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Paper presented at the VWRN conference http://www.vwrn.org/p/conference-details-2012.html
In this paper, we present a new approach to educational activities in 3D virtual worlds, which is based on a new vision of educational content and opens new possibilities for learning. Traditionally, the content in 3D virtual worlds was thought as interactive media objects embedded in a 3D environment, but there was no means for capturing life activities conducted in such environments, except for recording screen videos. At the same time, the most valuable characteristics of this technology are in the synchronous interaction and rich life experience, which disappear in flat video. Therefore, we argue that a mechanism that allows capturing synchronous activities in a 3D virtual world without losing such essential characteristics has great value. Such mechanism is implemented within the project Virtual Academia, which aims at developing an educational virtual world with a set of tools for collaborative learning (http://vacademia.com/). The virtual world vAcademia is currently under beta testing, which includes several cases from which the feedback is being collected. The main original feature of vAcademia is 3D recording, which allows capturing dynamically everything in a given location of the virtual world. The use of resultant 3D recordings is similar to time travelling. It allows a group of learners to experience a past class and collaborate there, recording it again if needed. In such a manner, vAcademia supports a new type of digital content – 3D recording or virtcast, which is created based on synchronous activities and opens new possibilities to explore.