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WP4-2 2D – 3D Integration

Page history last edited by klaus 12 years ago






This document is licensed under a "Creative Commons Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Austria“ Licence (“Creative Commons Namensnennung-Keine kommerzielle Nutzung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Österreich”). Further details see: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/at/


Author: Klaus Hammermüller, talkademy.org



This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Second Life is a registered trademark of LindenLab Corp., San Francisco other mentioned trademarks are respected properties of their owners.






This deliverable focuses on the aspect of integrating 2D learning management contents (LMS) and 3D learning environment. The purpose of the integration is to support the teacher through the the live online learning event by minimizing preparation time and providing feedback support.


The integration achieves this by extending the data model of the learning management system to allow the management of the 3D stage. Contextualized 2D content from the learning management system can be accessed directly from the 3D stage. To allow this integration a content publishing process is introduced. In addition tools for feedback generation for the educator are provided.




The special focus of this deliverable, different to other deliverables in this work-package, is to serve IT system integrators who would have to set up the infrastructure. Thus the intended audience of this deliverables are IT system integrators.




The general motivation has already been given in the document “AVALON-WP4-1-overview”, chapter “Motivation”. This deliverable is more specifically focussing on certain aspects of system integration which are custom made for the AVALON project. They are extending or patching standard components, introduced in the operational model of the document “AVALON-WP4-1-operational-handbook”.


This deliverable addresses two specific challenges to education in a 3D environment:


  1. There is a lack of 3D content management for educational purposes. If a specific scenario requires the preparation, creation and hand out 3D items to participants this task is left to the educator. We assume that this task is technically challenging for most educators and will require an amount of preparation work which makes using a 3D environment for education not economically feasible. Therefore we introduce an extension to the LMS (refer WP4-1), as described in the “2D/3D content publishing component”


  1. The integration of live action learning events with content residing in the LMS (refer WP4-1), especially the feedback information on the participant's performance. With the integration based on a package called “sloodle.org” and original extensions provided by talkademy.org we are focussing on providing contents and feedback to the participants as quickly and as accurately as possible.





The methodology used in this deliverable is based on the “Rational Unified Process” and the IBM Global Service Method. Similar methodologies but different names are utilised by different software engineering vendors, but with similar results. As the “Rational Unified Process” is widely used in the academic and commercial software engineering domain, we will use the relevant naming and structuring without an additional reference.



Architectural Decisions

See document “AVALON-WP4-1-overview”, chapter “Architectural Desicions”.

In addition legal and technical constraints imposed by the terms & conditions of the Second Life grid service provider Linden Labs apply.


The 3D content publishing process turned out to be more extensive than originally planned through the sophisticated permission model of Second Life. The process actually includes 2 parts:


  • one publishing component more affiliated to the repository functionality (see WP4-1) with an asynchronous thread,
  • one management component affiliated with the 2D/3D integration synchronous thread during the live learning event.


We decided that the leading functionality is affiliated with the 2D/3D integration but requires the publishing as a prerequisite. This approach solves


  • permission issues which may become quite complex and may otherwise be prohibitive for educators using the virtual world environment
  • providing a publishing process is a prerequisite to be able to manage content through the 2D/3D integration at all. 





Deliverable Overview


This is the translation of the deliverable-description as provided in the AVALON proposal (included on the first page of this document) and the reference to the place where one can find the related component.


Component Description Reference
WP4-2-1 Extending LMS to allow interactions between 3D and 2D environments
WP4-2-2 Automated Feedback
for both components source code patches




WP4-2-1 Extending LMS to allow interactions between 3D and 2D environments


This 2D/3D content publishing component is provided under the AVALON sub-contract Nr. 7 by Volker Kieslinger, Austria. Before using this component refer to chapter 5.2 "Limitations" in WP4 2D_3D content publishing component.


Design Constraints


The interaction between 3D and 2D environments (in our case Second Life and Moodle) raises a number of challenges:


  • the 3D environment is synchronous, thus actually including 4 dimensions: 3 physical + time, where as the 2D LMS is asynchronous , it does not support the dynamic involved in a synchronous event, its data structure is limited handling data coming from live interactions;

  • 3D content in is static representation is a composition of different content like 3D models, textures, animations, sounds, scripts etc;

  • deploying 3D content in a synchronous environment adds a layer of complexity as it has to be determined which content is deployed when, where and to which participant with specific access rights to the content like manipulating or modifying this content in predefined ways;

  • the implemented system components come with specific technical and legal constraints which are relevant for the integration process design (see below).


An advantage of a 3D environment is that there is a context in time and place which can be used to access the LMS. Like in the physical world, if you turn up in class according to the schedule, the content is defined. The same context in a 3D environment exists, thus there is no need to browse the LMS in a 3D environment. This component of the deliverable is addressing the management of this general learning context.


In addition to that general context there is always a more specific context for the individual participant in an action learning event, as which participants are interacting with each other and the environment can be monitored, thus capturing data which can be used for instant feedback during the event. This specific context is addressed in the deliverable component described in the next chapter of WP4-2-2.



System Context


This system context is based on the operational model described in the document “AVALON-WP4-1-operational-handbook



Fig. 1 System Context 2D/3D Integration


As described in Fig. 1, the 2D/3D integration addresses 3 separately operated domains:


  • The user system, typically a PC connected to the internet via 3D browser software and with web-browser software installed. Typically a number of users are connected at the same time to share a live action learning event in the 3D space. We do not have access to this system.


  • The 3D simulation on a remote system, provided by a 3D grid, in our case this is the service of Linden Labs operating the Second Life grid. We only have limited access to this system using a 3D browser ourselves.


  • The 2D Webservice we are operating based on an LMS and a SVN repository plus some web-service applications included in the web-portal servicing both a human readable web browser at the client domain as well as machine readable web-services addressed by the 3D simulator.



2D/3D Publishing Process Design


The design constraints require us to define different processes to fully integrate the 2D and 3D spaces. This process is describes in detail in the document “AVALON-WP4-2D_3D_content_publishing_component”, chapter “managing 3D objects”.



Fig. 2 Content Capturing and Content Publishing


As described in Fig. 2, to allow content to be managed in the 3D environment it needs to be captured (exported) first, to make it accessible to the LMS. It may be physically stored in the SVN, anyhow the meta-data needs to be managed by the LMS in a later stage (see Fig. 3).


In principle, 3D content can be created externally, there are various methods available enabling the creation and capture of 3D content and then make it available in a 3D environment. We chose a process which imposes the minimum technical skill with no pre-conditions or additional components added to the system, thus keeping complexity and cost at a minimum.


The publishing (import) of 3D contents allows the replication of 3D content and its instantiation (“rez”) iin different places. This is required e.g. if the same content is to be used by different educational organizations or on different places in the 3D grid. For AVALON it allows the storage of the content outside of Second Life and keeping it available beyond the life-span of the project funding.


2D/3D Action Learning Event Configuration Process Design


This process is described in detail in the document “AVALON-WP4-2D_3D_content_publishing_component”, chapter “stage control system” plus the open source code patch “course configuration” added to the sloodle integration package.



Fig. 3 Content Activation


As described in Fig. 3, the definitions included in the LMS configuration define which content will be activated. This is done by a “stage control system” which is managing the content on the 3D sim. It can be activated manually using the 3D browser, empowering the educator to change the schedule defined in the LMS on the fly or simply use the content provided as activated by the schedule defined in the LMS.


To allow this automatic activation through the LMS an additional component, the open source code patch “course configuration” is required, which is not included in the “AVALON-WP4-2D_3D_content_publishing_component” document, but is part of the exended sloodle integration we are using. Please refer to the next chapter WP4-2-2.


Extended meta-data model of the LMS


Formally the metadata definitions of the LMS extension are part of this deliverable component. To provide more self-consistent and complete documentation we decided to provide this meta-data model as part of the documentation in WP4-2-2 (see next chapter) as long as the sloodle integration and its extensions are concerned.


Most of the metadata definitions come with the 3D content and are defined in the appendix of “AVALON-WP4-2D_3D_content_publishing_component


"get the hat" quest


This quest is a guide how to get into Second Life and how to introduce interactions between 2D end 3D environments. It is written for regular users with additional information for administrators from educational institutions. This quest closes the gap between WP4-2-1 (the technical integration) and WP4-2-2 (the usage of feedback tools in an educational setting).


See WP4-1 GET-THE-HAT quest


The hat and the course configuration component can be found as open source code patch in the SVN repository (see chapter below). Features:

  • Connection between 3D environment and 2D backend system;
  • alternatively to the sloodle auto-registration requesting an explicit registration with moodle aquiring additonal user information is included;
  • teacher features:
    • defining which class takes place "now" in a defined area of the 3D environment
  • student (and teacher) features:
    • hints what is happening "now", what is expected "now" (scenario: you are late in class and want to catch up)
    • access to moodle materials relevant "now" for "me"
    • including quizzes pushed "now" (see section WP4-2-2 below)



WP4-2-2 Automated Feedback


One of the major benefits using a 3D environment for education is, that it is much easier to monitor and capture information relevant for assessment and feedback about the learning event. This is because one can automate the process and thus generate data for real-time feedback and for retrospective analysis later.


In this deliverable we present a package of tools and processes for how to do this. The actual application of these tools is in the hands of the educator, as it depends on the underlying questions in specific learning scenarios and the way they are used. This deliverable was developed according to the requirements gathered in workpackage 2 of the AVALON project.


When working on these requirements, we discovered that there were 2 major points of interest on which we concentrated in our subsequent work:


  1. automated documentation of learning events; and

  2. support for real-time feedback.


We decided to use the integration package sloodle.org as a starting point, which provides basic functionality in integrating the 3D environment Second Life with the 2D LMS moodle. Sloodle.org is a publicy funded open source project in the educational domain with an active and supportive community.  


Sloodle Integration Package


We have implemented sloodle 1.0 with the additional open source code patches as documented in the next chapter.


For the documentation of functionality and meta-data modifications of the LMS please refer to http://sloodle.org


Automatic documentation

There are substantial benefits in automatic documentation of a learning event:


  • teachers can use it as baseline for giving retrospective feedback;

  • students can revise important parts of the session and students who completely missed it can catch up;

  • teachers and course designers can evaluate the session in detail (e.g. in regards to deviations from the session plan, students' participation, teacher's behaviour);

  • a bank of material for scientific research is created.


An important issue in automatic documentation is that the participants are aware of what is happening and have agreed to the process.


There are several ways how automatic documentation can be supported:


Sloodle WebIntercom

The WebIntercom connects the public text chat in Second Life to a chatroom in Moodle. The main reason for it being developed was to give participants form outside Second Life the chance to join a chat. However is can also be used as valuable tool for documentation.


When using the WebIntercom, make sure that

  • the object is turned ON

  • the object can 'hear your text chat (which means it is no more than 20 m away from you – however, if you move away, you can take it with you)

  • Moodle is up and running


For details about where to get it from and how to configure it, see http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/sl/index.php/Sloodle_WebIntercom


Sloodle-Toolbar – Avi-Listener

The Avi-Listener comes with the Sloodle-Toolbar. It scans for avatars nearby and sends a list of avatars to Moodle, thus documents who is currently present. This nicely complements the already listed features above.


For details about where to get it from and how to configure it, see http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/sl/index.php/Sloodle_Toolbar


Sloodle-Toolbar – Blog

The Sloodle toolbar allows direct access to the Moodle-blog, thus makes it easy for the participant to document a learning event from his or her personal point of view (e.g. take notes on a fieldtrip).


For details about where to get it from and how to configure it, see http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/sl/index.php/Sloodle_Toolbar



There are several tools for recording e.g. Camtasia, FRAPS, IShowU (Mac). They are quite simple to use, although some technical background is helpful.


We strongly suggest editing the movies by using e.g. MovieMaker or iMovie (Mac) before publishing them to the participants, otherwise the data volume gets huge and watching would take too much time. Annotation is also a good way to add value to them (e.g. highlight good expressions).


Tools for real-time feedback

These tools give us the chance to visualize the opinions that the participants have right now. There is a huge variety of ways how these tools can be used in educational settings:


  • Audience voting: let an audience vote on the performance of competing teams (e.g. in a debate or business plan presentation) and find the winner that way;

  • Mood of the group: Find out which mood the group is in;

  • Knowledge assessment: check what your students know (and don't know);

  • Peer feedback: pick certain criteria to be assessed and let students distribute points to each other.



Vote master

The vote master is very useful for quick voting.

It offers several options and displays the number of clicks for each option. Each avatar may only click once.


It is a free tool by Philip Linden. Check the repository for a copy!



The opinionator is a great tool to get a quick overview of the opinions of a group.


It represents a Likert-scale (5 values: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree). Whenever an avatar enters one of the 5 associated fields, the pie chart in the middle is updated to reflect the new distribution.


It is a free tool by Entropy Hax. Check the repository for a copy!


Sloodle Quiz Chair

The Sloodle Quiz Chair allows users to attempt a multiple-coice Moodle quiz from within Second Life.


For each correct answer the chair is raised a bit into the air, thus it gives immediate visual feedback on how well the participants are doing. It can be used for all sorts of assessments. Using Sloddle Quiz Chair adds to the documentation of a learning event, as the results are stored in Moodle.


The quizchar is part of the Sloodle package. More information and a copy can be found here: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/sl/index.php/Sloodle_Quiz_Chair


Sloodle Choice

The Sloodle Choice tool allows the instructor to bring Moodle Choice activities into Second Life. It can be used like real-world clicker systems, e.g. for running polls or checking students knowledge or opinions.

Using Sloddle choice adds to the documentation of a learning event, as the results are stored in Moodle.


Sloode Choice is part of the Sloodle package. More information and a copy can be found here: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/sl/index.php/Sloodle_Choice



Ball tubes

Ball tubes can be used for visually distributing points to students (either by the teacher or the students to each other).


We suggest to rez one ball tube for each student and to publish criteria that should be assessed. Each student then would get a pool of e.g. 10 balls to be distributed.


The balltube s a free tool by talkademy.org. Check the repository for a copy!


Text chat

The simplest way to get real-time feedback is text chat. Just ask a question and encourage the participants to type their answers into local text chat. Typically this is used for spontanous questions like 'Can you hear me?' or 'Did you understand the task?'. If suddenly a long series of 'yes' appears in the chat, then eveything is ok. If some 'no', or '?' occur, then the teacher needs to act.


However simple it is: This is one of the most important techniques a new teacher needs to become familiar with. (And it is so simple that even complete newbies will be able to participate.)



Open Source Code Patches


see subversion protocol repository:


more information how to access the repository see WP4-1 Repository for 2D and 3D object



Conclusion and Further Work




The benefits from the approach taken in 2D/3D integration are:


  • We enable an educator to manage 3D content without the requirement of additional technical skill. Actually we enable the educator to use a 3D environment without being dependent on an external content provider or costly technicians. We believe, without 3D content management like in this approach, the 3D environment would hardly be sustainable economically for educators;

  • We make the 3D contents reusable in different learning scenarios and on different places. This reusability reduces the cost of content creation significantly;

  • Using sloodle.org as a starting point for integration makes perfect sense, as we can leverage on existing resources and experience. In return we can disseminate our findings from this deliverable to a the sloodle community in addition to the AVALON community;

  • Data and feedback is stored in the moodle format, which is a de facto standard as an infrastructure component in educational institutions.




  • The capturing of 3D content is attached to legal constraints defined by copyright laws in the US and the EU, as well as the terms and conditions from the grid operator Linden Labs. We advise any user of the 2D/3D content publishing component first to consult the terms and conditions from Linden Labs and applying copyright laws, as these are subject to change. Disclaimer: Neither we, nor the AVALON project members or the EU commission can be held liable for any charges in result of the use of the 2D/3D content publishing component. There are no warranties that the use of this component is legal in your jurisdiction and in your individual case. We advise you especially to capture and publish only content where you own sufficient intellectual property rights to do so.

  • Some steps of the publishing process can not be automated as the provided interfaces do not allow this. For uploading contents attached to 3D objects (textures, sound, animations) additional small payments are required from the grid operator Linden Labs. Some content like scripts can not be captured in the first place. For more details see “AVALON-WP4-2D_3D_content_publishing_component

  • Using Moodle and Sloodle extensions to store captured information implies that we need to consider the legacy meta-data structure which is very “static” and does not address the dynamic nature of the 3D environment. New standards are emerging, but they are still under development, thus the open source code patches are experimental.

  • The Sloodle extensions have been enriched with additional source code patches committed to the community by the work done in this work-package. 


Conclusion on pilot experiences with the 2D / 3D integration


The availability of an 2D / 3D integration is a key success criteria for using virtual worlds in a classroom environment.


We explored that


  • reliable management of stage content during class
  • time efficient preperation for learning events
  • the availability using the additional feedback channels provided


have a significant impact on the success of using virtual worlds in mainstream education.


With this work in the AVALON project we contribute to making integration between the 3D environment and the LMS more mature. At the same time structural limitations of existing LMS for the use in synchronous educational setting are addressed or exploited for future consideration.


Comments (3)

klaus said

at 1:31 pm on Nov 4, 2010

This document is complete
Spell-check and QA is appreciated

Gary Motteram said

at 12:33 pm on Nov 19, 2010

I have worked through this now and made corrections. There are comments in orange with ??. You also need to look at the 'Get the hat' simulation. I've made comments there, too.

klaus said

at 12:45 pm on Jan 7, 2011

I have put this deliverable as a PDF in the repository and linked it to our official homepage, if there are final adjustments, please notify me that I can update the release.

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