Zora is a multi-user graphical environment specifically developed to help users design and inhabit a virtual city. Several users can interact and communicate with each other in real time through a chat system. Users can populate the virtual world with their own interactive creations. They can design objects, characters, personal spaces, and a virtual community. Users can select avatars to represent themselves and develop their corresponding profiles that specify personal heroes and villains, cherished values, and biographies.
Zora is a web-based environment explicitly designed to help young people explore issues of identity and to promote positive development through the use of technology. The first version of Zora was developed while Professor Marina Umaschi Bers was completing her doctoral work at the MIT Media Lab, using the Microsoft Virtual Worlds development platform. The second version of Zora was developed at Tufts University by Professor Marina Umaschi Bers, her team of students in the DevTech research group and Academic Technologies using the ActiveWorlds platform.
Zora @ Hospitals (Microsoft Media Player): a virtual community of transplant pediatric patients using Zora to create a peer-support network and improve medical adherence & school adjustment. This project is funded by NSF and has received additional funding from the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund.
Zora @ Camps: a virtual community of youth affected by cancer and blood disorders that use Zora to maintain camp friendships built at Camp For All (Burton, Texas) and to improve their sense of hopefulness and social connectedness.
Zora @ Computer Clubhouses: a virtual community for pre-teens and teens participating in the national and international network of after-school computer-based learning environments, who use Zora to develop cultural awareness and respect for cultural diversity.
Zora @ Tufts: a pre-orientation for incoming freshman students who use Zora to create the campus of the future and explore connections between campus and community.