#60: Kieran Nolan on interschool virtual art galleries using 3D printing & Minecraft + How BitCoin is a protocol to decentralize everything

Kieran Nolan is a network administrator who has been creating different elearning applications with immersive technologies. He’s 3D printing objects that students either create or modify from Thingiverse withing Google SketchUp. He’ll take a digital photograph of their objects, and then upload it to a virtual art gallery that can be viewed with an Oculus Rift and networked to another school system. He’s also been teaching classes in Minecraft, and even had his students collaborate on building a working QR code.

Kieran-NolanKieran also talks about how he sees cryptocurriences like BitCoin playing a larger part of the future infrastructure that’s going to enable all sorts of things that we haven’t even thought of. He sees BitCoin as a protocol that will enable all different types of decentralization of our infrastructure. One example that he provides is Namecoin, which is like decentralized DNS and a “decentralized open source information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

He says that there’s a lot of potential for using immersive technologies in education, and he sees that it’s going to bring in a whole new curriculum because it’s so engaging and compelling for students.


  • 0:00 – e-learning and using oculus rift with the virtual arcade. Have a 3d printing networking set up with another school. Design 3d object, 3d print it, take picture
  • 1:14 – Workflow. Using sketch up to design objects. Eventually want to use Minecraft for designing objects. 3D print and take photos, hashtag and upload to virtual arcade to be viewed. Built a QR code in Minecraft. Lots of collaboration with Minecraft. Kids adapt to the Oculus Rift pretty quickly.
  • 3:57 – 3D printing and then put virtual images within in and use btsync. Enigma portal to get schools to work together and get older students mentoring younger students. Use QR codes to move between places. Using Titans of Space with students with Aspergers. Most interested in interschool 3D printing
  • 7:04 – Immersive education keys for engagement. Downloading 3D objects from Thingiverse, and changing it. Each student took photo, and then took turns walking through virtual art gallery to see their work.
  • 8:52 – Potential for using immersive technologies. Going to bring in a whole new curriculum. Running classes in Minecraft to do math and English.
  • 10:16 – Excited for BitCoin in education. Wanted to use BitCoin as an incentive for learning. Using the BitGigs model to do tasks to learn, and get paid in BitCoin to do small jobs. It’d teach kids about money and cryptocurrencies.
  • 12:03 – Bitcoin and the future of virtual worlds. BitCoin is a protocol like TCPIP that you can build on top of it. Namecoin is like decentralized DNS. It’s a “decentralized open source information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.” It’ll revolutionize things, and it’ll play a big part of decentralizing everything.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast.

[00:00:11.997] Kieran Nolan: My name is Karen Nolan. I come from Australia. Obviously you can probably tell by the accent. Yeah, my background's like all networking, moved into cloud migration architecture, and more recently into e-learning. And we're using the Oculus Rift with multiple software, but one in particular we're using is the Virtual Arcade. Essentially we've got a 3D printing virtual arcade set up between, like an inter-school arcade, so between my previous school which is in New South Wales and Melbourne. Essentially taking the digital from online, the kids design things, print them out, put them back into the digital, and then you can walk through it in the Oculus Arcade. It's pretty cool. It's pretty cool to see. But it means basically in real time, you can dump in images, bring them up, and then both schools can sort of see them. So I'm hoping to find a school in America that sort of wants to do the same thing. But yeah, it's been pretty good so far.

[00:01:14.542] Kent Bye: And maybe you could talk a bit more about that workflow in terms of where images are coming in, where they're going, and how that gets translated into 3D objects, and then sort of that complete workflow.

[00:01:23.795] Kieran Nolan: Yeah, so we sort of take the, obviously the kids are designing stuff in CAD, actually using SketchUp. What I want to use eventually is, we're sort of in the midst of it now, is Minecraft. So getting kids into schools if we can, to design stuff in Minecraft. Even something simple like we sort of had the idea of just doing the pyramid because like kids are sort of studying the pyramids at the moment so we thought they can design that and work together and then see that printed off, do that and then bring it back into the digital. So obviously we're just taking photos of whatever, hashtagging it with whatever school it is, putting it up in the virtual gallery and then you can see something sort of in the digital world that they've created. Yeah, I think Minecraft's definitely the way to go with that. Like, in terms of, I don't know, I read an article a couple of weeks ago basically saying that the inventor of Minecraft has tricked like four million people into using a CAD program without realising it. Is that a thing? I'm like, yeah, that's it, that's totally it. But especially with the kids, like I walk into the, because I've started this school this year and probably about Two months ago, I think I sort of started doing Minecraft with like a few kids and said, listen, don't sort of tell anyone, but we're going to do this like as a small group. Got a group of kids called the Tech Ninjas. They came up with the names. But yeah, so I was sort of doing it with them and then just word spread to the whole school and like every morning I walk into the school and I was like, Are we doing Minecraft today? I'm like, no, we can only do it like certain times. But yeah, it's so engaging. There was one really cool thing we did was built a QR code in Minecraft. I got a work experience kid working with us. It was his idea. He's like, oh, yeah, I'm pretty good at Minecraft. We could probably build a QR code in Minecraft. I'm like, whoa, yeah. And he got a bunch of the kids, and they built this massive QR code, and it actually works. So yeah, it's just so cool to see and like they're all really into it and like working together and built it all. So I think like with that if we can get that working with 3D printing and then showing what they've built back into the Oculus Rift again, I think that's gonna be mind-blowing for me anyways. Although the kids seem to sort of adapt to it so quickly like the first night I sort of got the Oculus Rift I was like I feel kind of sick like after two hours of using it they can use it like as long as they want and they don't get any sort of No dizziness or anything. So it seems to be they just sort of adapt to it like immediately.

[00:03:53.548] Kent Bye: It's really cool to see But yeah, so that's sort of what we're doing with that And so I one of the things I'm unclear is that you're saying you're doing 3d printing and then you're bringing it back into the oculus rift Arcade, how is that working?

[00:04:05.319] Kieran Nolan: Yeah yeah so there's a virtual art gallery so we could essentially put any images you want in there so we're getting them to design stuff then physically take a photo of it so they'll hold it take a photo of it you dump it into a folder so we're using btsync so you basically get a qr code or a key and it creates a connection that only you and that person can see So, at the moment I think we're just using the, we've got an iPad set up for that, that's like, does pretty high res photos, but you don't even really need high res just to show it sort of thing. Creates a QR code, link between it and then it's linked to another school as well, so they're doing the same thing. Take the photos and you see them jump into the virtual gallery, sort of after you take it, so you take the photo. So literally we have a lab, the kids can design stuff, it gets made there, printed off, they take a photo of it, then they can walk down to where we have the Oculus Rift and literally see it up in an art gallery. It's cool, we ran another class with it. We're sort of doing a few things with it, this is what I'm most excited about, but we have another thing called the Enigma Portal. that the principal actually came up with. It was a really cool idea, getting schools to work together and older students to work with younger students, building classes, I suppose you'd call them, self-directed learning ideas. So they come up with an idea, create a class, a lesson on it, I suppose you'd call it, and then sort of help younger kids and older kids. We're using Edmodo at the moment for that. And I wanted to use the Oculus to get kids engaged in it. So same sort of idea but throwing the QR codes for whatever lesson they've come up with into the Oculus as well so they can go through working teams and then like scan it and takes you out sort of thing. We're doing that and the other thing we got it for is a thing called Titans of Space. I don't know if you've seen that but it's really cool yeah. which I found worked really well with like the Asperger's kids, like they sort of really dig it, like they jump into it and start learning without sort of realising it. If you haven't seen it, it like sort of takes you through like our solar system, then on to Alpha Centauri and like tells you about the sun and all that sort of thing and like each planet you go to it gives you information on that and Yeah, like the kids really dig it, especially, like I was saying, the Asperger's kids, like they sort of just jump in and like, there was one in particular that was having, like when I first got it, he was having a really tough day, sort of ready to go home. And I was like, yeah, chuck him on this and see what he thinks. And he was just there for like hours learning about it. I'm like, yeah, that's definitely the future of education right there. Just like, just reading out about each planet, like sort of doing it without knowing he was doing it. And I was like, yeah, that's really cool. So yeah, we're using it in lots of different ways, like the Oculus. But I'm most excited about the, like, inter-school 3D printing at the moment, because it seems to really engage. And if I can, like, work Minecraft in with that, I think it's going to be really cool.

[00:07:01.483] Kent Bye: So what are the key components that you see is really getting that level of engagement or interest from the kids in terms of using some of these immersive technologies?

[00:07:10.587] Kieran Nolan: Well, like I was saying, I think Minecraft's probably the way to go because they're all really into it. We do have a lot of kids who are into using SketchUp to design, even downloading things off Thingiverse. Taking that, changing it to whatever they want, creating new art, and then printing it off again. Yeah, the most engaging thing, I think, is them actually doing something. And then seeing it physically like sort of straight away. So like the first class we ran, actually one of the year four kids, he's like 10 years old, ran the class like while I was in there. And they just used the iPad. We actually used Google Drive. So Google Drive set up in the other lab, we call it the Enigma portal, where we have like green screen room and all that sort of thing. So in the lab, I got each of the kids to choose a photo. So they just took a photo of something, whatever it was, just to get them used to the idea that they can do this and it's going to come into an art gallery in real time. So then I go and take a photo of each. I think it was like 20 kids or whatever in that group. They all wanted to take a photo of me. I'm like, you can take one and that's... I don't want to see my big head too many times in there. Yeah, took a photo each and then we all sort of walked down to the Enigma portal. They put it on and they could see, like I made a video of it on YouTube. You can check it out on katynolan.com if you want. Yeah, so they all walk down and then they each took turns putting it on and found their photo and then like the next kid come on and they're like, oh wow that's awesome and like all watching on the big screen like as they're finding their thing. So I think that's the most engaging part of it like when they can physically see something that they've done and boom there it is like in this digital world like immediately it's like so cool like wish I had anything like that when I was in school. Would have blown me away but yeah I think that's yeah the most engaging part.

[00:08:53.798] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you see as the ultimate potential for using these types of immersive technologies for education?

[00:09:00.405] Kieran Nolan: I think it's huge. I think the stuff that we haven't even thought of is going to come out of this. I think realistically it's going to bring a whole new curriculum for everything. Because at the moment it's still sort of thought of by some teachers and some educators as still computer time. You know what I mean? But I think it's going to encompass everything. You can see it already. Geography, math, whatever. It's all going to be immersive education. It's all going to be technology. I saw a really cool thing a couple of weeks ago, this guy, in the States actually, and he runs all his classes in Minecraft. So at the start of the year he sort of teaches them how to move around and like, you know, you can do this and that. And then runs all his lessons, I think it's like year six kids. runs all his lessons in there. So they all have like a computer in front of them. They all jump in and he does like math and like English and everything, like using blocks for math and like everyone come to the classroom now and they all sort of fly in and it's like, wow, yeah, that's the future for sure. So I think like things like that, you can see it definitely taking over. I don't know if we'll have a whole class of kids like wearing the Oculus Rift. That might be a bit freaky, but I'd like to see it. But I think that's definitely the future. There's things that I'm excited about that are probably coming up in the future. Things like Bitcoin and education. I know that's a big thing for Bitcoin here at this conference. But yeah, I think my sort of idea was to use Bitcoin as like an incentive for learning. So like an SDL program like self-directed learning based on Bitcoin. I was sort of calling it the Bit Gigs model. I tried to get it off the ground a couple of years ago and everyone was just like, what are you talking about? You lunatic. The idea is essentially for kids to find something online that they could do in the digital world, whether that be translate a document or write an article for something. then use the teachers experience to help them upskill themselves for the internet and then physically get paid for that like in Bitcoin and then money goes to the school or whatever and that's like the pass or fail but yeah I thought I was crazy.

[00:11:12.279] Kent Bye: In that model, where does the Bitcoin come from? And I mean the money's sort of coming from somewhere. So how is that?

[00:11:17.764] Kieran Nolan: Yeah, so the sites online like big kids gigs calm I think is the biggest one of the time it has a bunch now sort of like the oDesk model like where you can go and find people to do jobs or post jobs sort of thing so they're doing that like but with Bitcoin and The cool thing with that is it sort of teaches kids not only about money but cryptocurrencies, how that all works, and sort of engaging them. And at the time, like, it wasn't real money, quote-unquote, so I thought, yeah, cool, you can do this and, like, you know, it doesn't matter, like, you're not doing child labor or anything like that. I don't know if that's sort of changing now, but I still think it could be a really engaging tool to, on multiple levels, sort of educate. But, yeah, we'll see.

[00:12:02.180] Kent Bye: Well, where do you see Bitcoin fitting in in the future of virtual worlds?

[00:12:05.827] Kieran Nolan: Virtual worlds, I think it's, yeah, I think it's huge, really. Next couple of years, I think you're going to see Bitcoin really taking off. I was hoping there's going to be more, like, sort of Bitcoin-focused things in LA while I was here, but it doesn't seem to be as much as, sort of, Melbourne. I go to meetups, sort of, once a month-ish, and really smart people, not really in education, that's where I want to take it, but I think, essentially, like, if you think about it, Bitcoin is essentially a protocol. And it's like the advent of TCPIP. When that came about, everyone was just like, yeah, why do you want computers to talk to each other? And then you had email built on that, and all these things like Facebook now, and the Google app suite, the whole cloud built on TCPIP. No one would have thought of that back then. I think Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are at that now. If you look at things like Namecoin, Namecoin is something I'm really excited about, which is like, decentralized DNS. So like, you know, the way DNS works, like you have a list of addresses, IP addresses, and you can see who owns what website. Namecoin's sort of flipping that on its head, and yeah, saying like, here's a decentralized version of the internet we could use. So like, all things like that, stuff we haven't even thought of, I think it's definitely gonna revolutionize things. And that's definitely gonna play into the virtual worlds as well. You can already see it, like things like Second Life and all that. But yeah, I think it's gonna play a big part like decentralized everything Cool. Well, thank you. Cool. Cool. Thanks very much

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