Posted tagged ‘Australian’

The future of entertainment

28 June 2016

In the space of a couple of weeks, I have previewed the future of entertainment twice.

Promo for VR Noir

The first instance was at AFTRS in Sydney, where I attended a presentation of VR Noir: A Day Before The Night.

Billed as an “interactive crime thriller”, this immersive virtual reality experience might best be described as a combination of a film and a game. Set in the style of the gumshoe genre we know so well, you play the part of a private detective who must decide whether or not to take on a client’s case. Your actions drive the story forward, and your decisions along the way impact the final outcome.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and commend AFTRS on the quality of their work, I was also fascinated by the unique technical challenges they encountered. One of the most pressing ones was point of view: in a 360° environment, there is simultaneously no POV and all POVs. (Maybe their next VR film will be about Schrödinger’s cat?)

Another challenge was the stitching: the actors had to remain within the narrow confines of the frame, lest be sliced in two.

However the medium also afforded opportunities. One of them was the audio: by plotting the source of a sound at particular coordinates, its realism increased by orders of magnitude as I moved my head, or stepped closer or further away, while the stereophonics adjusted accordingly.

If and when multiple users can interact in the same VR film at the same time – that is to say, when the experience becomes social – the opportunities to replicate real-life situations will increase exponentially.

Indeed, my second preview of the future of entertainment was social.

The virtual reality experience offered by Zero Latency in Melbourne might best be described as laser tag on steroids. Armed with a headset, earphones, mic, and a plastic gun, your mission is to seek and destroy the hordes of zombies that have taken over the city.

Up to 6 players can traverse the 400m2 physical floor space as a platoon. Of course, the virtual world is much larger than that – as the website states, “We reuse the space with some nifty tricks we have developed.”

Saying that Zero Latency is loads of fun feels like I’m committing an injustice. Suffice to say the shoot’em-up genre has been elevated to a whole new level. I think my adrenalin is still pumping!

VR headset

Beyond the novelty factor, I was deeply engaged by both the interactive film and the ambulatory game. Having now experienced both, I am left in no doubt that virtual reality is the future of entertainment.

And if that’s true, then it’s also the future of lots of other things, such as learning.

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Would you like an education with that?

4 December 2013

Last night I attended the official launch of the Tiny Shops Burgers app by Sydney-based startup, hawt.

The app is an educational game in which you are the manager of a busy little burger shop. The customers line up and place their orders – say, a burger, small fries and a drink – while you ring up their bill on the cash register, accept their payment and return their change.

If you keep the customers waiting too long, over-charge them or short-change them, they’ll become unhappy and you’ll lose them.

Screenshots from Tiny Shops Burgers

The time sensitivity of the game reminds me of Diner Dash in that it demands increasingly proficient priority management and faster performance as you work your way up the levels.

Beyond pure speed however, Tiny Shops Burgers also demands accuracy. Your success in the game is dependent on your getting the mathematics right, which must be done mentally (Heaven forbid!) while under pressure.

More screenshots from Tiny Shops Burgers

I recommend Tiny Shops Burgers because it gamifies a subject that plenty of school children dread. Not only can it develop their arithmetic skills, but also their financial literacy, awareness of foreign currencies, and (arguably) an appreciation of customer service.

But does it work?

I’ll answer that with a quote from a Year 5 student from Hurstville South Public School:

“I don’t like maths but I love this game!”

My 15 favourite Australian e-learning bloggers

16 April 2012

Fay Moore made my day when she nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I’m still unsure as to whether this is the blogosphere’s version of a chain letter, but in any case it gives me a good excuse to:

          A) Thank Fay for her support, and
          B) Promote other bloggers.

According to the VBA Rules I’m supposed to nominate 15 bloggers whom I have recently discovered or follow regularly.

Since there are literally scores of bloggers who might fit this bill, I have decided to narrow down my criteria to Australian bloggers who write predominantly about e-learning (or something related).

Here they are in alphabetical order…

Versatile Blogger Award button

Anne Bartlett-Bragg – Anne probably doesn’t know this, but she opened my eyes to the power of wikis at a conference in Sydney many years ago. Since then, she has joined Dachis Group where she and James Dellow write about social business on the Headshift blog.

Alison Bickford – Alison is an e-learning consultant with loads of experience in the government and corporate sectors. She extends her consulting wisdom via the Connect Thinking blog and helps other e-learning professionals via the E-Learning Academy.

Matt Blackstock – Matt is a learning professional who likes to produce. I keep up with his thoughts and ideas on his Virtual Lore blog.

Sophie Carter – Sophie is an up-and-coming HR superstar. I love following her journey via her Towards Erudition blog.

Stephen Colman – To be perfectly honest, I only stumbled upon Steve’s musings after his employer and mine merged and he started banging on about stuff on Yammer. He has clever insight on a range of issues, as his Long Straws blog attests.

Ross Dawson – Anyone interested in futurism will know Ross and his Trends in the Living Networks blog.

Michael Eury – Michael is a learning designer who thinks deeply about his craft. Open your mind at his Stickylearning blog.

Sally Foley-Lewis – Sally focuses on manager training at her Fast Track Manager Productivity blog. How is this relevant? Managers are often my target audience.

Debora Gallo – Debora is a passionate L&D professional who has defected to the dark side (higher ed). Her e-bites blog provides an honest account of her experiences.

Glenn Hansen – Glenn is an organisational and people development consultant with a psychology background. His What’s in my head today? blog reinforces the connection between learning and performance.

Jeevan Joshi, Robert Spence, Robin Petterd, Kevin Sinclair and Nicola Atkinson – I’ve lumped these learning pro’s together because, along with myself and pommy Mike Collins, they all contribute to the Learning Cafe. This community promotes thought leadership in L&D.

Wendy Phillips – Wendy develops e-learning at one of the biggest telcos in the Asia-Pacific region. Her “occasional mutterings” on her Noticed blog are painfully familiar.

Craig Simon – Craig is the Managing Director of Purple Learning, and he knows his stuff when it comes to engaging e-learning. He has recently started to share his wisdom via the Purple Blog.

Kerrie Smith – Kerrie is an education aficionado and the author of several blogs. I notice she hasn’t updated Smik’s Learning Space lately, and I hope that will change soon.

Mark Smithers – Mark is an educational technologist at a big university in a city that thinks it’s better than Sydney. In spite of this, I tend to agree with everything he says on his Learning and Educational Technology in Higher Education blog.

Sue Waters – Sue writes The Edublogger with Texas-based Ronnie Burt. Their target audience is teachers in the K-12 sector, but much of their writing is relevant to the corporate sector too.

Penny Wheeler – I suspect Penny is a member of Mensa. Penny’s joy in writing might as well be called Ryan’s joy in reading.

Robert Wilkins – I consider Rob a mentor. He hasn’t ruminated much on his Ruminations of a Learning and Development Professional blog lately, but when he does I guarantee it will be gold.

James Williams – James is a social media specialist, and he’s not afraid to share his extensive knowledge on his James Williams blog.

Tony Wilson – Tony is a high performance expert, and to me that’s what learning is all about. His Tony Wilson blog inspires me.

“Hang on” I hear you say, “That’s more than 15 bloggers!”

Ah, sue me.

Aus-e-learning

24 January 2012

Last year, Jeff Goldman published Free US History eLearning in honour of Independence Day.

I thought it was such a wonderful idea, I have decided to do something similar in honour of Australia Day.

I hope you find the following Aussie-flavoured e-learning resources to be informative, fun and “bonza”…

Australian outback on the iPad

Facts and figures

Come To Australia. It’s nice here. You’ll like it.
Where we live in Australia
ABS Spotlight
Australia, a nation transformed

Tourism

There’s Nothing Like Australia in an App
AusWiki

Photos and images

Picture Australia

Great Australians

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Australia’s Nobel Laureates
On the Money
Heroes of the Air

Aboriginal culture

A History of the World in 100 Objects: Australian bark shield
Indigenous Language Map
Mystery object: Torres Strait Islands
Happytribe’s Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories
Australian History by La Trobe University

European settlement

Cook’s Endeavour Journal
DigiMacq
Gold rush
Augmented Reality browsing of Powerhouse Museum around Sydney
The Great Depression
Australian History by La Trobe University

Military history

Make your own conscription poster
Gallipoli: The First Day
The Story of the AE2
The Bombing of Darwin
The Petrov Affair Webquest

The Arts

Design and Art Australia Online
NationalGalleryAus
Music Australia
Australia Dancing
Sydney Opera House: Education
Sydney Symphony: Learn and Explore

Science and Technology

Australia Innovates
Australian Geographic
CSIRO
Science Image

Mobile and Social Media

Statistics about mobile phone usage
Asia-Pacific Social Media Statistics
State of Australian Social Media 2011
Social media use by Australians

Sport

The first golden age of cricket
AUS Olympic Champions

Language

Aussie English for the Beginner
World Nomads Australian Language Guide

Australia’s Nobel Laureates

27 September 2011

The Nobel Prizes will be announced next week in Norway and Sweden.

Despite a few controversial decisions over the years, the awards have retained their international prestige for well over a century.

In honour of the event, I have created a simple learning object that showcases the Nobel Laureates from my own country:

Australia's Nobel Laureates

Australia’s Nobel Laureates

Launch the learning object

Download the files

This object was relatively easy to produce, and it surprises me that there isn’t more of this kind of thing in the education space.

To remedy the situation, I would like to share with you the 3 steps I took to create my learning object, and in doing so demonstrate the fact that just about anyone can do it.

My caveat is that I am neither a multimedia developer nor a graphic designer – though my role often involves wearing those hats. There are probably better of ways of doing this, but the following worked for me…

Step 1: Create a bunch of image files

My learning object accommodates 10 Nobel Laureates, so I created 10 images in PaintShop Pro, plus a landing image.

On each one I placed the title and subtitle, the mugshots, plus the content that was unique to each laureate (year, name, prize and motivation).

I’m a big fan of layers. You may have noticed I put a background image on the base layer, then overlayed that with a semi-transparent blue floodfill, over which I laid an image of the Nobel medal, over which I laid another a semi-transparent blue floodfill.

Of course you don’t need to go to all that trouble; you can use a plain background. However I think the layering effect adds an aesthetic richness.

Once I got the first image right, I copied it and edited the unique content for the next image. That way I didn’t have to re-do the titling and background.

Step 2: Import into Captivate

After I got all my images in order, I inserted each one onto its own slide in Adobe Captivate 3, ensuring the canvas size was exactly the same as the image dimensions (in this case, 1024 x 768).

Then I added a transparent button to each slide to execute a pause, inserted a click box over each mugshot, then pointed the click boxes to their respective target slides.

Note: I tried incorporating rollovers, but residual effects were screwing it up. My friend and Captivate guru, Marnie Bristow, tells me this glitch has been fixed in the latest version of the software.

Step 3: Publish it

I could have done Step 2 in PowerPoint. If you prefer it and it works for your audience, go for it. However, there are some good reasons to shell out the extra cash and go with Captivate:

• You can publish in swf format, which is really small to download;
• You can add SCORM, if you are that way inclined; and
• You can also record system simulations, which is what it’s designed for!

When I published my learning object in Captivate, the software produced a swf file, an accompanying skin, an html host, and a javascript source. All four need to travel together, so I uploaded them to a folder in Dropbox, then linked to the html file.

My learning object files on Dropbox

You should be able to do something similar on your own web server, intranet, LMS or VLE.

By the way, I realised I stuffed up by making the learning object so big. While most monitors have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater, I forgot about toolbars and the like that compete for real estate. Luckily I had a couple of “get out jail free” cards up my sleeve:

1. Resize the project in Captivate; or
2. Edit the dimensions of the object in the coding of the html file.

I decided to go with the latter because, if someone wants to use the bigger object, I might as well let them.

Done.

So there you have it: How to create an interactive learning object in 3 steps.

Hopefully you are brimming with ideas about your own learning objects that you will make.

And if an Australian wins a Nobel Prize next week, I won’t mind updating mine. In fact, I have my fingers crossed!