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks.
- PlanetQuest (NASA, space missions and interactive activities).
- Proton Sphere by ProtonMedia. (they sell some learning simulations).
- Isolated 3D scenes as services (Your 3D home/chat page hosted on a proprietary service)
- Scenecaster Allows to create only online 3D scenes, no avatars/chat.
- Vivaty (can be integrated as Facebook widget)
- Lively Dead in 2009, from Google. Windows/IE only. To be replaced with a Collada-based solution.
- Meet3D (dead service/product ?)
- VRML or X3D-based free worlds
(users can build)
- VRMLWorld, VRML-based open service. Made with the ABNet communication framework. (Needs a special client in addition the the BS Contact VRML/X3D player?)
- VR4All. This is a free 3D world building and chat environment. It works with the BS Contact player.
- Proprietary formats (server/client software)
- Virtools (Dassault). Production and deployment tools (immersive, Internet, 3D desktop, ..)
- There are many more of these ...
- Open source servers and clients
- OpenCroquet is a software development environment and software infrastructure for creating and deploying deeply collaborative multi-user online applications and metaverses on and across multiple operating systems and devices. It is derived from Squeak. Open Cobalt is a National Science Foundation-sponsored effort to develop an open source virtual world browser and authoring toolkit application based on the Croquet technology (alpha in 2010).
- RealXtend A free open source virtual world platform (server and browser). As of 2008 this is an active project with interesting features. On the road map are some interesting integration features for video, office software, etc.
- Open Virtual Worlds Project
- Project Wonderland. Sun's Toolkit for Building 3D Virtual Worlds (Java 3D-based). MPK20 is an example.
- Multiverse (server and plugin). Written in C/Java and scriptable with Python. Can import several 3D formats.
- VR SPACE, a free cross-platform modular 3D community software.
- OpenSimulator?, a 3D Application Server. It can be used to create a virtual environment (or world) which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols.
- Works with X3D/VRML (commercial)
- Blaxxun. One of the first VRML-based systems. The company at some went broke, but seems to be alive again (12:48, 1 April 2007 (MEST)).
- Bitmanagement (BS Collaborate)
- Example: The UWA Virtual Universe project
- Works with X3D (open source and/or free) - It seems that free open source X3D can't get off the ground.
- OpenWorlds open X3D compatible system. (?)
- ABNet2 Software (Win/Linux/Mac)
- See also: the X3D article. There may be more recent updates.
- Dead systems
Most 3D virtual worlds die off at some point. In Daniel K. Schneider's experience (since 1995) an open source project or a company usually lasts 3 years before it goes out of business. One of the reasons was that clients/plugin architecture changed a lot and demands rewriting of code. E.g. in the VRML/XD3 world, EAI was replaced by SAI. Examples:
- Free and/or opensource: Geometrek, VNET, Flux
- Commercial: OZ (they now sell mobile chat), Vivaty (dead in April 2010)
- An alternative for small groups
- Use a game engine like Neverwinter Nights, have end users buy each a copy of the game and the use a replicator service (not tested).
(More) conceptual meta resources and portals
- Second Life Education Wiki A virtual world resource for educators and academics. Very up-to-date Wiki.
- New World Notes. James Wagner's blog on Second Life related stories and issues. Probably the best place to start reading, if the concept of living in virtual environment may sound strange to you ...
- Raija Hämäläinen's research (several online papers)
- JISC 3D Visualisation in the Arts Network. The 3DVisA Bulletin is intended as a forum for a community-wide debate on key and current issues in 3D visualisation. It is published every six months, profiling projects and people, and reviewing 3D techniques and resources.
- Georgia district implements virtual-world technology (3/2012). This project uses OpenSim with a hosting service.
- Barab, Sasha A. ,Kenneth E. Hay, Michael Barnett and Kurt Squire (2001). Constructing Virtual Worlds: Tracing the Historical Development of Learner Practices, Cognition And Instruction, 19(1), 47-94. PDF
- Damer, Bruce; Stuart Gold, Karen Marcelo and Frank Revi (1998). Inhabited Virtual Worlds in Cyberspace, in Jean-Claude Heudin (ed.). Virtual Worlds, Synthetic Universes, Digital Life, Perseus Books, 1999, Reading MA USA, (New England Complex Systems Institute Series on Complexity), pp. 127-152. HTML Reprint.
- Ingeborg Krange, Tove Kristiansen, Lars Helljesen, Ola Ødegård and Annita Fjuk, (2000), Collaborative learning, Interactive 3D technology, ICT in schools, Telenor R&D Report ISBN 82-423-0516-1. PDF
- Pike, Lewis, E-learning in virtual worlds: Skills for Life for the 21st Century, SimTech article, HTML, retrieved, 17:17, 15 September 2006 (MEST).
- S. Clark, M.L. Maher. (2006) COLLABORATIVE LEARNING IN A 3D VIRTUAL PLACE: INVESTIGATING THE ROLE OF PLACE IN A VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Advanced Technology for Learning 3:4,
- Shelley P. Ross, Ronald W. Skelton, Sven C. Mueller. (2006) Gender differences in spatial navigation in virtual space: implications when using virtual environments in instruction and assessment. Virtual Reality 10:3-4, 175
- Dickey, Michele D. (2005). Three-dimensional virtual worlds and distance learning: two case studies of Active Worlds as a medium for distance education, British Journal of Educational Technology 36 (3), 439–451. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00477.x
- Beck, H. and B. Welt. (2009). Educational applications of virtual world environments, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting 2009, Volume 1, 2009, Pages 36-44.
- Beck, H.W. Lyra Virtual World Environment (Lyra VWE): Educational applications in agriculture and natural resources (2009) ASABE - 7th World Congress on Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources 2009, WCCA 2009, pp. 76-81. Abstract
- Chittaro Luca and Roberto Ranon, Adaptive Hypermedia Techniques for 3D Educational Virtual Environments, IEEE Intelligent Systems, v.22 n.4, p.31-37, July 2007 doi:10.1109/MIS.2007.63