Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vassar College and the Sistine Chapel

I belong to a group in SL called Things To Do. Things To Do sends messages out to members daily about interesting places to visit and things to do in SL. It's a great group to belong to to get information on new things in SL and places to visit. Many "veteran" avies belong to this group. I highly recommend joining.

Things To Do recently took a tour of the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, most of their tours are while I'm at work, so I explore on my own later. Well, I was very glad that I went to see the chapel. It is absolutely gorgeous!

The Sistine Chapel is on Vassar Island which is the virtual campus of Vassar College. Steve Taylor (known in SL as Stan Frangible) created the chapel to explore how virtual reality might be used to learn about art and architecture in order to enhance a traditional liberal arts education. He built the chapel so everything is as close to RL (real life) scale as possible. The pictures of the artwork (Steve received permission to copy) are brilliant with color.

The real Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) is located in Vatican City and was built between 1473 and 1484. Michelangelo's beautiful paintings of the Ancestors of Christ and The Last Judgment are part of the chapel. A note card inside the door of the chapel will tell you more information on the real Sistine Chapel.

When visiting the Sistine Chapel, your avie will freeze while you are asked to review the Code of Conduct and agree to it. Only after agreeing will your avie be permitted to enter the chapel. Basically, the Code of Conduct is an agreement to respect the environment. This process will only occur the first time you visit the chapel.

When in the chapel, it is covered with artwork. Don't forget to look up at the ceiling. I thought the ceiling was one of the most awesome parts of the chapel. The bottom of the side walls are for displaying the Rafael Tapestries. In order to view them, you need to click on the sign in the front left of the chapel. The tapestries will only display for 30 seconds at a time.

After visiting the chapel, I decided to explore the rest of the island. Before visiting I did not realize the chapel resided on a virtual college community. In RL Vassar College is a liberal arts college in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City in Poughkeepsie. The college has approximately 2,400 students.

According to an article on Vassar's website, Vassar Island was originally created mostly as an experiment to see if Second Life has some learning potential and seeing what may fit this venue of learning.

Of course, being a teacher myself, I found this fascinating as I explored the rest of the island. The island has a transport system similar to the one found in Persephone. Click on the round disk (one is very close to where you originally teleport into) and a menu will appear. Select from the menu. When the blue light appears above the disk, click on the light.

If you'd like to take a tour of the island, a tour vehicle is ready to whisk you away near the teleport site also. A sign points to the area. Sit on a pose ball in the vehicle; then click on the vehicle to start your tour.

Castles are a favorite of mine, so I had to visit there first. The dark, towering castle is hard to miss. The castle was created because some of buildings at Vassar look like a castle such as the library. The castle contains art galleries, classrooms, a lounge, concert space and an intimate setting on the roof for performances or lectures. One room in the castle contains some games. They are more intellectual strategy games like the "leave one peg on the board" game you find on every table at Cracker Barrel. But, they are very fun.

My favorite part of the castle are the virtual reality rooms (some call them holorooms). A teleport on the main floor of the castle will whisk you away to the larger or smaller room. When I arrived in the room, I felt like Holly Wood in the movie Cool World entering the real world for the first time. Here I am a pixel-based avie in a vivid photo of the real world. I clicked through some of the scenes and was amazed at each one. I discovered that if you zoom in on your avie the world around you looks a little more proportionate. So, I was standing there trying to figure out the purpose of the rooms. There was nothing in the room to sit on. There were no pose balls. So, I messaged a friend who is a builder in SL and works with educational endeavors and the "light bulb came on." What a teaching tool the virtual reality rooms could be. Take your avie into the inside of a computer to identify parts. Take your avie to a large cliff to identify different layers of sedimentary rock. Take your avie inside a body to see a blocked artery. Wow, my mind was racing with learning opportunities. I'd love to see an actual class in session one day.

The island has many other educational areas too. Seminar Swamp is a place for classes or groups to meet. A nice feature of the swamp is areas for breakout sessions that are spaced so chat isn't overlapped. The Ampitheather is a place for lectures or gatherings that includes streamed audio. The Media Gardens have opportunities to watch videos or listen to audio. Vassar Island even has a Sandbox for learning to build.

To visit Vassar Island and The Sistine Chapel, CLICK HERE.

1 comment:

Tho said...

That's a nice review, Effie. I had heard about the Sistine Chapel in SL, but hadn't been able to find it. Thanks!
Tho Millgrove