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Last Call For Responses: Will You Join The Moodle Association?

Moodle News - 18 Noviembre, 2015 - 07:41
The Moodle Association will be launching soon and expectations are high about what it might accomplish – from both continued development and community engagement perspectives. We’ve been...

Using 2D virtual reality for online role playing

Tony Bates - 18 Noviembre, 2015 - 01:14

Koechli, L. and Glynn, M. (2014) Diving into Lake Devo: Modes of Representation and Means of Interaction and Reflection in Online Role-Play IRRODL, Vol. 15, No.4

Djafarova, N., Abramowitz, and Bountrogianni, M. (2014) Lake Devo – creation, collaboration and reflection through a customizable online role-play environment Online Learning Consortium, 2014


This is the second of a series of blogs spotlighting the work of the Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, in developing innovative online learning initiatives. The first post provided a broad overview of the online learning initiatives at Ryerson.

Lake Devo

Lake Devo was designed by the Centre for Digital Education Strategies at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education in 2009 to support online role-play activity in an educational context. Lake Devo is essentially a simplified virtual reality tool that is easy to use by both instructors and students.

Learners work synchronously, using visual, audio, and text elements to create avatars and interact in online role-play scenarios. Role-play activity is captured and published as a 2-D “movie” that a group of learners may review, discuss, debate and analyze in Lake Devo’s self-contained debrief area. Lake Devo’s chat tool allows users to check in with each other “out of role” while they are using the tool.

Examples of work produced by learners in Lake Devo can be seen here.

My interest in Lake Devo is that it is a relatively simple way for learners to construct role playing activities for developing a range of skills. The two papers listed above provide a full description of the project. I have worked with the project team to produce this summary.

Why Lake Devo?

Lake Devo was designed for several reasons:

  • instructors found that role-playing using a text-based learning management system was limiting;
  • many instructors lacked familiarity with other possible tools such as 3D virtual worlds;
  • instructors could not commit the time required to learn and integrate most standard 3D virtual worlds into their teaching.

The Lake Devo website was designed to provide an infrastructure for online role-play activities, while allowing for flexibility so that it could be used across disciplines, as well as in multiple delivery formats (e.g., fully online, hybrid, class-room).

Lake Devo is named after an outdoor pond outside the Chang Building in Toronto used by Ryerson students for skating in the winter. The pond was funded in part by the Devonian Foundation of Calgary, hence its nickname by students.

An experiential and constructivist rationale

Lake Devo was designed to meet the following goals:

  1. Provide experience with the knowledge construction process.
  2. Provide experience in and appreciation for multiple perspectives.
  3. Embed learning in realistic and relevant contexts.
  4. Encourage ownership and voice in the learning process.
  5. Embed learning in social experience.
  6. Encourage the use of multiple modes of representation.
  7. Encourage self-awareness of the knowledge construction process.

The project team set out to develop an environment that offered a middle ground between text-only online role-play environments and highly complex 3D virtual environments. They deliberately chose not to design a fully realistic world in which to interact, but rather an environment for role-play dialogue that would offer added channels of expression to support interpersonal communication, as well as an integrated debrief area. In other words, Lake Devo was developed to be a minimalist virtual world that was relatively easy to use while retaining the key characteristics of role playing. In particular it offers:

  • Simple visual and audio modes of representation such as avatars, background images, and sound effects
  • An integrated debrief area that includes a shareable, multimedia artifact, and a forum for discussion
Creating a role play exercise in Lake Devo

There are several steps or stages in developing a role play exercise in Lake Devo:

  • an instructor works out the learning goals and process by which students will use Lake Devo to meet these goals;
  • a ‘community’ must be created, usually a class of students; their names are entered into a database;
  • groups of students within the ‘community’ are either randomly assigned or specified by the instructor;
  • a group leader is identified;
  • learners are issued passwords to access their project;
  • each group member creates a visual representation, or avatar, of his or her role-play character using the Character Creation tool, which allows customization from a menu of physical attributes such as skin tone, hair colour and style, clothing colour, and facial features, from a library of images;
  • the group agrees on a time to meet synchronously online to role-play;
  • the group members participate as their avatars in a spontaneous dialogue by typing in their comments, which forms a “script.” Text during the scripting can be entered as speech, thought, or action;
  • learners may select sounds from a built-in library to insert in the script;.
  • a Backstage Group Chat area assists learners in planning the role-play and discussing logistics as the role-play unfolds;
  • the role-play dialogue is automatically saved, but each learner may edit his or her character’s dialogue after the live role-play activity;
  • once a group has finalized their role-play, they publish it to their Lake Devo Community list in the form of a 2D narrative movie;
  • the movie format allows all to participate in the debriefing, which occurs in a discussion area below each movie.

In most cases, a Lake Devo exercise is a graded, sometimes culminating, project that takes place in the latter half of a course, with a number of weeks allowed for scenario development, planning and, ultimately, the synchronous role play activity and debrief.

What has it been used for?

Lake Devo has been used by instructors and students in the following areas:

  • Interdisciplinary Studies,
  • Retail Management,
  • Fundraising Management,
  • Early Childhood Studies,
  • Food Security,
  • Entrepreneurial Mentoring.

Lake Devo has been used by a total of ten online instructors, for at least eight different courses, involving over 35 sections of students. Instructors have also been involved in user testing for the environment, as well as in demonstrations of the environment for fellow faculty.


The Lake Devo system was designed internally by staff from the Centre for Digital Education Strategies at Ryerson. It is available for use by instructors and/or students at no cost.

Students and instructors require no special software or equipment to make use of the Lake Devo environment. Internet access and creative ideas for role-play scenarios are all that is needed.

There are some minor ongoing maintenance costs for the Digital Education Strategies Unit. With respect to the use of the site, the main cost then is the up-front instructor time to design their own Lake Devo learning activities.


Student reaction has been collected and feedback overall has been positive. In particular both instructors and students have found it easy to use.

While student satisfaction with the features of the environment has remained consistent, the Digital Education Strategies team has adopted a continuous improvement approach to the design of the environment and has fully revised the environment over the past 5 years, in keeping with student feedback. Examples of student responses can be found in the graphic below.

Further information

Instructors from other institutions may use Lake Devo. They can request access through the site by completing the “sign up for an account” form on the web site.

For further information please contact either or

Academic Partnerships Awards Grants for Distance Ed Research

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 23:59
Academic Partnerships has selected 16 faculty members from five universities as the recipients of its latest round of Academic Research Grants.

ProQuest SIPX Adds Features for Easier Creation and Sharing of Digital Course Materials

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 22:57
ProQuest has launched new capabilities in its SIPX digital course materials products designed to make it easier for faculty to create and share digital content.

American Council on Ed Offers Alternative Credits for Non-Traditional Students

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 21:02
The American Council on Education has selected several non-accredited education providers to offer courses for its Alternative Credit Project, an initiative designed to help nontraditional students earn college degrees.

Imagining Canada's Future

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

Talk I gave at SSHRC's Fall Forum called Imaging Canada's Future. No slides for this one; I worked off a set of notes. I introduced some overall thoughts about talking about the future, described some of the 'same old ways' we think about the future and meeting future needs, and then suggests that what we should really be learning from the 21st century is that knowledge is complex, fluid, changing, and not usefully described in terms of rules, facts, principles, and outcomes. To support this I quoted from a number of the presentations attendees had just seen, including one showing that we learn language by 'learning the rhythm', and another showing that spatial skills are the best predictor of mathematical ability.

SSHRC Fall Conference: Imagining Canada's Future, Ottawa, Ontario (Keynote) Nov 17, 2015 [Comment]
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Educational Technology and Education Conferences for January to June 2016, Edition #34

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

Clayton R. Wright, Nov 17, 2015

The latest edition of Clayton R. Wright's excellent conference listing is now available. He writes, "The 34th edition of the conference list covers selected events that primarily focus on the use of technology in educational settings and on teaching, learning, and educational administration. Only listings until June 2016 are complete as dates, locations, or Internet addresses (URLs) were not available for a number of events held from July 2016 onward. In order to protect the privacy of individuals, only URLs are used in the listing as this enables readers of the list to obtain event information without submitting their e-mail addresses to anyone. A significant challenge during the assembly of this list is incomplete or conflicting information on websites and the lack of a link between conference websites from one year to the next."

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Categorías: General

Galapagos Islands

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

Stephen Downes, Flickr, Nov 17, 2015

Photo set from last week, as I communed with the iguanas on the Galapagos Islands.


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Categorías: General

The Spatial Reasoning Study Group

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

SRSG, Nov 17, 2015

I've talked a lot about different kinds of communication fuit into the base 'critical literacies'. I think this work on spatial reasoning would fall right into that category. This was presented in the SSHRC conference yesterday. "Over the past several years, 'spatial reasoning' has gained renewed prominence among mathematics educators, as spatial skills are proving to be not just essential to mathematical understanding but also strong predictors of future success beyond the classroom in fields such as science, technology, and engineering."

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Categorías: General

About this project

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00, Nov 17, 2015

This was presented at the SSHRC conference. From the website: "This Knowledge Synthesis project seeks to examine existing formal and informal literature around best practices for teaching data literacy at the post-secondary level: what data skills are required to be data literate?   How are these skills best taught across programs? What are the best practices that we’ ve established after decades (and centuries)  of teaching students to work with data in various forms." My question is: do you 'teach data literacy' by teaching some body of content? How old fashioned is that?

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Categorías: General

The L&D world is splitting in two

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Workplace, Nov 17, 2015

Jane Hart and I are on the same wavelength. I said very much the same thing when I gave my talk in Ottawa yesterday (there's no way she could have heard my talk, and no way I could have seen her article until after, so it's a genuine case of synchronicity). On the one hand, there are the policy people - the OECD types and the management types - who depict education as something to be managed, outcomes driven, and standardized. On the other hand, there are the people who actually do research who understand that education (and most everything else) is complex, depends on random interactions in interactive systems, can't be 'programmed', but is something people do for themsalves in (hopefully) supportive environments. "The second group of L& D professionals," says Jane Hart, "that I refer to as  Modern Workplace Learning (MWL) practitioners – understand the realities of the new world of work, and that their own activities need to change to reflect this."

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Categorías: General

Mao's MOOC Rehabilitation

OLDaily - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 19:00

Josh Logue, Inside Higher Ed, Nov 17, 2015

I mentioned being interviewed for this item a while back; it has not appeared. I gave several examples of how U.S. courses might equally be 'propaganda' but IHE didn't use them for some reason. One example I found particularly relevant was the economics student revolt last year where they demanded that economics professors embrace and teach more than standard laissez-faire free market economic theory. Even more to the point, there should be no need to recite 'the subject according to Rupert Murdoch' anytime you discuss something. Education isn't a liturgy. Diverse perspectives should be expected.

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Categorías: General

Udacity and Google Unveil Co-Developed Nanodegree

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 18:11
For-profit online education provider Udacity and Google today unveiled a new micro-credential program, the Senior Web Developer Nanodegree.

Embry Riddle Turns to Crowdfunding to Help Finance Student Projects

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 17:57
In conjunction with National Philanthropy Day, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has launched a crowdfunding Web site.

Come Moot In Michigan In January

Moodle News - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 17:19
The REMC Association of Michigan has just announced that they will be holding a 2 day Moot at the Mid Michigan Community College in Mt. Pleasant on January 7th and 8th. As you well know, a Moot is a...

Lab 0_6

Educació Demà - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 16:43
Centre de descoberta, recerca i documentació per a l'educació científica a les primeres edats. Localització Espanya 39° 1' 11.28" N, 74° 53' 19.3992" W See map: Google Maps

Què és la gamificació en educació?

Educació Demà - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 15:46

Article de l’Oriol Ripoll sobre gamificació educativa

Gami..què? Descobreix la gamificació!

Educació Demà - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 15:43

Vídeo d’Oriol Ripoll introduint la gamificació

Building for a Generation We'll Never See: Technology Change is Not Deja Vu

Campus Technology - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 15:32
Our institutional missions can be extended into the future and supported by the same vision and community values that originated them. But technology change, often spurred on by external markets, may come in waves of extreme and dramatic change.

Skills in Europe

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 17 Noviembre, 2015 - 14:40

Cedefop is launching a new SKILLS PANORAMA website, online on 1 December at 11.00 (CET).

Skills Panorama, they say,  turns labour market data and information into useful, accurate and timely intelligence that helps policy-makers decide on skills and jobs in Europe.

The new website will provide with a more comprehensive and user-friendly central access point for information and intelligence on skill needs in occupations and sectors across Europe. You can register for the launch at Register now at