Sunday, July 10, 2005

Virtual Puppeteers

Yesterday it was a beautiful day with sun, but towards the evening dark clouds came up. Today it is raining or better pouring in Salzburg.

We started the workshop with a presentation on the experience of the X-Melina project, a workshop on cross-media. This project had an e-learning course, a workshop and a final project. In this workshop attention is focussed on the e-learning course. In X-Melina IBM’s Learning Space software, based on SCORM, was used and some 100 lessons prepared. The system offers the tutors to produce short lessons of maximally 30 minutes; the system follows the progress of students. In the case of X-Melina the tutors and students were spread all around Europe. The experience of X-Melina with the e-learning system was not something to write home about. Eventually 100 lessons were mounted, but they lacked real coordination in the content. Students could tap their way through the lessons without really learning. All in all, the experience of setting up an e-learning course was not an overall success. But it was certainly an experience.

After this discussion Vladimit Burcik, the Director of the Academy of Communication in Slovakia demonstrated a authoring system for the tutors and a rendering system for students. It looks good and is not as limiting as Learning Space. It more natural to put in lessons and can also be illustrated. Besides thre is a possibility to put in video of an instructors, next to the text and illustrations.

Screenshort of a scene produced with Virtual Puppeteers

Christopher David Bennewith, programme leader of multimedia really at the University of Wales in Newport (GB) showed a beautiful program for storytelling, called Virtual Puppeteers. Virtual Puppeteers is a networked digital puppet theatre. It allows children in different locations to design their own 3D puppets and collaborate in an online stage space to create their own plays. It looks great. Chris would love to have a world network of primary schools connected with each other through VoIP. That would be great indeed.

The participants will break up in groups now in order to discuss developing curricula. They will report this afternoon on the discussions. Hopefully it will yield some pointers for collaboration.

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