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Why TheU and Why Now? - Bruce Damer



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The Future

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Date: 05 Jul 1996

Why another virtual university, and why now?

There are many active virtual university and distance learning projects, including Diversity University, College Town, EON, VOU (Virtual OnLine UNiversity), to name just a few. See these links to other Virtual Universities for more information on the state of the art in virtual and distance education. The majority of the projects use MUD or MOO text-based world environments. Some of these implement classrooms for general education.


TheU will be the first virtual university to be built in glorious three dimensions using the new virtual worlds technology. TheU would look like a real, visual campus with buildings, green space, meeting spots, and a whole range of services. The difference with theU is that you will see people (represented as digital avatars) moving around campus, interacting, learning and helping others to learn. TheU will introduce a whole generation to the virtual world experience and, we hope, produce many distinguished graduates.

TheU will be open 24 hours a day in 24 time zones and staffed by teams of educators, mentors and helpers from all over the world. Classes and social events will be posted for students teleporting into the campus. New faculties will be built and rebuilt continuously as needs change. The technologies we currently plan to use include: AlphaWorld, VRML and select text-chat and voice conferencing systems.

The initial curriculum of theU would also be unique: theU would teach people how to live in digital space. How many times have new users of an inhabited virtual world been faced with the following questions: How do I communicate with people in this world? How do I move about in the world? How can I build my own place here, can someone teach me? I met someone here before, how do I find them again? Are there any social events happening here where I can really meet people? I am worried about becoming addicted to this, is there anyone who can give me advice? Can I go to have a private conversation somewhere? What kind of things have happened in here?

Please see theU proposed faculties and curriculum. As theU evolves, we plan to offer more general education within the campus. In addition, theU will serve as a social meeting area for cybernauts traveling through the Internet's most exciting new territories, the virtual worlds. TheU will also link to many other worlds, including personal VRML homeworlds, as they come online. We plan to use the latest in VRML 2.0 technology when it becomes available.

We hope to see you at theU!

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