Spatial role-playing and virtual immersion

It is interesting to find that there are many types of spatial immersion projects going on this summer. They provide a good contrast of how creative people can be with spatial immersion as an educational tool and the importance of experiencing an environment to understanding it in a new way.

The original Virtual Trillium Trail was a virtual ecological environment created by Maria C.R. Harrington as part of her dissertation research in Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. It is represents real world field trips offered by the Audubon Society of Western PA and uses the Pennsylvania Department of Education Ecology Standards. Virtual Trillium Trail has been posted on KickStarter to try to get funding to make it into an online game.

School of Architecture for All (SARCHA) Polypolis is a role playing social simulation that covers different areas of current events. They are currently presenting “Polypolis Athens: Become an Athenian and experience a city in crisis” for the upcoming London Festival of Architecture on June 23-July 8. The theme of the festival is The Playful City and Polypolis is billed as a Playful social simulation, but is playful in the way that serious games allow users to play in a immersive sandbox.

Role-playing and immersion are always great educational tools; virtually or in real life. I have always enjoyed having students create their own role-play activities to share with classmates. I think that both k-12 students and adults respond well to role-pay as an educational activity. A paper on role-playing as an educational technique from 1958 sums it up well, ” Dramatic play has been enjoyed by children- and adults too, if you will — throughout the ages. It is a natural and spontaneous way of learning, but only comparatively recently have educators come to realize its worth as a teaching device.”

Of course, Sue Bergeron and Jesse Rouse have done more than talk about the role of technology, such as the contributions of GIS, to making what educators dreamed about in 1958 possible. There is a good quote from  “Engaging the Virtual Landscape: Serious gaming environments as tools in historical landscape reconstruction and interpretation ”  that says, “Utilizing game functionality we can add sounds, smells, and other sensory input that would be part of such landscapes, and users can begin to experience phenomena that in combination creates a sense of place. ”  It is nice to see how role-playing has evolved as technology and spatial knowledge has evolved. It will be interesting to see what people come up with next.

 

Google Maps press event video

I am just beginning to watch the video from today’s press event at Mountain View, and while it apparently ends with a few announcements it begins with a great history of Google Earth/Maps going all the way back to SGI and Keyhole to the process of building (and filling) Google Maps. Take a look to see the history, uses, and future of Googles approach to geo.

Minute Physics and Geography

I have this thing where, when I am stuck on a Cultural Geography idea or thought or, more commonly, writing a paper one of the best ways to kick my brain into gear again is to feed it a few pages of a popular Physics book (preferably something quantum’y or maybe a little chaos theory). For me, there are so many similarities between quantum physics and phenomenology that it just gets me be on track…maybe not on the same one, but, you know, Newton’s first and all that.

So as I was recouping from Maymester (1 semester/10 days) I found that not only had Ze Frank started a new show, but that there is a great illustrated video podcast called Minute Physics. It is a weekly show that walks you through a concept from physics in around a minute with a nice twist of humor (great for physics teachers I would guess). I am only up to the beginning of this year, so I still have plenty of episodes to watch, but they have sprinkled in a good deal of content about the world so far. The GPS episode is a good example from the geospatial side of things:

But there is even a few episodes for the physical geographer (so far my favorite is Hairy Ball Theorem which is more math than physics, but what are you going to do).