Building holodeck scenes in Second Life

muvenation logoNow, some of you might ask: “What on earth is a holodeck?” Those who have watched Star Trek are familiar with the term and this is how Wikipedia explains it. The article mentions several uses for holodecks (see Application) one of which is training. So, even in Star Trek, they had educational value 😉 Holodecks in SL, can be simple to complex scenes, built in advance and packed up which can then be created “on demand” by one click in a limited space. Unfortunately, the SL versions lack the function of simulating smell… Well, not yet… And, well, yes, it could be a disadvantage, too, but would definitely add to the immersiveness 😀

OK, back to the seriousness of this task. Here is a definition of Second Life holodecks, what they are used for and links to different kinds of holodecks. Loki Clifton, who introduced himself as “the grandfather” of holodecks in SL, was apparently the first person who invented holodecks for SL. He was kind enough to show us different types of holodecks and explained how they are used and demonstrated how to build a scene with a production holodeck. As our task would include building our own scenes, Loki generously agreed to give us all a copy for testing purposes – a 2in1 production holodeck.

Holodecks can be quite expensive compared to other tools in Second Life. There are some free or inexpensive ones but usually with very limited functionality. In most cases, they do not allow the owner to build new scenes, which is what we wanted to do. It is also possible to buy scenes for some holodecks. Again, this depends on the type of holodeck you have (here is an example). A free simple alternative is the Builder’s Buddy script, which functions in a very similar way.

Due to lack of time 🙁 , I have only been able to play around a bit with Loki’s holodeck but built my workshop scene for the MUVEnation task with the free Builder’s Buddy script. You can see the scene below.

Workshop scene packed - Builder's Buddy

Above: This is the box in which the whole scenes is packed. I can take drag it from my inventory on the ground anywhere I am and rez (= create) the scene with a click. I can also allow others to rez my scene. With the BB script, every scene is in its own box (or any other object used as base).
Workshop scene - Builder's Buddy

Above: Here, you can see the rezzed workshop scene (and the green box). The scene normally rezzes within seconds. I can reposition the scene by simply dragging the green box. All other objects then reposition themselves accordingly keeping their distances to each other. One click and everything is cleaned up and back in the box and the space available for other things.

Here is a short video showing how the above scene is being rezzed (built) and then, cleared with one click:

Besides the MUVEnation task, I am also working with a group of colleagues on a holodeck project. Actually two projects joined togehter now, one initiated by Kip Boan who shares his holodecks with the SL English group, the other by Leon Cych. The aim is to explore its uses for educational purposes. Leon has kindly provided me with a professional Horizon holodeck. So, after building simple scenes with the Builder’s Buddy, I will try my hand at building a scene for a holodeck. Here is a short video of Leon demonstrating a holodeck:

And here is another video showing some scenes of Loki’s holodeck:

Language learning and holodecks

The first use of holodecks for language learning that springs to mind is scenes for role-plays (checking in at a hotel, ordering food in a restaurant, etc.). Scenes could also be used for students to learn the names of objects (furniture, plants, animals, kitchen utilities, …). But one can also imagine creating different cozy places for more undisturbed meetings with students or different spaces for students to work in groups. The settings could be changed according to the topic the group is talking about. Students can also be asked to build their own scenes as a kind of project work. One interesting project I have come across is the Literary Holodeck Project where educators built scenes to represent different literary works.

These are only some initial thoughts. I hope working with my colleagues in the projects mentioned above will bring about more ideas. If you have ideas on how holodecks could be used for language learning (or learning/education in general) or you know of other educational holodeck projects, I would be very happy to read your comments.

—> Link to all blog posts related to holodecks, Builder’s Buddy and language teaching ideas.

8 thoughts on “Building holodeck scenes in Second Life

  1. Nice article, I have always seen this tech as full of potential, here are some ideas

    Learning tool/game, where correct sequence will take you through evolution of subject.

    learning tool for looking at affects of stimuli, on substances and or objects, for example:

    prim model of molecules, apply catalyst what happens?

    Model of biosphere using historical data, show influences of environmental impacts, with options to run different scenarios.

    I know we are at stage where computing power, client software, and broadband might not yet be able to take these to the seamless change of scene we know will come, but all the more reason we should be there waiting.

    Thanks for being part of this journey we take towards next level.

    Julius Sowu virtually-Linked London

    • Julius, thanks very much for your comment! Brilliant ideas.
      Didn’t we think that computer power and bandwidth we have today was impossible or too expensive some time ago? So, power to the imagination!

  2. I like holodecks. Randall Sadler, who heads the CALICO Virtual Worlds SIG, gave a presentation in a holodeck equipped as a lecture theatre to participants at the EUROCALL CMC SIG conference in Spain, 23 April 2009.

    I have a holodeck on the roof of the EUROCALL HQ in SL:
    I like holodecks. Randall Sadler (head of the CALICO VW SIG) gave a presentation in a holodeck equipped as a lecture theatre to participants at the EUROCALL CMC SIG conference in Spain on 23 April 2009:

    I have a holodeck on the roof of the EUROCALL HQ in Second Life:

    There will be a pre-conference workshop for Second Life newbies at EUROCALL 2009, and there will be several presentations on Second Life. Watch this space for details of the full programme:

    For people who cannot attend the conference in person there will be a parallel virtual strand – as offered at EUROCALL 2006, 2007 and 2008:

    BTW, Section 14.2.1 of Module 1.5 at the ICT4LT site is continuing to expand. I update it every week, and it now contains lots of links relating to SL in general and to language learning and teaching in SL in particular. More links and information are always welcomed:

    Graham Davies
    Emeritus Professor of Computer Assisted Language Learning

  3. Thanks Graham!

    Wish I could be at EUROCALL but am happy that there is at least a virtual strand that I can attend.
    Will visit your holodeck 🙂

    If you have any more ideas on how to use holodecks for language learning and teaching, I’d be happy to read them here.

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