Thursday, 13 December 2007

3B Village 3D browser

I spotted 3B Village about a year ago and initially I was impressed, but some recent developments have, I feel, put this on the map as a really useful educational tool.

What is 3B Village?
3B Village is an amazing cross between a 3D virtual chat room and a web browser. Using the free software you can visit or create your own 3D rooms which have walls lined with webpages that you can click on to visit. You use an avatar to wander the rooms visiting various websites whilst text chatting with other virtual visitors.
The learning potential for this software is huge and I can see how it could be especially useful for creating webquests or web based treasure hunts and other collaborative tasks for groups of students working virtually / at a distance. The software has none of the versatility of virtual worlds like Second Life, but partially due to that it seems like a much ‘safer’ environment to take students into and a much simpler one for teachers and students to learn how to navigate.

It is very easy to create your own rooms for your class and then just invite them along. You can create a room by specifying the URL of particular resources you want to share with your students or you can generate a ‘quick room’ using a range of other sources, like Flickr , Google, MySpace and you can even generate rooms full of YouTube videos.

I created a room just by doing a search in YouTube based on ‘Shakira’ I then create a quick room by pasting in the URL of my search results and within less than 5 clicks and 5 mins I had room full of videos to wander around.
I also created a gallery type room by typing the word ‘family’ into Flickr and generating a gallery based on the results.
Here’s a quick tutorial movie to show you just how easy it is to create a room
How to use this with students
  • Create webquests and store the resources in a special 3B room(s) so that groups of students can work together virtually analysing data and searching for and sharing information
  • Create film shows from Youtube that students can watch together. They can then do their viewing tasks together and discuss them as they watch.
  • Meet together virtually and discus / share web resources
  • Create your own collection of bookmarks to share with your class
  • Students who have a 'MySpace' can convert it to a 3B room and show their classmates around. This should help to build up a sense of presence and familiarity with virtual classes, something that is often hard to do.
  • Get your students to create their own collection of study bookmarks as a project to share with other students
  • Create rooms based on materials from Flickr and get students to meet virtually to discuss the images
  • Students can work together to create a 3B room or village which represents their town or country
  • Students can visit a 3B city and write a report on it, plan a visit to that place based on the resources they access there.
What I like about it
  • A nice collection of rooms already created including some for kids
  • You can either create rooms quickly using searches through various online content such as Flickr, YouTube, or Google, or you can hand pick websites to create a customised room specifically for your students
  • It’s simple to use
  • It’s free
  • At 14Mb it’s not too huge a download
  • Love wandering round the YouTube video type rooms and this may well be a way around institution that block YouTube!!?
What I'm not so sure about
  • No MAC version yet
  • Would be great if it had voice chat too
  • It’s definitely for broadband users only
  • A lot of the ready made rooms seem to be aimed at online shoppers
  • There aren’t many casual visitors, so it’s not a place where students are likely to bump into people for casual conversation. Though that could well be an advantage too.
For anyone involved in distance education or any kind of online courses, I think 3B Village could make a really valuable contribution.

To use 3B Village you’ll need to download and install the 3B browser software from.
There’s no MAC version yet, but they are working on it.

As ever, I would love to hear from anyone who uses this with their students. Please feel free to leave comments, though they will be moderated.



Monday, 10 December 2007

Create your own game

This is something that caught my eye last week. I just couldn't resist adding a feature about it here, though I think this does come with some warnings and reservations. is a website which enables you to create your own games very easily with just a few easy steps. All you need to do is:
  • upload a picture,
  • select the part of it you want to show
  • choose a game type
  • add in a title and description.
Then you simply click to see the completed game. You need to register to upload and save the game, but it's free and very quick to do. There are quite a few different game types to choose from, but there are lots of examples on the site that other people have made, so you can look at those to help you decide which type to make.

Here's a rather annoying game that I created in less than 5 minutes

So how do you use this with students
You could just create a game using a picture of yourself and use it;
  • as a filler for those students who finish early if you work in a media lab / connected classroom.
  • as a nice 'leveler' to make a game for your students with a picture of yourslef and shows that you have a sense of humour.
  • to include a messages in the game like, "Hey! Remember to do your homework"
You could get students making games as a short task using either pictures of themselves or of well known celebrities.
  • This will give them some practice at following instructions and they could work in pairs to discus the type of game they would like to create and who it would be for
  • You can have a class competition for who can create the best game. Get students to vote for the best one and justify their choice
  • Some of the games include quizzes to test general knowledge
  • Get each group of students to create a different type of game and then describe to the other groups how the game is played
What I like about it
  • It's free and very easy
  • It's a nice simple fun task that you can get students to do as a filler
  • Students can share the games quite easily either via email or through blogs or other online forums
  • It can easily be integrated with other Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, Blogger etc.
What I wasn't so keen on
  • Some of the games are unsuitable for younger kids
  • You need to make sure that students don't misuse the site and create unpleasant games using photographs of other students

This isn't the world's most useful site for developing language, but if used properly it's one that you can use to lighten up your course and your students can have some fun with.

I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who uses or has used this with their class, just to see how your students reacted and what you did with it.