NY Law School & There.com Launch State of Play Academy, an Initiative Designed to Develop Education in Virtual Worlds

Voice-Enabled Avatars Simulate Real-World Classroom Interaction



Dec 01, 2006, 00:00 ET from There.com

    NEW YORK and SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- New York Law
 School and There.com parent company Makena Technologies today announced the
 formation of the State of Play Academy (SOPA), the first voice-enabled
 virtual world learning environment and the first project specifically
 designed to explore strategies for using virtual worlds for distance
 education. Results of the first 10 classes will be reported at the State of
 Play / Terra Nova Symposium being held today and tomorrow in New York as
 part of an ongoing study of virtual world communities.
     SOPA offers free online classes where participants are represented by
 avatars interacting on a virtual campus consisting of a classroom, library,
 coffeehouse and courtroom in There.com, one of the Internet's largest
 virtual worlds created for online socializing. Instructors and attendees
 communicate using There.com's real-time multi-person voice and text chat
 capabilities, including verbal exchanges mic'ed into the site and
 coordinated with avatars' mouth movements to create lifelike online
 conversations.
     Classes are listed at www.StateofPlayAcademy.com and focus on law and
 technology topics such as virtual copyrights, online dispute resolution,
 municipal WiFi policy, and free speech and intellectual property issues
 related to blogging. SOPA project managers are using the platform both to
 investigate the value of virtual world learning in legal education and as a
 broader test of the potential for other kinds of classes.
     "Traditional distance learning is a one-on-many experience with little
 group interaction. Virtual world learning simulates the real-world
 classroom environment, particularly when you can communicate by both voice
 and text. It's more engaging and stimulating because there's a sense of
 community as well as give-and-take," said Lauren Gelman, Associate Director
 of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School and Dean of the
 State of Play Academy. "Our goal with SOPA is to use law and technology
 classes held in a virtual setting as a vehicle for systematically exploring
 the best ways to teach and learn inside a virtual world."
     "This is the first effort to offer a diverse curriculum in a virtual
 world, actively promote classes to people both inside and outside the
 community, and measure the results. It's a laboratory for determining how
 to use virtual worlds to improve distance learning," said Michael Wilson,
 CEO of Makena Technologies. "The involvement of thought leaders from some
 of this country's most prominent educational institutions clearly
 demonstrates the merits of the concept and promises to help shape the
 future of virtual world education."
     All SOPA classes to date have been one-time, not-for-credit courses.
 Based on the effectiveness of those experiments, New York Law School
 professors have decided to hold select for-credit classes in the virtual
 world setting during the next school year. They also plan to use the SOPA
 platform to foster better connections among students and alumni mentors.
     "We have just begun to explore the possibilities, but we already can
 tell that virtual worlds will help to create new kinds of learning
 communities," said Beth Noveck, head of the Institute for Information Law
 and Policy at New York Law School.
     The State of Play Academy is funded by a grant awarded to New York Law
 School by There.com. New class and event offerings will be posted on the
 SOPA website in early 2007.
 
 

SOURCE There.com
    NEW YORK and SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- New York Law
 School and There.com parent company Makena Technologies today announced the
 formation of the State of Play Academy (SOPA), the first voice-enabled
 virtual world learning environment and the first project specifically
 designed to explore strategies for using virtual worlds for distance
 education. Results of the first 10 classes will be reported at the State of
 Play / Terra Nova Symposium being held today and tomorrow in New York as
 part of an ongoing study of virtual world communities.
     SOPA offers free online classes where participants are represented by
 avatars interacting on a virtual campus consisting of a classroom, library,
 coffeehouse and courtroom in There.com, one of the Internet's largest
 virtual worlds created for online socializing. Instructors and attendees
 communicate using There.com's real-time multi-person voice and text chat
 capabilities, including verbal exchanges mic'ed into the site and
 coordinated with avatars' mouth movements to create lifelike online
 conversations.
     Classes are listed at www.StateofPlayAcademy.com and focus on law and
 technology topics such as virtual copyrights, online dispute resolution,
 municipal WiFi policy, and free speech and intellectual property issues
 related to blogging. SOPA project managers are using the platform both to
 investigate the value of virtual world learning in legal education and as a
 broader test of the potential for other kinds of classes.
     "Traditional distance learning is a one-on-many experience with little
 group interaction. Virtual world learning simulates the real-world
 classroom environment, particularly when you can communicate by both voice
 and text. It's more engaging and stimulating because there's a sense of
 community as well as give-and-take," said Lauren Gelman, Associate Director
 of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School and Dean of the
 State of Play Academy. "Our goal with SOPA is to use law and technology
 classes held in a virtual setting as a vehicle for systematically exploring
 the best ways to teach and learn inside a virtual world."
     "This is the first effort to offer a diverse curriculum in a virtual
 world, actively promote classes to people both inside and outside the
 community, and measure the results. It's a laboratory for determining how
 to use virtual worlds to improve distance learning," said Michael Wilson,
 CEO of Makena Technologies. "The involvement of thought leaders from some
 of this country's most prominent educational institutions clearly
 demonstrates the merits of the concept and promises to help shape the
 future of virtual world education."
     All SOPA classes to date have been one-time, not-for-credit courses.
 Based on the effectiveness of those experiments, New York Law School
 professors have decided to hold select for-credit classes in the virtual
 world setting during the next school year. They also plan to use the SOPA
 platform to foster better connections among students and alumni mentors.
     "We have just begun to explore the possibilities, but we already can
 tell that virtual worlds will help to create new kinds of learning
 communities," said Beth Noveck, head of the Institute for Information Law
 and Policy at New York Law School.
     The State of Play Academy is funded by a grant awarded to New York Law
 School by There.com. New class and event offerings will be posted on the
 SOPA website in early 2007.
 
 SOURCE There.com