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Learning is Fun

For the first time the project TBPLeap - Creative Futures has been introduced to interested parties and the press. The presentation took place on June 9th, 2010 at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna and provoked a lively and enthusiastic response amongst the partners and the audience.

The presentation took place in the framework of a partner meeting, and the project partners from Ireland, Austria, the UK, Denmark, Latvia and Slovenia demonstrated the development of the modules with special reference to the tools for Sound, Lighting and Stage Management in Second Life.

In his introductory speech Realities & Virtual Worlds Gerardo Wolf Perez traced the term of “virtual reality” and “virtual world” back its first uses in the literature of the last century long before the computer-age. Philosophers and artists referred to them in the context of human representation and communication through visual elements – from simple texts to highly complex three dimensional environments - and recognized them as part of the cognitive process. He said: 

“With the emergence of virtual worlds in the Internet those representations and have gained a new dynamic and complexity. In the framework of the TPBLeap – Creative Futures project it is the task of the e-tutor to provide the connection between the experience in the virtual environment and the real world thus enabling the student to fully profit from the learning process.”

Martin Finn (Inchicore College of Further Education, IcfE, Ireland) gave an overview of the whole project and its components: the e-learning platform based on Moodle, the interactive lexicon of theatre words and the Creative Futures Island in Second Life. He said:

“'Traditional' e-learning programmes very often have a motivational problem for the learners. TPBLeap - Creative Futures aims to address this. The project is designed to be a fun way of learning and thus has a built in motivation for the learner. The key to Creative Futures is the virtual element which delivers a fun element as well as the opportunity for the learner to experiment with technical theatre skills prior to moving on the real machines.“

Martin then went on to present the Stage Management Module (devised by Ann Myler) and the tools created for the module in Second Life.

The authors of the Sound Module and the Lighting Module, JJ Vernon and Conleth White (both lecturers at ICfE, Ireland), presented the their content and the properties of the Virtual Sound Desk and the Virtual Lighting Desk created in Second Life. Conleth and Danny Roman (creator of the Second Life applications) demonstrated how best to work in a team in order to simultaneously control the desk and the stage area. “This is how it works in a real theatre as well – with all the difficulties of establishing an efficient communication between the technicians”, Conleth said.

Danny Roman (DataworkStudios, Great Britain) then gave a talk about the challenges in terms of the technical requirements of the project and how he and his team overcame these challenges. He said:

“Virtual simulators are a way for learners to acquire experience about how things and systems behave in the real world without actually touching them. When incorporated inside a web based virtual environment as part of a larger e-learning platform, they provide a valuable learning resource available to all students at any time and wherever they may be.
DataWorkStudios have developed some ground breaking technical firsts in Second Life for the Creative Futures project; in particular, a fully functioning Sound mixing desk simulator and a Theatre lighting simulator. These are state of the art tools that enable students to learn fundamental skills and practice using an accurate model when they do not have access to the real equipment.“

As Brian Mulligan (IT Sligo, Ireland) could not be present in Vienna at the time of the partner meeting he gave his talk about the E-Tutor Module via a video conference.

Following the presentations a lively discussion ensued between the partners and the audience. Our Danish testing partners (VUC Holstebro) talked about the experience of their students with the courses of TPBLeap – Creative Futures. Other topics were the possible evolution and application of the modules of TPBLeap – Creative Futures.  A practising musician was especially interested in the use of the sound module and how the virtual sound desk could help musicians to gain awareness of how the audience perceives the sound coming from the orchestra pit.

Among the many results of the Vienna presentation we have been invited to present the project to students and staff of the Media Department at Fachhochschule St. Pölten in Austria. In Dublin the project will be presented in the Creative Futures Conference in October 2010.

Click here for a review in German: "Lernen ist lustig".