Guest Blogger Marisa Yamada on Frank Jumawan and Eddie Merc


V-TENN: Virtual Tennis in Second Life (SL) : Frank Jumawan and Eddie Merc

What a phenomenal three days the TCC 2013 conference has been!  We had literally mind-blowing keynote and featured presentations, and educational topics with so much range and variety that there was something for everyone!

One of my interests is in virtual reality and when I attended the V-Tenn Virtual Tennis in Second Life presentation by Frank and Eddie, I was very impressed with the amount of work the two doctoral candidates put into building their virtual instructional module!

First, we all met in Blackboard Collaborate for a traditional whiteboard presentation.  Then, we were instructed to log into Second Life (which they advised us to download previous to their presentation so we could participate in this virtual field trip).  Giving us their Second Life module address (SURL), there was excitement in the room as we were whisked away to their 2 story virtual building.  

The first story contained basic information about tennis – you can tell the presenters loved the subject as there were plenty of details on tennis terminology, the rivalries between top players, there were embedded Google Form surveys hanging on the walls for our avatars to interact with, and videos to watch on sleek, flat screen virtual TVs.  There were even mini tennis courts we could walk over that demonstrated the various surfaces of the courts, for instance clay and how the surface affects the ball.

After the introduction, there were two levels of learner engagement we could teleport to called a “Genius Level” and a “Gladiator Level”.  The “Genius Level” and “Gladiator Level” contained more information about the game of tennis and even provided free tennis outfits and a choice of a regular tennis racket and a Power tennis racket to equip our avatars with!  As soon as we equipped ourselves with the racket, our avatars crouched into a tennis-ready stance!  I felt like I was ready to go take on the likes of Roger Federer.  Ok, maybe not, but we all then transported to the top of the roof in which there were two large tennis courts, complete with score boards.  It really felt like our avatars were on tennis courts and it was very engaging because the courts were actually playable!

The presenters showed us a demonstration on how to play on these courts with our avatars – you have to click the scoreboard for the game to start, then position yourselves correctly on the court.  The first player serves the ball, and the other player across the net runs to it to return the ball and so forth.  It takes getting used to in order to correctly position the avatar so that the racket hits the ball, however, after a while, I got the hang of it and it was game on!

This module is great for the learner who is interested in the fundamentals of the game of tennis and virtual reality is really a perfect tool for people to quickly and visually learn about a topic while also being able to participate in it if not able to in real life.  Furthermore, this was a very engaging presentation because we, as the audience, got to get out of our “seats” in Blackboard and take a trip to another destination.  It was a nice change and a great way to stretch our “virtual legs” after back to back Blackboard presentations and I hope we can have these virtual field trips more often for future TCC conferences!  

For further information you can contact the presenters at:

Frank Jumawan, @frankjay808

Eddie Merc, @edkopletko

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"Belief is the wound that knowledge heals." ~LeGuin
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