background image
VRoma does not support automatic character creation; potential users must apply for a
character
304
who is created with a unique name and object ID number.There are roughly
twenty-five `guest' character objects which can be slightly customised for a casual visit.
Character avatars wear colour-coded tunics to represent their status. Players wear aqua
tunics, guests wear green, characters created for a VRoma workshop or class building
project and other characters with builder privileges wear brown, programmers wear gold,
wizards wear purple and bots wear blue.
305
Since VRoma is an educational project, there can be no doubt that activities involving
learning and using knowledge are the first priority; the MOO and other resources are
intended to promote knowledge and understanding of the Latin language and ancient
Roman literature, history, culture, and civilization. However, the pedagogical approach to
education in this form was partly based on the belief that the best way to spark interest
and increase knowledge is to involve the users emotionally, to create a sense of imagina-
tive engagement in the ancient world. It was this methodological approach to active
teaching and learning which led to the creation of the virtual city, complete with its tour
guide, bots (some of whom speak only Latin), linked visuals, accurate yet amusing details,
games, and so on. Users are encouraged to adopt Roman names and personae and to use
their knowledge of Latin to interact with the bots and objects within the MOO.
The MIRROR Community of Practice
306
The MIRROR project was begun with the
intention of creating `a collection of components
and tools for a distributed knowledge management
system that will support physical and social interac-
tions.'This goal was to be achieved by establishing a
pan-European community of practice for natural
science museums, while at the same time developing
a novel learning methodology using state-of-the-art
tools, systems, and techniques.The MIRROR community currently boasts ten member
museums. At the last European Collaborative for Science, Industry and Technology
Exhibitions (ECSITE) conference
307
, the consortium gave a presentation as well as had a
computer booth for demonstrations in order to attract new members.
The project's methodology is based on the principles of Etienne Wenger's model of
Communities of Practice (CoP).These are defined as `groups of people who share a concern, a
set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
164
MIRROR
The MIRROR message board
304 Using a form found at http://www.vroma.org/volunteer.html
305 A `wizard' is a MUD term for a character with administrative privileges.
306 MIRROR (http://www.mirror-project.net/) is a twenty-six month
2 million project co-funded by the
European Commission under the Information Society Technologies Programme (IST-2001-32504).The
project consortium consists of IT companies (UMA Information Technology AG of Austria, and project
coordinators Syntax Information Technology Inc of Greece) and universities (the Manchester Visualisation
Centre, at the University of Manchester in England, the Museum Studies Department at the University
of Leicester
in England, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, and the School of Education at
the University of Athens in Greece), as well as representatives from the museum community.This
questionnaire was answered in October 2003 by the following members of the MIRROR consortium:
Yannis Avrithis, Andreas Generalis and Varvara Kiouki, Syntax Information Technology Inc, Athens, Greece;
Daniel Doegl and Aleksandar Golubovic, UMA Information Technology AG,Vienna, Austria;Theano
Moussouri, Museum Studies Department, University of Leicester, England.
307 http://ecsite.ballou.be/new/meeting_mun_2003.asp. Held at the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany, on
November 27-29 2003.
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