We have a winner – it’s the community. Actually, the team who received the award was Ball State University’s Cinema Arts Project. You can read about it in our press release about the project. It’s a cool project for a number of reasons, but what I find most interesting is the fact that the end product of what they create will help hundreds of Blackboard institutions connect to virtual worlds.
In short, students in Ball State’s Cinema Arts Project will be able to explore and experiment in the art of cinematography in a virtual laboratory, which is pretty interesting in and of itself; what makes this even more compelling to me is the fact that this virtual lab will be tied back to Ball State’s implementation of the Blackboard Academic Suite. The project will use features of Blackboard, such as Adaptive Release, to automate and control access to virtual facilities and equipment in Second Life. So not only will an instructor be able to control access for avatars in Second Life based on course enrollment, s/he will be able to take that control to another level by controlling access based on course activity.
In addition to authentication, the Cinema Arts Project will integrate Second Life to several other elements of Blackboard courses for greater student discussion, interaction and assessment.
What’s most interesting about this project, though, is the fact that once they’ve completed this integration through the creation of Blackboard Building Blocks[tm], they’ll be sharing their open source Building Block with the entire Blackboard community.
Selecting a recipient for the grant was really challenging, as there were a number of really interesting projects being worked on. For instance, the University of Western Ontario is developing a virtual anatatorium: a virtual anatomy laboratory that allows students to interact with complex and detailed 3D anatomical models and integrating this lab to Blackboard. Another really compelling submission was from Seton Hall, which provided a detailed plan for authentication and content sharing between Second Life and Blackboard.
All in all, folks at Blackboard were really impressed with the creativity and energy of our clients who submitted to the Greenhouse Grant. You can learn more about the Cinema Arts Project and other Greenhouse projects at BbWorld08 in Las Vegas, but in the meantime, I want to hear from you: what are you doing to integrate virtual worlds into your teaching and learning experience?