Education group to launch grid

The Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable, a group of educators working in Second Life, is expanding to a new grid on the OpenSim platform.

The group — originally called the Second Life Education Roundtable — began looking for expansion locations earlier this fall after Second Life announced the shut down of the Teen Grid and a doubling of land prices for non-profits and educators.

“Given the recent events, the unpredictability of this market, and the very nature of our organization, its wise to add a second ‘home’ in a virtual world other than Second Life,” said A.J. Kelton, an organizer of the Roundtable and Director of Emerging Instructional Technology for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State University in New Jersey, in a blog post on the organization’s website.

The process began with a survey, in which members suggested that the group expand to any of a dozen different OpenSim-based grids. The top three vote-getters were 3rd Rock Grid, JokaydiaGrid, and ReactionGrid. All three are commercial grids, and JokaydiaGrid and ReactionGrid are PG-rated, hypergrid-enabled, education-focused platforms. In a second survey of just those three finalists, ReactionGrid got 46 percent of the votes.But at the end of the day, the VWER decided not to get land on an existing grid, but to start its own grid, called VWERGrid.ReactionGrid wasn't rejected however -- in fact, ReactionGrid will be running the new grid for the Roundtable.This isn't a new direction for the ReactionGrid. The company currently runs more than 100 private grids for educators, non-profits, businesses and other organizations.Setting up a private grid these days is a simple process. According to ReactionGrid CEO, getting a private-label grid normally takes less than a day and requires no technical skills. Educators can get a four-region mini-grid for just $75 a month, and a $220 setup fee. A ReactionGrid mini-grid also comes with a self-serve control panel that allows grid owners to restart their regions, manage their own user accounts, save backups of entire regions, and upload previously-saved backups. ReactionGrid takes care of the setup, maintenance, upgrades, and all other technical details.A private grid allows grid owners to decide their own terms of service -- whether or not to have age restrictions, whether to exclude adult content, and whether to enable hypergrid teleports to other grids.The VWER has decided to enable hypergrid on its new grid. This means that members who have their own grids, or who have land on other grids, will be able to teleport in if those other grids are hypergrid-enabled.AJ Kelton

“You will be able to join us with your existing avatar,” said Kelton in an announcement today about the new grid.

Currently, this means that visitors will be able to teleport in from ReactionGrid, JokaydiaGrid, FrancoGrid, and other grids running on the Hypergrid 1.0 protocol. Many other big grids, including OSGrid, GermanGrid, and AlphaTowne have already upgraded to Hypergrid 1.5, which is a more secure system. Hypergrid 1.5 comes with the latest version of OpenSim, which also supports media-on-a-prim, meshes, and is reportedly more stable than previous versions. ReactionGrid is expected to begin upgrading its clients’ grids in the next couple of months, after the new software release is thoroughly debugged and tested.

The first meeting on the new grid will take place on December 1, Kelton said.

The VWER isn’t leaving Second Life, however.

“The VWER has every intention on remaining in Second Life and continuing to hold our weekly meetings there,” said Kelton. “That said, we do believe its a smart, healthy decision for the organization to seek a second home base upon which to grow.”

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.