Blender as a tool for educators using plugin architecture

An open space where people who use Blender in an academic environment can share progress and the typical problems and needs of academic environments.

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Blender as a tool for educators using plugin architecture

Post by DonaldM » Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:32 am

Hello everyone,

My name is Donald May and I am a bit new to these forums so I apologize if this has come up before. I have done a good bit of research into serious games and various technologies. As a software developer and Blender user, the new Blender 2.5 has be toying with a bit of a unique idea.

The concept I have been thinking of and working to develop a series of plugins using Python that expand Blender's capabilities to turn it into a tool that can be used by educators to create classroom demonstrations/simulations. Think a very advanced version of Mission Maker.

I believe that Blender itself could serve (using plugins) as the editor to create content for a Blender Game Engine based system.

The advantages I can think of to this approach are:

1. Blender is already cross platform and has the ability to place and edit 3D content (providing a huge base to build on!)

2. Building on open source tools provides maximum availability to schools/educational facilities.

A couple disadvantages:

1. The ease of use of such tool can seriously be questioned. Blender does have a bit of a learning curve.

2. Some questions can be raised about the implementation. What features are necessary to implement, how does the system work, and can Blender be customized enough.

As far as the implementation goes I have been looking into how Blender plugins work. I see that there is the ability to work with OpenGL contexts which is good news as it should enable custom drawn UI content to be created.

Some of the main ideas I have from my research into other technologies would be to have an integrated help/tutorial system that walked an educator through creating a demonstration (like a wizard) and/or templates that can be built upon for common use cases. Also a library of objects that can be placed and default interactions between various objects would probably be a decent start. Each model then would need to serve as a sort of self contained mesh/physics based unit that could be placed in a scenario and interacted with using high level commands.

The game engine would be first person perspective with a gravity "manipulator". I have used other technologies to demonstrate certain aspects of Newtonian Mechanics and that would probably be a good goal with this as well.

Anyway I guess I am just looking for a bit of a sanity check. What do you all think of this as a concept? Do you have any ideas as to the implementation/possible limitations that could be run into? I am not asking for someone to implement this for me or anything like that, just some feedback (is it a good idea, is it a waste of time, or does anyone even care).

Thank you for reading!

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