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  • Immersive Education Initiative.


    This document provides a high level overview of the Immersive Education platform ecosystem open file format project. This document is intended only for Immersive Education platform developers and Education Grid collaborators. If you have received this document in error please return it to:

    Name: Aaron E. Walsh Mail: 1 Nassau Street Boston, MA 02111 Web: Email: aaron.walsh (AT) Phone: +1-617-777-0452

    WORKING DRAFT: PLANNING DOCUMENT mailto:aaron.walsh%20(AT)


    DOCUMENT: Immersive Education Open File Format Project Overview STATUS: Working Draft REVISED: 2008-05-14 AUTHORS and REVIEWERS:

    Byrne, Paul, Sun Microsystems Carfora, John, Amherst College Dapkus, Steven, Google Deffeyes, Suzy, IBM Research Edlund, Aake, Royal Institute of Technology Fisher, Glenn, Linden Labs Greg Corson, Sony Computer Entertainment US R&D Ilomaki, Antti, realXtend Johnson, Larry, New Media Consortium L’Amoreaux, Claudia, Linden Labs Lamont, Ian, Computerworld Levine, Alan, New Media Consortium Levinson, Dave, Cranial Tap Limber, Mark, Google Lombardi, Julian, Duke University Mayo, Merrilea, Kauffman Foundation McCahill, Mark, Duke University Nagel, H. Nicholas, Media Grid Foundation Orkin, Jeff, MIT Media Lab Patil, Sachin, Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Pirkola, Jani, realXtend Roebuck, Kevin, Sun Microsystems Roper, Michelle, Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Walsh, Aaron E., Media Grid Foundation Yankelovich, Nicole, Sun Microsystems



    Immersive Education Overview

    “Create Once, Experience Everywhere”

    Open 3D/VR File Format Standards: Extensible 3D (X3D) and COLLADA

    Native File Formats vs. Transcoding vs. Direct Support for Open File Formats

    Transcoding vs. Direct Support

    Transcoder Architecture

    Second Life Import/Export Tool

    COLLADA for Second Life

    COLLADA for Wonderland and Croquet


  • Immersive Education Overview Immersive Education combines interactive 3D graphics, commercial game and simulation technology, virtual reality, voice chat, Web cameras (webcams) and rich digital media with collaborative online course environments and classrooms. Immersive Education uses these and other advanced technologies to take distance learning and self-directed learning to a new level.


    Unlike traditional distance learning, Immersive Education is designed to engage students in the same way that today's best video games grab and keep the attention of players. Immersive Education thoughtfully combines interactive virtual reality, simulations and learning games with sophisticated digital media and collaborative online environments. Immersive Education gives students a sense of "being there" even when attending class in person is not possible or practical. This, in turn provides faculty and remote students with the ability to connect and communicate in a way that greatly enhances the learning experience. Immersive Education is developed by the Immersive Education Initiative, a non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies that are working together to define and develop open standards, best practices, platforms, and communities of support for virtual worlds, simulation and game-based learning and training systems. The Immersive Education Initiative is an activity of the Media Grid international standards group. The Media Grid is a not-for-profit standards organization that is actively applying open standards to specific problem spaces, such as distance learning, digital libraries, and the impact of digital media on culture and society. Media Grid and Immersive Education are sponsored by the Grid Institute, a research company established in 2005 to lead the design and development of the emerging global Media Grid in collaboration with industry, academia, and governments from around the world. The Media Grid is a novel decentralized network infrastructure and software development platform based on new and emerging distributed computational grid technology. The Media Grid is an on-demand public computing utility that a wide range of software programs and Web sites can access for delivery and storage of content (graphics, video, animations, movies, music, games, text, and so forth), media processing services (such as data visualization and simulation, medical image sharpening and enhancement, motion picture scene rendering, special effects, transformations and compositing, and other digital media manipulation capabilities) as well as traditional grid services not focused on digital media. Simply put, the Media Grid is a public network that builds upon, and improves, the existing Internet and World Wide Web to provide advanced digital media delivery, storage, and processing capabilities in addition to general grid computing capabilities not specifically related to media.

    Immersive Education and the Media Grid were recently recognized with a national award by Computerworld as “innovative, promising technologies which hold the potential to significantly affect society in the near future ”

  • “Create Once, Experience Everywhere” In the context of Immersive Education the term platform refers to any virtual world, simulator or 3D game- based environment that may be used for teaching or training purposes. The Immersive Education platform has evolved considerably over the past decade and the 3rd generation (“next generation”) is now under development. Whereas the previous two generations of Immersive Education were based on specific client-side platforms tied to proprietary server-side infrastructures, the future of Immersive Education revolves around multiple client-side platforms working in unison through the server-side Education Grid. Based upon open source technologies and open standards, the Platform Ecosystem and Education Grid will provide educators with a comprehensive end-to-end infrastructure for a new generation of virtual world learning environments, interactive learning games, and simulations. To this end the Immersive Education Initiative has a mandate to design, develop and promote open and platform-neutral file formats that enable interoperable learning objects and experiences to be seamlessly deployed across a wide variety of virtual world and game platforms (e.g., Second Life, Croquet, Wonderland, and other 3D/VR platforms) as Figure 1 illustrates. Figure 1: Open, platform-neutral file formats will

    make it possible for learning objects and experiences to be seamlessly deployed across

    a wide variety of virtual world and game platforms. In this figure the Education Grid, depicted by the inner gray circle, is shown delivering learning content to Second Life, Wonderland, Croquet and other Immersive Education platforms (the purple sphere represents both individual

    learning objects and complete learning experiences). In other words, each

    Immersive Education platform will support the same open file format in the near future.

    Second Life, Wonderland, and Croquet do not currently support the same 3D/VR file formats, however. Today’s virtual world and game platforms are essentially walled gardens; users are not able to interact with the same objects or experiences from different platforms, nor are users of one platform able to interact with users residing in another platform. Although the Immersive Education Initiative does not plan to address the latter concern (user interoperability across platforms), we are actively standardizing cross-platform content interchange by adopting and promoting open, platform neutral 3D/VR file formats that enable the promise of “create once, experience everywhere.”


  • Open 3D/VR File Format Standards: Extensible 3D (X3D) and COLLADA X3D (Extensible 3D; ISO/IEC FDIS 19775-1.2:2008) and COLLADA ("COLLAborative Design Activity") are two leading open and royalty-free 3D/VR file format standards. X3D is an international standard developed by the Web3D Consortium and ratified by ISO/IED (International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission). COLLADA is a de-facto standard that was initially developed by Sony and is now maintained and enhanced by the Khronos Group. Both X3D and COLLADA are open, fully specified and royalty-free standards that may be implemented by platform developers free of charge. Both of these standards represent 3D data using XML schema technology, but they were designed for different purposes. X3D is primarily a delivery and run-time format whereas COLLADA is an exchange/interchange format.