Monday, 1 October 2007

Chinese School - Michigan State University

After a couple of posts that have been lacking in photos, I thought I should redress the balance. Tonight's foray took me close to Kolding Danmark, that I mentioned yesterday. "Close" in SL terms, but in Real Life a long way apart - for this trip was to Chinese School, run by Michigan State University.

The sim provides a number of lessons in Chinese - I am assuming Mandarin, though that wasn't clear. At the moment, although many of the buildings appear complete, it is clearly still under development - with a lot of "virtual building rubble" lying about and many of the features awaiting completion, such as the calligraphy house. The lessons appear to work fine though - at least the ones I tried. You can pick up a HUD* to guide you around - but this, too, seemed to be far from ready. In picking up the HUD, it suggests you can win L$ - always a good way to bring in the punters! The accompanying card tells me: "You will be given missions on this island which will result in gaining and spending money and other items. You will have to demonstrate an increasing knowlege of the chinese language in order to progress." I did not spend long enough to find out if this works yet - but I'm guessing not. Anyway... to the photos:

There are some cute ideas at work here - if a little raw at the moment. For example, the guy in the restaurant (see above) has an animated face, so that in theory it looks like he is actually talking to you. In fact, he looks like he has a major eye infection to me - but the idea is a nice one. At the bottom right you can see a still from the first lesson, shown on a video box. The movie I saw was a bit stilted - but then it's not there to win Oscars, but teach basic language skills!

Disconcertingly, the island is dotted with "chat listeners" that will record all chat near them. On reflection, I realise my initial paranoia about Big Brother China listening in on conversations was somewhat misplaced. I'm not entirely clear of the purpose - but I think there are sound educational reasons for doing this! Or so I like to think.

As for the builds - to me most are rather garish, lacking in much subtlety or depth of texture. But perhaps plans are in place to render them a little more convincingly. It seems that the majority of the work is complete here, and I would hope it was only a matter of weeks (who knows? Maybe days) before it opens officially.

*Head-Up Display

Update 12th Dec 07:
Title corrected from "University of Michigan" to "Michigan State University."

1 comment:

Dongping said...

Thank for your visit in our Chinese School. Please note that "University of Michigan" on the title should be Michigan State University. Your observation is very sharp that we ARE in the developing stage. Some things still look rough and immature which we are aware of. One thing that i can clarify is your question about "chat loggers". They are purposely planted there to track students interactions and learning trajectories, such data will be used for research and future design. I believe the data we collected is align with SL privacy statement: We have students' consent on using their data. However, it wouldn't hurt to collect visiting user's consent on our end.
Thanks again for your comments.