CS 783: Special Topics/Virtual Environments

Call Number: #13137, 3 Credits

12:30 to 1:45 PM TR, in IACC 102

Dr. Brian M. Slator, Professor
Computer Science and Operations Research
North Dakota State University
Office: IACC Building, Rm. #262E
Phone: 701-231-6124
Office hours: see Spring 2006 Schedule, or by appt.

Course Content

The purpose of the course is to study the theory and practice of role-based immersive virtual environments (IVEs) for education. The topics under discussion will therefore be broad, including but not limited to:
  • design and implementation of IVEs
  • meaning and implications of authentic instruction in IVEs
  • assessment of learning within, and educational outcomes of IVEs
  • roles and role formation in IVEs
  • psychological implications of IVEs
  • formal and informal evaluation of IVEs
  • socio-cultural developments in IVEs
  • software agents and artificial intelligence in IVEs
  • tools for building IVEs
  • history and current trends in IVEs


Electric Worlds: role-based immersive virtual environments for education (Final Draft).

The textbook for the semester will be the final draft of a manuscript I have compiled describing the IVE research done at NDSU over the last 4-5 years. Students who notify the instructor in a timely fashion will be furnished with a free copy.

Course Outline:

Students will be required to do the following
  1. read the draft manuscript
  2. write a critical summary of some area of relevant research
  3. prepare a research proposal for a relevant project of your own design
  4. actively participate in discussions arising from items above.

Final Exam is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Read: A WWWIC Software Review by Chuck McGinnity.

Schedule and Assignments

Date Due
Jan ??
Feb ??
Turn in a 4-8 page scholarly essay on some element of virtual worlds for education as portrayed in the text - comparing and contrasting with related work undertaken elsewhere.
Note: this assignment should be posted online, or enough paper copies should be submitted for the whole class
Feb ??
Turn in marked up copies of other student's scholarly essays, using a RED pen, showing every mistake, correction, amendation, revision.
Mar 7
Turn in revised scholarly essay, in light of peer review
  • Essays are supposed to compare/contrast with NDSU research efforts. It is not enough to list other similar systems and describe them. You must also compare and contrast wherever possible.
  • Papers, are always turned in, single side, double space.
  • Bear in mind this is formal writing. There is very little room in formal writing for personal pronouns like "I" or "you". Use, "The user", for example. The editorial "we" is acceptable, as in "We will now discuss these issues...", and only in the introduction and the conclusion sections.
  • Abstracts are not necessary on the final version.
  • It is not allowed to simply make generalizations without evidence, nor is it allowed to express opinion without argument.
    For example: You could say, "this site has extremely dense text which is difficult to read", but not, "this site has too much text." Or, you could say "this program does not succeed in X as well as Planet Oit" but not "Planet Oit is better than this program."
  • References
    • Everything listed as a reference, must be cited in the text. It it not allowed to simply provide a bibliography.
    • URLs must be listed with other information as possible: ideally, Author, Title, Institution, and date accessed and published (if listed).
      For example: WWWIC (2002). The World Wide Web Instructional Committee. http://www.ndsu.edu/wwwic/. North Dakota State University. Date accessed: 18 February, 2002.
*Spring Break* Mar 13-17
Apr ??
Turn in a 10-page research proposal, suitable for funding, using the Intel model - see http://www.intel.com/research/university/procedure.htm
Note: this assignment should be posted online, or enough paper copies should be submitted for the whole class
Apr ??
Turn in marked up copies of other student's proposals, using a RED pen, showing every mistake, correction, amendation, revision.
May 10
Final exam: 12:30 PM. Turn in revised research proposal.

Additional Background

VR stands for "virtual reality" and the objective of the course is better understand the design and implemention of multi-player educational game environments and the many related issues and areas (in LambdaMOO, or other platforms, usually with client development in Java and advanced graphical interfaces incorporating QTVR, VRML, or related approaches), with a view towards constructing role-based educational technology, and developing the tools that would facilitate the further construction of such games.

Students are encouraged to consider joining if they have experience with or inclinations towards MUD/MOO development, Educational Multimedia, Computer Games, User Interface Design, Graphical Design, Software Agents, Artificial Intelligence, Role-based Games, VRML, Java, QTVR, Intelligent Tutoring, 3D Modeling .... or any of the topics listed above.


Library Resources

Policy on Late Assignments

There is no happy way to assign lateness demerits. For the purposes of this class, it is never too late to turn in work (until grades are turned in at the end of the semester)

However, the later an assignment is produced, the less it is worth.

Therefore, the policy will be this: late assignments will lose a letter grade immediately, and then another letter grade after one week.

Special Needs
NDSU Academic Affairs New Course Syllabi Requirement

Any student with disabilities or other special needs, who needs special accomodations in this course, is invited to share these concerns or requests with the instructor as soon as possible.

Academic Dishonesty or Misconduct
NDSU Academic Affairs New Course Syllabi Requirement

Work in this course must adhere to the Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct as cited in "Rights & Responsibilities of Community: A Code of Student Conduct" (1993) pp. 29-30. "The academic community is operated on that basis of honesty, integrity, and fair play. Occasionally, this trust is violated when cheating occurs, either inadvertently or deliberately .....Faculty members may fail the student for the particular assignment, test, or course involved, or they may recommend that the student drop the course in question, or these penalties may be varied with the gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the particular case."

Academic dishonesty can be divided into four categories and defined as follows:

  • Cheating: Intentionally using or attemping to use unauthorized materials, information or study aids in any academic exercise.
  • Fabrication: Intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty: Intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
  • Plagiarism: Intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise.

Modified: 12Aug99, 10Dec01, 8Jan06
Contact: slator@cs.ndsu.edu