Opensim/Drupal integration for education – proposal and call for help

Well… i’m finally getting my teeth back into opensim and finding that there are a couple of things i’d like to get built over the next couple of months. We’ve already gotten a good start on the automated installer for opensim, but what i’d really like to do now is attempt an integration with drupal. I’ll be keeping my running requirements list for that integration on the openhabitat project page and will hopefully pop a few updates into here from time to time.

What I need
I need two things.

  1. I need a good drupal/opensim programmer. Someone familiar with both platforms who can spearhead the drupal integration (or, if you like opensim integration).
  2. I need some sense that there are other folks in the British Higher Education community who would find this integration compelling for an application to the emerge community for extra funding.

Why would we need this?
Opensim is an opensource Multi User Virtual Environment. It allows you to have much of the functionality from something like Second Life, and you can host it on any server you like, or, if you like, on a desktop in your classroom. The one issue, is that if you would like to tinker with it a little, you currently pretty much have to do it from the command line on the server. What I would like to see is an integration with a content management system (my preference is drupal, but the code could easily be repurposed) so that a teacher can do stuff like track users and install different ‘presets’ for training purposes.

Why would we need this — slightly more technical explanation.
There are currently two flavours of opensim, the ‘grid server’ and the ‘standalone server’. My work with opensim over the last 9 months has led me to believe that the standalone server is far better scaled to the average educational use… but, sadly, much of the work towards creating a user interface has tended to side with the larger grid server installations. Standalones are more manageable, and provide an easier entry point for the ‘average’ person and really allow for alot more functionality.

so… if you’re interested and interested British Higher Ed person (I’m looking at you emerge community or anyone else for that matter) … just send a comment here and I’ll pick up your email address and get back to you. Same goes for if you are that drupal/opensim person out there. If you don’t want your comment posted, no worries, just indicate in the title, and I’ll delete it after getting your email address.

7 thoughts on “Opensim/Drupal integration for education – proposal and call for help

  1. I have been working in OpenSim for the most part on Tribalnet’s p2p implementation. You host a standalone region on your own computer, but you can publish it so you connect to a central grid that is more like a hub. I just signed up for a webhosting package that will allow me to explore Drupal “in the wild” rather than on my own little home network. I can now begin to explore xml-rpc interaction between Drupal and my opensim region. I am not what would qualify as a “good drupal/opensim” programmer and wouldn’t be able to spearhead an operation such as this, but I would be a better than average grunt as I continue to learn. (I have already bought the books PHP5 and C# and am kind of heading in this direction.) I was wondering if you had contacts with any of the Sloodle developers (Integrating Moodle with SL would likely have required the solution of many similar problems).

  2. It’s a good point Tom, but i’m thinking about it being part of a larger web environment including blogging, video posts, images etc… see http://livingarchives.ca and http://openhabitat.org . MUVEs are still pretty exclusive, and most people will only ever see the ‘recordings’ from those environments. Certainly for the next year or three.

  3. Dave, I can’t help directly since I’m horribly time poor right now (and I don’t think IBM would allow me to anyway), but I am keen to see how you get on, since the area of educational applications for OpenSim is one of my interests.

    Off the top of my head, is it not possible to adapt one of the grid oriented web interfaces to a standalone? In might require some extra exposure of OpenSim functionality in sandbox standalone, but I think we’d be happy to look at doing that if we can identify what’s required. Of course, it’s also quite possible that the existing web interfaces aren’t suitable for your needs anyway.

  4. I took a look at the Opensim project after talking to you. This project looks quite promising so far because its development is still very active. If the project goes well, hopefully any web integration can meet the final milestone together with the opensim platform.

  5. I really like the idea of your course and it is similar to a MEd course I have been delivering. The participants assemble their own set of web-based tools and then collaboratively add value to their own and each others blogs, wiki’s, podcasts and vlogs. The substantive area of interest is Literacy with ICTs.

    I thought about using a CMS such as Moodle to organize the course but decided to go completely free range. The course outline and tasks are posted on a blog and a wiki. I’m trying to follow the principle that participants should be able to come to a learning experience, set up their own tools, add value to them and then take them on to their next learning experience. My inputs are added along with the others in the comments sections.

    Good luck with your course and I will follow your progress with interest.

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