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Anita Shipman

Modifying an environment that affects avatar's appearance & location

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I am working on a Masters Thesis that deals with an online virtual classroom. I need to create fifteen "student" accounts and a "teacher" account. I need to have two "states" in the classroom. One is the "collaborative mode" where each student avatar can be unique while they work together on projects. During the "teaching mode" where the students are to focus on the teacher's instruction, all students look the same. During the transition, the student's view will be disabled and the students location in the classroom would be randomly moved. This allows total anonymity to the student. Through this, the students are able to ask "difficult or embarrassing" questions without revealing who they are.

 

So, the question is..Can this be done?

"Anita"

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It can. I would remove the teacher from the virtual classroom, and have a scripted Listener object that passes the chat -  without the question-asker's name - to the remote location where the teacher is through a Speaker. The Speaker would also act as a Listener so that the teacher could communicate with the students remotely (again, through the Listener object).

The students would however know who asked which question. It's only the teacher who would not.

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The annonymity is towards their peers. Peer pressure can suppress risk taking when it comes to asking difficult questions. The teacher has to know in order to give credit for participation. Asking questions must be rewarded. 

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When the project is executed, each "student" will actually be a student in a classroom on their own computer. Our school district has a One2One laptop program. 

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the biggest problem I see here is isn't the virtual anonymity, it's RL...

all that a student needs to do to get virtual anonymity is send the question to the teacher via IM.... but if they are all sitting in the same physical RL classroom, then at the very least their neighbors will know who was typing by the clicking of keys.

if you want to virtualize the IM function via script to save the teacher needing to paste the question (but not the avatars name) back into chat, the script to do so is very simple, but tapping into that communication is also fairly simple

there is no need for anonymizing the students appearance or position within SL as the IM function makes it all untraceable anyway.

ETA:
there is also very little controlling students embarrassment to the teacher, although trust over time may make that negligible.

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I understand the point you are making. How this online virtual world will work is to address how K-12 education sorts students and the transition to online education in schools to address budget cutbacks. 

First, students are sorted in K-12 by age rather than by interest and ability like it is done in college. Secondly, schools are putting 60+ students in a single room, call it a "computer lab" to get around class size restrictions and rather than staffing the lab with a teacher, they use a "facilitator" who takes attendance, solves computer issues, and hands out/collects assignments & tests, at a fraction of the cost of a qualified teacher. 

The model I envision has students in that large room log into classes they are interested and proficient in. Thus, each student in that lab will be in different classes with students of all ages sorted by interest and ability. 

I also want to stay away from texting as many students are not proficient at communicating with words. They are visual learners. There are those (like me) that can read a book over and over and the words don't "click" in our heads. But if you SHOW us, we get it right away. That is the reason for the visual Second Life classroom over just a text-based classroom.

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using the tools within SL, a private voice call is possible much the same way as an IM works (albeit with limitations), allowing general anonymity... the physical end will still suffer a certain lack of it due to close quarters.

outside of SL as a general system, one way communications to the "teacher" are possible via various methods, and could even increase the level of anonymity between the student and teacher if desired (never to an absolute level obviously)

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