Sunday, 20 May 2007

Texas State Technical College West Texas

Enough of such tomfoolery. I've been trying (off and on) for some time to get in to the 3-sim island of Texas State Technical College (TSTC). If you take a look at it on a map, perhaps you'll understand why. One of the sims has been modelled to resemble the college logo, while another looks to be remarkably detailed and complete. Yet on previous attempts I have not been able to get in. Today, while at something of a loose end, I gave it another go - and lo & behold, I got in.

I was immediately presented with a notecard explaining that the site is still under development, but despite this management of expections I was heartily impressed with the quality - and quantity - of the build to date. The build team comprises members of the college Digital Imaging and Design department, I suspect augmented by some experienced SL builders. For example, in addition to the staples of sim design, like a dancefloor, the site includes a games area and a photo studio. The textures are well-worked and lifelike (even if they don't come out that way in the pictures below). I've also included a picture of the TP map, to give you an idea of the layout and facilities.





The college has provided a website dedicated to its "vCampus". As they explain it: "One of the main draws for educators in using Second Life is for the improvement of interaction and expression among learners. This 'three-dimensional', virtual reality experience is a great advantage over the traditional online learning systems that education currently embraces. Faculty and staff have worked diligently together to allow TSTC West Texas to debut our first course offerings in Second Life during the summer 2007 semester."

One nagging question in my mind is: Who is this aimed at?
The sim makes for an impressive campus, but there is limited meeting space (so far) and little indication of how it could be used for education. Rather, it looks more like a showcase - a demonstration of what can be achieved. As usual, if you know better, then please post a comment, as I would like to know what objective(s) the sim is designed to meet.

UPDATE: See the comments for a response on the questions posed above. Thanks Nicka.

3 comments:

NickA Techsan said...

Hi Aleister:

I'm glad you found our TSTC West Texas vCampus appealing and blog-worthy. :)

I'm one of the developers of the vCampus and would like to answer some of the questions you have about the area. The purpose of TSTC Commons is that it will be used as a place where others can gather information about TSTC and its programs throughout all the locations across Texas. Instead of being just a place to disseminate information, we also wanted the island to be a venue where TSTC can host public announcements in-world. And, of course, we just wanted the area to be a cool place to hang out. We've included several seating areas, a dance club, arcade, and there's more to come.

The other islands you speak of are actually for employees and students. One island will be our educational island, where we will be conducting various classes in Second Life. We have just started our first class in Advanced Digital Photographry, where students meet with their instructor in-world for assignments and discussion. Some of the work will even be on display in-world for others to see.

The other island will be more of a resource island for our TSTC employees. This will be a place where instructors will find Second Life teaching resources in addition to various tutorials that all our employees will find useful. The island will also have several conference rooms so that employees from all of our TSTC locations can meet in-world (imagine the amount of travel expenditures we're saving!).

I hope that this post answers some of your questions. Of course, the TSTC vCampus will be a continual work in progress and we hope that you continue to come back to see our developments.

Thanks again for the blog!

Joshua Culdesac said...

Great build, nice design and pretty good island layout I think :-)

Congrats to Nicka and thanks to Aleister to help us discover SL new sims !

Josh the Wolf

Esflores said...

There's more news in world with TSTC. We've graduated our first student... see the News Release at
http://www.prweb.com/releases/TSTC/virtual_education/prweb2419874.htm