Archive for March, 2008
As mentioned in Podcast Episode 2, three colleagues and I delivered a preconference workshop last Monday designed to provide faculty new to Second Life with fundamental SL skills. The goal was to expedite the learning curve and enable the faculty to begin more serious engagement of Second Life. Following that experience, one of the projects I’ve been looking at is organizing available tutorial resources into designed lessons to support the learning of key SL skills: which videos and landmarks could be used, and in what order, to learn specific SL skills.
That effort begs the question, “What are the fundamental Second Life skills educators need the most?” The best answer, I believe, comes from considering, “Which activities have the potential to get faculty most involved in the Second Life education community?” I’ve come to the following conclusions thus far.
The most engaging aspect of and potential for educators in Second Life is the social network. Simply stated, the Real Life Education in Second Life group currently has 2700+ members; that’s an amazing network that’s relatively easy to tap into via text or voice chat.
Second, I think it’s an obvious, safe assumption that all educators new to Second Life are looking to understand how the environment can be applied to enhance teaching and learning. Basically, what can you do with Second Life in terms of education? Beyond the social networking element, the educationally-relevant builds and resources available in-world have immediate relevance to new SL educators.
Am I on track with those two assumptions? (comments appreciated)
Given those two assumptions, I think the most fundamental skills and needed resources for educators entering Second Life for the first time are:
- skills: walking, teleporting, search for places, creating landmarks, interacting with objects (right/left click menus), flying & running, and camera controls
- resources: substantial collection of landmarks to education-related builds and projects in-world.
- Social Networking
- skills: public chat, search for people, adding friends, instant messaging, search for groups, group chat/IM, and voice chat.
- resources: a researched list of educationally relevant groups in Second Life, organized by discipline or interest to “shortcut” the search process.
Perhaps those are obvious, and some of the skills I included may not belong in the first pass (i.e. voice chat as part of communication), at least not in a detailed manner.
The third skill I’ve actually considered as important as any other is optimizing the SL client’s performance including items like: lag meter, draw distance, network settings, and other basic and advanced graphics detail settings. I think that’s as important to successful engagement of Second Life as customizing an avatar and advanced interaction with objects. Of course the skills that follow should include things like, but not limited to: inventory control, customizing an avatar, object interaction, and somewhere down the road, building skills. However, I haven’t quite formed an instructional design opinion regarding which should be next. I’m leaning toward avatar customization given the extent to which that personalizes the experience.
Would enjoy hearing your comments and thoughts!
The Community Colleges in SL group typically meets Friday evenings at 5pm SLT. This evening, the meeting’s focus was on ideas for how best to utilize the new, larger parcel on EduIsland 3 that has more prims than the previous group/meeting space. Generally, the goal for the space is to serve all Community College’s in some respect and/or to showcase the work of students and faculty.
It was a robust group of 13 community college educators from around the hemisphere. Some of the ideas, issues and possibilities that came out of that discussion are simply listed below. If you have questions or comments regarding the ideas listed below, please post a comment, and of course, if you have an additional idea to be added to this group, post a comment or contact Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks in world.
- A teleporter station for teleports to publicly available, known community college locations (Desideria Stockton)
- An interactive Design project for community college students to develop a town/space using the wikitecture approach (Ao Kilara)
- a collaborative use store where different disciplines monitor various aspects of a business (Abacus Capalini)
- learners collaboratively manage the space through a town council, perhaps political science students (Biker Sopwith)
- with enough disciplines interacting, the space could represent an aggregate community college of sorts (Desideria Stockton)
- a collaborative SL paper for journalism students (Desideria Stockton)
- a simulated legal system, with trials and legal issues explored for paralegal students (Lydia Bracken, Desideria Stockton, Kavon Zenovka)
- Develop crime scenes for criminal justice students (Kavon Zenovka)
- A collaboratively developed museum (Desideria Stockton)
- A training facility for synchronous training sessions: faculty developers training faculty or faculty training students (Topher Zwiers)
- Use holo-rezzers for standard objects; offer rezzer workshops and give everyone personal rezzers with space to open them. (Eloise Pasteur)
Issues & Possibilities:
- Turnover of students within the community college. (Kavon Zenovka, Topher Zwiers)
- Such a continuously evolving space could promote activity and interest, in contrast to established, static SL campuses (Ao Kilara)
- Constant changes, freebies and scheduled events have been found to promote interest and activity in a SL location (Kavon Zenovka)
- Create a wiki to document this project and ideas along with group member skills, possibly a guest speaker’s bureau (Biker Sopwith, Desideria Stockton, Terran Timeless)
Wiley Publishing hosted an in-world event with Intellagirl Tully and Typewriter Tackleberry, the authors of Second Life for Dummies. Although I missed the first twenty minutes or so stuck longer in evening commuter traffic than I expected, it was a good event. The question and answer time was well worth it. There were several take-aways I had from the discussion that are worth mentioning here:
First, Intellagirl commented that SkidzPrimz is an invaluable build tool; I believe I had encountered it before but had not looked at it closely since I’ve not done much building to this point. After re-visiting it, I will likely purchase it based on Intellagirl’s recommendation as I begin building an upcoming project. See the SkidzPartz website for more information.
Second, Intellagirl’s comments regarding the change in Second Life leadership were interesting; if I remember correctly (didn’t save a transcript, see below), the essence of her response was that she doesn’t think it will impact the day to day use of Second Life much in the short term. The impact will primarily be behind the scenes at first with growth coming later. I thought it was interesting that she commented that “all bets are off if they IPO.” I assume the IPO would lead to faster growth and development with the increased capital to support development of the platform.
Third, I know this question has likely been addressed extensively on the SLED listserv, but I’ll post it here again since it’s come up. I asked the Wiley staff about a chat transcript being available; the response I received was that it would not be available because they would need to get permission from each person that participated in the discussion before they could publish it. Is the event not considered a public event? Or, at least, would Wiley Publishing not own the rights to publish the transcript since it occurred at their event and on their parcel?
Finally, the event was well organized with an adjacent parcel housing “balcony seating” for overflow avs. The cool thing about it was “Opera Glasses” which, when worn and activated, automatically focused your camera view on the stage with a perfect view of the moderator, Intellagirl and Typewriter. It’s a useful tool which needs to be socked away in memory for use later.
Episode 2 of MUVE Forward The Podcast is available (length 12:49). In this episode I discuss (ramble) through a few thoughts regarding Faculty Training & Orientation; in summary,
- The recording is definitely rough since it’s recorded via a cell phone while driving through rush hour traffic. I do not have professional production values! It’s all about the information.
- Our experience facilitating SL Bootcamp as a preconference workshop at the Texas Distance Learning Association annual conference this past Monday.
- My thoughts about currently available orientation and training materials for faculty: NMC Orientation Island, SL in-world learning courses, CE courses offered and web-based training resources.
- Two projects I’m considering . . . Organizing a recommended approach to the use of available resources (wrapping instructional design around available content); and free (grant-funded?) faculty orientation & training in-world facility available to all faculty.
One additional thought.I think the second project is important. Many organizations are beginning to recreate the wheel, and as a community, we’ll continue to do so unless there’s a freely available, synchronous orientation for educators. Of course, I’m assuming there’s a distinct need for facilitator lead training which I believe is a safe assumption.
And several questions. Are you training and orienting faculty regarding the functional aspects of Second Life? How are you doing that? In-world? Face-to-face? Would you be interested in collaborating on a generally funded, open to all educators training facility with regularly offered facilitator-led sessions?
In short for those that have been reading this blog for any length of time, I have had a lot going on lately in Second Life, but I haven’t had the opportunity to finish the blog posts I’ve started. So, this experiment will be to use my two hours of commute time per day (love those gas prices) to add podcast content to this blog space. No bells and whistles, just my rambles about Real Life Education in Second Life as I make my way to or from work with what seems like 30,000 of my closest friends traveling through rush hour traffic on Houston’s North Sam Houston Tollway ;-)
You can listen directly from this space, or you can subscribe to the podcast using the link below the embedded player. As of right now, the text feed and podcast feed are distinct entities; you can subscribe to both, and when I can, I’ll cross-post to the blog feed an alert to a new episode.
Continuing the SL-Education Galore theme . . . One of the resources I want to provide to those attending the “Educator’s Introduction to Second Life” workshop next Monday is a list of real life education relevant groups available in Second Life. The list below was compiled via (a) input from SL residents responding to my post to the Real Life Educators Group in world and (b) my exploration of group listings in the profiles of educators and colleagues in Second Life. So, while I’ve not personally joined each of the groups listed below, there’s one or more members of the Real Life Educators group who is a member of the group. As always, if there are other groups you feel I should read or include, please comment! I’m always looking for new resources related to real life education in Second Life.
EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds
AECT in Second Life
ISTE: Educational Technology Assoc
Community Colleges in SL
Friends of the League
GENERAL EDUCATOR NETWORKS
Real Life Education in Second Life
Teacher Networking Center
Educator’s Coffee House
NMC Teachers Buzz
Second Life Academics
Open Education in Second Life
Teen Educators in SL
Discovery Educator Network
Library: Academic Avatar Librarians
Second Life Library 2.0
Librarians of Second Life
Library Reference Group
SLL Outreach to Higher Education
Second Life Library 2.0
Library Graduate Students in SL
Association of SL Academic Research
PhD Research Community
RL EdD/PhD Students in SL
DISCIPLINE RELATED GROUPS
Live Music Enthusiasts
MBA Educators in Second Life
Second Life Entrepreneurs Club
RL Architects in SL
Psychology and Behavioral Science
The SL Society of Political Science
Republican Party of SL
Land of Lincoln
Writers of SL
ESL (English) in Second Life
Language and Linguistics
I’m putting together resources for an “Educator’s Introduction to Second Life” workshop I’ll deliver on Monday at the Texas Distance Learning Association annual conference. My Second Life blogroll is posted in the sidebar are the blogs I read most frequently. However, I’ve been intending to post all of the Second Life blogs I have in Google Reader; the workshop has provided the impetus for that to finally happen. The list is below; if there are others you feel I should read or include, please comment! I’m always looking for new resources related to real life education in Second Life.
Higher & General Education
- Fleep’s Deep Thoughts
- Second Life in Education Wiki
- NMC Campus Observer
- SLED Picayune
- SLED Blog
- My Second Life
- Second Life Best Practices in Education 2007
- Aggiornamento II
- Mal’s SL Edu-Blog
- Flexible Learning @ Heriot-Watt
- Penn State Educational Gaming Commons
- Sean’s Emerging
- Second Life Research
- SLolar Central
English: Literature, Language, Composition
- The Story of My Second Life
- Suffern Middle School in Second Life
- Oh Second Life
- Pacific Rim Exchange
- Computers, Creativity & Learning
- Global Citizenship in a Virtual World
- SLED Blog
Virtual Library Resources/Studies
General Second Life
Second Life News
- Official Second Life Blog
- Massively: Second Life
- The Grid Live
- New World Notes
- Second Life News Network
- Second Life Insider
- Virtual World News
- Worlds in Motion
- Reuters Second Life News
Hopefully, you are familiar with the videos produced by Dr. Michael Wesch and the Digital Ethnography project at Kansas State; if you haven’t seen A Vision of Students Today or Information R/Evolution, I recommend you take the time to view those and others.
However, Dr. Wesch’s February 27th post is just as valuable a resource, to me, as the videos he and his students have produced. The post describes the mashup of various collaborative tools he and his students are using to conduct their research, and of course, the workspace is publicly available. It’s an incredible opportunity for any faculty member to browse through the work they are doing, and more importantly, how they are accomplishing it.
The most personally revelatory aspect of the research platform is how they are using NetVibes to juxtapose the data collection point (YouTube) and the data entry point (Zoho Creator form on the right) on the same web page. Within that, the use of web-based forms isn’t new, but I’ve not looked closely enough at the Zoho tools in the past to consider how the forms and spreadsheets could be used to collect the data in that manner. Of course, this time around, a better personal familiarity with that concept following Google’s release of the same feature – forms attached to Google Spreadsheets – made the idea sink in a bit more. Seeing it in action certainly helps.
Anyone working with or working to promote the use of collaborative documents and tools should take the time to browse through the research platform created by the Digital Ethnography working group at Kansas State.
I like Google.
I would very much like to see a Google learning management system application and have wondered outloud to many colleagues about how long it’s going to take before Google decides to enter the LMS market. This past week, they inched one step closer, in my opinion.
Google finally launched the Google Sites; an application built on the JotSpot platform which Google acquired last June. One of the demo sites for the application is a classroom site. There are several individuals already writing reviews of the product and comparing it to other available wiki tools, so I won’t rehash that here. I have three thoughts regarding Google Sites.
First, I am disappointed that Google Sites is only available via Google Apps. What used to be a tool available via the web for any user – JotSpot – is now only available to those with control over a domain for which they can set up Google Apps. I assumed or hoped the tool would likely be rolled out to general users as a tool within Google Documents.
Second, the fact that it is available via Google Apps makes that suite of tools more attractive to educational institutions. Now, rolled in with mail, calendar, and other Google tools, Google Sites is a valued addition to the Google Applications for educational institutions. I also think it highlights the struggle Microsoft faces in keeping up with Google regarding the educationally relevant applications made available online.
Finally, there’s on a few items left before I see as being necessary to make Google Applications a viable solution as an enterprise level learning management system. Other Google tools need to be incorporated into applications like Google Documents has been; that makes it possible to create classroom private collections of discussion groups, blogs, etc. An assessment or quizzing tool needs to be possible, and a gradebook function is necessary. Of course, both of those can potentially be accomplished via a database template designed for that purpose; how long before Google makes a database application available via Google Documents?