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The International Virtual Worlds of Science and Education


Nikitin Alexander
Director
State Centre of Computer Interactive Simulation
Adress: RUSSIA 190000, St-Petersburg, Bolshaja Morskaja str., 67
E-mail: nike51@rol.ru
www.cl.spb.ru.nikitin.vr;dept44.aanet.ru

M. Ignayiev, A. Nikitin, N. Reshetnikova

Content :

In the report the international projects of State Center of computer interactive simulation and St-Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation are considered in the field of creation of the virtual worlds and their use in education, science and culture.

The basic characteristics, stages of creation, scope and advantage of use of virtual worlds (VW) are considered in the previous reports of authors /1/. To them we shall add the following.

The majority modern VW are one-user, them some users simultaneously may visit, thus each of them sees the copy of the virtual world and does not see actions of other visitors of the world. Applicability similar VW in the real world is limited because of absence of support of teamwork of users which is realized in multiuser VW. To them each visitor is represented with special object - avatar which are seen by other users. Actions made by visitors above objects VW are synchronized and are visible to all. The technology of realization multiuser VW should provide synchronization of behaviour of three-dimensional objects for users who will allow them to create and operate the virtual multiuser three-dimensional worlds, including / 2/:

to cooperate to users in virtual three-dimensional stages (to observe each other, verbal and nonverbal communication with each other etc.);

to create, edit and operate three-dimensional objects in the multiuser mode;

to exchange texts, graphics, sound and video the information, gestures;

to trace conditions of the world and their change with the message each other.



Rather the first platforms for creation and supports multiuser VW - ActiveWorlds, Blaxxun, ParallelGraphics, MS Virtual Worlds etc., and also the first attempts of their application in education, a science and culture recently have appeared.

VW - the hi-tech product demanding judgement both its necessity and a susceptibility, and the decision of some serious problems at creation and support - scientific and technical, technological, financial, organizational, personnel etc. Therefore the basic purpose of the report - on an example of author''''s projects to show an opportunity of creation VW and their uses in education, a science and culture and also to involve the interested organizations in their performance.



1). Virtual worlds of a science and education

The project bases on outcomes of the complex project of St. Petersburg - World: educational and scientific resources of higher and other educational institutions of St.-Petersburg with use of technologies of the virtual worlds (Higher School of St.-Petersburg in Cyberspace) ( together with a number of leading universities of St.-Petersburg; committee on preparation and realization of celebration 300 years of St.-Petersburg).

The purpose of the project - submission of higher educational institutions of St.-Petersburg and foreign universities, connected to them, and also their educational, scientific, cultural and other resources with use of technology of the virtual worlds and delivery to various categories of the users by means of compact discs and Internet.

Now three-dimensional interactive buildings of universities with adjoining territory, significant rooms for universities, historical information on becoming higher education in SPb and universities, their heads borrowed with them buildings, and also some historical thematic appendices (becoming to SPb of the mechanics and optics, aircraft, radio and TV etc.) are developed.

The following stage - inclusion in the developed infrastructure of modern scientific - educational and cultural resources of universities and their foreign partners with the organization one and the multiuser access to them.



2). Fundamental and applied researches of the multi-user virtual worlds on experimental equipment (cybernetic bicycle) with including of man sensors and man motions (in cooperation with ZKM Institute for Visual Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; the federal program Integration of a science and high education of Russia for 2002-2006 years ).

Long-term objectives of the project - creation and development competitive in the world market of scientific and technical potential of Russia in the field of multiuser VW, and also systems of a professional training in the given area.

Now:

experimental installation Is created on the basis of a cybernetic bicycle.

Are developed multiuser thematic VW for joint travels over virtual SPb and virtual competitions of bicyclists (a point of an input - Russia, Germany, Australia).



3). Virtual worlds technology Aided Learning of Russian as foreign language (in cooperation with the St.-Petersburg state university; the grant of UNESCO).

The purpose - creation of the virtual environment for studying Russian as an album of a situation for a rate of remote training of Russian as foreign language.

Within the framework of the given project various situations which foreigners in Russia may collide, for example, habitation, public catering, purchases, trips, travels, sports, entertainments etc are modelled.

Technology VW completely practically will allow users to plunge into the language environment modelling real conditions of daily life, and will create effect of physical presence at the world occupied by characters - carriers of Russian. An example of the similar approach is European project VIRLAN (the Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Finland).

For increase of efficiency of fastening of the received skills at studying Russian and psychological effect of visiting of the virtual worlds the opportunity of use specialized (besides the keyboard and the mouse) the peripheral equipment - a cybernetic bicycle, the personal display is stipulated etc.



4). Electronic educational films for a rate on aircraft JAR 66 (in cooperation with Association STAR, France).

The purpose - creation on the basis of technology VW about one and the multiuser access of training systems and technical manuals for the nonproduction personnel serving planes.



Examples of development are submitted on Web pages virtual.aanet.ru and dept44.aanet.ru (laboratory of the virtual worlds).



INFORMATION SOURCES



1. A.A.NIKITIN, A.V.NIKITIN, N.N.RESHETNIKOVA.The concepts and technology of access to the virtual worlds in education, culture and art. - Proceedings of the International conference EVA''''2000 " Electronic Imaging & the Visual Arts ", ., 2001, STG, VASARI. http://www.evarussia.ru/upload/doklad/dokladEN_288.doc

2. main.vrml.ru, www.hitl.washington.edu, www.web3d.org, www.vlearn3d.org





In the report the outcomes obtained for want of by financial support RFBR - the grant

01-06-80470 Study of communication opportunities of the computer virtual worlds as metamechanisms of culture.


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