Teaching and learning in a 3D private virtual environment

Hello Integrating Technology colleagues,

Instead of a Zoom meeting, or other interactive videoconference software, suppose you had your own online 3D classroom. Think of Second Life, but without the distractions; a private classroom where only you and your students can teach and learn safely and with the appearance of an attractive physical learning environment, where students have their own avatars, and where masks are unnecessary. This online, 3D classroom could be traditional, with desks in rows, but it could also be a room with tables, a giant indoor space or outdoors in a natural environment. You could have teaching and learning take place whenever you and your students wished. In this online learning space they could meet quietly in small groups outdoors, or in breakout spaces indoors that look like rooms. Suppose, like an actual in-person physical space, a couple of students want to go off in a corner and talk quietly while you, at the front of the learning space, do a demonstration, recorded so they, and other students who couldn't join you in real time, can watch it when they can, and as many times as they wish?

Interested? Do you have questions, such as:

  • Is this available now? Yes.
  • How much does it cost? it's free.
  • Do I have to be a "techie" to make this work? To do this in a basic way, no, although watching a YouTube video about it might be helpful to get started. If you do have the technical skills, and you have built virtual learning spaces, for example in Second Life, this could be your new technology playground, creating a teaching and learning space, and populating it with engaging learning objects.
  • Since it's 3D, do I need expensive VR goggles? No, you can use some VR goggles, and that might make your experience even more exciting, but it is designed to run well on desktop and laptop computers, electronic tables, smartphones and perhaps other digital devices.
  • How many students can I have in my virtual learning space? A maximum of 24 is recommended, but it is possible to link at least two rooms to a presentation if you want to bring more students together in real time, for example to do a demonstration or explanation for many or all your students.
  • What is this digital tool? It's the latest free Mozilla tool, called "hubs, by Mozilla". 

Have you seen or used it for teaching and learning? If so, tell us what you think. Are there other virtual learning tools like this that you have used and like? Tell us about them.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

Comments

Hello Integrating Technology colleagues,

Although the Mozilla hubs tool set enables those with good online environment design skills to build interactive 3D online environments from scratch, it also offers ready-made education environments such as the ones below.


David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

image of a traditioinal classroom with rows of desks

Classroom with tables

 

A hallway with breakout rooms

Thank you for bringing this too to our attention, David! I had limited experience with the rich resources offered by Second Life, but I found that I needed far more practice to become proficient than I had time to invest and eventually gave up. 

I will definitely take a look Mosilla Hubs in the next week or two and return here with impressions. Sounds like fun, and, as we know, if something is fun for us, we repeat it a lot - the premise for acquiring new skills! :) Leecy

Hi Shelly,

Many who tried second life with adult foundational skills students found it confusing, and sometimes distracting or distasteful. I am not aware of any adult basic/foundational skills teachers who use Second Life with their students. But this is not Second Life. It has some of the appealing features of Second Life but is designed for use by educators. Take a look and let us know what you think. Is the learning curve in hubs, by Mozilla, too steep to be useful, or does it have potential?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group

Shelly, I even bought my own property and tried my hand at developing it, but the tools available for building took a lot of practice. When I first got started with SL and was milling around environments with people with who I was interacting, all of the sudden, I found myself totally stripped of all clothing! How and why, I didn't know. I was sooo embarrassed and immediately jumped back home. Then I wondered why I had been so terribly embarrassed. I wasn't exposed! My avatar was the one interacting, and no one in the "real" world knew who I was!!! But still, I realized the extent to which I had identified with her! That realization had immense application in my "first" life! :) Leecy

Hi Leecy,

Did you try out "hubs"? if so, what do you think? If not, when you do, please share your impressions here -- and, if possible, also your students' impressions.

David

David J. Rosen, Moderator (until the end of January)

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group

 

Hi Ashly, and others who are interested ,

Have you had a chance to try out "hubs" yet? If so, what do you think?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group

Hi Ashly,

Great! I hope you will share with us your observations.

When I looked at Mozilla Hubs, I liked that it was a free, private, 3D education-focused online environment. Although it is not designed specifically for adult foundational (basic) skills learners, adult education practitioners who already can -- or want to learn how -- can design their own unique 3D environment there for their students. I believe they can also share what they have developed so that other adult education teachers who like it could use it for their own students' online real-time or asynchronous learning environment. So, if you do this Ashly, please let us know.

Also, as you are learning to navigate the Mozilla Hubs environment, if you are so motivated, it would be great to have some adult education-focused screen-capture, step-by-step videos so other teachers who want an online environment but need an easy to use how-to-video to get started might benefit.

In any case, please share your impressions with us about Mozilla Hubs for an adult foundational skills education online environment.

Everyone, if you are trying out Mozilla Hubs, please share your impressions here. If there are a few of us, we can turn this discussion thread into a Mozilla Hubs tool exploration discussion!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group

 

This looks like a really fun thing to try and I can see how students would enjoy it. I do wonder if the regular use of student avatars would be a drawback in terms of ability to connect. I'm already feeling the distance created by meeting virtually on Zoom instead of in person. At least I can see my students and they can see me. I like being able to see the faces of my students for a closer emotional connection and for them to be able to see my facial expressions and mouth movements for pronunciation also. I think you would lose a lot using avatars instead of real time video. I enjoy seeing students' homes and occasionally meeting family and pets. 

I'm curious if anyone tries this to know what they think and especially if they feel any change in connection. 

Jennifer Kluempen

ESL Instructor

I love free .. especially if it ends up really being free. I am a gamer and very familiar with many different 3d experiences and just jumped into Hubs to play around for a few minutes. Some thoughts to share after only 10 min of playing around.

1. Sounds like many people are interested in "trying this out" so I suggest we pick a day and time and we make up our own hub to explore and learn together in. I would be willing to set that up if people have times and days that work best for them. 

2. I have a very advanced gaming desktop and I noticed that there seemed to be stuttering or "lag" within the environment. I will be fiddling with settings and such to see if that changes at all, but my initial concern was how laggy will the interface feel to those with lesser computers or Internet connections that struggle. 

3. Mozilla, the company hosting this Hub service, also has resources to support digital badge systems. I am curious if their badge backpack system is integrated at all into the Hub service. If so, the combination of those systems becomes a very powerful tool for educators to explore!

Just a few thoughts after a quick 10 minute walk around in the system. I will be exploring it much more in depth this next week and could virtually "meet up" with anyone within that space that wants to explore as long as we can coordinate dates and times. I spend most every day in a voice Discord space from 4pm to 9pm EST, where I work to foster a free digital safe space for people to share entertainment and educational passions and explorations. As such, it would be easy to throw up a Hub most any time in the evening that I am on. 

 

Hello Ashly, Shelly, Jennifer, Leecy, Ed, and perhaps others,

You all seem interested in trying out Mozilla Hubs, as am I. Shelly, your post yesterday about breakout rooms makes me wonder if Mozilla Hubs might offer a solution to that problem as well as a way to do asynchronous threaded discussions.

I suggest we begin by using one of the available 3D classrooms; then, some of you might, in time, create your own learning space customized to your students' interests and needs. For example, Shelly, I wonder what a customized learning space might look like for students preparing for work in retail customer services. One thing that especially intrigues me about Mozilla Hubs is the potential for creating learning spaces that are _more_ engaging and versatile than traditional in-person classrooms. For example, some young adults who may have good math skills, may still find it difficult to use a cash register, especially in a busy store. Years ago, a fast food restaurant put cash registers with pictures on the keys to address that problem. I am not suggesting that, but rather an opportunity in a virtual space, for example in a virtual breakout room or in a station of a learning space, to practice cash register skills until they become automatic, like practicing keyboarding skills in preparation for an high school equivalency writing exam.

If there is interest in forming a small group to work on this, we could just use this thread, or I believe Ashly can request a micro-group for us. If you are interested in pursuing this, reply here so we know if this idea has legs.

David J. Rosen

David, I'm intrigued, like you, about " what a customized learning space might look like for students preparing for work in retail customer services," for example. You proposed possibly forming a small group to work on this. Rather that "work" in a group, I might be interested in "playing" in or dialoguing in such a group if one is formed. :) Leecy (And welcome, Ashly!)

Hello Leecy, Ashly, Ed, Shelly, Jennifer, and others

I have created a conference room on Mozilla Hubs. You can get there using this link (I think)

https://hubs.mozilla.com/8rSigjN?hub_invite_id=XbXBtaN

It's a space we could use to meet at chat about hubs, perhaps explore it and learn from each other about its suitable for adult learning spaces. I am there now (4:30 PM EST Friday, February 26, and will hand out for an hour or so to see if you or anyone shows up.

If you want to try it on a different day/time, including evening or weekends, post that as a reply here and whomever is available may join you.

David

David J. Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Many here in LINCS have daily or even longer digests so posting that we have a live event here will likely not hit people in a timely fashion. We could set a date/time of course and tools like Doodle can be helpful for that. 

When people want to advertise they are going live somewhere, they often use tools like Twitch, Twitter, Facebook (groups, messenger), google hangout (set up for a group to monitor) and other similar tools with built in notifications features). 

I would be up for meeting in Hubs with others. My exploration felt me feeling .. well .. not super enthusiastic so I would love to hear what others experience and think in a live session. Of course setting times and dates with a group can be like herding cats, so I offer the first "Meow!" in the hopes we can find a time that works for most.