Sunday, July 28, 2019

2019 #VWEDU: The virtual online campus: Can a grid handle the load of students?

The virtual online campus:
Can a grid handle the load of students?

A quick assessment of how well OpenSimulator grids can handle the loads that would be imposed by virtual world campuses.  This article is explicitly licensed Public Domain (CC0)
The Empty Classroom


Can the OpenSimulator grids handle class size?

  • Executive summary: Yes they can.

Estimated class size

Region capacities on Kitely grid

  • A class would meet in a region and would be limited by the region's capacity.
  • Kitely (and other grids) easily handle up to 40 people on a region.
  • A class of 110 would exceed the capacity of the current regions in Kitely.
  • But if you have more than about 40 students, you don't have a class, you have an audience.
  • I have taught classes of that size.  All you can do is lecture.
  • If I were going to lecture these days, I would put it on YouTube.
  • Students could watch it at their convenience. 
  • With that class, we gave one lecture a week, followed by two discussion sessions.
  • The discussion sessions had about 12-16 students and were led by graduate students.
  • That model would work in Kitely.  I would not give a 50 minute lecture.  
  • I would create 4 lectures of 12 minutes.  
  • The discussion sessions would discuss one lecture at a time.  

Can Kitely grids handle the load of college? 

  • Executive summary: Yes they can.
  • "Kitely grids" means private grids managed by colleges and operated by Kitely.
  • Kitely Organizations
  • I am calculating for Kitely because I think I know enough about the operating model to draw a reasonable conclusion.
  • Other grids may have similar operating models.

Total number of students in a college

Among the schools that submitted these data for fall 2017, the average number of undergraduate students was 6,316. In contrast, the average among the 10 schools with the highest undergraduate enrollment was 45,283.  10 Colleges With the Most Undergraduates

The probable load on a grid

  • Not all students are on campus at the same time.  
  • For simple calculation, I assume a maximum load of about 3000 students.  
  • At a class size of 30, they would use about 100 regions.  
  • Kitely has nearly 16,000 regions (called 'worlds" by Kitely).
  • The fluctuation from a campus would be less that one per cent of the current load.
  • Any grid could handle more regions.  It just takes more servers.
  • Kitely does not own the servers it uses: it rents them as needed from AWS.
  • It would handle a campus surge by getting more servers.
  • If a grid owns servers and keeps regions running all the time, the costs might be too high to be profitable.



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  • Original text in this blog is CC By: unless specified public domain
  • Use as you please with attribution: link to the original.
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  • Annotated screenshots made with Jing
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  • Selby Evans in Kitely and hypergrid, Thinkerer Melville in Second Life.

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