New Speaking Pods Have Arrived

If you follow this blog you know that just over a year ago we did a language lesson using a modified speed dating seating object in Second Life. Here’s the article. Well, this year Chris Flesuras (co-founder in Kyoto) has located a skilled scripter in Canada to do some custom work for Skoolaborate. His first project for PacRimX is a complete rebuild from scratch of speaking pods.

We took our experiences with the canned seating object and drew up a specification of what we really needed for one on one interaction between avatars of two groups of students. The idea is the same, two groups of seats that are color coded. The two groups of students sit on their assigned color of seats.

The number of seats is fully customizable by using the associated HUD. Many other parameters are also customizable, like time to rotate seats, how many rounds the object will rotate seats, etc. Once the teacher launches the session the pods spread out in the sky, putting enough space between them so that voices don’t carry between paired students.

The seats are numbered for quick identification. One feature will be for the teacher to be able to teleport to selected pairs for observation or to help with the session. One very slick modification to the idea of a speed dating object is the ability to make unbalanced matchings.

Here is an example of an unbalanced matching of three students. This allows for odd and even groups to still have a session (without someone having to sit out or have an empty chair cycling through the pairings) and to have all participants in interactive groups, even if the pairing is two on one.

We have very high hopes for the use of this new custom seating object in various instructional settings. It will be placed on one of the Skoolaborate islands for all to use, and Skoolaborate may eventually make it available to other educational projects for their use in the greater educational community. We’ll post more info as we employ this in upcoming events.

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One response to “New Speaking Pods Have Arrived

  1. Hi Stan, great blog post… I’d like to quote you on my blog if you dont mind.

    Over this past week, I made some modifications to the Chat pods… Now, un-even balancing IS possible. So if there are only 2 white instructor chairs, and 10 student chairs, each instructor will be visited by 5 students ensuring that no students are left out!

    I also updated the teacher hud, so that it now so that the chairs not being currently used, are hidden from the huds display. Then, when a student sits on a chair, that chairs button pops into view WITH hover text of the students name! This will allow the teacher to easily identify who is sitting where!

    I also added a few other features while programming. These were not asked for, but as I dug into the code, I decided to have some fun.

    On the hud, the teacher now has access to a new “Launch ON, Launch OFF” button, When pressed, each student will get a dialog message that says: “Launch permissions have been granted, click on your chair to access the Launch Menu”, when they do that, they can choose to launch a Red Flare, Green Flare, or Yellow Flare. When they choose one, a fire-rocket appears and shoots into the sky, with a brilliant firworks explosion!

    At the same time, the teacher gets a voice activated alert that an item has been launched, AND a text message stating the user that launched it, along with their chair number AND the chair button on the hud will change color to match the color of the flare that was just launched!

    Therefore, the teacher will be able to get a quick visiual overview of who lauched what.

    This has a number of pedagogical advantages. Ie perhaps in the middle of one of your simulations, you could pose a question to all the students, and have them launch a certain colored flare to indicate their answers.

    OR

    You could tell the students that if they need attention from you, to launch a red flare,

    OR

    during an activity, you can tell everyone to launch the Green flare when they are complete…

    OR even,

    The instructor could use this feature when using the chat chairs, and asking each student a question during a contest…

    Also
    When the main teacher visits a chair that has launched a flare, that chairs button will return to its origional color on the hud, indicating that that student has been “serviced” by the teacher.

    A few other features include the ability for the student to LAND, when on the chair. This feature is accessed by clicking on your chair. When you select land, you will be taken back to the starting position so you don’t fall 100 Meters if you want to just stop an activity mid stream!

    I also added an auto – return feature, so that if an avatar jumps off a chair while it is in the air, the chair will automatically return itself to the start position so another student can jump on.

    I also added the ability for users to get a SLURL of their location through the menu system.

    One last feature I added, is the ability to specify the different positions of the white chairs via notecard, instead of being hard coded.

    This opens up a LOT of new possibilities for your activities – because now, you could place each white chair strategically around the sims in specific places of interest. So, lets say you r giving a tradeshow… one expert could be at Show booth 1, another at show booth 2 etc… then your guests (students) could simply sit in a black chair, and be cycled through the entire trade show, while you have experts waiting to explain….

    I haven’t demoed all of this to chris yet, but all of the above has been completed in development.. now its just up to you guys to test and play with it!

    Hope you enjoy the new additions!

    Fire Centaur

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