That means lots of talk about Second Life, massive gaming, and simulations – much of which most people have negative views about and see little educational value. Sarah Robbins (Second Lifer Intelligirl who has taught in Second Life, co-wrote Second Life for Dummies with Mark Bell, just came out with a new research book of which she is a co-editor, works for the Kelly School of Business, and is mom to triplet girls), visited our class via Breeze.

I was impressed how she fielded a question about concerns of people posing to be someone they are not. She said someone needs to do the hard data because her experiences are that some people, yes, use virtual reality as a place of entertainment where they might pretend to be more outgoing than they are or try things out they are not likely to try in offline life, but most people (like her and Mark) are simply the same people in Second Life they are offline. It was refreshing to hear someone with validity make those statements.

Sometimes fears cause us to make more out of situations than they really. While it’s easier perhaps to make up a false persona online, it doesn’t necessarily follow that people will do that. I think most of us have much deeper desires to be known for who we really are than to pretend we are something we are not. And, when others know and respond to who we are, we grow a little – we become. And, isn’t that what education is all about? Becoming the person we are meant to be?



Resourcing Online

February 22, 2010

With Second Life

As I was visiting a language class in Second Life this week, I was privately IM’ing a person from India who had helped me get to the right area for the visit, listening to the avatar teacher talk to a group of international avatar students, watching the local chat to see what was being input there, and listening to sounds coming from outside the classroom we were in, it was amazing to me the coming together of so many resources and wise use of online tools to help people learn one specific topic (speaking English).

The teacher not only had some moving visuals, but as she mentioned terms she thought might not be picked up well audibly by students, she typed the text of the words into chat so they could have the vocabulary reinforced. She did this without missing a beat in the conversation. Students could use the chat to ask questions or clarify as well. YouTube links, site links, sound files, and image files were instantly available to students that they could also easily save for study later. It was a very social, reinforcing atmosphere for learning.

With OERs and OCWs

I’ve always been a believer in providing people with resources and tools. In our course this week we talked about how that is happening online with some major initiatives toward making efforts to organize and make available all the content, resources, and tools out there – particularly Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW).

They ranged from the average person at Squidoo where “everyone is an expert on something” to the professional resourcing offered by MERLOT. Below are some sites that stuck out from this week:

•    Squidoo
•    Connextions (from Rice University)
•    MOOM (The Museum of Online Museums)
•    Tufts University’s OCW:
•    Penn State Live (professor’s anatomy quiz website)

The Assignment

As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been exploring Second Life. I would like to do an observation assignment for a qualitative research class I’m also taking in addition to The World is Open. It took quite a bit of convincing for the professor to allow me to do this for the assignment as she was under the impression Second Life is a game and that gestures, expressions, and personal interaction could not be observed there.

The “Experts”

I thought it would be easy to find an educational event to observe because I am acquainted with a few people who are professionally involved in SL. Not so. Some never answered my email requests, others suggested someone else but then those people didn’t answer my emails. From about six contact names, I came up with no assistance.

The Community User

Then I mentioned it in casual conversation to a friend who works with someone who spends a great deal of time in SL. Within 24 hours he’d met up with me and introduced me to the world of SL giving a lot of insight not just in the how-to aspects of exploration but for some of the rather radically impacting paradigm shifts that are currently happening there in how the community is structured to function.

So ultimately, someone I had never even met spent an hour and a half orienting me to SL simply because he has a passion for helping others get around in a world he has expertise in through his own experiences.

Community Spread of Knowledge

As we’ve discussed how learning is being opened via the Internet and the collaboration of masses of people that are making that happen, it is all the more evident that going to the “experts” isn’t always an option because they are busy, inaccessible, or just don’t want to help – but when there are thousands (even millions) of others out there willing to share their knowledge with others, then the spread of knowledge and experience becomes exponential!

See you in Second Life! For now I’m using: eLee Winstanley. If you decide to visit some snowed-in evening, send me a friend request, and we’ll do some exploring together.

Second Life Exploration

January 25, 2010

After years of wanting to explore Second Life, I finally did it this week. I signed up, chose an avatar, changed its description slightly, and visited two Help Islands. There I learned to fly, walk, sit (finally), and chat with others.

I was surprised to find the help features difficult to get to the information I wanted. For example, I tried several ways of searching how to sit without success. My son finally figured it out for me (right click on a place with the “sit” option). I had been right-clicking the avatar without success, searching menus, trying various movement combinations, etc.

I was able to transport to the IU Kelly School of Business Island and Ball State’s Island but no one was there and not much to interact with as a visitor (at least that I was able to discover on my own). I want to find out how to discover where the places are that people hang out as well as how to attend events. Search options exist for this, but I didn’t have much success with that this weekend. I will be trying again though. I think a Stumble option would be awesome for those of us who just want to visit and explore.

I would like to find a way to teach some free lessons but have no clue where to go.

This week I will be doing more exploring (probably break down and actually watch the beginner tutorials too) as well as visiting other sites from the endless Bonk list. I’m grateful that this course has pushed me to finally visit Second Life – something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I’ve heard there is a site for Moodle that is connected to Second Life called Sloodle that is educationally focused. I’ll be looking into that this week as well.