Solar System Simulation
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the NAU Solar System Simulation (SolSys) ?

    The Solar System Simulation is an on-line 'virtual' laboratory for undergraduate level courses in the social and communications sciences. In this laboratory, students in each class collaborate in building a 'working model' of a community in a shared future Solar System.

    The communities that the students build are expected be:

    The primary objective is to challenge students to develop sustained and mutually beneficial communication and exchange within and among their teams.

  2. Students work in teams which are consituted from one or more undergraduate-level classes . Students work collaboratively in their classrooms and through the Internet.

  3. The primary Internet medium is a multiple-user domain, MUD/MU*-type program (see Connectivity). Students and faculty also use e-mail, listservers, news groups and web pages to communicate within and among the teams.

  4. What do students actually DO in the Solar System Simulation?

    In their classes, each team of students has to:


  5. What do students learn from their participation in the Solar System Simulation?

    Through their active participation in building a working model of a sociocultural system of a future community, and participating in an evolving system of such communities, students learn about the dynamics of human communities:

    * they learn to do applied research and problem solving using conventional resources and the Internet-mediated technologies,

    * in this process students develop their skills of:

    * Each instructor develops specific learning objectives and assignments for hir own class.

  6. What is a pedagological environment?

        There are several MU*-type programs operating in the Internet that are dedicated to educational objectives. MicroMUSE, Diversity University, ATHEMOO, College Town and EON are examples. Each of these sites models a campus environment and provides numerous opportunities for deliberate instruction.

        The Solar System Simulation is different: it provides a social laboratory environment and relies on the the instructor and classroom interaction to distill knowledge through reflection and analysis of the laboratory experience. To distinguish the SolSyS from environments that emphasize deliberate instruction, we have coined the term 'pedagogical environment' for an environment in which learning happens.

  7. Why is SolSyS closed to the public?

        The Solar System Simulation has controlled admission for the same reason that the participating schools do; classes of students are busy working for academic credit and should not be distracted.

  8. How can we participate in SolSyS?

        Communicate your interest to Dr. Reed D. Riner, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University.

  9. What kind of VR program does SolSyS use?

        The Solar System Simulation is running in a ____. The direct telnet address is 4567; see Connectivity for more information.


(individual copies of these papers are available on request)

Riner, Reed D.
"Virtual Ethics <- Virtual Reality." Futures Research Quarterly, 12(1):57-70, Spring 1996.

Riner, Reed D. and Jennifer A. Clodius
"Simulating Future Histories: The NAU Solar System Simulation & Mars Settlement." Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 21(2):121-127, 1995.

Neville, Melvin K. and Reed D. Riner
"The Mars Course: A Technological and Societal Simulation." in David Hartman editor, Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Pacific Southwest Section 1993 Annual Meeting and Conference, 1993.

Guide to Teams     ||     Adjunct Faculty     ||     Internet resources
SolSyS FAQ     ||     Policies
Team Websites
Connectivity     ||     MUDtorials

This page is maintained by:
Reed D. Riner, Professor,
Department of Anthropology
last updated 02.11.15