The 7th International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions (ICITST-2012)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Open Learning and the 3D Web: Applications and Challenge

Opening keynote at the 7th International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions (ICITST-2012)

Continuing advances in ICT capabilities in line with Moore’s Law have removed most of the low-level performance barriers to the routine use of immersive 3D multi-user environments, increasingly being referred to as the immersive 3D Web. In addition, the recent emergence of reasonably robust open source virtual world platforms - servers and clients - has also increased the feasibility of using these technologies for open learning resources. However, many technical barriers remain to bringing open virtual worlds into the mainstream of educational technology. If open virtual worlds on the 3D Web are compared with the familiar 2D Web there are many significant differences in accessibility and usability, for both creators and consumers. For example, it takes seconds at most for a browser to download a complex web page but it takes minutes for a 3D viewer to download a typical virtual world. Similarly, the quality of experience in-world can degrade if the network quality-of-service is not maintained at appropriate levels. Accessibility is another major issue – the 2D web only requires one well known port to be open at a firewall, whereas virtual worlds require hundreds of obscure ports to be open – a serious barrier for educational institutions which typically enforce comprehensive blocking on all but a very small number of essential ports such those used for the Web, e-mail and secure sockets. Scalability in terms of the number of concurrent users in an immersive learning environment can also be a major concern, especially if these were to be incorporated into a MOOC (Massive Online Open Courseware) which aims to scale to tens of thousands of learners. The talk will initially illustrate novel and engaging types of open learning resources from the domains of STEM education and Cultural Heritage. It will then show how the quality of experience for users relates to the network quality of service, the number of concurrent users and the computational capabilities of the servers. A key challenge is not simply scalability but the variance in load. For example, an induction session might require a hundred students to congregate in the same 3D open learning environment for an hour, but the normal load is less than ten. Could this challenge be met through use of Virtual Machines and Cloud Computing? In order to research the feasibility of this approach an appropriate benchmark has been discerned through a series of experiments and has been incorporated into a testbed which can be used to predict the performance of any particular virtual world. Results are shown for different types of virtual machines with a view to understanding if the Cloud could act as an adaptive resource for open learning on the 3D Web.
Period10 Dec 2012
Event titleThe 7th International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions (ICITST-2012)
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map