Category Archives: 2012/1-2


The first 2012 FormaMente issue focuses on the importance of virtual laboratories in scientific research. The contributions selected reflect the direct involvement of GUIDE Association in virtual labs theoretical and experimental experiences and also the growing interest that distance universities show towards some important international research projects.

Anna Baldazzi and Giovanni Briganti

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Jet momentum dependence of jet quenching in PbPb collisions at √SNN = 2.76 TeV

Dijet production in PbPb collisions at a nucleon-nucleon centre-of-mass energy of 2.76 TeV is studied with the CMS detector at the LHC. A data sample corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 150 µb¯¹ is analyzed. Jets are reconstructed using combined information from tracking and calorimetry. The dijet momentum balance and angular correlations are studied as a function of collision centrality and leading jet transverse momentum. For the most peripheral PbPb collisions, good agreement of the dijet momentum balance distributions with pp data and reference calculations at the same collision energy is found, while more central collisions show a strong imbalance of leading and subleading jet transverse momenta attributed to the jet-quenching effect. The dijet momentum imbalance in central collisions is found to persist for leading jet transverse momenta up to the highest values studied.

Article first published in “Physics Letters B”, universally available online 27 April 2012.

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Modeling the metaverse: a theoretical model of effective team collaboration in 3D virtual environments

In this paper, a theoretical model of effective team collaboration in 3D virtual environments is presented. The aim of this model is to enhance our understanding of the capabilities exerting influence on effective 3D virtual team collaboration. The model identifies a number of specific capabilities of 3D virtual worlds that can contribute to this team effectiveness. Compared to “traditional” computer mediated collaboration technologies, 3D virtual environments support team collaboration primarily through (a) the shared virtual environment, and (b) avatar-based interaction. Through the shared virtual environment, users experience higher levels of presence (a feeling of actually “being there”), realism and interactivity. These capabilities increase the users´ level of information processing. Avatar-based interaction induces greater feelings of social presence (being with others) and control over self presentation (how one wants to be perceived by others), thus increasing the level of communication support in the 3D environment. Through greater levels of information and communication support, a higher level of shared understanding is reached, which in turn positively influences team performance. Our paper concludes by presenting several propositions which allow further empirical testing, implications for research and practice, and suggestions for future research. The insights obtained from this paper can help developers of these virtual worlds to design standards for the capabilities that influence effective team collaboration in 3D virtual environments.

Article first published in “Journal of Virtual Worlds Research”, V. 4 (December 2011), n. 3, by the Virtual Worlds Institute Inc., as open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

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The capture of moving object in video image

Nowadays, video is a primary information carrier in www (world wild web) and moving objects are often carrying more information. But it is hard to catch these objects in video quickly and correctly. In this paper, we put forward a method to catch moving object in video. Firstly, based on difference image method, we determine moving region in video image. To avoid hardness to build background, we build background with a new algorithm based on difference changed. Finally, we get the objects and denoise them with erosion and dilation. The experimental result is shown that the new method is feasibility and high quality.

Article originally published in “Journal of Multimedia”, V. 6 (December 2011), n. 6, pp. 518-525.

Reprinted with permission.

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Visual metaphors in virtual worlds. The example of NANEC 2010/2011

Before the invention of printing, the storytelling was the grat transmitter of knowledge. The print brought speed and continuity to narrative, extending the time for its reflection. With Internet the sequentiality of the message is fragmented and new realities may be created, with reference in the real world or not. Virtual worlds are a clear example.

Article first published in “@tic Revista d´innovació educativa”, January-June 2011, pp. 38-45, as open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence. Reprinted with permission.

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Von Neuromancer zu Second Life. Raumsimulationen im Cyberspace

In his novel Neuromancer, first published in 1984, the US-american author William Gibson coined the term cyberspace for the virtual reality generated by computers. On the basis of an etymological analysis this term can be interpreted as the traditional relation between helmsman and space. In the medium of sci-fi-literature and sci-fi-film this phenomenon of cyberspace changed rapidly  between 1980 and today. In early examples, for instance in the film Tron produced in 1982, the virtual figures act in a disintegrated space without any destination or orientation. In later examples, for instance in the film Matrix produced in 1999, the cyberspace becomes a substitute world for a dark, chaotic or destructive vision of reality. Contemporary forms of cyberspace, as visualized in the 3D-online-city Second Life, are in contrast used for financial activities and symbolize the hard world of economic policy. This development of cyberspace can be seen either as an evolutionary process or a dichotomy primary defined by different facets of space simulation in virtual reality.

Article first published in “Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts”, V.3 (2011), pp. 56-62, KIT Scientific Publishing, as open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

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Sensor models and localization algorithms for sensor networks based on received signal strength

Received signal strength (RSS) can be used in sensor networks as a ranging measurement for positioning and localization applications. This contribution studies the realistic situation where neither the emitted power nor the power law decay exponent be assumed to be known. The application in mind is a rapidly deployed network consisting of a number of sensor nodes with low-bandwidth communication, each node measuring RSS of signals traveled through air (microphones) and ground (geophones). The first contribution concerns validation of a model in logarithmic scale, that is, linear in the unknown nuisance parameters (emitted power and power loss constant). The parameter variation is studied over time and space. The second contribution is a localization algorithm based on this model, where the separable least squares principle is applied to the non-linear least squares (NLS) cost function, after which a cost function of only the unknown position is obtained. Results from field trials are presented to illustrate the method, together with fundamental performance bounds. The ambition is to pave the way for sensor configuration design and more thorough performance evaluations as well as filtering and target tracking aspects.

Article first published in “EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking”, V. (2012), n. 16, doi: 10.1186/1687-1499-2012-16, as open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence

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Interactive lab to learn radio astronomy, microwave & antenna engineering at the Technical University of Cartagena

An initiative carried out at the Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT, Spain) to encourage students and promote the interest for Scientific and Engineering Culture between society is presented in this contribution. For this purpose, a long-term project based on the set-up of an interactive laboratory surrounding a small Radio Telescope (SRT) system has been carried out. The main novelty is that this project is entirely being developed by students of last courses of our Telecommunication Engineering Faculty, under the supervision of four lecturers. This lab offers the possibility to remotely control the SRT, and it provides a set of multimedia web-based applications to produce a novel, practical, multidisciplinary virtual laboratory to improve the learning and teaching processes in related sciences and technologies.

Article originally published in “International Journal of Online Engineering”, V. 7 (2011), n. 1, pp. 10-18 as open access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence

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Design and implementation of a 3D multi-user virtual world for language learning

The best way to learn is by having a good teacher and the best language learning takes place when the learner is immersed in an environment where the language is natively spoken. 3D multi-user virtual worlds have been claimed to be useful for learning, and the field of exploiting them for education is becoming more and more active thanks to the availability of open source 3D multi-user virtual world development tools. The research question we wanted to respond to was whether we could deploy an engaging learning experience to foster communication skills within a 3D multi-user virtual world with minimum teacher´s help. We base our instructional design on the combination of two constructivist learning strategies: situated learning and cooperative/collaborative learning. We extend the capabilities of the Open Wonderland development toolkit to provide natural text chatting with non-player characters, textual tagging of virtual objects, automatic reading of texts in learning sequences and the orchestration of learning activities to foster collaboration. Our preliminary evaluation of the experience deems it to be very promising.

Article first published in “Educational Technology & Society”, V. 14 (2011), n. 4, pp. 2-10. Reprinted with permission.

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Experiences of operating and studying in Second Life: conclusions for training design

The Educational Association Citizens´ Forum SKAF ry is an educational institution for non-formal education. The Citizens’ Forum has been an active Second Life participant since 2007, researching its potential and challenges in educational use and non-governmental organisation activities. The first training sessions were organised in 2008 on a block of land rented from EduFinland I island. Later, ownership was acquired of the Suomi ry (Finland ry) island, which was customised to serve Finnish organisations and non-governmental organisations (further NGO). The Citizens’ Forum’s training courses have covered training in Second Life and the organisation of cooperative meetings and various other events in Second Life. The overall length of training sessions has been one month. Each course has consisted of 3-5. 1.5 hour meetings in Second Life and interim tasks completed either individually or in small groups. In addition to Second Life, Moodle, an online learning environment, has been employed in which tasks, experiences and feedback have been gathered and which has also contained written summaries of what was learned during the Second Life meetings. The Second Life environment has also been regularly utilised in Citizens’ Forum staff and various other work group work related meetings.Funding and ventures 2008: Ministry of Education special funding, Initiation of Second Life courses and construction of environment 2009-2010: ESF programme Open Learning Environments-AVO venture, development and implementation of Second Life educational programmes. This article is based on practical experiences gained from:
- suitability of cooperative educational processes for Second Life
- constructing a Second Life environment for educational use
- suitability of Second Life technology and tools for education and team work
- practical methods related to educational situations.

Article first published in “Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education TOJDE”, V. 12 (2011), n. 3-2, Special Issue on Second Life Applications in Distance Education, Article 3. Reprinted with permission.

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Role of ICT-enabled visualization-oriented virtual laboratories in Universities for enhancing biotechnology education – VALUE initiative: Case study and impacts

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – enabled virtual labs have been setup in order to facilitate and enhance higher education. VALUE Biotechnology virtual labs were implemented as part of an ICT initiative and tested between several student and teacher groups. In this paper, we discuss about the application of virtualizing concepts and experiments in biotechnology, one of the fundamental area of biological sciences to impart quality education to meet the necessities of students. We found virtual labs, enhanced attention and student performance in biotechnology courses. The paper reports on applying virtualization techniques, biotechnology education could be intensified in terms of student attention and virtual lab can served as an effective teaching pedagogy. The paper shows how virtual labs in biotechnology can be exploited to improve teaching and student performance. This study analyzes the trends of user behavior towards virtual laboratories and the usability of these laboratories as a learning and curriculum material. Findings from indicated biotechnology virtual laboratories encompass all the core subjects of their curriculum materials in an easy and understandable way with user-interaction and serve to reduce the problems of laboratory education especially in economically challenged and geographically remote areas. Virtual laboratories target a user-friendly outlook to modern laboratory education, aiding as an optional evaluation component for University teachers.

Received: 17th April 2012
Revised: 26th April 2012

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WebLab-Deusto-CPLD: a practical experience

This paper shows the experience at the University of Deusto with the WebLab-Deusto-CPLD in the subject ‘Programmable Logic’ of the Faculty of Engineering in the field of Digital Electronics. Presented herein is a technical overview of the laboratory, and its characteristics.

Article first published in ‘iJOE’ – International Journal of Online Engineering’ V. 8 (2012), Special Issue 1: “´11″, February 2012, as open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons attribution Licence.

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From technology to relationships: the evolving profile of virtual laboratories

The increasing integration between humans and technology, the multiplying interaction modalities, the enhancement of realism, presence and immersivity; the opening to soft sciences and to new multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields; the relationships and cooperation element coming to the fore: these are the key issues of the huge ‘scientific research potential of virtual worlds’, as the title of a well-known Science article stated (Bainbridge, 2007). And these are also the core peculiarities of virtual laboratories of today.

Received: 16 May 2012
Revised: 3 June 2012

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Virtual worlds in education: AVATAR, ST.ART and Euroversity action-research initiatives

This paper gives an overview of the educational potential of virtual worlds and draws on the results of the AVATAR  ‘Added value of teaching in a virtual world’, the ST.ART ‘Street Artists in a virtual space’ and the Euroversity projects, all funded with support by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme. These action-research projects deal with the technological, pedagogical, cultural and motivational benefits of using virtual worlds in educational settings and provide a framework for the implementation of virtual worlds in education.

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United Excellence: the new GUIDE’s platform to develop high quality university programs for advanced careers

Universities are seen as the repositories of valuable human capital and higher education as a key sector for promoting social and economic development. The accelerating shift to high-technology and information economy forces the higher education system to prepare a competent workforce to meet changing demands for labour. (…)

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The development of virtual laboratories in the Indian higher education system, a new frontier of university research

The 2012 IEEE International Conference on Technology Enhanced Education, held at Amrita University´s headquarters in Amritapuri, India on 3-5 January 2012, focused on the use and implementation of virtual laboratories in high schools and universities as a tool of didactic support for improving interactivity in the framework of online education. (…)

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