An international award-winning team from The University of Western Australia has taken on a new challenge to open up further opportunities for educational collaboration in a ‘virtual world'.
The team from the University is setting up a UWA presence later this year in Second Life - a virtual world accessible via the Internet.
Dr Chris Thorne and Jay Jay Jegathesan, of UWA's School of Physics, have teamed up with three-dimensional visualisation expert, Paul Bourke, Senior Research Fellow with UWA's Western Australian Supercomputer Program, to develop the project.
Users of the virtual world interact with each other through avatars and can explore, socialise, take part in individual and group activities, or travel throughout the virtual world.
The UWA team last year won the Google Earth ‘Build your Campus in 3-D' competition by recreating three-dimensional models of buildings from the picturesque grounds of the University.
The team believes that in addition to highlighting the University's campus grounds and architecture, the new project will provide a platform for greater collaboration between researchers and create an avenue for collaborative research in data visualisation.
"Collaboration between remotely located researchers is fairly commonplace using video conferencing technologies," he said. "While they may offer shared applications and whiteboards this new application is a platform by which researchers can collaborate in a three-dimensional environment which can also contain representations of the datasets under discussion," Mr Bourke said.
Dr Thorne said he believed giving the university a presence in the world's largest virtual on-line community will allow students, lecturers, alumni and anyone from across the globe a new dynamic way to interact.