On July 5th, two days after the bridge building project, I received an early morning email from Kyoto (very late at night their time). They had been asked by the local newspaper if they could come and observe the class and see some interaction with the Modesto students on the island. Because the bridge building project had gone so well two days prior, the bridges were complete for all intents and purposes. We had to quickly come up with another project that would test the students’ communication and construction skills in Second Life for this observation.
We settled on a flag raising project. Like the exercise of a few days prior, the Modesto students would rez a cylinder and stretch it into a tall flag pole. They would place this somewhere on or near their side of the bridge. The Kyoto students would then have to produce a matching flag pole on their side of the river.
The Kyoto students had to ask for the x, y and z measurements, and then needed to query the x, y and z coordinates from their partner. After both flag poles were in place the Modesto student would cross the bridge and give a Japanese flag to their counterpart. They would then raise their country’s flag together on their respective side of the river on their flag pole.
This project proved to be a bit more difficult for both groups of students, as there were now two objects that had to be placed. The flags used flex path and would blow in the wind once they were raised to the top of their pole (a nice effect to cap off the project). A few of the Kyoto students ran out of time and had to run to their next class. They promised to come back later to raise their flags.
The really amazing thing is that these students now seem to be building friendships. They’ve met face to face via video conference, they’ve interviewed each other in avatar form trying to find their video conference partners, they’ve built bridges together and raised their flags.
Students on both sides of the project are now eager to meet their counterparts in real life. I am sure that their friendships will grow even stronger between now and next April when some Modesto students will travel to Japan, and then again in the summer when the Kyoto students come here to attend summer school with their Modesto counterparts.