Literary Worlds utilizes the award winning open source software package, EnCore 4. Designed for university educational use and released in January 2004, EnCore 4 is an online virtual learning environment system built on LambdaMOO with a built in server-side client called Xpress. It was awarded 1st place in the category "Rhetoric and Writing Software in University Education" at the Computers and Writing Technology Competition. We have installed enCore on a Mac OS X server where we also house our webpages.
While EnCore 4 has been used for other purposes, the model for using the structure in literature teaching emerges from Robert Rozema’s 2004 doctoral dissertation directed by Dr. Webb, a dissertation that researched the impact on students of a virtual reality environment Rozema created for Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In this environment Rozema’s students deepened their understanding of the characters, imaginative world, and political analysis of the novel they were reading. Characters and their situations became more and more meaningful and “real” to students and this facilitated an increasingly complex ethical analysis of their conduct. Rozema’s students were creative and analytical at the same time, writing dialogue and developing additional virtual spaces that demonstrated an understanding of Huxley’s text at high conceptual level. Many continued their involvement in the activity long after the course was finished. Dr. Rozema, now professor at Grand Valley State, and Dr. Webb are working on a book about these environments.
Access to Literary Worlds virtual reality environments requires that browsers be set to accept "pop-ups."