The ideas behind the teaching style used in this social learning platform is based on student to student learning, were the teacher acts as a guide for students to think critically about their learning outcome in the virtual world. The platform has an Adaptive Learning System to log learning outcome and create individual learning experiences.
Recent years changes in public school strategy for students to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), can make some free 3D virtual world learning tools, that are not browser based relevant again.
Oligo Academy’s history from 2014 to today
This free social learning platform is based on OpenSimulator with our free Adaptive Learning System addons, that makes it easy for teacher without much technical skills, to facilitate student learning in a 3D virtual world.
The adaptive learning system allows logging xAPI statements with student learning outcome, based on their actions in the 3D virtual world. These xAPI learning outcome statements and student feedback on their own experience of learning competence, can then be used to adapt the students individual learning path.
How the idea for an adaptive social learning platform started
The idea for Oligo Academy came after working 7 years with Copenhagen Business Schools Learning Lab, were academic development of different teaching styles like blended or flipped learning and many evaluation solutions, created more individual learnings paths using Moodle as learning management tool. In 2012 Coursera and EdX were founded and Universities started offering free courses online, due to a growing American middle class, not being able to send their children to University.
Oligo was developed as a hobby project from 2012-2014 and first released in August 2014 under the name k12.land by Nikolaj Lisberg Hansen from Olio ApS. In Maj 2015 more people joined the team and the project changed its name to Oligo Academy.
Carina Brit Christensen from ChancePartout helped develop a teacher facilitator guide, because it was teachers not students, that had the greatest barriers for learning in a social virtual world platform. Therefore we created a teacher dashboard and a Docker installation of the Oligo Academy Tools, to allow teachers without technical skills to host a virtual world on their laptop, for students on the local network. For international school projects, the teacher would still need to ask the schools IT department to install OpenSimulator in grid mode, for better performance and to allow more than 30 students at a time on a server accessible on the Internet.
A safe social learning platform for children
In 2014 Unity3D was already a major player, but we choose to base our solution on the older but free OpenSimulator platform. The arguments for chosen OpenSimulator was that it is a social learning platform, where students can chat while building 3D projects together. OpenSimulator is free and by logging all chat and not allowing voice chat, we could create a safe learning environment for children, were schools can host the solution and their own servers to be in full control of all students personal data, according to legal requirements like GDPR and Children’s Protection Acts.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy in public schools
In 2014 we tried to get public funding, but were meet with a requirement that the solution needed to have a browser based interface to work on tablets, that half the schools used at the time. OpenSimulator uses a free viewer called FireStorm, that can be installed on Mac, Windows and Linux, but it does not run on a tablet.
Today Danish schools have a bring your own device strategy in public schools, therefore 98% of all students have a laptop running either Mac, Windows or Linux, so installing the FireStorm viewer should not be a problem any more.
We started developing a web based virtual world viewer for OpenSimulator, but it was to much work for a small company, without any public funding, so we only managed to make a prototype with a proof of concept.
Oligo Academy project status
This free social learning platform for teaching students in a 3D virtual world gives a much more immersive and engaging learning experience then traditional online teaching material. The tools still work perfectly fine for teachers to host a 3D virtual world for students to build their own 3D learning spaces, based on all the free content that is available on My Oligo Academy page were entire regions or 3D object models in inventory archives can be loaded in the Teacher dashboard. Students can also install the Docker Desktop and run their own virtual world server, to keep working from home, when they are no longer on the schools local network.
However there are no up to date learning modules, so the platform currently can only be used by students to create their own learning modules for other students, like building solutions as 3D designs for solving climate change issues or other problems related to placing wind turbines in the local area and how that noise pollution would affect the people and wild life in the local area.
There has recently and over the years been requests to work together on the code for the Oligo Academy Tools, that is freely available on request, just like the OpenSimulator code is freely available. The Oligo Academy Tools can be used freely in public sector bids for explaining requirements using virtual worlds in education for children.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article
Have a nice day Nikolaj