3D Educational Spaces on the World Wide Web

Members of several Avatar Communities are moving toward or have already conducted classes on-line in 3D spaces. The screen shot below demonstrates how this technology operates. Students dispersed throughout the world login through their internet service provider and then start up a special browser such as the one below from ActiveWorlds. This browser delivers not only traditional content such as text, but also allows your avatar to move through a 3D space with other members of your class. You can move freely throughout the world, viewing other exhibits or having private sidebar conversations with other students. Collectively you listen to a lecture delivered by the faculty. The faculty may be seen by you simply as another avatar or via other means - web cam shots or streaming video. Verbal communication is accomplished via text chat, through streaming audio or both. Many of the worlds contain "bots" or intelligent agents that can be queried for information in the subject matter.

To participate in this type of activity, i.e. to visit these worlds, you will first need to download and install the Activeworlds browser. Once you download and install the browser, you may visit over 500 worlds in the Activeworlds Universe, although only a handful of them are now used for educational purposes. Most are still focused upon entertainment.  Some of these worlds are listed below. The italicized name in brackets in the left hand column below is the name of the world to which you may transport once you enter Activeworlds.
Institution World View Purpose
University of Colorado College of Business
BCOR 1000
A basic skills class in Microsoft tools - Excel, Word, Win95, IE, Access. Note: These worlds may be closed directly from Activeworlds. You can enter it by clicking on the image or by going to the web page: 
University of California Santa Cruz Virtual Campus
The Santa Cruz campus in 3D. You can move around and visit the colleges. Project sponsored by the admissions office.
A multimedia world with a focus on ecosystems. By clicking on the red dots on the globe you can bring up Web cams from around the world. The images on the walls lead to databases, real video downloads, and other interesting material. Outside this room is the ocean where you can dive down into a kelp bed and "scuba" around among undersea plant life and fish.
Cornell University's Science Center
A source of information on interesting science projects. Here we see some fractal images that students have created and loaded into the 3D space.
Research Center
This space was created to allow the public to view the activities of NASA. It has portals to the various labs, live feeds from Web cams at NASA sites, and images from spacecraft. 
"The U" Activeworlds University
Courses are now being offered in graphics and world building.

These worlds open up a new universe of educational possibilities. Now the student may move freely within a space where simulated re-creations of historical events may take place, where scientific experiments may occur or environmental phenomenon might be investigated, all while meeting actively with the other students in the classroom. Additionally this technology may be combined with more traditional methods such as the display of Microsoft Power Point slides on a screen inside the 3D world to allow for a smooth transition among media.

(c) 1999 John H. Saunders Permission granted for ruse in educational environments.