GENIE News 23rd March 2011

'Out of this world' win for Leicester team

The University of Leicester’s SWIFT project (Second World Immersive Future Teaching) is a collaboration between GENIE, Genetics Education Networking for Innovation and Beyond Distance Research Alliance.



One of the project’s videos was voted into 1st place in the Best Educational and the People’s Choice categories at the 4th Annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference (VWBPE) held in the virtual world of Second Life.
The awards were announced in the stunning, purpose built Central Auditorium in Second Life in a glittering ceremony that was the closing highlight of the conference.
The VWBPE Conference is a grassroots, community-based conference and is the largest global event of its kind, with around 2,700 attendees and 170-plus presentations, posters and workshops. Participants include creators and users of teaching / learning environments, resources, tools, support services and professional development opportunities internal and external to virtual world environments. This was the first time that the VWBPE Conference has included awards for videos in virtual worlds, which use real-time 3D computer graphics to create a cinematic production.

“This is great news; the SWIFT project's key aim is to evaluate the use of virtual worlds for educational purposes. The video has also proved invaluable as part of the induction to Second Life for students,”

said Dr Annette Cashmore, Director of GENIE and the SWIFT project.

SWIFT’s three-minute video features Second Life avatars voiced by Dr Paul Rudman and Dr Suzanne Lavelle, members of the SWIFT project team. The video shows the two avatars leading viewers on a tour of the virtual laboratory that the SWIFT project has created in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life, where University of Leicester undergraduates take part in virtual laboratory activities.

Paul and Suzanne created the action sequences using footage of their own avatars walking around the laboratory and describing its features and purposes, interspersed with recorded videos of student avatars participating in lab activities.

The aim of the SWIFT project is to address some of the limitations of teaching and learning in real laboratories, increasing opportunities for activities such as student interaction and experimental design. The project also researches the impact of using virtual laboratories on teaching and learning in biomedical sciences, and provides exemplars for transfer to other sciences.
SWIFT is funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) under their National Teaching Fellowship Project Scheme (NTFS) and is a collaboration between GENIE, and the Beyond Distance Research Alliance.

View the award-winning video


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