Funded by the National Science Foundation
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River City Interface
Similar to some online multi-player games, the River City multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) enables multiple participants to access virtual worlds simultaneously, communicate with teammates via an instant messenger interface, and to interact with digital artifacts.
In general, MUVEs enable multiple simultaneous participants to:
- access virtual contexts
- interact with digital artifacts (such as online microscopes and pictures)
- represent themselves through graphical "avatars"
- communicate both with other participants and with computer-based agents, enacting collaborative learning activities of various types
- take part in experiences incorporating modeling and mentoring about problems similar to those in real world contexts
The Four Areas of the Interface
The River City simulation utilizes four key areas of the computer screen. Select any of the highlighted areas below to learn more about it.
1. View and Action Space
This space allows users to change their viewpoint (how they view the 3-D space inside the simulation) and allows their avatar to perform different actions (such as spinning, jumping, and waving). Each avatar has a different set of actions (emotes) he, she, or it can perform.
2. Virtual Space
This space contains the 3-dimensional world of River City, which users navigate and explore through their avatar. The Virtual Space contains interactive people, objects, and tools that carry information about River City, which is revealed by clicking on them.
The best way to get familiar with movement in River City is to walk around town. The arrow keys on the keyboard allow you to move. First, click inside the Virtual Space window with your mouse. Second, depress your arrow keys. These keys are located on the number pad (on the right side of a standard extended keyboard).
Some special “MUVEs”
- Flying – In the River City simulation, the + (plus) key on the numeric keypad moves an avatar up into the air, and the - (minus) key moves the avatar back down again. Hold these keys down to keep moving higher or lower. (Note that on laptop computers, the + and - keys are usually activated by depressing the shift key with another key.)
- Moving faster – Avatars run when users hold down the CTRL (Control) key while moving their avatar in a given direction.
- Sliding sideways – Use the SHIFT key along with the left or right arrow to “slide” sideways.
- Swimming – If a user walks his or her avatar into the river in River City, the avatar automatically begins to walk along the river bottom. To get out of the water, simply keep walking or use the + (plus) key to rise out of the water. If you get stuck, use the interactive map to teleport somewhere else.
3. Chat Window
This space displays all dialogue between a user and residents of River City as well as among a student and his or her teammates. While in River City, users can see avatars of all other visitors and residents but can only communicate with residents and teammates.
Typing in the main text input box will display a user's message to other team members.
Users can talk to River City residents by right-clicking on them and then choosing a question to pose to them.
4. Student Workspace
The Student Workspace consists of four tabs and three tools.
In previous years, students used a paper-based Laboratory Notebook to navigate the River City curriculum. For academic year 2007-08 we seamlessly integrated the Student Laboratory Notebook into the River City simulation. The Guide is the primary resource students use to navigate the River City curriculum. The Guide scaffolds students through their River City experiences across the River City Project while inside of the simulation.
Once information is recorded and saved in the Guide, it can be viewed, sorted, and added to through the Notebook.
The interactive map shows students where they are and allows them to teleport to any part of the city.