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Zora: Implementing Virtual Communities of Learning and Care

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  1. Zora: Implementing Virtual Communities of Learning and Care David Grogan Manager, Curricular Technology Group UIT, Tufts University david.grogan@tufts.edu Keiko Satoh Graduate Student / Research AssistantDevelopmental Technologies Research Group, Tufts University keiko.satoh@tufts.edu

  2. Presentation Overview • What is Zora? • Development and Architecture Overview • The Zora Studies • Next Steps • Q&A

  3. What is Zora? • It’s an interactive, multi-user, 3-D environment explicitly designed to help young people explore issues of identity and to promote positive development through the use of technology. • Built upon ActiveWorlds VR Building Platform • Using .net, ASP, Cold Fusion, and MS-SQL

  4. How it Began • 2003: Prof. Bers won an APT grant awarding her 600 hours of R&D work from CTG. • Goals: • Port conceptual design of Zora (built in the late 1990’s on top of later-abondoned VR platform) to a more sustainable platform based on a prioritized list of criteria. • Build something easier to use and administrate.

  5. The Main Criteria: Architectural Drivers • Educational goals drove functional requirements • APT grant scope and state of industry made choosing a viable platform difficult • older platforms disappearing • newer platforms immature or missing functionality • platform cannot be created from scratch and remain within scope. • functionality to be added to an existing platform must be achievable within 600 hours of R&D and approximately $10,000.

  6. The Main Criteria: Making the Choice • Platform chosen must already support or facilitate the creation of • multiple, persistent, isolated, and dynamic worlds that are multi-user inhabitable • real-time object building, annotation, and viewing tools built-in to the world browser • custom logging capabilities for data mining / research analysis • easy to use interface (GUI, controls, tools) for end users, principally children ages 7-18

  7. The Main Criteria: Making the Choice • Platform must be: • acceptably easy to deploy and administrate (a sustainable technology, client-side and server-side) • acceptably easy to add new functionality in the future

  8. The Architecture

  9. The Information Flow

  10. Design Theoretical Empirical Context of the Research How to design and implement empowering technological tools to promote positive youth development ? How do youth, non-experts and communities use these technologies?

  11. Design Elements Constructionism Learning with Technology (Papert, 1982) Applied Developmental Science Frameworks on Positive Youth Development Positive assets to promote youth development, (Lerner et al, 2005)

  12. SAGE Kaleidostories Zora Technologies explicitly designed to promote Positive Technological Development (PTD) Identity Construction Environments (ICE) (Bers,2001)

  13. The Post-Transplant Study • Transplant teams & Department of Psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital Boston • Funded by NSF • To explore the potential of networked technologies to improve the quality of life post-transplant • patient’s medical adherence to post-organ transplant regimens. • foster growth in Positive Technology Development. • relationship among technology use, youth development, and medical adherence.

  14. What is Happening? • Emergent curriculum • Weekly group-activity sessions • What are being built… Personal houses Press Office Zoo Wrestling arena School Restaurant Transplant house etc.

  15. Walk through

  16. Research • 15 children in the first group (7 boys; 8 girls) • 7 in the control group (starts in January) • 4 to 8 months using Zora • Qualitative & quantitative data from Zora (logs) • Short surveys and interviews (kids, parents and medical staff) • Home visits • Follow-up 3 and 6 months after

  17. Zora Log Parser

  18. Next Steps for UIT • Continue to support Zora. • Review field again. • Offer 3D VR service to Tufts community in 2007.