The Virtual St Andrews (ViStA) project is an educational virtual world
originally planned to support overseas students in their acculturation to the
University and to the local area. Masters students, especially, have to learn about their
surroundings, their residences, shopping, local transport, etc. as well as locate like-minded
friends, learn the University's online systems, and then actually do some academic work.
Students will be able to:
- explore St Andrews online and find out the geography of the city.
- explore University buildings, interact with history, student societies or academic schools
- partake in group meetings, chat to other users and privately chat to staff online
- see videos of accommodation or student life in St Andrews
- practice interaction with avatars
- fine general information about banking, buses, healthcare or church services
- practice social interaction such as within a seminar, lecture, or talking with staff (Phase 2: still being developed)
- practice academic writing, techniques for avoiding academic misconduct (Phase 2: still being developed)
Researchers involved in the work: Janie Brooks (ELT), Ishbel Duncan (CS), ALan Miller (CS), Sarah Kennedy (CS) and Iain Oliver (CS)
The openvirtualworlds project in the School of Computer Science in St Andrews involves many staff from a variety of Schools
including ELT, History, Archaeology, Management as well as external agencies such as Scottish Heritage.
A general blog is maintained at
Open Virtual Worlds blog
Some of our Education or Virtual World related research papers:
Exploratory Learning in the ViStA Environment (CSEDU 13)
Exploratory Learning in the ViStA Environment CSEDU 13 (Slides)
EAP Workshop St Andrews 2013 (Slides)
Requirements for Educational Support Tools in Virtual Worlds (CSEDU 12)
Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds in Education (BJET Jan 2012)
Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds in Education Bibliography (November 2011)
Emergent Requirements for Supporting Introductory Requirements (ITALICS February 2011)
How to get started in ViStA:
To register and download the viewer software go to:
Welcome to the Virtual Worlds
At this point you can choose your avatar (your in-world character) and a First name and Surname. You will also need a password.
Note that the avatars are in a drop down list and offer male and female avatars. You can change the avatar's appearance
later by changing clothes and hairstyles.
Once you have registered you can go to the Start page from the Welcome page tab and download the viewer (client software which will sit on your machine).
This is a Phoenix Firestorm viewer and you will need to log in with your avatar's name on the first and subsequent executions of this software (if you click on the Phoenix Firestorm icon in the future).
The first time you use the viewer you should see a page with a list of regions, these are the virtual worlds supported by the research.
For ViSta choose the Virtual University of St Andrews and click on it. Your avatar should be seen standing in St. Salvator's Quad in a few seconds.
On subsequent executions of the avatar will be found standing in the Quad or in its last position in-world.
You can now move around, click on artefacts and chat to other avatars just as in Second Life.
Updated October 2014