On July 3rd we had a joint project between the Modesto and Kyoto students. The project was to build a bridge between two students, each building their half of the bridge.
Chris Flesuras (Kyoto Gauken) detailed out the project and produced the worksheets the students used. He liked the bridge building idea from the CoSN International Symposium video we produced, and slightly modified it for this exercise. To start, the Modesto students were to build on their half of the river a platform, size and position of their choice. We erected glass markers that designated each bridge zone complete with hover text of the students assigned to that zone.
When the Kyoto students came online they opened an IM chat session with their partner. Their task was to duplicate the Modesto student platforms on their side of the river, having them meet up perfectly in the center. To accomplish this the Kyoto students had to ask for the measurements and coordinates of the platform. They would rez a cube at the start of the conversation and then ask for the measurements for x, y and z. After sizing their cube to exact dimensions they asked their partner for the coordinates in space using x, y and z values. After they input these values their bridge segment (if correct) would line up perfectly with the other half.
Once the bridge segments were completed and connected to form a solid base for the bridge the students were free to decorate their side of the bridge and connect it to the bank. Each student did a unique model of a bridge.
This project started out slowly. The Kyoto students were not very sure of themselves in asking their questions. Some would confuse coordinates with measurements. The same was true on the Modesto side as well. I was helping two students who did not have partners, and I mixed up the numbers a few times myself, transposing coordinates with measurements. It was immediately obvious of someone made a mistake as the platform would warp out of shape or move far down the bank. After the first 15 minutes everything started to click and the bridges quickly moved to the customization phases.
There were many unique avatars, especially on the Kyoto side of the river. I’ve posted some of these to the Flickr page. We were very surprised that with so many avatars in close proximity (approximately 70 avatars on two islands) all actively building that we did not experience crippling lag. This was a pleasant surprise for all of us.
Overall, the project was a huge success and really built up the confidence of the students in their building and communication skills.
Chris Flesuras had this to say about the project at the end of the session:
“We began our first joint project today, and by most accounts, it went really well. The initial steps we took in the past two weeks, beginning with the video conference and continuing with the virtual interviews, really helped the Kyoto Gakuen students put this exchange program into context. They seem very serious about doing a good job and getting everything right for this bridge project. Although there were some misunderstandings regarding the “coordiantes” and “measurements” they were receiving from the American side, I was happy to see that they recognized the problem and asked me for help. By the last half of the period, the problems were largely resolved, and some pairings even began to customize and design their bridges. Everything kind of fell into place, and I think it has a lot to do with the students’ interest in the class and interacting with foreign peers. I got the feeling that everyone was simply willing it to work. I’m looking forward now to the finished products on Friday”