Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Middlesbrough City Learning Centre

Tonight's post sees a return to the theme of education in Second Life. However, for once it is not a university or MBA college that I am featuring, but rather a learning resource for the English city of Middlesbrough. The Middlesbrough City Learning Centre (MCLC) actually has 2 islands in Second Life, but on this trip I only got to MCLC2 before receiving an urgent request to pull a post from a few days ago. Being a gent - or so I like to think - I gave that task priority. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might spot the one I refer to - but don't tell anyone!

Anyway.. back to MCLC. According to the website, it exists "to support schools in raising achievement by:
* Facilitating innovative use of ICT in teaching
* Providing access to specialist ICT facilities
* Acting as a test bed for emerging learning technologies
* Supporting the development of school staff ICT skills
* Disseminating good practice"

Interestingly the home page talks about a tool called Mindscene (see image below), which it describes as a "fusion of the effective learning tool known as mindmapping with 3D virtual reality and stereo scopic (IMAX) display technology. This exciting development has come about through the collaboration of MCLC and Education Interactives, a local 3D development technology company based in Middlesbrough. "

The MCLC2 sim looks to be about half-completed, or maybe a bit more. There is a large building in which you will find a couple of presentation areas (not quite finished) and some general seating. There is a novel teleport to take you between floors. A ridge runs diagonally across the island, with a pass to let you walk from one side to the other. On the far side you will find a number of resources, including - in no particular order - RSS feeds, a vodcast, some freebies (scripts and a host of objects... cheers!) and landmarks to well-known SL sites, like Svarga. I was quite taken with the mindmap (middle - below), though I suspect its content may not have survived the resizing I force on images. A teleport will whisk you up to the Mindscene platform, which is still under construction, though enough of it exists to give you a flavour of what is planned. The last major object is a... umm... a... let me think... umm... sorry, I don't know what it is: a set of white disks, linked to some node points. Whatever it is, I assume it must be darned educational!

Even in its current raw state this sim shows a lot of potential, and already has a surprising amount of content. How this ties in with the Mindscene tool mentioned on their website I'm not sure. I am guessing they are using Second Life as a means of showing what this tool may look like within a dedicated environment. I really need to see what is happening on their other sim now!

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