LTRC Virtualisation of MQ Museum Spaces (ViMMS) Project


The project's main aim is to make the contents of Macquarie University museums available to a wider audience. Currently, museums on campus serve the dual purpose of housing  and displaying collections of artefacts from a range of disciplines, and providing community access to those collections through public and school tours,  traveling exhibitions, etc, as well as forming a component of many undergraduate and postgraduate units at Macquarie.  Emerging technologies such as virtual world creation software and 3D scanning devices mean that we now have the opportunity to offer these collections online to anyone with a web connection. 

This project proposes to use specific software such as Platinum Arts Sandbox (PAS) together with 3D panoramic photographic capture devices to create a proof-of-concept virtual tour of a designated museum at Macquarie University.  The exploration of this means of capturing a museum's contents and its subsequent online display will hopefully provide a framework for the development of  larger-scale applications of these methodologies to any discipline which relies on collections of artefacts and their display.

Some initial thoughts on approaches to take

1. A Google Maps approach

Sharon suggested involving Google in the process of collection capture.  StreetView technology, which most people would associate with panoramic views of suburban streets in Google Maps, has also been adapted for capturing interior spaces, using essentially the same devices on a wheeled trolley instead of on the roof of a car.  Google has a very enlightened attitude towards developing and using accessible technology, so this fits in nicely with the basic concept of creating universal education-based learning objects.  

2. Leveraged and adapted technologies approach

Dean has made a range of suggestions regarding networked software solutions that could be adapted to the aims of this project.

  • One suggestion was the use of multiple photographic sources to build virtual objects such as buildings or other objects.  Dean mentioned that Microsoft's Silverlight development was used to create an immersive virtual Notre Dame cathedral, sourced from 300+ photographs taken and submitted by tourists.  Check out the project page here. This re-purposing of data sets (in this case, photos) was further discussed by Robert in the context of his Eco-Game development, which uses large datasets of ecological fauna surveys originally collated by James Cook University in a games-based learning approach to teach ecological assay techniques.
  •  Platinum Arts Sandbox (PAS), mentioned in the Overview above, provides the means to create virtual worlds with richly textured surfaces and some ability to provide game-like interaction.  Dean mentioned that there is local expertise in Debbie Richard's group to create virtual spaces using Unity 3D, an equivalent but more complex world-building engine.  
  • Free open-source programs such as Blender  can be used to create objects (perhaps archaeological artefacts using 3D scanning data) that can be added to virtual worlds.
  • Open source software development kits (SDKs) include: Microsoft's X-Box Kinect, UnReal Engine 3 and CryEngine2. These can be used to create worlds or objects within them with varying degrees of complexity.

3.  Games-based learning approaches

Games are all about motivation. What motivates people to immerse themselves in an intriguing novel, a real-world problem or a virtual world for hours, where they sometimes lose all sense of time or forget about more urgent tasks that need to be completed? This immersive state is usually referred to in the literature as "flow" and achieving it is often the goal of game designers and an increasingly large number of educators.

3.1 Museum tours as constructed narratives

Narratives could be either constructed by the visitor (as in the MONA in Hobart, where visitors use an iPOD for information on the exhibits and construct their own, recorded path through the museum) or as a story constructed by the curator, where successive parts of the storyline are revealed as each stage is completed.

3.2 VIrtualCurator

Andrew suggested an approach where visitors are asked to familiarise themselves with a museum collection, then suggest a narrative that is then realised with artefacts in the virtual space. (See the notes in Dean's overview jpg - a page attachment, above).

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  1. I suggested that virtualisation could be used for cross-cultural community-building purposes, perhaps connecting a learning community with concepts that relate to their own experiences. This is an avenue that I am currently exploring in my own research on 'Fostering 'creativity' in pre-service teachers'. In July I will be discussing collaborations with the TATE Modern and TATE Liverpool Galleries. This project has the potential to be an expansive boarder-crossing innovative project. I'm in!

  2. This approach has lots of applications for the individual study of an object, for looking at groups of related objects (and therefore contextualising material culture), and for looking at the design and use of space in a museum setting for exhibition layout which gives great flexibility to teaching, learning and research for those is my area (Ancient History/ Archaeology) or for Museum Studies students and has the potential to reach out to world-wide audiences, engaging them with our collections (or aspects of them) as well as focussing their attention on MQ and the work we do here.

    Add me to the participation list.


    1. Done.  Welcome aboard, Karl!

  3. Hi everyone. This looks like a promising project - well done!

    Is there any chance you could rename the page as "LTRC Virtualisation of MQ Museum Spaces (ViMMS) Project 2012" in order to conform with the naming convention for other LTRC projects? As well, if we could place the page to sit under the "LTRC 2012 ISP Applications" page like the other projects, that would be great (just click on the "tools" link in the top right section of the page).

    Many thanks,


    1. Thanks Matt for the advice we will attend to it in the next few days.

      A very creative day today- thank you to Sharon Kerr and her team for organising the Professor Kieran Egan talk.

      We are looking for confirmations from team members for the meeting on Thursday 17 May at 3pm-5pm MCAS office (Lane Cove Road). If you have not already responded please do so. Tom Kerr will be bringing an electronic copy of the IPS Grant application form so we can all add our comments. See you on Thursday - Bronwen.

      1. The page title has been changed as per Matt's request.  Here's a link to the ISP docs Bronwen mentioned:     There is a guidelines doc and an application form.

        See you all on Thursday at MQAS ...  Tom

  4. Hi guys,

    This is a very exciting project with lots of cross disciplinary potential.  To link it with learning potential and pedagogy can I introduce you to the term "museum literacy" coined by Carin Jacobs in 2009.  It builds on earlier concepts of object literacy and object-based learning (OBL).  Will try and load up some docs to our site.


  5. Thank you for attending yesterday's meeting. It was great to get the team working (Dean, Andrew, Robert, Tom, Karl and Bronwen). As we discussed:

    Action points:

    Tom has made changes suggested by Matt. Tom is also going to make the site private so we can get down to the actual writing of the Grant in private.

    Dean did a fabulous concept map and perhaps this could be uploaded onto our space?

    This week we All are all currently looking for support information/research to support our section of the submission.

    This should be able to be directly added to the submission grant above. (Please add comment here when done)

    Next ViMMs team meeting: Dean can not make next Thursday- where and when do we want to meet?

    I suggest we meet on Campus (maybe Karl's area?) as Lane Cove is additional 20 min travelling time-

    What do others think?


    1. The concept map has been added as an attachment.  I'm not totally clear on where the attachments (including Andrew's paper by Jacobs) are listed on the page. Any clues? I'll look at lock down the content to just project members and let you all know when any changes are made  - Tom

      UPDATE:  OK, just worked out that the "Paperclip + downward triangle" icon button top right shows any attachments for the page.  I can't see any way tp restrict access to this page at the moment.  The FAQ seems useless as it tells me to find a Space Admin choice under "Browse" which doesn't appears to exist.  But this is actually for Personal Spaces.  As this is a child page of LTRC maybe only Matt Bower has the power to set permissions?  I'll contact him on Monday.  - Tom

  6. Macquarie Subset:

    ViMMS Project 2012 Grant Proposal

    Notes from our inaugural meeting on: 17.5.12

    Proposed next meeting

    Thursday 24.5.12 on Campus-

    Where (Ancient History?)


    Dear Team members

    Most of us are keen to make this proposal private. (I believe we are working with some of the most creative minds I have come across at this University since 2007).

    The Grant for $20,000 between 6 team members is fine. All others people whom want to be included can become valuable advisors to the project. Remember, Success has many fathers…but failure none..

    I have translated and formulated some elements from our inaugural meeting. Please feel free to make comments and changes where necessary. Please add to this over the week and reassess again at Thursdays meeting.


    An online virtual and immersive game model.


    Description of the challenge:

    The challenge has been to develop a new kind of cross-cultural innovative space that will develop learning opportunities for diverse audiences while providing meaningful spaces for co-creation to occur between different cohorts of people. For example, this project has the potential to motivate and engage a variety of audiences such as high school students, undergraduates, postgraduates,  staff,  Alumni both on and off-shore and other members of our broader community.

    Issue or Problem:

    This project is educationally sound

    We are experimenting with the

    Push the concepts forward and explore them.

    The intended change or solution:

    This is an educationally sound proposal. Part of the project is experimenting with the possibility with failure and to push the concepts forward and explore them.

    EDUCATIONAL CHANGES- Teacher Dependence/student independence – i.e. what do I press what do I do- the teacher traditionally has been the keeper of all knowledge. Whereas Kids will go Utube- to find out what they need to do as you need it.

    INNOVATION: (i.e. why does innovation have to be so dull!?)

    An element is an online game that will be both virtual and immersive.

    A narrative approach to teaching and learning:


    We have the technology and resources to scan and produce the virtual reality space, using the 3-D scanner to develop objects within the space.  We can also develop educational software to engage people within the space in order to develop pedagogical environments. This project also has further applications which will become evident once we have trialed and researched its potentials

    Through the practice of mixed methodologies, we have the technology to scan and produce objects through the use of the 3-D scanner. This object can be looked through or defined as a puzzle or quest within the creative space. However, this can be built upon and expanded to move beyond this space into an innovative space. This imaginative and yet pedagogical space is where the participant can investigate specific elements such as why they are choosing this space, what were their reasons for travelling from here to there. The development of a range of virtual objects within a fantasy space has the potential of providing a platform for other innovative and creative things to happen. This project has many levels that can be explored from the initial platform. It is not just a sterile space but can be engaged with at many levels.

    Reaching different levels of abilities:
    Here are some examples of how people will innovatively engage and participate within the virtual space.

    This imaginative space is based on a puzzle or a quest which leads people from one stage through to the next. This is the part that is the pedagogical stage and also the innovative unknown area. This higher order area highlights why people are choosing to go from one space to the next.

    Applications for High School students “at-risk”

    An example of the basic games level was applied to a group of ’at-risk’ students at a local it to High School. This involved a group of year 10 students who were classified within the school as “at- Risk.” These students were casted by the Games Master into roles based on a heroes and villains narrative. These students found themselves being casted into the ‘Extension Class’ which is the first time they had ever experienced being in the ‘Extension Class.’ They found this extremely challenging and yet they were motivated to strive beyond their current space using the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) to become a part of an imaginary world.  As a result, these “at-risk” students became empowered through the use of specific cultural tools (Vygostky, 1976) such as writing, drawing and computer manipulation to produce their own creative and imaginative stories.  The teachers reported that some students had been so inspired by this game program that they decided to follow one of the bridging path-way programs into university to take up creative writing. 

    Applications for undergraduate students:

    At the basic level this creative and innovative space could perform in a similar way to the games and dice games such as “Dungeons and Dragons.” There is a back story and the way it is presented is obscure. The students create their characters, they are given missions and dilemmas and things to overcome however, they tell the story themselves as virtual biographies and work through the story and in the end get rewarded. For instance, one person can be imagining and writing or drawing down the space and mediating that space to others. The others in the team have to be very cleaver about interrogating the creator to find out exactly where they are positioned in the space. Then when others create their virtual worlds other members will have to find the “keys” to the puzzle. This could be a key word or image such as a series of words where you would have to type in a phrase or visually represent  a picture in order to go on to the next level of the game.

    Students at this basic level can see immediately who has done which challenges so when they want to know more about that area they know who to approach. This means that the students are mainly self-directed and teachers are facilitators or mentors in the pedagogical process.  This has applications for courses such as Education Psychology. Teachers are encouraged to allow the students to engage in discovery learning and problem based education (Piaget, Vygostky ).

    Virtual spaces for new teachers:

    Another application is for beginning teachers. For example those teachers training in the Creative Arts could use this virtual space to try out their classes and discuss them online with other in their cultural communities. This form of cross-cultural virtual classroom is currently being trialed with University of Victoria in New Zealand and similar packages are being explored between Macquarie University, Victoria University and the TATE Modern Gallery in UK.

    Global applications for post-graduate studies:

    At a more advanced level, say as a post graduate level these students could find out about events and curatorial practice. This could be framed into a role playing scenario. This could be inclusive for both international and domestic students as a way of learning more about specific local or global issues.

    Other applications of ViMMs could be for Community programs such as PACE, inclusivity and diversity programs with Indigenous students or students with disabilities.




    A new 3-D scanner

    Software possibilities:

    Resources Application:

    Currently, we have a set number of resources in set specific spaces.  However, this project has the potential to take these resources and repurpose them into virtual or real spaces. This is in keeping with our charter to develop different learning opportunities within the MQ context.

    Roles & Responsibilities:

    These are suggestions only please add or delete_

    Human Sciences Faculty, Inclusivity and Diversity Unit,

    Bronwen- Educational advice, assistant Team co-coordinator, Disabilities and Indigenous Education

    Learning & Teaching MCAS,  Inclusivity

    Tom- L&T, Team coordinator

    Dean- ICT (gaming) advice, MCAS, ICT Researcher

    Robert- L & T and (gaming) advice

    Science Faculty Andrew- Museum Studies Co-coordinator, Budget considerations

    Arts Faculty Karl- Ancient History subject specialist, Budget considerations

    ---Commerce & Economics ?




    Evaluation Strategy:

    Plan for monitoring:

    Project Methodology:

    Strategy for implementation:

    Dissemination Strategies:

    Project Outcomes:

    Potential Support:

    Potential to Support change:

    Faculty support


    Ancient History


    Education Psychology

    Creative Arts Education


    Inclusivity & Diversity-

    Indigenous Studies

    Museum Studies

    Support from staff in the Departments:

    Sharon Kerr-MCAS- Disabilities Unit

    Jaye Mackenzie Clark- Archeologist



    Ancient History, Education, Museum Studies,

    FACUTLY: Arts, Human Sciences, Science, Inclusivity

    ENDORSEMENT: (Interdisciplinary Project including:

    Arts, Education, Science Faculties, Learning and Teaching and Inclusivity and Diversity.

    JUSTIFIED BUDGET- Driven by the Methodology (Andrew and Karl)



  7. RE: ViMMS Project 2012 Grant Proposal

    Please Confirm your attendance at the next ViMMS Meeting

    Thursday 24.5.12 on Campus- 3pm-5pm

    Where - At Ancient History

    C/-Mr Karl Van Dyke
    Telephone: (02) 9850 9263
    Office: X5B 311

    Bring your laptops..

    Best regards


  8. Hi guys,

    Added some more reference files to the space on visual literacy in the information age & museum pedagogy.



  9. ViMMS Project 2012 Grant Proposal Due Next Week!

    Next meeting:

    Thursday 30. 5.12 on Campus-

    Where 3pm-5pm

     At Ancient History

    C/-Mr Karl Van Dyke
    Telephone: (02) 9850 9263
    Office: X5B 311


  10. FYI On Macquarie Website Posted on May 14th, 2012 bySteven Schwartz

     Is there need for much more innovation in higher education in Australia?

    “Innovation regularly transforms the business world, but we have yet to see the equivalent in the university sector,” he writes in the Guardian Higher Education Network.

    The United States has invented MOOC – the massive online open classroom – with one operating in conjunction with four top universities – Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Princeton.

    MOOC might become the creative common for digital scholarship. Life long learning processes becomes the necessity for digital natives and migrants who have the intelligence to connect and to create collaborative Web based Working Space.

    Good ideas are bringing the people forward and recreate resilience in these years where there will be spent much money for bankers, but nothing for education.

    This Open online participatory course distributed through life-long networked learning.

    MOOC is an event (social networking) that provides a way to connect and collaborate while engaging in the learning process. The work is accessible without cost except if you require a certificate or degree (28.5.12 had 33,407 hits)

     VC’s Blog:

    Yes, there is a need for this kind of innovation in Australian Higher Education. With the ever-increasing knowing-doing gap, universities need to continue to move away from basing themselves in theory to being centred around practical application; the use of case studies is a start. Internships, such as those used in the medical field, should be implemented in all areas.

    Bronwen wrote:

    Yes, we need courses like MOOC now to bring about new approaches to learning and teaching. The more we acknowledge and embrace collaborative learning environments the sooner we will be supporting ALL our students with different cognitive styles to become innovative and creative thinkers with a purpose in life. Bring it on- can’t wait!!

  11. Hi Everyone,

    Have added some notes for the application to the document section of our space.  It is along the lines we discussed at the last meeting, namely an explanation of the virtual object storeroom concept incorporating comment on the education and research potential and value.



    1. Thanks Andrew. The notes address the process we're developing very well, IMHO.

      I've also attached a doc on the Grant Writing Process from Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which gives some nice info on how to put a proposal together. I'll be using this as a guide while I put content into an application form.  Jaye McKenzie-Clark is happy to be part of the team if we can include her in the budget.  I'm currently chasing up the successful MQSIS grant application by Linda Evans titled "The 3D Museum" because I want to pitch ViMMS as something that builds on that, starting from a Universal Design standpoint.  -  Cheers,  Tom

  12. Hi all,
    This project sounds very, very exciting.
    Recently we've been taking an early look at AvayaLive Engage.
    Matt Bower, James Hamilton and Natalia Salzberg have been involved.
    With virtual video, web and Powerpoint displays in addition to immersive 3D model incorporation from Google SketchUp snd similar this might offer a very interesting environment for ViMMS.
    If interested we can hook you up with Avaya (the supplier that underpins OneNet) and they are hungry for applications.
    We are in talks to use this tech for TEDx Macquarie University, and I've been talking to the Provost about this as recently as today.

    Good luck!

  13. Dear Marc

    Thank you for your contributions and suggestions, sounds great! we have a meeting in the next few days and will get back to you but I am sure we are all interested.

    Best regards

    ViMMS Team