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.




Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - i have just been talking to my classes about second life and PS3 Home and using virtual spaces to create geographically remote communities who can complete collaborative activites in immersive environments - i like the look of 3B and will try it out

Many Thanks

Nik Peachey said...

Thanks for the comment. I've watched a couple of videos of the PS3 virtual world and it does look very impressive. It's really useful to have a tool which is specifically designed to access it too, which must save a lot of time and hassle (I constantly seem to be downloading upgrades for the Second Life software). Unfortunately, my budget doesn't run to PS3 quite yet. My daughter got a Wii for Xmas, but doesn't really show a lot of interest in it yet, so it's hard to justify buying a PS3.



Ana Maria Menezes said...

Dear Nik,

I tried to download 3B to my computer but it said my graphics were not good enough and the program wouldn´t run smoothly. In fact, it didn´t even run. I was so anxious to try it out. Is there anything online which we wouldn´t need to download? Many students don´t like having to download things and that could be an obstacle. I imagined I could create a room with blogs created by different students where they could meet and visit each other´s page...
That would be really something.

I´ll keep trying

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Anamaria

Great idea, but as you see getting involved in the virtual worlds thing, especially when they are 3D, tends to come with a price tab! That is the price of a good spec up-to-date computer and a good fast connection.

The problem and reluctance of students to download programs is also pretty understandable, especially if it involves registration etc. I'll look out for something that might fit your needs, but can't make any promises.

Good luck with those student blogs though.


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