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Virtual Worlds


Virtual worlds are online environments whose members are avatars that represent real individuals in the real world. A virtual world user can design their environment, change their look, gender, and control how they communicate and move. A virtual world can mirror the many things available in the real world but it can also allow users to experience activities that are not available as well. For example, members of a virtual world can fly, manifest items, wander around under water or even teleport themselves to various locations. Virtual worlds do not need rules, “residents” of the virtual world have the freedom to do and be anything they want, they are only limited by the design of the environment.

Example Assignment:

The guidelines:Create a short film using one of the virtual worlds discussed in class. Create a storyboard, script and a purpose for this film. At the end reflect on how using a virtual world captured the purpose of your film.

Film Project Script and OverviewFor this film project I created a short video that introduces students to some of the characters, themes and settings in The House on Mango Street. The film will begin by introducing Esperenza, a young Mexican-American girl searching for her identity and a place to call home. After Esperenza introduces herself to the viewer, she will move to various locations and introduce some of the other characters in the novella. These other characters will be used to portray some of the main themes in the story. These themes include, but are not limited to: Maturity and sexuality, identity, neighborhood and family, home, heritage and the power of language. I will try to include all these themes in the film if times permits.

Project Purpose:The purpose of this project is to introduce students to the short novella The House on Mango Street. After students view this short video, they will be asked to write and reflect about what they have seen. They will need to do the following: choose a character and predict what they will happen to that character based on the brief introduction given , choose a theme and explain how they think that theme will be shown in the story and why and finally, create a storyboard connecting their theme and using one of the characters to show what they have learned about the story from the short film.

Project Tool:I plan to "film" this project using Alice. I have already chosen my urban background and picked out the buildings I will be using. Also, I found a few characters that I can use for some of the characters. I also found my Esperenza! Esperenza will be played by the character "class girl." I have not tried to modify her character or clothes yet, but if I find that I cannot change her to look like Esperenza from the story then I will search online. I have built my land and scenery already. I have most of the characters, however I still need another girl to play Sally and an older man to play her father. I will be searching online for those as well. So far, Alice has worked really well in terms of setting and movements (I have only tried a few movements, but they worked). I still need to work on the camera controls and exactly how I want the lighting. Also, I have decided that I will not be writing the dialogue in bubbles but will be recording it in Audacity and inserting it at the correct moment. I have also found some music to play at the start of the film but still need to find something for the ending. I am going for a dramatic effect! This is going to be a ton of work, but thankfully everything has worked out so far.
Estimated Film Length: 7 minutes (give or take)

Film Script:

Scene 1: (1 minute)
Music. Camera view of the entire neighborhood starting from the left side of the street and circling to the right. Camera stops at Esperenza's house. Esperenza is standing in from of the house and waving. Esperenza (while walking toward camera): My name is Esperenza. "In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting." I live on Mango street and in the next few minutes I will take you through the many faces that make up the tapestry of my life. Scene fade to black. end scene.

Scene 2: (1.5 minutes)
Scene opens with Esperenza standing next to her parents and her sister Nenny.
Father: Hello, I am Esperenza's father. As you can see we live in a community surrounded by others like us. Esperenza has a hard time accepting her own culture and identity. Mother:I am Esperenza's mother and my husband is right. Pay attention to how Esperenza longs to assimilate and it in. Nenny:I am Esperenza's younger sister. Esperenza and I get into a lot of trouble together but there is a part of me that always feels that Esperenza doesn't care too much for me. Make sure you take a close look at our relationship. Esperenza:Well, this is mi familia. You will get to know them more as you get to know me. Right now, follow me to Rachel and Lucy's house, my two good friends. camera follows Esperenza across the street where Lucy and Rachel are standing. End scene.

Scene 3: (2 minutes)Lucy and Rachel: Hi, we are Lucy and Rachel. Esperenza spends a great deal of her time with us. Take a look at one of our adventures! Scene fades to black. Scene opens with an open street and the three girls on a bike. Esperenza, Lucy and Rachel ride the bike toward the cameraBike stops in front of camera. Esperenza:Lucy, Rachel and I bought this bike from a guy in our neighborhood. We spent five dollars on it! This proved to be a bad idea since we all wanted to ride the bike the first day. This is why we are all riding it right now. Scene fades to black.
White text appears reading: "People who live on hills sleep so close to the ... stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth. They don't look down at all except to be content to live on hills. They have nothing to do with last week's garbage or fear of rats."

Scene 4: (2.5-3 minutes)
Scene opens with the camera view on Esperenza. Esperenza (while walking): Now, we will go meet Sally. I thought Sally was my friend, but safly my relationship with her left me scarred. Camera stops in front a carnival scene, Sally is standing by the carousal. Sally: Esperenza is my friend, even though she thinks I betrayed her. It was not my fault. Camera moves to Esperenza, standing still and thinking. "Sally, you lied, you lied. He wouldn’t let me go. He said I love you, I love you, Spanish girl."
Esperenza shakes her head as if waking up from a dream.
Esperenza: Well, I guess you will have to learn about what happened between me and Sally later. Come on (motions her hand to say come), let's meet Cathy. Camera follows Esperenza as she walks to Cathy's house. Cathy is standing in front of her house. Cathy: Hello, I am Cathy. I moved to Mango Street for a short while but I could not adjust to this lifestyle. Esperenza: "Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared. All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake." Light fades out. Camera zooms in and spotlight on Esperenza. Esperenza (has her head down, looks up): "I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free."
Light fades to black. Music. End Film.

Below is the sample video created in Alice:

Virtual World Uses:

Virtual worlds have a number of uses, some educational and some for entertainment. They can be used to teach students new ideas, to give them a forum to explore new worlds or to expose them to skills and techniques that otherwise they may not have access to. For example, virtual worlds have been used to train medical students on the proper way to treat certain diseases, or to help ESL students identify certain object, or even to give those who are physically impaired the chance to virtually experience activities that they are deprived of in the real world. The bottom line, like any technology, if virtual worlds are used properly they can enhance the learning process, give students autonomy and even offer them experiences that they otherwise would have been oblivious to in the real world - at least without a much more significant payout.

Next up, see Privacy Online- Stalking in English Class