photoThe Virtual Worlds Research Group, which CCT Cultural Computing sponsors at LSU, explores what kinds of research can be accomplished through virtual social networks that are not available through traditional methods. Virtual environments such as Second Life, Multiverse and Croquet, where users interact with each other through 3-D avatars, offer a portal for communicating with students in new and innovative ways. As networks like these gain popularity, professors can begin incorporating them into the traditional classroom structure.

The Virtual Worlds Research Group will be testing various scenarios, including hosting classes and holding office hours in these networks, creating methods for students to display original work in a virtual environment and simultaneously hosting lectures, concerts and other events in real time and in virtual worlds. The group is also exploring how virtual worlds can be used to better understand the complex world of high performance computing, supercomputers and high-speed networks. Beginning in the Fall 2008, the VW-RG will hold monthly meetings to discuss on-going projects, explore collaborations, and coordinate research activities in this domain on campus.

LSU in Second Life

The Cultural Computing Focus Area spent the Spring 2007 semester working with students to recreate LSU in Second Life. The Second Life campus is mainly limited to buildings of the Quad and the second quadrangle behind Thomas and David Boyd Halls. The campus features Memorial Tower, which users can scale with their avatars for an aerial view of the campus. Class and teaching space is available in Dodson Auditorium, and Atkinson Hall offers a display area where students can showcase original art they design for Second Life. Nicholson Hall is home to CCT’s visualization laboratory, which features an immersive environment to study coastal modeling, hurricane simulations and other areas of scientific visualization. The Greek Amphitheatre sits behind Coates Hall, and will be the site of live concerts streamed into Second Life from the School of Music.

The campuswide Virtual Worlds Research Group can use LSU in Second Life for research and testing. To reach LSU’s virtual campus, go to http://slurl.com/secondlife/LSU%20CCT/212/184/22.

Join the Virtual Worlds Research Group

The VW-RG is looking for faculty, staff and student researchers who are interested in contributing to the understanding of virtual worlds. You can join the group by subscribing to our mailing list. Go to https://mail.cct.lsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/virtualworlds to register.

You can also read and contribute to our blog at http://virtualworlds-rg.blogspot.com/ .