Sun Microsystems’s Virtual Classroom Unites Global Learning Communities
Sun, Media Grid and Leading Education Institutions Hold First Virtual Demonstration of Project Wonderland for Immersive Education
SANTA CLARA, CA June 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced the first demonstration of Project Wonderland, its open source virtual world platform for the education community. At the virtual event last week, members of the academic and IT communities explored secure and flexible virtual learning environments created by Boston College, the University of Essex, the University of Oregon and Saint Paul College, pioneer users of the platform for educational purposes.
“The launch of Project Wonderland on Media Grid is a signal of a sea change in human learning potential. Connecting the 3D learning assets of Project Wonderland to the Media Grid and providing accessibility will now allow MERLOT’s Center for Learning in Virtual Environments (CLIVE) vision to sprout in earnest,” said Dr. Jonathon Richter, Director, Center for Learning in Virtual Environments, University of Oregon. “Expert-vetted, safe and accessible 3D learning resources can now-for the first time-be collected and managed.”
The event was coordinated by the Media Grid Immersive Education Initiative and the Sun Immersion Special Interest Group (Sun ISIG), an open community of educators, students, designers and technologists dedicated to exploring applications for Project Wonderland in immersive education and gaming.
“Project Wonderland was the natural choice for launching the Education Grid, a subset of the Media Grid developed specifically for academia,” said Aaron Walsh, Director of the Media Grid and Immersive Education Initiative. “With Project Wonderland, teachers around the world can now conduct classes and meetings within virtual worlds on the Education Grid, and they can also build custom Wonderland virtual learning worlds, simulations, and learning games.”
Sun ISIG and Project Wonderland embody Sun’s ongoing commitment to developing open source tools and inclusive communities that foster communication and collaboration in the global education arena. By building virtual classrooms on the Project Wonderland platform, learning institutions create opportunities for truly immersive education that caters to students’ diverse learning styles. The platform also encourages collaboration between schools, enabling educators to easily share teaching best practices across local and global borders.
“We see the application of immersive environments as a next-generation distance learning environment which enhances the learning experience beyond current learning management systems,” said Warren Sheaffer, Chairman, Computer Science Department, Saint Paul College. “Sun’s Project Wonderland is our immersive education platform of choice since it is robust, secure, open source and built on a Java platform. The Media Grid is the logical partner for our efforts since it is bringing together the world’s premier institutions that are active in the research, development, deployment and operation of immersive learning platforms.”
The flexibility of Java technology also allows schools to easily integrate Project Wonderland into existing enterprise applications such as learning management systems, student systems and digital library collections.
“Technological advances have flung open the doors of education to new possibilities for teaching, learning and collaboration in a globally connected world and education itself is being fundamentally altered,” said Kevin Roebuck, Community Manager, Immersive Technologies, Global Education and Research, Sun Microsystems. “At Sun, we are committed to leveraging our strengths in open source technology, infrastructure and application development to fuel this transformation.”
Project Wonderland is an open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds in which users can communicate with audio, and share live applications such as Web browsers, OpenOffice.org suite documents and games. The platform is ideally suited to the education sector because it sits inside the school’s own firewall and thus provides a higher level of security and control than is possible on other virtual platforms. Within the Project Wonderland virtual learning space, schools maintain complete control over content, ensuring that it is age-appropriate, educational and engaging.
CommonNeed, Sun’s new hosting partner for Project Wonderland, also participated at last week’s event. CommonNeed provides hosted and consulting services to academic and businesses including the recent Open Virtual Worlds Project with the New Media Consortium.
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