I started my exploration with Stacey Fox. Stacey is a Visual Art faculty member at the University of Kansas. She's a very creative Second Life builder/designer as well.
Claudia: Stacey, have you tried the new SLViewer 2.0 yet?
Stacey/Sage Duncan in SL sent me this photo captioned "
Annabeth Robinson/Angrybeth Shortbread in SL, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at Leeds College of Art and Second Life artist/musician is another inventor. AngryBeth's Education Tools that include her communal whiteboard and Machinima TV Studio are in many a SLeducator's inventory. I ran across a link to a YouTube video titled Using Moodle on a prim with the SLViewer2 created by Annabeth. She describes the video on YouTube as "
Claudia: I spotted your video on Moodle on a prim.
Scott Merrick describes himself as an educator and a learner--"everything I do springs from those two habits of mind." He is an ISTE Second Life Docent and Island Manager of the Blogger's Hut and the Podcasting Place, two resource-rich island spots for sharing and highlighting superlative work in education. In addition, he has the grand title of Poobah at the helm of the ISTE Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments.
Claudia: So Scott, what have you dreamt up for Viewer 2.0?
Scott: I've managed to pipe in a Ning to a prim, which is a closed one and requires login, and I've logged in and navigated it merrily. Non-registered users could register right there. One supposes that a Ning's Center for Educators could hold an assortment of objects that could display a whole set of those valuable networking tools that are available to us, like Classroom2.0, EducatorsPLN, ISTE-Community. These could be browsable by an avatar at will. I've already seen "put your twitter feed on a prim" and I'll be all over that too. Now, my Bloggers Hut Blog Windows, full of little spheres that each hold url-launchers, could be the actual blogs.
And on the SLED list I noticed an intriguing post by Rik
Melissa Carrillo, director of the Smithonian Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life IMed me when she spotted me inworld. "...we have been testing out the new SL viewer and LOVE IT! ...I am sooooo happy with the ability to intergrate Flash as well as do dynamic searches in-world from a webpage...now we can use our own centralized database in LVM via the new SL viewer!!!!
How are You using the Second Life Viewer 2.0? Let us know. We'd love to hear from
Those of you who had the time and good fortune to attend the action-packed Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference (VWBPE) on March 12-13 may have caught my presentation. I announced a shiny new resource for the education community in Second Life--the Education Directory. I've heard from many educators how challenging it can be to easily locate other educational institutions using Second Life for knowledge sharing and collaboration. And still other educators have told me they need to be able to reference how universities, colleges and schools are using Second Life today--in papers, presentations and proposals.
This is not the first directory for Second Life educators. Jeremy Kemp, faculty member at
And now for the drum roll...
You may be familiar with the SL Work and SL Develop microsites. Get ready for SL Education (education.secondlife.com) -- launching in the next day or two. Educators will now have a dedicated place to point students, colleagues and adminstrators to get started using Second Life. We'll be expanding the site over the months ahead. We welcome your comments and suggestions of valuable resources to include for the Second Life Education Community.
Looking for a way to get your organization started quickly in Second Life? Linden Lab now offers four pre-built regions with landscaping, buildings and appropriate additional features for purchase by invoice.
Developed Region Styles
The insanely great inworld conference Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education will be taking place in Second Life this year on March 12th and 13th. Last year's conference was a big hit, and this year's is shaping up to be even better.
I sat down with the VWBPE 2010 Executive Committee Members to learn more.
Pathfinder: Can you talk a bit about why you chose the theme, "Imagination Around the World," and why you feel imagination is so important?
VWBPE 2010 Executive Committee: Imagination is naturally associated with creativity – an ability that is universal and transcends all barriers of language, race, culture, and religion. Stimulating imagination and creativity then is the ideal way to bring people together to share experience and knowledge. The VWBPE conference strives to do just that, giving participants the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for using virtual world technology to teach, train, learn, and build community.
The premiere VWBPE conference in 2007 was the first of its kind, with over 1,500 avatars participating, and it has been capturing people’s imaginations ever since. Last year, there were over 3,600 participants from around the world
Pathfinder: What do you mean by "grassroots" and "community-based?" How have Second Life and other virtual worlds helped facilitate this approach, and why is it significant?
VWBPE 2010 Executive Committee: The idea for an international conference on education in virtual worlds was born after a group of educators visited the first large conference center built in Second Life. It was an amazing build designed to accommodate large events. One of those educators, Desirderida Stockton (SL), talked about how exciting it would be to bring educators together for a conference in the space. It was from this small group of people, working at a grassroots level to spread the word and excitement that the first 24-hour conference, emerged.
Not much has changed since that first spark was ignited. People are still hungry to gather, discuss, and share their ideas about using virtual reality as a tool for education. We share our knowledge and experiences, and talk about what works and what doesn’t work. It is an amazing community of people who have a common interest.
Pathfinder: I notice that you have expanded the breadth and scope of the conference to encourage global participation. How do you expect this to change the kind of proposals and presentations you receive, and how do you plan to handle the language barriers? Your FAQ page says you are accepting proposals in French, Portuguese, German, Chinese (Mandarin) as well as English.
VWBPE 2010 Executive Committee: The conference has always attracted a global audience. The difference this year is that we are now able to start making the conference more enjoyable for those whose first language is not English. Participants could choose to present in their own language this year. In addition to the Portuguese tract, there will be one in German as well. In the social and orientation areas of the conference , multi-lingual mentors will be available, though service cannot be guaranteed 24/7. We are making a conscious effort to encourage participation by those in all times zones by holding the conference for 48 continuous hours. Information about the proposal stream this year has been disseminated in Portuguese, German, French, and Chinese. We plan to continue to improve future conferences based on feedback and ideas from participants as technology improves.
Pathfinder: Outstanding. Thanks for sharing all that info!
I'll be speaking at the conference, along with M, Claudia and Terrence from Linden Lab. Other well-known educators and academics on the schedule include David Gibson, Tom Boellstorff, Guy Merchant, Randall Holmes, Karl Knapp,Tony O'Driscoll, Barry Joseph, Mark Worlf, Joeff Chafer, Lindy McKoewn, Peggy Sheehy and more.
I love statistics and data, so here are few tasty ones:
- VWBPE has received 150 proposals from around the world on best practices for education in virtual worlds.
- The Conference will be held on 20 regions in Second Life.
- Portions of VWBPE will be broadcast live via Treet TV to an audience of up to 60,000 viewers.
- People will be able to tune-in via the web.
- 100 volunteers will work together to make the conference succeed..
- Expected participants: between 4,000 and 5,000 in Second Life.
- Expected number of people who pre-register: 1,200.
- The conference will be 48 hours of continuous conference proceedings - the equivalent of 6 days - making this one of the largest education events in the world.
- Total budget for VWBPE is expected to be under $10,000 USD and covered completely through sponsorship.
- Sponsors who have made this conference free for all to attend:
See you inworld, and take care,
I attended Bob Ketner's presentation at the Second Life Community Convention in San Francisco in August 2009. Bob is the Virtual Community Manager at The Tech Museum in San Jose, California. The Tech currently has three sims in Second Life: The Tech which is a "museum" with finished works, The Tech 2 which is a "workshop" with prototypes, and in Teen Second Life, The TechTG, a "workshop" with prototypes created by teens. At SLCC09, Bob talked about how The Tech was using Second Life to do rapid prototyping of real world exhibits. SL to RL? I was intrigued. I finally caught up with him for an interview.
Claudia: Thanks for giving me a tour of The Tech Virtual project today. I was really intrigued by your presentation at the Second Life Community Convention last summer. You mentioned that you were prototyping museum exhibits for the real world using Second Life and I wanted to find out more about it. How did the idea for this initiative originate?
Bob: As you can probably imagine, museums are challenged to develop very complex installations that not only have to be informative but interactive as well. This especially applies to science and technology museums that rely less on unique artifacts and more on interactivity. So the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded this idea in 2007 (that's Gordon Moore as in Moore's Law). Basically they asked, what if you could use Second Life to prototype exhibits with simultaneous input from experts and casual visitors as well? It opens up the creative process to a much wider talent base, and means that you can preview ideas before you ever even order any materials. It's the open source method of development, applied to exhibits.
Claudia: I understand that you have some teen interns doing some prototypes...can you tell us what teens are up to?
Bob: Over the summer of 2009 our intern Kyle Walker built a Second Life model of a specific section of The Tech Museum. The purpose of this was to be able to do a complete "before and after" visualization of a renovation. It's not hard to imagine, if we can prototype exhibits individually, why not an entire room or gallery? We have other teens who are partnering to build and script exhibits such as the recent work done by Christopher Organiser and Mikeza Obolensky on an exhibit called The Macrochip. They do very detailed and high quality work and I'm hoping that this work can support their art and design portfolios.You'll find a preview here. Wally Oyen and Riden Blaisdale have done an amazing remodel which we'll be using as an example when they're all done.
Claudia: Now that this project has been running over a year and a half, and was even a Linden Prize finalist, what's new with The Tech Virtual?
Bob: We are really excited to be partnering with 3 new museums in 2010. Starting first will be Citilab Cornella in Barcelona which has opened an adventurous project called Expolab. Basically they want to experiment with the whole concept of museum interactions and exhibitions and open up the design of the interactions to a worldwide community. Second Life is obviously the perfect place to do this! Science Center Singapore will be working on all aspects of "water"- from its physical properties to art pieces. See that preview here. Sometime before summer Lemelson Center at The Smithsonian will be joining us with a topic they'll announce soon. The opportunities for Second Life users to show their talent and ingenuity to this professional audience are really growing. Want to see your work in these awesome places? This is the way to make that happen!
Claudia: Where can people see the exhibits in Second Life?
Bob: Our "virtual museum" is "The Tech" sim. You can see some of the prototype exhibits from completed design rounds at http://www.tinyurl.com/ParksideHall, and there's an entire museum there as well to explore. The prototyping sim is "The Tech 2" and you'll find the newest work there at http://tinyurl.com/TheTech2sim
Claudia: How long will these initiatives run?
Bob: The Citilab project will be developed and installed by June 2010 so they're on the fastest turnaround. The "water" exhibits will likely be realized in early 2011 and the others are on longer time frames. It's good for aspiring exhibit designers to start early, because we can help refine the idea and approach and make it more likely that your exhibit can actually be fabricated in the real world.
Claudia: How can someone get involved?
Bob: It starts with creating a profile. Then, just look at the topic list and think about an exhibit on a topic that interests you. Then, click on "Create a Project". You'll be prompted to sign up and describe your project. We'll contact you to assign a space where you can build your prototype in Second Life!
WHAT: Prototype museum exhibits for real world museums using Second Life.
WHO: Rob Stephensen (avatar Stephe Roux), Curator and Bob Ketner (avatar Agent Heliosense), Virtual Community Manager
I met recently with Mark Mullis, Deputy Director at Middlesbrough City Learning Centre in Cleveland, United Kingdom. Middlesbrough City Learning Centre is one of 105 City Learning Centres in the UK. Middlesbrough is in the NE of England, close to Newcastle, edging towards Scotland. Mark says, "It's cold."
According to Mark Mullis aka Marc Nomura in SL, UK education is very focused on "learning spaces" and how to make flexible learning environments that replace the old "sage on the stage" model with spaces that support a wide variety of self-directed learning. Mark and his team are very involved in the Building Schools for the Future project, a UK initiative building new schools across the country. Mark's team is building new schools in Second Life, based on the real world design plans. They currently have developed six Second Life islands where they've constructed three schools, with two more in process.
Mark showed me the inworld version of a new school designed for students with special learning challenges. He explained how these students can have a tough time with big transitions - like a move to a new physical building. Mark's group is taking students into the new building on the teen grid of Second Life to help familiarize them with their new school in advance. For example, they're using Second Life to practice how they'll need to steer their wheel chairs in the new space.
Teachers exploring the Second Life model of the school noticed toilet doors were opening the wrong way in the plans and were able to correct this. They also spotted an issue with door size that could have created a significant traffic jam. Over discussion and interaction with the Second Life model, the teachers noticed an S curve and too small doors could not handle the flow of students that would need to move through the exit. The exit was redesigned with their input at a tremendous savings. Mark told me, "We created the project in SL at 0.01% of the cost of the RL buildings. We've saved twice as much as we've paid. We've already saved 50,000 pounds for two secondary schools."
The 3rd largest construction company in the UK is now talking about building all of their schools in Second Life - 35 are already built in real life with new ones coming. They are discussing functionality - typically, caretakers (and teachers) get two tours training in the new facilities and then find themselves out on their own with new high tech boilers and other equipment to manage. They are looking at using Second Life now for training on the RL buildings.
What's ahead? MCLC is beginning a project for students with behavior challenges. Twice a week the students are using Second Life in an alternative curriculum on Smart Island, a private space in Teen Second Life. They're learning to do island management. Mark is also in discussion with an adolescent psychiatrist about using Second Life with "nervous non-attenders" - students who are too anxious to attend school.
We ended our tour in an area built to inspire teachers to "dream out of the box" and try new approaches to learning - both in their RL classrooms and in Second Life. Mark explained an environmental poetry project as we strolled through a magical woods with a Scottish cabin, and a large seaworthy ship. Students are using iPods, iTunes University and webbooks running Second Life. Inspired by Slow Poetry, students write poetry, borrowing and remixing from open sources and then hang their poems on trees inworld. You'll catch a glimpse of the woods towards the end of the video clip.
SL and RL hats off to this visionary team for leading the way in demonstrating how real life schools can benefit from incorporating Second Life in all aspects of operation - design, building, maintenance, special education, pedagogy and professional development.
December 1, 2009 marks the 21st year the global community has honored the memories of those lost to AIDS and recommitted itself to the fight to find a cure. We still have a long way to go. There are 33.4 million living with HIV and 2.7 million new infections this year alone.
Here in Second Life, we are in a unique position to make a difference. We are a global community with strong networking and communication skills. Many of the largest HIV/AIDS organizations are in Second Life, developing projects that educate and reach out to communities around the world.
One such project is Karuna, dedicated to HIV/AIDS education, outreach and support in Second Life.
Last year at this time, I blogged about the events happening on Karuna Island on World AIDS Day. To learn more about this year's events, I sat down and spoke with Jenaia Morane, Coordinator of Karuna Island.
Pathfinder: December 1 is not only World AIDS Day, but the first anniversary of Karuna's creation. Looking back on your first year, what are the highlights? How has the overall picture of your work changed and where do you see Karuna heading in the future?
Jenaia: Karuna has seen a lot of changes in its first year. The mandates of the National Library of Medicine grant that funds the island require us to do three things: Build and maintain a resource center/library where folks can get accurate, up-to-date information about HIV/AIDS; actively reach out to and provide educational programs to the SL community; and collect, preserve, and share the stories of those dealing with HIV/AIDS. It is that last piece that has really become an exciting and important piece of Karuna's work this year.
Stories and storytelling are universal. Stories give us a chance to step into others' shoes, see the world through their eyes and empathize. It's that empathy that is so important. When you appreciate how someone else feels and experiences life it is very hard to judge and even harder not to care. And of course when people care, fears are allayed, stereotypes are debunked, and attitudes change. I like to say that stories help us realize that the things we have in common far outweigh our differences.
Here on Karuna, we are using stories to educate and create community. We worked with The Virtual Worlds Story Project (TVWSP) to create "The Uncle D Story Quest" and three related films about it. The Quest takes participants into the life of an HIV-positive man. On the Quest, you step into and get to experience his life - hear him read his journals, watch his videos, listen to his phone messages, even play with his cat. He becomes real to you - you empathize - you care.
Participants are also encouraged to contribute their own stories, poems, photos, and ideas to the Quest using social media tools like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. In this way the experience becomes collaborative and co-creative. This goes a long way towards de-stigmatizing and personalizing the subject of HIV/AIDS. The stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest barriers to education. People don't want to be seen going to a clinic to get tested or get information about prevention. As a result, they are far more likely to contract the disease.
The other thing we've done is expand our creative programs on Karuna. We've brought in a "Resident Artist" (Sledge Roffo) who finds a new Second Life artist and photographer for us to feature each month, and we've been hosting regular live music events. In addition, we have been working on expanding the storytelling part of our Garden of Experience.
Pathfinder: I understand you've created something special having to do with storytelling on Karuna. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Jenaia: One of the things I've wanted to do for a long time was make storytelling more interactive and immersive here on Karuna. In other words give folks a variety of ways to create and share stories - photos, words, songs,etc. And, since Karuna's new logo has a tree of life on it, I thought why not create a giant story tree for in the Garden of Experience. With that in mind I approached Madcow Cosmos, one Second Life's most prolific and creative builders. He has created a story tree that will knock your socks off.
The Story Tree on Karuna Island in Second Life
The second piece of this has to do with Ryan White, the teenager who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984. He contracted HIV from a contaminated blood product used to treat his hemophilia. Ryan's courage in the face of the discrimination and fear he encountered changed the face of HIV/AIDS. Before White, AIDS was a disease widely associated with the male homosexual community, because it was first diagnosed there. That perception shifted as White and other prominent HIV-infected people, appeared in the media to advocate for more AIDS research and public education to address the epidemic.
Ryan came to mind again when I watched his mother stand beside President Obama as he signed the Ryan White Care Act into law again on October 30, 2009. We subsequently decided to dedicate Karuna's new story tree to Ryan and contacted his mother Jeanne about making a statement. She has kindly recorded her thoughts and memories, which we will be sharing on World AIDS Day.
The final thing we've done is create floating luminarias. They allow you to put the name of a loved one on the side and float out into the waters around the tree.
Pathfinder: Can you tell me a little more about your partners and details on all the World AIDS Day events?
Jenaia: Everything kicks off at 10:00am PST at Muse Isle West.
We'll be talking about Karuna and how its mission has grown, and dedicating the tree to Ryan. Afterwards there are all kinds of exciting things going on both at Karuna and our partner regions. Highlights include:
- The Uncle D Story Quest: all day at all locations. A new section will be opening in New York, so folks should be sure to check that out.
- Live Storytelling: at New York from Noon to 2:00pm PST
- Live Music: at New York from Noon to 7:00pm PST
- Live Music: at Remember Our Friends from Noon to 7:00pm PST
- Live Streaming: all day from Research Triangle International in North Carolina:
- Live Presentations: all day by AIDS.gov and World Community Grid on Karuna Island
Please see our complete schedule of events for more information.
As for all the wonderful organizations and people who helped make this all happen, they include:
- Brent Ward (Brent Werber) Research Triangle International (RTI)
- Tina Valdecanas (Christina Ushimawa): Research Triangle Park (RTP)
- Doug Thompson (Dusan Writer): Metanomics and Remedy Limited
- Christina Galanis (Panacea Luminos): Southern Tier Health Link
- Vanessa White (Vanie Macbeth): Center for AIDS Research, North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Mike Bemis (Mike Burleigh): Remembering Our Friends
- Lori Bell (Lorilei Junot): The Alliance Library System
- Victor Cid (Toxie Cortes): The National Library of Medicine
- Michelle Samplin-Salgado (Ellehcim Fizzle): AIDS.gov
- Bettina Cutler (Skippy Leafblower): IBM World Community Grid
- Janyth Ussery (Saxet Uralia): Virtual Helping Hands
- Jeanne White-Ginder: Ryan White's mom
- Phil Donahue
- Marty Keltz (Marty Snowpaw) and Jena Ball (Jenaia Morane): The Virtual Worlds Story Project
- Ariella Fuman (Ariella Languish): ALM Productions
- Jo Kay (jokay Wollongong): Jokaydia
- Artists Creating for a Cure: Sledge Roffo, Jewel MacMoragh, Suzanne Graves, Sunn Thunders, Quadrapop Lane Shellina Winkler and Solide Aeur
- Students from the University of Nebraska, Maine, and Michigan: Walk in AIDS Quilt
- Gabrile Pickard (Madcow Cosmos): Story Tree
- Karin Lippert (Karin Pixelmaid): Independent Marketing Consultant
- AWM Mars: V-Innovate
- DR Dahlgren: Dahlgren Engineering and Design
Pathfinder: Thanks for your time. I'm honored you invited me to speak tomorrow at the opening presentation. Looking forward to seeing you and everyone else inworld!
Observed on November 11th, Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. For the past two years, a group of Second Life Residents has been organizing a Veterans Day Tribute in Second Life as a non-political and educational event to honor all the men and women who have served or currently serve in the Armed Services. The group also raises funds in Second Life to support Operation Uplink, a non-profit organization that provides phone cards to deployed service members and hospitalized veterans.
The third annual Veterans Day Tribute in Second Life runs all this week through November 14th, and you can visit it here in Second Life. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the organizers to learn more about the Tribute and the people behind it. Read on for details!
(left to right) Pathfinder Linden and Flattop Ewing in front of a recreation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Pathfinder: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Flattop. Can you tell me about the history of this event? How did it start? Where do you see it going in the future?
Flattop: It started in 2007 simply as an event in a club. I contacted a few designers in Second Life and they offered up their skills/services to those visiting the celebration. The event was just that one night, but I received many messages from people that weren't able to attend, all asking if it was still happening the next night. So we held it again. It was then that I realized the need for a "community built" tribute to the veterans, in which people across Second Life could donate their time, their skills and talents to a single venue honoring veterans across the globe.
Flattop: In 2008 we had a staff of 6 people, 15 live entertainers and DJs volunteering their time as well as a handful of builders/designers bringing content honoring veterans. Now in 2009, we have 8 tribute coordinators, over 25 volunteers as guides, over 40 DJs and live entertainers and an ever growing number of contributors throughout Second Life offering their skills building and designing. Through our website, we are able to accept names being submitted to the Veterans Wall as well as providing the ability for a number of US active duty soldiers around the world to be able to listen to the live entertainment and DJs.
The Veterans Wall in Second Life
Flattop: Where is it going in the future? Each year we've made plans and each year the Tribute has seemingly had it's own "plan." It seems to have its own life - it touches visitors in ways and depths we hadn't imagined. From a small area in the first year, to a half sim in 2008, through to a full sim kindly donated by Dream Seeker Estates in 2009. We dream and plan big, but the Tribute dreams bigger! Next month we start planning for 2010 - four major sponsors, many sponsors prepared to donate their creations for fundraising efforts, two full sims and live entertainment. All of it is accompanied by the kind donations of so many Residents of Second Life.
Pathfinder: That's incredible growth! It sounds like you have an amazing team of people who work very hard to make this all happen. Can you tell me about them?
Flattop: The folks involved in making this happen range from the primary coordinators to the guides that are here to show people around and listen to the amazing stories of veterans from people of all walks of life. The primary coordinators of the Tribute are as follows:
Flattop Ewing -- "I served in the US Marine Corps from 1992 - 2000, seeing action in Somalia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. My dad and several other family members are veterans of the US Military, spanning back to before WWI. Being a veteran is one of the greatest honors I have had in my life. My appreciation and passion for our veterans is something that will always be close to my heart."
wellhung Bagley --"US Navy veteran of six years. Served aboard the USS Yorktown (CG-48) as well as other duty stations. I am proud to be a veteran and this tribute is a way for me to be involved in showing appreaciation for all of the other veterans around and for those currently serving to protect the freedoms that we enjoy and sometimes take for granted."
SexySarah Svenska -- "I am the wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece and friend of Veterans. This is one small way I can do my part to support all they've done to make my world as safe as it can be today."
Wildroses Pevensey -- "My family has a long history in the military. I have been a military wife, not knowing where my husband was sent or when he would be coming home, but knowing that he was doing his duty for our country. I have friends that have been in the military for 15+ years that are still active duty. I can think of nothing better to do than to honor our veterans and let them still in the military know we care and simply say thank you for protecting our freedoms."
Classy Patton -- "My father and my grandfather were both veterans of WW2. Being involved in the Tribute allows me the opportunity to offer thanks to veterans worldwide - their service, past and present, gives me the wonderful life and freedom I enjoy."
Jill Mackenzie -- "My dad served in the Royal Canadian Navy in WW2, and a close personal friend served in the US Army in Vietnam. Its important to me to give something back to the Vets who served so I can be here today. "
Dena McMahon -- "I am the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, Granddaughter of WWII Veteran, Great-Granddaughter of Spanish-American War Veteran. I do this to pay tribute to my dad and grandfathers who have served and to ensure those friends I've lost are never forgotten and all soldiers are HONORED for what they do"
Silver709 Darkstone -- "My father served in Korea. I have been involved with DJing through Second Life to troops overseas for over one year now."
Pathfinder: Outstanding. I can't wait to see what you all accomplish next year. Can you tell me a bit about how visitors have responded to the Tribute? What kind of feedback are you getting from the Second Life community?
Flattop: The response is absolutely amazing, to say the least. We have seen such a wide range of emotion from people: from a wife of a veteran in tears kneeling at the Veterans Wall, to the laughter and joy hearing veterans gathering around telling stories The response from the Second Life community has been tremendous. Many different organizations, groups, venues and Residents have opened up their arms and their hearts to the Veterans Tribute in so many ways; from Second Lifemagazines and various forms of media (talk shows, etc) to the best advertising of all.....'word of mouth'.
Flattop: We receive comments and messages on a daily basis from people around the world who tell us how the tribute has touched their lives both in Second Life and Real Life. One woman said of the Veterans Wall that she is finally able to see her Real Life husband's name on a wall of honor for his service to his nation. Another Resident told us how he is physically unable to attend any Veterans Day celebration or parade in Real Life. But through Second Life, he can attend the Tribute and connect with people from around the world.
Pathfinder: Wow. Thank you for your time, Flattop. I look forward to seeing you and lots of other folks at the Tribute in the coming days. Here's the main entrance to the event in Second Life.
The Mess Tent and Dance Floor at the Veterans Tribute
- Pathfinder Linden
I spent a few hours of my Halloween this year in the UK at the Open University's party in a castle in Second Life. I had the Halloween honor of announcing the new name of the OU community village, chosen by the community itself--OUtopia. While OU community members were dancing the night away, one OU staff member, in an outstanding Trick instead of Treat, made the castle vanish suddenly, hurling us all to the ground scratching our virtual heads. Dancing resumed instantly with hardly a treat dropped. Open University understands the importance of nurturing community and is developing some significant expertise in that area. They do it in playful style.
I had an opportunity to speak with Anna a few days after the party.
Anna, I think your team at the Open University is an exemplar in growing and supporting community. From what I understand, your community has been an overwhelmingly successful aspect of the OU efforts in SL. What is your next step in community activity?
Our next step is to give the community a stronger sense of ownership of the island, beginning with the opportunity to rename the island. This ties in with our name change from Open Life to Open University on our main region space. We're putting an infrastructure in place to enable more participatory management of the land. Initially, community members could build within their house or allotment spaces and organize activities, but management was done centrally by a few OU staff. We're now turning that over to the community and experimenting with governance. We're starting by creating a Community Council -a small group, with fixed areas of responsibility, initially appointed by management from volunteer applicants but possibly elected in future. A Village Rep will actively seek out opinions of residents and feed these back to the council. A Council Chair elected by the council members will organise Council meetings and pass info to/from management. Events Officers will plan social events and have SL permissions to set up objects/media in certain areas. There will be other supporting roles such as a Prim Litter Warden, and a publican for the Open Arms.
What outcomes would you like to see by giving the community more powers?
We're interested in open-ended outcomes. We're looking forward to seeing and learning from what the community does. For example, what if the elected council decides there should be no houses on the island. I think the only way community will flourish in the long term is if they have ownership. There is already a strong sense of this. The buddy board is a great example. These boards are just within the nOUbie Centre, which is where people land when they visit the core Open University island for the first time. Buddies are volunteers, and when they're online their board becomes active with their picture. If a visitor clicks on that picture, it sends an IM to the buddy, who will then teleport to the nOUbie Centre and offer support. People are very proactive in being buddies, responding to newcomers and wanting to bring them inworld with a positive start. Seeing this enthusiasm has encouraged us to give them total ownership.
One of the strengths we see being in Second Life is that an open island and open membership group encourages people to come in and become part of the community. People have registered for their first Open University classes after being a part of the OU community inworld.
Looking toward the future, what are some developments on the horizon?
In the immediate future, our new Vice Chancellor Martin Beam will be speaking on Open University island on December 16 about the future of innovation in learning technology. It will be a live inworld event, limited to 50 inworld visitors, which we will record and make available for download, possivly through iTunes University. We have lots of other plans for teaching and learning activities in Second Life – more news on this in the new year .
Anna, what would you say differentiates the Open University's work in Second Life from other academic projects?
We can teach subjects in Second Life. Several of our faculty are doing that successfully. But the thing that really works for us is the extraordinary way Second Life enables community. As the OU is primarily a distance learning institution we have to work hard to reach out to students in social spaces and help them find an identity as a member of our student body. Second Life has enabled us to do that with a new dimension on anything we’ve tried before, and I think it is the way that we’re embracing and exploring that which is different to the many other interesting teaching and learning projects going on both within our own university and the work of other academic bodies across the grid.
Thanks, Anna. Do keep us posted on how the next phase in participatory governance goes. We look forward to hearing your insights and emerging best practices.
You can download the Open University case study with a focus on community best practices here.
Innovation happens at Intersections. When people with different perspectives and different backgrounds come together around a common goal, the result is often a creative breakthrough. I've always felt that Second Life is a platform that fundamentally encourages these types of interdisciplinary collaborations. One such example that spans education, art, healthcare and entertainment is The Virtual Worlds Story Project (TVWSP).
Founded by Jena Ball (SL: Jenaia Morane) and Marty Keltz (SL: Marty Snowpaw), TVWSP is creating Story Quests in Second Life that teach and entertain people through immersive storytelling. Jenaia and Marty each bring a unique background and perspective to the project. Jenaia's background is in creative writing and art, while Marty has worked as a television producer for children's and family programming (remember The Magic School Bus?).
At noon (PST) on October 1st 2009, Second Life Residents will have the opportunity to experience the premiere of "The Life and Times of Uncle D," a Story Quest designed to personalize and educate people on the subject of HIV/AIDS. RSVPs are required.
I had the opportunity to chat with Marty and Jenaia to learn more about what they are creating.
Left to Right, Marty Keltz (SL: Marty Snowpaw) and Jena Ball (SL: Jenaia Morane) in Uncle D's French Pub.
Pathfinder: I've heard you are getting a wide range of interest in your Story Quests from many different areas?
Marty: Interest is being shown across a broad range of disciplines, most notably education, entertainment (documentary and animation), health, and technology.
Pathfinder: That's fantastic. I can see how the concept of using immersive storytelling could be applied to many different ends. Can you tell us about your techniques to engage participants?
Jenaia: Using the tools available to everyone in Second Life, participants are encouraged to find and express their own unique narrative threads. In this way, Story Quests are catalysts for collaborative storytelling (similar to fan fiction). Second Life becomes both a production studio where machinima is created as well as a destination to be explored and experienced. Much of the Quest is co-created by participants.
Left to Right, Jena Ball (SL: Jenaia Morane), John Lester (SL: Pathfinder Linden) and Marty Keltz (SL: Marty Snowpaw)
Pathfinder: I love the idea of leveraging people's desire to contribute to a story as a way to make it grow over time. That seems to be a theme in human society. What's so special about stories?
Jenaia: Stories engage, encourage creativity, and free the imagination. They help us make sense of our worlds. By sharing those stories with others, differences become less important and communities of interest/practice evolve organically.
Marty: And Story Quests in a platform like Second Life are ideal experiential learning environments. They offer opportunities for child/adult-centered education where different learning styles and personalities can be accommodated and most importantly celebrated.
Pathfinder: Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me. See you at the premiere!
A view of Uncle D's house as you approach from the river on the Quest.
The First Statewide Rollout of a Virtual World Learning Environmen
t: The University of Texas System in Second Life
Second Life is full of pioneering educators and academics, and innovative growth in the use of Second Life for learning continues every day. It has been my pleasure and privilege to meet many of these educators and learn about their projects. In my experience, I've noticed that the most successful projects typically involve interdisciplinary collaboration, expanding on the work of others, and sharing strategies for success. An amazing example of this type of innovation, on a statewide scale, is the University of Texas System.
The University of Texas System is starting a year-long project to explore the use of virtual worlds for learning, and they are bringing their entire 16-campus system into Second Life. For all the details, please see the Press Release at the bottom of this blog post.
I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Leslie Jarmon (SL: Bluewave Ogee), the primary investigator for this statewide virtual initiative, to learn more. Read on for the details!
Leslie Jarmon (SL: Bluewave Ogee), in the virtual version of the Ash Conference Room at the University of Texas System.
Pathfinder: This is an extremely large and ambitious project. You've successfully launched it after 4 years of research and preparation. What were the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?
Bluewave: Challenges for winning this initial 1-year launch included finding the most effective language and concrete examples from within the generous educational community in Second Life itself to craft a proposal that would be hearable by key administrators. When an opportunity arose, a real time demo of SL using Voice with real educators and Linden Lab officials answering the Chancellors¹ questions right there on the spot was more effective than 100 pages of textual description. Very pragmatic, concrete, visionary at the same time.
A key challenge has been rigorously ensuring that our provision of the virtual infrastructure for 15 campuses and information and training support will not be dictating which directions each campus will take as they discover and create their own unique learning and research journeys. We¹re meeting this challenge with the overriding mission of creating together a virtual learning community. Virtual worlds are a new human dimension for educational activity, and we¹re constantly exploring and learning alongside one another.
Left to Right: John Lester (SL: Pathfinder Linden) and Leslie Jarmon (SL: Bluewave Ogee) meet in front of
the virtual version of Johnson Claudia Taylor Hall at the University of Texas System.
Pathfinder: A new human dimension for educational activity! I love it. I'll point readers to some of your published writings to learn more about that concept. You've chosen Second Life as the specific virtual world platform for this system-wide project. What were some of the key factors in this decision?
Bluewave: The goals of UT System Transforming Undergraduate Education initiative require that a winning project must enrich quality of the learning experience, simultaneously lower costs of delivery of instruction, and useable across a very diverse array of campus environments (9 academic campuses; 6 medical health science center campuses). Second Life aligns with those goals in several very concrete ways. Most importantly, it¹s what I¹ve called an embodied rapid collaboration platform, providing researchers, instructors, students, staff, and administrators access to one another in very new ways across geo-spatial and brick and mortar boundaries. Second Life itself is an open-ended complex learning system, with massive user created content, continuously moving the horizon of what known or understood. Finally, and powerfully, Second Life gives educators and students the developers tools, thereby making Second Life a tool-making tool itself. It has inherent robustness.
Having said all that about Second LIfe, ultimately it has been the foresight and boldness on the part of the Chancellors of the University of Texas System that has made this initial entry year possible at all. All kudos must go to them and their vision.
Pathfinder: Sharing strategies and best practices that will help other universities succeed in Second Life is a key part of your project plan. How do you plan to share this useful knowledge with the greater academic community?
Bluewave: We believe that this initiative is going to help so many people. It's founded on the ethic of sharing. IRB-approved research is being conducted at 3 levels (system, individual campus, individual course), and so there will be many publications generated as we all continue to learn and understand more. After a year, we¹ll be able to share failures, challenges, and successes of what it means when a large statewide public university system extends operations into the virtual world. And the virtual learning community, of course, already extends and will continue to grow far beyond the UT System campuses themselves. Collaborations with other educators, already emerging, will continue to grow and extend more deeply into disciplinary and interdisciplinary domains.
We¹re very excited about the location of the soon-to-emerge UT System archipelago in close proximity to the wonderful SciLands continent in a mutually beneficial engagement of communities. Finally, the project calls for an undergraduate educational conference to be held both on actual campus sites and in Second Life at wherever students have begun collaborating and conducting research alongside our faculty and scientists.
Campus leads from each of the 16 campuses of the University of Texas System meet to discuss strategy.
Thanks for a great interview, Leslie! Read on for details about the project and how to learn even more.
-Pathfinder Linden (RL: John Lester)
------------------------------ Press Release ------------------------------
The University of Texas Initiates a System-Wide Rollout into Second Life:
Sixteen Campuses will Serve as Virtual Learning Model for Other Statewide Systems
Today, Linden Lab, the Makers of Second Life and Second Life Work are announcing the first statewide rollout of a virtual learning environment in the world. The Transforming Undergraduate Education Program, at the University of Texas System, recently awarded a grant to fund the initiation of a pioneering statewide virtual learning community of students, faculty, researchers and administrators in Second Life, that offers an innovative, low-cost approach to undergraduate instruction.
“The System’s virtual collaborative learning community of students, faculty, researchers, and administrators will allow participants to learn, share, collaborate and grow alongside one another,” said Leslie Jarmon, Ph.D. , the primary investigator for this statewide virtual initiative for the University of Texas 16-campus System, and a Faculty Development Specialist and Senior Lecturer in the Division of Instructional Innovation & Assessment (CIE/DIIA) at the University of Texas at Austin. “Step by step in this evolving system-wide virtual learning community, all of these players—and especially our undergraduates—will be seen as learners with expanded roles: learners as scientists, learners as designers, learners as researchers, learners as communicators, and learners as collaborators. We see endless possibilities on the virtual learning horizon.”
Like many higher learning organizations, the University of Texas System’s has an imperative to continually enrich the learning experience for students while reducing—or even eliminating—expensive brick-and-mortar costs while becoming energy efficient. These are the key drivers that led the University of Texas to invest in a virtual learning environment in Second Life.
The yearlong rollout involves all 16 University of Texas campuses and will be designed for extensive inter-campus, intra-campus, and out-of-state collaboration and will occupy over 50 Second Life regions. The UT System is a complex and multidisciplinary organization with 9 academic university campuses and 6 medical and health science research campuses. Each campus will be developing its own SL project plan according to its needs and priorities. Throughout the project, evidence-based research data will be collected and shared with the Second Life education community on best practices to offer to all educators—and other similar organizations—that are interested in holding classes and building campuses in Second Life.
“Since it was launched in 2003, hundreds of educational institutions from around the world have used Second Life as a compelling and cost effective platform to augment an existing curriculum and explore new models of learning. But, the University of Texas System’s ambitious system-wide program is not only an industry first, but it will also create the largest virtual learning community in existence,” said John Lester (SL: Pathfinder Linden), Customer Outreach Advocate at Linden Lab. “This announcement also provides another strong proof point that virtual campuses can be effectively controlled and managed to create a safe and secure learning environment. Needless to say, we’re very excited and look forward to watching the program develop and grow.”
For more information, plesae see the TUE Learning Community website or please contact:
UT System VLCI Initiative: Dr. Leslie Jarmon (SL: Bluewave Ogee) LJarmon@austin.utexas.edu
Linden Lab: Amanda Van Nuys (SL: Amanda Linden) email@example.com
I met with Randy Hinrichs, Affiliate Faculty in Virtual Worlds, iSchool, recently to discuss an innovative program at the University of Washington. The Certificate in Virtual Worlds program was developed by UW Extension in partnership with the UW iSchool. Randy co-created and instructs the certificate course with Janice Cowsert, Managing Partner of 2b3d. The first class graduated on August 27 in a unique inworld ceremony on the virtual campus.
Several of the students agreed to meet me a few days before graduation for a tour of the University of Washington Island and to give me the student perspective on the certificate program. I was struck by the diversity of the group. Kevin Holloway/Jarom Cooperstone in SL is with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. Celeste DeVaneaux/CelesteAngelique Zapatero in SL is the Senior IT Manager, Support and Deployment, Director of Virtual Development, Club One. Celeste oversees the development and build of a 45,000 square foot virtual club to explore how virtual environments can change an individual’s relationship to physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. Lise Pettegew/Jordanna Hamaski in SL is a nurse analyst and contracts for the Department of State on projects in Second Life. She also designs and sells vintage clothing at her stores, Shabby Chic and Chicaholic. Susan Oldham aka Everart Okelli in SL is a graphic designer. Renne Emiko Brock-Richmond/Zinnia Zauber is an entrepreneur, texture artist and color consultant who has been generating income as an artist from her Second Life shop “hue are you?. Joseph N. Trachtman, O.D., Ph.D./Joseph Trachtenberg in SL designed a continuing education course on ocular pharmacology to be given in Second Life and is now in the final stages of research and development of a consumer product that will be able to measure functions of the eye in real-time, to be used in a VW. Joseph built “virtual eyes” in the course to teach people about the eye and vision. The graduating class also included instructional technology developers, librarians and educators. Everyone created their own individual projects and contributed to group projects over the course of the three semester program.
I wanted to hear about how 17 students from all over the US managed a successful collaboration on such a detailed project that included several extraordinary builds. They explained how they designed and co-created the island. It was a group process every step of the way, with everyone doing some building, some scripting, and lots of knowledge sharing. My tour guides emphasized how much they all helped each other. And Randy who joined the tour with us described how "they really formed a unit." Kathryn Robinson aka Laurel Zenovka in SL told me, "I believe that our ability to work together started with each of us being excited with the various projects we have worked on. We were each willing and excited to do what needed to be done. We were flexible, willing to brainstorm, do the work and be the leader. At the same time we recognized each person's strengths and learned to trust that each one would do his/her part. Much of this is the same whether you are working together in person or in a virtual space. On top of that we communicated clearly and regularly. While communications are always key, it was even more crucial in the virtual enviroment to communicate often to make sure we were one team headed to the same place, perhaps by different routes, but arriving about the same time."
As we strolled on the walkways crisscrossing this peaceful island, the students explained that they chose a Northwest theme for the landscape to reflect the program's roots at the University of Washington in Seattle. Projects included a balloon tour of the island, an auditorium, and a Sustainable Seafood Salmon Habitat exhibit complete with Cafe.
A few of the students shared their experiences in more detail...
"Second Life is an exciting place because residents can work to emulate and test real life scenarios for educational purposes, as I have tried to do with my Sustainable Seafood Salmon Habitat exhibit here on the island." - Renne Emiko Brock-Richmond
"As the non-profit team leader, this project was incredible to work on and a great experience for us all. I will work in Second Life as a developer with particular interests in education and design. This program was instrumental in acquiring and applying my abilities to design and develop virtual environments. I would recommend it for anyone interested in contributing to the future of virtual worlds. The foundational value of virtual worlds lies in what we CAN do there and what we WILL be doing there!" - Audrey Kavanaugh/Emerson Iwish in SL
"I am Nafisa Moleno in SL. In real life I am a librarian and educator, specializing in copyright, multimedia and interdisciplinary programs. I work for a Canadian college that is interested in setting up a presence in SL and after completing this certificate program, I can honestly say that I am well prepared to accomplish that goal. This has been a tremendous learning experience and has broadened my knowledge of virtual worlds as well as provided me with several new and valuable skills for SL, including building, designing, decorating both interiors and exteriors, collaborative project management, community building, and creating teaching and learning environments."
"Opportunities for this type of collaboration, the sharing of work, teams with deadlines and roles is not something that everyone in SL has the opportunity to participate in. It was a unique 'SL lab' where you have the opportunity to 'do' and 'try' but in a safe, educational environment. We talked with other members about how our builds would work together, discussed different landscaping issues, disagreed, modified, revamped, and worked together. Meanwhile in class, other technologies, and ways to enhance our builds was being taught on a weekly basis. I had been in SL for a year and a half prior to this course, and this was the first opportunity for group collaboration on a build I had ever experienced. I feel prepared to participate on a team now with greater understanding and experience...this lifted the ceiling of possibilities to something I can't see right now...it seems like I'm on the edge of a cliff - my zip line tied safely to my waist, ready to take the plunge into an adventure. I'm holding my arms out, ready to embrace whatever comes my way. I'm ready, I'm ready." - Lise Pettegew
David Szatmary, Ph.D., Vice Provost of the University of Washington Educational Outreach, and Mike Eisenberg, Dean Emertius of the iSchool, helped open the graduation ceremony. Bruce Damer, virtual worlds pioneer and author of the book Avatars, gave the keynote. Congratulations, class of '09! (And thanks to all of you for sending your pix for this post.)
I attended the recent Sloan Consortium Conference on Online Learning in San Francisco and had the opportunity to learn more about the creative work Sloan-C is doing in Second Life from the director, John Bourne. Sloan Consortium is an institutional and professional leadership organization 100% focused on online learning.They offered their first Second Life workshop in September of 2007 to help educators learn the basics of Second Life while integrating learning theory. Sloan-C's Chief Knowledge Officer Janet C. Moore explained to me that their goal "is to get educators thinking about their classes and how the tools they learn to use in Second Life can be personalized for the learning environments they create. We explore examples of good teaching in Second Life and move beyond PowerPoint, lecture, and passive learning to create learning activities that are student-centered and maximize the real potential of virtual worlds. We'll make use of asynchronous discussions, multimedia material, reading assignments and live, interactive class sessions to collaborate, learn, and expand the range of instructional possibilities that are available to students."
The Beginning Second Life workshop runs from August 5th to the 14th with the Intermediate Workshop overlapping from August 12th to the 21st. The Advanced Workshop will be offered in the fall, from September 9th to the 18th.
A few past participants offered testimonials. Larry Shrewsbury from Southern Oregon University had this to say about his experience in the February 2009 Getting Started in Second Life course: "The instructors are extremely patient and kind when they are helping technologically-challenged participants." Larry went on to take the March 2009 Intro to Second Life: "...as I teach I will be thinking about how Second Life can be incorporated...I am only able to do this because I took this course and understand what Second Life can offer."
And Marghretta (Peg) Smith from Owens Community College had this feedback on the May 2009 Advanced Workshop: "The class was well-facilitated and I felt very comfortable asking questions I felt I probably should have known the answers to but didn't. The facilitator and her assistants made me feel very comfortable."
Sloan-C also offers an online teaching certificate based on a 9-week foundational course with three elective workshops. The elective workshops include the Introduction to Second Life for Educators. Clearly, this is not your typical online teaching certificate. Sloan-C's online teaching certificate may be the only one with horseback riding in the program.
I recently learned about a new museum opening this weekend in Second Life dedicated to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably the greatest American architect of all time. Visiting museums is one of my favorite things to do both in Real Life and Second Life, and I have always been a fan of Wright's design genius. I sat down with Frey Bravin (Director) and Rosalie Oldrich (Curator) to learn more.
Left to right, Rosalie Oldrich, Pathfinder Linden and Frey Bravin
Pathfinder Linden: Rosalie and Frey, thanks so much for giving me a tour of the museum and an opportunity to learn more about this project. Can you tell me a bit about your individual roles in this project and how it all started?
Frey Bravin: About a month and a half ago I was Invited to attend a lecture in Second Life on Frank Lloyd Wright given by Debe Wise. Being a lifelong fan of fan of Mr. Wright and his work, I was most excited to attend and jumped at the chance. Out of this lecture and talking with others in attendance the idea for a Second Life Museum on FLW suggested itself to me. I started building the museum and putting the collection together, and the old line of "If you build it, they will come" proved to be true. I discoverd just how large the number of FLW fans there are in Second Life and was just blown away by the numerous offers of support and and assistance I received.
Rosalie Oldrich: I got involved less than a month ago, when the museum project was already rolling. I have a background in Real Life of many years in the museum biz and thought I'd be able to provide some skills that would see the project into its next phases. I'll be working on future exhibits and - most importantly - raising funds to keep the sim up and running. No one will be safe!
Pathfinder Linden: I see you have not only created historical displays about Wright's personal life and family but also full-scale recreations of some of his most famous buildings. Can you speak a bit about your current exhibits?
Frey Bravin: We currently have 5 buildings, The Frederick C. Robie House of Chicago, Illinois, the Herbert Jacobs house 1 of Madison, Wisconsin; the Herbert Jacobs house 2 also of Madison, Wisconsin, The Edgar Kaufmann house of Mill Run, Pennsylvania and the Seth Petersen Cottage of Lake Delton, Wisconsin. In addition we have a recreation of the Water Dome foutain from The South Florida University of Lakeland, Florida. In the museum itself we currently have on exhibit a collection of photographs of Mr Wright, a sample of hus many drawings, and a large exhibit on Fallingwater.
The main entrance to the museum, which spans an entire region (16 acres) in Second Life
Pathfinder Linden: Who have you been collaborating with in Second Life to make this all happen?
Frey Bravin: This museum would not be possible without the support and assistance of some truly talented people, Jasmyn Sugarplum, Rosalie Oldrich, Sage Carrasco, Supremius Maximus, Sensuous Maximus, Troy Vogel, Miltone Marquette, Ethos Erlanger, Terra Tepper.
Pathfinder Linden: Have you reached out to the real life estate of Frank Lloyd Wright? What do they think about this project in Second Life?
Frey Bravin: Yes, we have established contact with members of The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, they are very supportive in our goal of exposing the works of Mr. Wright to people worldwide.
Pathfinder Linden: I think there's so much potential for your Museum to be a resource for real life architects and educators. Imagine bringing groups of students and classes through interactive recreations of Wright's buildings instead of just looking at photographs! Are you currently working with any real life architects or educators?
Frey Bravin: We currently have a number of both real life architects and educators in our membership and are in the process of setting up educational programs where we will be working closely with a number of Universities and providing opportunities to learn more about the Wright style.
Pathfinder Linden: Nice. What have you got planned for the future?
Frey Bravin: Future plans include replacing our current museum building with a replica of the Marin County Civic Center, the establishment of a meeting and conference center, a school of architecture in conjunction with a Real Life university and an outdoor amphitheater based on a unbuilt design that Mr. Wright did for a major project in Baghdad. We will also be adding additional Wright homes and buildings on a rotating basis. Exhibits inside the Museum galleries will be changing on a regular basis as well.
Pathfinder Linden: Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all this information, and I can't wait to see how your museum grows!
The Grand Opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Museum in Second Life will be held on Saturday, July 25 from 1:00pm PDT into the evening and Sunday, July 26 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm PDT.
There will also be a Museum Members Only party on Friday, July 24 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm PDT. You can become a Member by joining the museum group for free.
This weekend will feature live music performances, fireworks, a black tie gala, roundtable discussions on Wright's design concepts, and more. Hope to see you there!
Saint Leo University is based in Florida and has a very active Center for Online Learning that allows students to pursue degree programs regardless of physical location. Saint Leo recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary in Second Life, and I had the privilege to speak to their students, faculty and friends at a celebration event held on their Second Life campus.
I thought it would be fun to interview the main person responsible for Saint Leo University's continuing presence in Second Life and use it as an opportunity to share his experiences and best practices with the larger education community. In true University fashion, we met at a funky Coffee Shop located on one of Saint Leo's three islands in Second Life.
Pathfinder Linden (left) and SainLEOlions Zimer (right) meeting in the StrangeBrew CoffeeHouse
Pathfinder Linden: Thanks for meeting with me. I see your avatar is a lion, the official mascot of Saint Leo University. Contextually relevant visual identity rocks! Could you introduce yourself and speak a bit about your role here with Saint Leo University?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: My avatar name is SaintLEOlions Zimer, and my Real Life name is Michael Dadez. I'm a Web Analyst at the Center for Online Learning, where I work on Saint Leo's web presence. For the past year I have been developing the virtual campus for Saint Leo as well as working on social networking sites.
Pathfinder Linden: Saint Leo University just celebrated 1 year in Second Life. Can you speak a bit about what you've been doing the past year?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: We use the virtual campus for programming, gathering, and a place to hold virtual events open to all of our almost 10,000 online and continuing education students along with 1,700 campus students. We also have another 1,700 graduate students. It's not easy to build a community when so many of our students are either online or not located on the main campus in Florida. I created this virtual campus with the students in mind and have given them residence hall rooms to live in, weekly live music events in the coffee house, and weekly contests. There also is an art gallery that features work from online and on campus staff and students as well as from residents all over Second Life. We have performance art shows and DJs.
Pathfinder Linden: Sounds like you're not only exploring new distance learning techniques to support your off campus students, but you've also built a community where students can socialize and make interpersonal connections. That's a key component of a successful University campus in real life.
SaintLEOlions Zimer: Yes, that is what we are going for. I look at it as people look at going to work. If you love your job, it is never work. If you love school, it is never really school. It's fun!
Pathfinder Linden: We're sitting here in a funky coffee house, and in this building is a fantastic art gallery. Can you speak a bit about the role of art in your University community?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: Art plays a big role in Second Life, so we've created an art gallery to highlight some of the amazing things that can be done. It features original art by Saint Leo students and staff, and upstairs we feature art from people all over Second Life such as Filthy Fluno. In the coffee house we have weekly events on Tuesday nights run by Alex Parsons, and we have art shows upstairs. Vaneeesa Blaylock most recently brought her performance art to our campus.
Pathfinder Linden: Nice. So I heard that someone discovered Saint Leo University from your Second Life presence and is now officially enrolled and finishing up their 2nd year as a student. Can you talk more about that?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: Yes, and we have actually had more than one! It’s something we never thought would be a purpose of our presence in Second Life, but it has turned out well for us. We have had 5 students now enroll at Saint Leo University that have found us through Second Life! We are a nonprofit private University, so anything that shows a return on investment helps :-)
Pathfinder Linden: That's awesome. What has been your biggest challenge in your work here in Second Life. And how did you overcome it?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: Hmmm. That's a tough question. We have had many struggles, but funding was the main issue. We have been able to overcome this struggle with the helping hands of businesses such as Hydro Funky Modern Prefabs, Maddux Designs, Cobra Tech, Cartoonimals, Estequal, Prefab Design, Alicia Stella Design, and Rhode Designs just to name a few. All have donated products, designs, or buildings to Saint Leo University. These companies and people have given us what we could not buy and given our small non-profit a chance to succeed here in Second Life.
Pathfinder Linden: You've been here a year. What is the most unexpected thing that has happened to you in the past year?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: Real life enrollments! This was something unexpected and has been very nice to see. We had a person that was enrolled in a local community college and was having problems contacting her advisor that day. She is a avid Second Life user and was just searching for different educational things and came across our SIM. I happened to be standing there and said Hi. She was like, “Is this the Saint Leo University near Tampa, Florida?”. I said yes it is how can I help you? She got really excited and could not believe that we have a virtual campus. She decided that day to drop out of her community college and enroll in Saint Leo University the next term!
Pathfinder Linden: Wow! That's a great story. My last question now. What are you plans for the future?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: This coming year we plan on teaching virtual classes in Second Life that will count towards a degree (three credits), or people can take the classes as a non-degree seeking student. We're also applying to be a Community Gateway to help introduce new Residents to Second Life.
Pathfinder Linden: Outstanding. Thank you for your time! What are the best ways for folks who are interested in Saint Leo University and your work in Second Life to learn more?
SaintLEOlions Zimer: For more information on Saint Leo University’s online classes or virtual classes feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in-world: SaintLEOlions Zimer. You can also visit our website, and be sure to check out our virtual campus in Second Life.
Pathfinder Linden: Thank you very much!
Border security is a high priority for national security—regardless of which country in the world you reside in. And, when it comes to border security, we all rely on our border guards to keep us safe. But, put yourself in the shoes of a new border guard for a moment. It’s a tough job. You need to be ready to respond to a wide variety of potential scenarios—from the predictable to the hard to imagine. And, if you misread, or incorrectly handle a situation, the consequences can be dire. Ok, now you’re feeling a hefty weight of responsibility and you need help to get up to speed in your new role. Not to worry. Loyalist College, near Toronto, Ontario in Canada, can help.
In this new case study, entitled, “Virtual World Simulation Training Prepares Real Guards on the US-Canadian Border: Loyalist College i...,” we explore how training simulations in Second Life directly result in improved test scores and directly apply to real-world on-the-job performance. The real result? A safer border.
The executive summary reads, “Before September 11, 2001, Customs and Immigration students at Loyalist College spent three weeks closely tailing professional border guards to experience the daily routine of their future job. In a post-911 environment however, this was no longer allowed. Training suffered until the Director of Educational Technology at Loyalist College catalyzed a virtual border crossing simulation in Second Life for Loyalist students. The amazing results of the training and simulation program have led to significantly improved grades on students’ critical skills tests, taking scores from a 56% success in 2007, to 95% at the end of 2008 after the simulation was instituted. The success of the program has encouraged over 650 students and eight faculty to explore Second Life for mixed purposes. It has also generated enough interest and demand from other learning institutions that Loyalist established a Virtual Design Centre that employs former students with Second Life classroom experience to develop new virtual learning environments.”
So, what makes training in Second Life so effective? It’s a sense of presence. You actually feel like you’re in a “real” environment when you are in a virtual world, despite the fact that you’re physically sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Kathryn deGast-Kennedy, Professor and the Coordinator of the Customs Border Services Program at Loyalist College puts it well. She says, “Even though I have been a Border Services Officer for 28 years, I felt the same level of anxiety in the virtual border crossing as I did 28 years earlier. That experience made me a believer that working within Second Life was as real as it could get.”
And, these simulated training environments not only open doors to more innovative and engaging learning, but also produce impressive results. “Second Life is amazing and unprecedented,” said Ken Hudson, Managing Director, Virtual World Design Center at Loyalist College. He continued, “No single technological addition has ever impacted grades at the college in such a positive way. The affordable tools of Second Life allowed us to explore potential applications for education. Loyalist College believes strongly that were it not for Second Life, we would not be involved in virtual worlds whatsoever. The learning in these spaces is amazing, and when we are working with 30% increases in success, there is nothing more memorable than that.”
Ok, now you can take your border patrol shoes off and rest assured that higher test scores—due to Loyalist College’s program in Second Life—have helped improve border security.
Helen Keller Day in Second Life begins on June 27th at 12:00AM Pacific Time.
The event will run for 24 hours, featuring scheduled presentations, games, discussions, booths and more.
I recently blogged about this upcoming amazing event, and it's happening tomorrow!
To learn all the details, please see this wiki page.
Hope to see you there.
I've recently connected with an incredible group of people. They are challenged by visual impairment, ranging from partial to complete blindness, and they are using Second Life to build new communities and amazing new tools.
Warning: if you continue reading, you will probably never again experience Second Life in quite the same way.
Lately, I've been reflecting on how people with varying levels of blindness experience the world, meeting with them in Second Life and listening to their experiences. Most people immediately think of Second Life as an environment that relies completely on a visually rich 3d space. But I have learned that there are beautiful visions of this virtual world far beyond what can only be experienced through sight.
Next time you are exploring Second Life, try putting on headphones, closing your eyes, and really listening to the world of sounds around you. Hear those birds in the trees to your left? How about that ticking clock on the desk in front of you? Is that the sound of the wind blowing through the grass? A plane flying by at high speed? Who's talking over there to my right? The potential to create sound-rich spaces is incredible in Second Life, and live musical performances add even more artistic opportunities. For people who are visually impaired, this makes Second Life an amazingly rich immersive place.
Second Life also erases physical world geography, allowing folks from around the globe to meet and connect. Combinations of voice and text allow people to communicate in a variety of ways, and teleporting in Second Life makes it easy to get to exactly where you need to be.
But perhaps most amazing thing I have learned is how people challenged by visual impairment in Second Life are creating tools that allow them to perceptually experience and navigate the virtual world in novel ways.
So, not only is everything in the world of Second Life incredibly malleable (i.e., objects, identity, environment), but one's very perception of the environment can be dramatically reshaped by user-created tools existing and operating within the virtual world itself.
The Virtual Guide Dog project is a one example of a tool that allows the perception of Second Life to be tailored to people who are visually impaired. Created by an amazing team of individuals called Virtual Helping Hands, they have been developing something special.
Its name is Max.
Max is a handsome German Sheperd with kind brown eyes and a wet black nose. He is designed to help the visually impaired navigate Second Life by finding any object (including another avatar) and leading his avatar owner to the object. Max also gives his avatar owner constant feedback (via text and audio) on what is in the immediate area, facilitating not only navigation but also providing a sense of what is in the area that might be of interest.
Max's launch begins on Saturday, June 20th with a "Vision Quest" designed to help participants experience what it is like to work with a guide dog and write stories about those experiences. If you'd like to participate or learn more, please see this website for details or contact Jena Ball (aka Jenaia Morane in Second Life) at Jenaia@tvwsp.com.
The official celebration of Max's arrival in Second Life will be on Helen Keller's birthday, Saturday, June 27th. On this special day, Virtual Helping Hands will be hosting Helen Keller Day in Second Life. This will be a community event with the stated goal of "inclusion for everyone in employment, education, entertainment, and social engagement through Second Life."
A day dedicated to raising awareness of our fellow Second Life Residents who cope with disabilities, featured events will include:
- Keynotes by Keller Johnson Thompson (Helen Keller's great grandniece), Pathfinder Linden, and Marcie Roth (Executive Director of National Coalition for Disability Rights)
- Speakers and panel discussions on Education, Employment, Entertainment, and Social Engagement
- Guidedog Wheelchair Races
- Where's Max Flickr contest
- Accessiblity Building Contest
- Sound Sculptures
- See with Sound presentations
- Dog Park Play with SL canines
- Gold Mine Game
- 3D Wiki Game
- "Style-Enabled" fashion show
- Guide Dog Memorial Park
I'll be blogging next week with more details about Helen Keller Day in Second Life. In the meantime, please contact Janyth Ussery (aka Saxet Uralia in Second Life) at email@example.com if you have questions or would like to get involved, and keep your eye on this wiki page. I'll also be blogging about more accessibility tools and projects in the future, so stay tuned.
People coming together around the world, creating tools that redefine what it means to perceive and interact in virtual worlds, raising awareness of Real Life accessibility issues, and connecting with each other to build community and support for people dealing with all kinds of disabilities.
Pioneering stuff. And it's all happening right here, right now, in Second Life.
Want to discuss this blog post? Let's go to the discussion area!
Memorial University is Nationally Recognized in Canada for Excellence in Innovation using Second Life
Memorial University just won a national award in Canada, recognizing their innovative use of Second Life in teaching and learning. This is insanely great. Congratulations to everyone involved! Here are the exciting details:
National award recognizes value of virtual world technology in teaching and learning
Memorial University’s presence was felt once again at the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) conference, winning a national award for the integration of virtual world technology in a course. The winning team received the award at the 2009 CNIE awards banquet held on Tuesday, May 12.
Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT), in partnership with Dr. David Murrin, adjunct professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and director of R&D/senior engineering specialist at IMV Projects Atlantic in St. John’s, took away the 2009 CNIE award for excellence and innovation in the use of technology for learning and teaching.
The project involved the application of Second Life, an online virtual world, as a teaching and learning tool in Engineering 4061: Marine Production Management. DELT’s Second Life team, comprised of Marlene Brooks, Catherine Wicks, Jamie Chang and Donna Downey, worked in partnership with Dr. Murrin and his engineering students to incorporate classroom theories and principles into a simulated, immersive environment where students could enact the role of an engineer, and design and construct their own shipyard.
“I was interested in using 3D virtual world technology in my class to better engage students in their learning and generate excitement about the course content,” said Dr. Murrin. “I wanted students to experience and realize the scale of real life shipyards, and gain a deeper understanding about the importance of material flow and the positioning of materials when building something of such enormity.”
“We were excited to provide the support and expertise needed to integrate this technology into the course,” added Ms. Brooks, who led the Second Life team at DELT. “It’s very rewarding to collaborate on work that both enhances the students’ learning experience and gets recognized by our peers.”
Students were provided with space on one of Memorial University’s islands in Second Life to build a shipyard with given parameters that would be capable of building three vessels in a year. Using this virtual world, students could meet online and walk through the shipyard to evaluate the functionality and suitability of what they had built. If flaws were discovered, students could then go back to redesign and rebuild to make it more effective.
Ann Marie Vaughan, director of DELT, is thrilled with the acknowledgement and credits the win to the collaborative effort of both partners.
“The insight and creativity of the team on this project were exemplary,” she said, “and it’s inspiring to work with such talented faculty, staff and students. This is our second CNIE award for educational technology in as many years, which speaks volumes about Memorial’s leadership when it comes to exploring and enhancing the way education is delivered, for the benefit of both students and faculty.”
Second Life can benefit students’ learning by providing increased interaction with peers, engagement with course content, and reflection on theory in relation to practice. It can also accommodate a variety of learning styles and promote active learning, independence of thought and problem solving.
For the students in Engineering 4061, their level of engagement enhanced their overall performance in the course, in comparison to students who had taken the course before the integration of Second Life. The use of virtual world technology provided these students with a unique opportunity for experiential learning, which will be of great value for those who go to work on real life shipyards, or other large-scale projects.
DELT offers its expertise and support to Memorial’s faculty in their use of 3D virtual world technologies such as Second Life. The goal is to create and facilitate new, innovative environments for teaching and learning that meet the needs of today’s learners, and enhance pedagogical use of these technologies.
For further information, please contact Courtenay Griffin, communications coordinator (DELT), Memorial University of Newfoundland at 737-2611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following statement was issued by the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Education. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
"Information and communication technologies are an important aspect of teaching and learning in today’s classroom. Technology improves the students’ overall school experience. Given the rural nature of Newfoundland and Labrador, our province has been a leader in the use of technology and distance learning, particularly at the post-secondary level. That reputation continues to grow. I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that once again, Memorial University’s Distance Education and Learning Technology, or DELT, has won a national award."
"For the second year in a row, DELT has been recognized by the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education. At an event in Ottawa last night, members of DELT’s Second Life Team, comprised of Marlene Brooks, Catherine Wicks, Jamie Chang and Donna Downey, together with Dr. David Murrin, were presented with an Award of Excellence and Innovation in Use of Technology for Learning and Teaching."
"Second Life is a 3D virtual technology that can be used to create new and innovative teaching and learning environments. The award of excellence recognizes how well the Second Life team integrated the 3D technology into a typical engineering course, helping engineering students build a successful, working, virtual shipyard. The students became the designers and the engineers and their level of involvement enhanced their overall performance in the course."
"Our government is a strong supporter of technology in the classroom, recognizing how well it can supplement teaching and learning. At the K-12 level, for example, we recently allocated $2.2 million for computer replacements and $1.5 million over a three-year period for a technology integration plan. At Memorial, $1.5 million has been allocated to increase the number of courses available through distance education. In addition, government has supported the implementation of a common cutting-edge technology for distance learning in the K-12 system, Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic."
"Memorial University’s DELT is constantly working to keep the university and the province on the leading edge of new technologies. I ask this Honourable House to join me in offering congratulations to all those involved in this latest endeavour."
Here's a great video that summarizes Memorial University's work in Second Life. And again, congratulations to everyone at DELT who received this national recognition for their amazing work in Second Life. I can't wait to see what you all do next!
- Pathfinder Linden
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending an inworld press conference held by Case Western Reserve announcing that they are the first educational institution to deploy the behind-the-firewall version of Second Life, in partnership with The New Media Consortium (NMC). The occasion was the annual summit on technology and collaboration known as CollabTech, held both on Case Western Reserve’s physical campus in Cleveland and their virtual campus in Second Life.
As you know, our new standalone version of Second Life, codenamed 'Nebraska,' comes complete with all the power and potential of Second Life, including features like rich media and voice, but because it is hosted on an organization's own servers behind a firewall, it provides customers with an additional level of data privacy, confidentiality, and IT security. A great solution for educational institutions who need to bring students together who are under 17 and over 18 into one immersive environment.
So, Marc Perry, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked a great question in his article covering the news yesterday. “But why would a school like Case, which already has eight islands in Second Life, want to bother with a stand-alone system?”
The answer, “A medical school interested in performing research involving personal medical histories could use a private environment, Mr. Johnson said. Another function would be programs that focus on both adults and kids. Right now, adults need to undergo background checks to access the Second Life teen grid. One use Case envisions for the Nebraska environment would involve the campus Hispanic club providing mentors to Cleveland public-school students in the online virtual world, said Wendy Shapiro, the university’s senior academic-technology officer.”
She also added in an email to me, "that two of the most important elements of a private educational SL are 1) a multi-age platform and 2) privacy. We are very excited to jump in!"
Very exciting news for us, too! Judy Linden said it best. “We at Linden Lab are extremely excited by this important milestone and opportunity, and want to thank NMC and Case Western Reserve for being pioneers with us on Nebraska," said Judy Wade, vice president of strategy and emerging business at Linden Lab. "We continue to be amazed and proud of the educational activity and opportunity of Second Life, whether on the main Second Life grid or with this new product."
And, because it just has to be said…. If you’re interested in participating in our beta program for the standalone version of Second Life, contact us directly at business at secondlife.com.
I'm very happy to have the opportunity today to share our newest case study--The Open University's Place for Us: Providing Geographically Dispersed Students & Faculty A Place to Meet and Learn Together.
My deep appreciation for the Open University predates my incarnation as Claudia Linden by several years. As a former distance & e-learning consultant, I've always kept an eye on the innovative Open University. They pioneered the idea of distance learning in 1969 on a grand scale. And in the UK, they've been pioneering the creative use of Second Life in Education for over three years now. Attending the Open U's ReLIVE08 (Researching Learning in Virtual Environments) conference was a high point of my presentation schedule for 2008. I was thrilled to witness such a mature Second Life education community in action, sharing their best practices.
We're excited to get the word out more widely about what the Open University has done to date in Second Life--pioneering a contextual learning curriculum and fostering student and faculty community engagement. And we look forward to where their work in Second Life will lead next. Do you have colleagues who are asking you for examples of how people are using Second Life in education? Pass along the case study. Visit the Second Life Grid Education page for more information on purchasing land for your project, school or university in Second Life.
As most of you know, The New Media Consortium (NMC), a non-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations founded in 1993 with nearly 300 college, university, and foundation members, has been in Second Life since 2006 and is responsible for introducing immersive learning to many of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. Although pieces of the NMC story have been told throughout the years, it’s always interesting to take a more holistic view of the largest education project in Second Life and—for that matter any virtual world—to both understand the history of how the NMC project in Second Life came to be and glean best practices.
Today, I am pleased to share with you a new joint NMC and Linden Lab case study. The NMC helps more than 150 colleges and universities—such as MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, USC, Rice, and many others—learn to make broad use of immersive learning environments.
The breadth and depth of the program is truly remarkable. Let me share a few numbers with you. The NMC enjoys 1,500 unique visitors a week to their virtual campus from nearly every country in the world who spend an average of an hour and a half strolling the grounds, attending lectures, collaborating, networking, and learning. Even more impressive, the NMC’s not-for-profit project has recovered all its costs through virtual world operations and became completely self-sustaining in early 2007.
Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC, sums up the growing momentum of Second Life and virtual learning with the following comment. “I think it’s safe to say now that nearly every college and university has some sort of project in Second Life.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
(Note: We are sharing the English version today, but the French, German, and Japanese versions will follow shortly. I’ll share the links in comments when they ready and you can always pick up this case study, and the recent IBM case, on our enterprise website—www.secondlifegrid.net. We have many more cases in the hopper, so stay tuned!)
(Pour la traduction en français, faire défiler vers le bas...)
INSEAD is one of the world's leading and largest graduate business schools with two campuses (France and Singapore) and two centers in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi and Israel). They design and deliver cutting edge MBA and Executive Education programs. In 2007, they added another campus for their international students, alumni and faculty to meet and work - in Second Life. I met with Miklos Sarvary, the current Director of INSEAD's Learning Innovation Centre, for a tour of the INSEAD inworld campus.
In my tour of the campus, Miklos and I flew through colorful and engaging structures that are a delightful far cry from real world architecture. INSEAD and their Budapest/Vienna-based design company Pixelbreeze Ltd. received a special mention in the book, Space Between People, in a feature on the best virtual architecture.
INSEAD's team of real world receptionists based at the Fountainbleau campus greet visitors at the inworld reception desk 9-5. They'll soon have the Singapore receptionist at the inworld reception desk the other hours of the day and will have a live staff member to meet people almost round the clock. Miklos explained that there are no additional staffing costs since the receptionists are at their desks in the real world and it's easy (and enjoyable) to log in and attend the inworld desk simultaneously. The INSEAD Second Life team has realized that this personal touch is an important way to increase total traffic and make people feel welcome.
You can see on the map here that the INSEAD campus has three zones--the School, the Lab and the Public Campus.
The School area of the INSEAD campus has a conference room equipped for streaming RL lectures and classes into SL and the SL participants out into the RL classroom. Miklos observes that many conference centers inworld are too big, hindering intimacy. The INSEAD inworld conference room is big enough but not too big. A presentation podium is set up to mirror the RL podium - it provides a comfortable and familiar presentation environment for the presenters. Coaching domes allow for private 1:1 coaching sessions.
Research is another primary activity of INSEAD. They built an extensive infrastructure for research in Second Life -- the school has rented a research laboratory in Paris for several years at very high cost for the real estate alone. They implemented a powerful new laboratory in Second Life for "next to nothing" that can be used in conjunction with the first life lab or indepently. Miklos showed me a Shoe Store in the research center, one of nine marketing experiments they're currently running. They give people money to buy branded shoes which are programmed to run faster or slower. Then they look at their brand attitudes to evaluate the experiences they had. The nine behavioral experiments currently running are all privately funded projects targeting top marketing journals. Miklos describes the confidential experiments underway as "very advanced."
The Public Campus
The public space is used to showcase the different programs that INSEAD offers and is open for MBA participants, executives, faculty and staff to meet informally in small groups. One of INSEAD's goals is to introduce students to the burgeoning digital marketplace in Second Life. Before beginning classes, students are encouraged to dive in and explore with the public campus as a base. An outdoor amphitheater is used to host panel discussions and forums that are open to the public.
And of course, The Beach...
Last stop was a trip to the beach where participants in the executive program can sit around the campfire or hold surfing contests. Across from the beach, students in an entrepreneurship elective built some very effective team building exercises as part of a virtual business plan competition sponsored by McKinsey & Company.
With INSEAD's alumnis distributed all over the world, travel to alumni reunions can be costly and time-consuming. Miklos plans to host more and more alumni reunions at the INSEAD Second Life Campus to complement the current first life reunions. Remote alumni can join the first life alumni for the same event by connecting up virtually. One of the key components of the INSEAD custom programs is "action learning" - faculty extend the reach of programs beyond the courses to help graduates apply the skills they've learned. But as with the alumni gatherings, the travel costs are too expensive for most participants. With the new Second Life campus, INSEAD will be able to implement the action learning follow ups and offer a wide range of ongoing sessions for participants, without prohibitive travel costs.
Pour nos lecteurs français...
L'INSEAD est l'une des business schools les plus grandes et les plus influentes au monde, avec deux campus (France et Singapour) et deux centres aux Moyen Orient (Israël et Abu Dhabi). L'école propose des programmes prestigieux de MBA et Executive MBA. En 2007, un nouveau campus a été créé à l'intérieur de Second Life pour permettre aux étudiants, anciens étudiants et professeurs de se réunir et travailler. Miklos Sarvary, directeur du Centre for Advanced Learning Innovation de l'INSEAD, m'a fait visité ce campus.
Pendant la visite, Miklos et moi avons survolé des bâtiments colorés et accueillants, à l'architecture beaucoup plus agréable que dans le monde physique. L'INSEAD et sa société de design Pixelbreeze Ltd., basée à Budapest/Vienne, ont reçu une mention spéciale dans l'ouvrage Space Between People, pour la meilleure architecture numérique.
Les réceptionnistes de l'INSEAD, basés sur le campus physique de Fontainebleau, accueillent aussi les visiteurs sur le campus de Second Life de 9h à 17h. La réceptionniste du campus de Singapour recevra elle aussi prochainement les visiteurs dans Second Life, ce qui permettra d'assurer un accueil pratiquement 24h / 24. Miklos m'a expliqué que cela n'engendrait pas de coût supplémentaire au niveau du personnel puisque les réceptionnistes sont assis à leur bureau dans le monde physique et qu'il leur est facile (et agréable) de se connecter simultanément dans leur bureau de réception virtuel. L'équipe de Second Life de l'INSEAD a compris que cette touche personnelle permettait d'augmenter le trafic total et de faire en sorte que les visiteurs se sentent toujours les bienvenus.
Comme vous le voyez sur cette carte, le campus de l'INSEAD comprend trois zones : l'École, le Lab et le Campus public.
La zone École du campus de l'INSEAD comprend une salle de conférence équipée pour diffuser les cours RL dans Second Life, et pour que les participants dans Second Life puissent participer aux cours RL. D'après Miklos, les salles de conférence physiques sont trop grandes et ne sont pas favorables à la création d'une ambiance intime. La salle de conférence dans Second Life elle, est juste à la bonne taille. Le podium de présentation dans Second Life est identique au podium RL, ce qui permet aux présentateurs de se retrouver dans un environnement familier. Les dômes de coaching sont conçus pour les sessions de coaching privées.
La recherche est l'une des activités principales de l'INSEAD. Un laboratoire de recherche complet a été construit à l'intérieur de Second Life (l'école loue un laboratoire de recherche à Paris depuis des années, et le coût de l'immobilier est très élevé). La construction de ce nouveau laboratoire hautement performant dans Second Life n'a coûté presque rien ; ce dernier peut être utilisé indépendamment ou en conjonction avec le laboratoire physique. Miklos m'a montré un magasin de chaussures dans le centre de recherches ; il s'agit de l'une des neuf expériences marketing menées à l'école actuellement. Les participants reçoivent de l'argent pour acheter des chaussures de marque qui sont programmées pour courir plus ou moins vite. On étudie ensuite leur attitude face à la marque pour évaluer leur expérience. Les neufs expériences actuellement en cours sont des projets financés par des fonds privés et sont destinés à des journaux marketing connus. Miklos décrit ces expériences confidentielles en cours comme étant « très avancées ».
Le Campus public
L'espace public est utilisé pour présenter les différents programmes proposés par l'INSEAD et permet aux participants de MBA, professeurs et personnel de se rencontrer en petits groupes informels. L'un des objectifs de l'INSEAD est de familiariser les étudiants avec la place de marché numérique naissante dans Second Life. Avant le début des cours, les étudiants sont encouragés à explorer, en se servant du campus public comme base. Un amphithéâtre externe est utilisé pour les panels de discussions et les forums ouverts au public.
Et bien sûr, la plage...
Dernier arrêt : la plage, où les participants du programme Executive peuvent s'asseoir autour d'un feu de camp ou faire des compétitions de surf. En face de la plage, les étudiants d'un cours d'entreprenariat se prêtent à des exercices de « team building », dans le cadre du concours de business plan virtuel sponsorisé par McKinsey & Company.
Et le futur ?
Les anciens étudiants de l'INSEAD sont répartis aux quatre coins de la planète et les réunions peuvent s'avérer difficiles à organiser et très coûteuses. Miklos projète d'organiser de plus en plus de réunions sur le campus de l'INSEAD. La réunion dans Second Life sert donc de complément à la réunion physique, en permettant aux étudiants éloignés de se connecter virtuellement. L'une des composantes clés des programmes de l'INSEAD est « l'apprentissage en action » : les professeurs étendent la portée des programmes au-delà des cours pour permettre aux jeunes diplômés de mettre en pratique ce qu'ils ont appris. Mais, tout comme pour les réunions d'anciens étudiants, pour la plupart des participants, le prix des déplacements est prohibitif. Grâce à son campus dans Second Life, l'INSEAD peut mener ce programme à bien et offrir aux participants toute une gamme de sessions en continu, sans que leur coût ne soit un obstacle.
INSEAD lidera una de las escuelas de graduados de negocios del mundo con dos centros de estudios (Francia y Singapore) y dos centros mas en el medio este(Abu Dhabi e Israel).Diseñan y proponen el MBA y programas de educacion ejecutivos del 2007, ellos agregaron otro centro de estudios para sus estudiantes internacionales y para reunirce trabajar dentro de Second Life. Me reuni con Miklos Sarvary, el actual director del centro de innovacion INSEAD´S para un paseo por el centro de estudios del INSEAD dentro de Second Life.
En mi paseo por el centro de estudios, Mikos y yo volamos por el coloridas y atractivas estructuras mas allá de de la arquitectura del mundo real. INSEAD y su compañía localizada en Vienna/Budapest Pixelbreeze Ltd. recibieron una mension especial en el libro Space Between People(el espacio entre personas)en característica de la mejor aruitectura virtual
El equipo de recepcionistas del INSEAD del mundo real localizado en el centro de estudios Fountainbleau recibe visitantes dentro de SL en su help-desk 9-5. Dentro de poco ellos tendrán recepcionistas de Singapore en su help-desk dentro de SL, las otras horas del dia tendran en vivo miembros de su personal para reunirse con las personas casi todo el tiempo Miklos explica que no hay costos de personal desde que las recepcionistas están en sus escritorios en el mundo real y es sencillo (y agradable) loguearce y atender el escritorio dentro de SL y en el mundo real simultaneamente. El equipo INSEAD de Second Life se dio cuenta que el toque personal es una manera importante de incrementar el tráfico y hacer que las personas se seientan bienvenidas.
Puedes ver el mapa que el centro de estudios del INSEAD tiene tres zonas -- La escuela, el laboratorio y el campo publico.
El área de la escuela en el campus del INSEAD dentro de Second Life tiene una sala de conferencia equipada para transmitir Lecturas y clases desde la vida real dentro SL y los participantes de SL dentro del salón de clases. Miklos observo que la mayoría de los centros de conferencias dentro de SL son demasiado grandes dañando la intimidad. El salón de conferencias del INSEAD dentro de SL, es lo suficientemente grande. Un podio de presentaciones esta ubicado frente al podio en la vida real - provee un entorno de presentación familiar y cómodo para los presentadores. El domo de entrenamiento permite 1:1 sesiones de entrenamiento privadas.
la investigación y otra actividad primaria del INSEAD, Ellos construyeron una extensiva infraestructura para la investigación en Second Life--La escuela alquiló un laboratorio de investigación en Paris por varios años a un costo muy elevado, para el primer laboratorio.Miklos me enseño una tienda de calzados en el centro de investigaciones, uno de los nueve experimentos de Marketing que se encuentran funcionando actualmente. Ellos dan a las personas dinero para comprar "marcas" de calzados que son programadas para correr mas rápido o mas lento. entonces se fijan en las actitudes de las marcas para evaluar las experiencias que reciben. El comportamiento de los nueve experimentos funcionando son todos projectos privados fundados con el objetivo de diarios de marketing. Miklos describe los experimentos confidenciales como "muy avanzados"
El campus publico
El espacio público es usado para mostrar diferentes programas que el INSEAD ofrece y esta abierto para participantes del MBA ejecutivos, facultativos y personal que se reunen informalmente en pequeños grupos. Una de las metas del INSEAD es introducir estudiantes al mercado digital en Second Life. Antes del inicio de clases , los estudiantes son alentados a introducirce y explorar con el campus publico como base, un anfiteatro al aire libre es usado para paneles de discusión y foros que son abiertos al público.
Y por supuesto, la playa...
La ultima parada del viaje , la playa donde los participantes del programa ejecutivo pueden sentarce alrededor de la fogata o realizar concursos de surf. A través de la playa, estudiantes y su espíritu emprendedor crean equipos muy efectivos construyendo ejercicios como parte del plan de negocios virtual, patrocinado por McKinsey & Company.
Con el alumnado del INSEAD distribuidos por todo el mundo, el transporte de los mismos a las reuniones puede ser costoso y consumir mucho tiempo. Miklos planea realizar mas y mas reuniones en el campus del INSEAD de Second Life para complementar las actuales reuniones en la vida real. Los alumnos remotos pueden reunirse en la vida real para el mismo evento que se conectan por el medio virtual. Uno de los componentes de los programas personalizados del INSEAD es " aprendizaje en acción" -extender la facultad de los programas va mas allá de los cursos para ayudar a los graduados a aplicar nuevas habilidades que han aprendido. Pero como las reuniones del alumnado, el costo del viaje son muy altos para la mayoría de los participantes. COn el nuevo campus en Second Life, el INSEAD sera capaz de implementar "el aprendizaje acción" seguido de la oferta de largo rango de sesiones para los participantes, sin lo prohibitivo de los costos del translado
(Please scroll down to read en Español.)
Lately I’ve been reading about educators making use of Second Life to support complex training in the real world. I heard about some fantastic work being done along these lines at the virtual campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), but boy was I in for a surprise when I went to investigate! I had the pleasure of meeting with Ernesto Riestra, the Head of the Division of Continuing and Distance Education at the Engineering School for the UNAM, and he was happy to give me a tour.
UNAM is the largest university in Latin America, with the Engineering School alone having 11,000 students, and UNAM overall having roughly 300,000 students, ranging from high school to post graduate education. UNAM is currently working on building their campus in SL for their Engineering School Distance Education Programs and is also connecting with companies in the real world to help take engineering design and training to the next level. Developments began in November 2008 but a lot has happened in that short span of time…
The UNAM’s main center in Second Life is not your standard campus building; the space is built to look like the Palace of Mining, considered to be where science first set foot in the Americas. Inside, there are a wide range of projects to be found, and I was shown several demonstrations involving mathematics, robotics, and engineering. Many of the 3d robotics models have adjustable vectors (x, y, and z coordinates) for its parts, which can be a helpful visual aid for students. Speaking on motivation, Ernesto explains, “Analytical geometry is one of the most difficult courses for first year college students … but basic scripts can translate into really good teaching.” Ernesto adds that developing demonstrations in Second Life requires far less time and provides a broader access than, say, producing similar robotics learning objects in the real world. Students can even explore the content on site on their own time for autonomous tutoring.
One demonstration that stood out in the Palace of Mining was in their hydrology room. A couple dozen developers from the computer engineering department at UNAM got together to create a model of a landscape and city that helps examine how water is used by humans, how it is dispersed, and how it can best be recovered. You can adjust variables within the model, such as weather conditions, to view its impact on hydraulics. This content stretches into the realm not only of education but in training, where providing simulations of cities to explore city infrastructure can help to teach employees about water treatment, purification, distribution, how to handle leaks, how to address metal contaminants—the UNAM is working with the National Association of Water and Sanitation Utilities in Mexico (ANEAS) who are looking for exactly this kind of training experience for their employees. They are developing a region that explores hydraulics at a larger scale for that purpose as we speak!
Another set of projects they are working on that has training implications in the real world involve energy. Onsite training for oil rigs in the real world is both time intensive and costly. UNAM has built a Second Life model not only valuable for walking tours or demonstrations, but because of the leeway in Second Life building tools, the rig allows trainees to visualize its internal components virtually as well. The UNAM’s ambition in the field of energy education and training does not stop there: there are plans to explore information exchange between a Second Life power plant model and the real world construct for certain functions, which can allow the Second Life model to act in a way as a visualization of and an interface for the real world plant. Interested in seeing part of the power plant model in action? Check out UNAM’s machinima video here.
Ernesto himself has given a handful of lectures last year in robotics at UNAM’s virtual campus, and maybe in a few years he suspects the potential for substituting a real world class for one in Second Life. This year, UNAM hopes to have 1,000 students from their engineering school utilizing the in-world models, and hope for next year to have 10,000 students from 10 different UNAM schools working with Second Life content. A team of professors at the UNAM plan to track the effectiveness of the virtual programs, basing assessments on the learning abilities of their students over time. While the UNAM’s virtual campus in its entirety is not yet open to the public, the main center, the Palace of Mining, will be opening to the public relatively soon, on May 1, 2009. Bookmark the SLURL and mark the date—you will not want to miss checking this out!
UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTÓNOMA DE MÉXICO: LA EDUCACIÓN Y LA FORMACIÓN EN EL MUNDO
He leído últimamente sobre el uso que algunos educadores hacen de Second Life para respaldar prácticas complejas en el mundo real. Aunque ya había oído del fantástico trabajo que en esta línea se lleva a cabo en el campus virtual de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) mi sorpresa fue grande cuando me puse a investigar. Tuve el placer de reunirme con Ernesto Riestra, Jefe de la División de Educación Continua y a Distancia en la Facultad de Ingeniería de la UNAM, quien estuvo encantado de darme una visita guiada.
UNAM es la universidad más grande de América Latina. Tan sólo la Facultad de Ingeniería tiene 11.000 estudiantes. La UNAM como tal cuenta con unos 300.000 estudiantes que van desde el Bachillerato a la educación de Posgrado. Actualmente, la universidad trabaja en la construcción de su campus en SL para los Programas de Educación a Distancia de la Facultad de Ingeniería. A la vez, se encuentra en contacto con empresas del mundo real para llevar el diseño de ingeniería y la formación a un nuevo nivel. El proceso empezó en noviembre de 2008, pero muchas cosas han ocurrido en este corto tiempo.
El centro principal de la UNAM en Second Life no es un campus convencional, sino que se ha construido emulando al Palacio de Minería, considerado como el lugar donde la ciencia pisó por vez primera las Américas. En el interior cuenta con una amplia gama de proyectos de los que me mostraron algunos concernientes a matemáticas, robótica e ingeniería. Muchos de sus modelos robóticos en 3D tienen vectores ajustables (según las coordenadas x, y y z) en sus distintos componentes, lo que constituye una eficaz ayuda visual para los estudiantes. Hablándome de la motivación, Ernesto explica que "la Geometría Analítica es uno de las asignaturas más difíciles para los universitarios de primer año (...) pero guiones sencillos pueden transformarla en una buena enseñanza". Ernesto agrega que el desarrollo de modelos en Second Life requiere mucho menos tiempo y proporciona un acceso más amplio que, por ejemplo, la producción de objetos similares en el mundo real para aprendizaje de la robótica. Los estudiantes pueden explorar los contenidos que se ofrecen en el momento que más les convenga, desarrollando una tutoría autónoma.
La muestra que destacó en el Palacio de Minería fue su sala de hidrología. Más de veinte programadores del Departamento de Ingeniería de Computadoras de la UNAM trabajaron en equipo para crear un modelo de terreno y de ciudad que ayudara a examinar el uso del agua por los seres humanos, cómo se distribuye, y la forma mejor de recuperarla. Cada quien podía ajustar diversas variables en el modelo, tales como las condiciones meteorológicas para comprobar su impacto en el sistema hidráulico. Este desarrollo se aplica no sólo en el ámbito educativo, sino también en el desarrollo general, ofreciendo simulaciones para examinar la infraestructura de las ciudades, de modo que los responsables puedan aprender acerca del tratamiento de las aguas, su depuración y distribución, el manejo de fugas, o la forma de abordar la contaminación por metales –la UNAM trabaja con la Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Agua y Saneamiento de México (ANEAS), que busca precisamente este tipo de formación para sus empleados–. Actualmente está en construcción una región para estudiar la hidráulica a gran escala con este propósito.
También trabajan con otro conjunto de proyectos relacionados con la energía en el mundo real. La formación in situ en el mundo real para plataformas petrolíferas es costosa y larga. La UNAM ha construido un modelo en Second Life que no sólo es valioso para visitas o exposiciones, sino que, gracias a la flexibilidad de las herramientas de construcción de Second Life, permite a los alumnos visualizar en la práctica los componentes internos de la plataforma. Pero el objetivo de la UNAM en el ámbito de la educación y la formación sobre la energía no se detiene ahí: hay planes para explorar el intercambio de información de ciertas funciones entre una planta de energía de Second Life y su equivalente en el mundo real, que haga que el modelo de Second Life actúe como visualización e interfaz de la planta del mundo real. Los interesados en conocer en acción parte del modelo, pueden ver un vídeo de la UNAM aquí.
El año pasado, Ernesto dio varias clases de robótica en el campus virtual de la UNAM, y quizá en poco tiempo sopese la posibilidad de sustituir una clase del mundo real por una en Second Life. Este año, la UNAM espera que 1.000 estudiantes de su facultad de ingeniería utilicen los modelos "in-world" (en Second Life). Para el año que viene, las expectativas son que 10.000 estudiantes de 10 facultads diferentes de la UNAM trabajen con contenidos de Second Life. Un equipo de profesores planea realizar un seguimiento de la eficacia de los programas virtuales basados en evaluaciones de la capacidad de aprendizaje de sus estudiantes en el transcurso del tiempo. Aunque el campus virtual de la UNAM en su conjunto todavía no está abierto al público, el centro principal, el Palacio de Minería, pronto se abrirá al público: el 1 de mayo de 2009. Guarda en tus Favoritos la SLURL, ¡y no olvides anotar la fecha en tu agenda para no perdérte!
On March 14th, students in high schools and universities around the world celebrated Pi Day, the day that celebrates numerical pi (3/14=3.14--get it?). What an appropriate time to be thinking about mathematics in Second Life! I had the pleasure of meeting with MathBear Cyberschreiber recently, an educator who has 12 years of experience teaching high school math in Texas and holds Master's degrees in both mathematics and linguistics. As his avatar name implies, MathBear explores Second Life with math on the brain!
The efforts he leads in Second Life he calls the Math Bear Education Initiative (MBEI), which he and his assistants administer from Dalton ( slurl ). The MBEI was created to explore Web and virtual world based computer technologies for the teaching of mathematics. He provides demonstrations involving the incorporation of real world mathematics tools such as SAGE Math http://www.sagemath.org/into Second Life based math classes, and would like to continue to facilitate enhanced math instruction using the tools available in Second Life.
MathBear approaches the initiative with the firm belief that teaching mathematics in Second Life can be made into a more meaningful and engaging learning experience for students than is generally possible in real life schools. He adds, "Our students... gladly accept computers and often exhibit a sophisticated understanding of them. We need to tailor our teaching methods to their natural interests and strengths." Emphasizing the way students adapt to technology and the social engagement that comes from group activities in Second Life, MathBear wants to utilize Second Life to provide students with a more immersive way of learning math, rather than the more traditional method of purely studying mathematical theory.
The Initiative isn't only about teaching math, but about fostering a community of math teachers as well. "I want to see the creation of a community of learners and educators who will actively develop teaching methods and creatively implement them, sharing their results and collaborating together to create an effective, ever-growing body of pedagogical knowledge for the future," MathBear notes; "Using the ... technologies that can be developed in Second Life is a compelling and natural way to accomplish this."
MathBear is actively seeking out math educators who are considering using Second Life for math instruction. He offers inworld training in computer, web-based and virtual technologies, classroom space and multimedia access, all in a prime hilltop location next to Linden Village. If this interests you, IM "MathBear Cyberschreiber" with requests for more information or to join the group Math Bear Education Initiative. MathBear will provide presentations on his methods to anyone who requests them, or just show up informally and chat with him. He is always enthusiastic about discussing teaching mathematics in SL.
Are you invested in a math based curriculum in Second Life or know someone who is? Do you have tips or suggestions for math teachers getting started in this field? Did you celebrate pi day (I did--I had banana cream pie to celebrate!)? Let's hear your thoughts about Math in Second Life in the comments!
Art and culture are no strangers to Second Life--this we all know! The opportunity to visualize artistic content in a 3d space allows for innovation that can expand and expose art collections from the real world. Use of audio, video, and interaction in a virtual space to explore cultural education is a method that educators and academics are utilizing to reach and engage their classrooms and audiences. Today, we're excited to announce another innovative use of Second Life in the arts and culture space. We're proud to announce the Smithsonian's Latino Virtual Museum!
The Latino Virtual Museum (LVM) is launched with developmental support from the Ohio University and Disney and shares the institution’s art and exhibits surveying content from their Latino collections. The launch also celebrates Smithsonian’s very first multicultural museum to focus on Latino heritage. Melissa Carrillo, Smithsonian’s Web Programs & Virtual World Director, has led the effort with a goal of increasing the visibility of and improving access to the collection through Latino art and music exhibits at the LVM. What's especially cool about this is that much of the content that will be shown in Second Life has never seen the light of day - a real treat if you have an interest in arts and culture!
Check out the Arts and Entertainment Showcase entry for the Smithsonian Latino Museum (slurl), which focuses on bringing you audio, slides, and video to provide a basic understanding of navigation in Second Life. If you’re more interested in beginning at an exhibit, tour the Music Showcase entry for Smithsonian Latino Music (slurl), which spotlights the Son Clave Lounge and the Amphitheatre, upcoming home to live performances, oral history, and dance. For a sneak peek, you'll really want to see the LVM machinima or the LVM press release.
While the museum provides something for anyone interested in museums and cultural history, Smithsonian is excited that developing in Second Life has helped their creative endeavors, too. The use and flexibility of virtual space in Second Life has helped them to demonstrate what a Latino Museum might look like in the real world. The virtual museum ultimately lays the foundation and provides inspiration for the possibility to someday expand on this museum in real life! This is a must-see example of creativity in Second Life converging with arts, humanities, and sciences in the real world.
We hope you have the opportunity to explore the art, music, and events at the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum, and that you enjoy its celebratory launch! Has the exposure of museums and culture in Second Life helped to enhance your learning and teaching needs? Let's hear your thoughts!
The "Virtual Worlds - Best Practices in Education" conference is coming up soon, from March 27th-29th.
Held entirely in Second Life, this academic conference will be a fantastic opportunity for educators interested in sharing strategies for success as well as those seeking potential colleagues and collaborators.
I had a chance to sit down and learn more from Kevin Feenan (Phelan Corrimal in Second Life), the General Chair of the conference.
Pathfinder Linden: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Phelan. Can you give us a little background on this conference?
Phelan Corrimal: Thank you very much for having me here Pathfinder. It is always a pleasure to talk about the Virtual Worlds Conference.
As you know, the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference is taking its lead from a number of previous conferences which have been highly successful. The Second Life Best Practices in Education Conference in May 2007, the SLCC07 in Chicago, and the SLEDcc in Tampa in 2008. Unfortunately there wasn't an SLBPE in 2008 so we decided to revive the conference for 2009 under the banner of Virtual Worlds owing to the fact that we now have OpenSim, IMVU, Club Penguin, WoW and a whole host of other virtual environments in which education is flourishing. Second Life obviously being the largest and more well organized of all virtual worlds for which education is a fundamental part.
Pathfinder Linden: Where do you see this conference going in the future?
Phelan Corrimal: The Conference I see being dictated by the way the educational community uses virtual collaborative environments. In the short term, definitely a heavy focus on Second Life. However as avatars are increasingly able to teleport between virtual worlds I see the conference following those changes and perhaps expanding to bridge knowledge gaps that may develop as other virtual communities get established. And to bring back to this environment solutions that may not be so evident here because we don't have to overcome the same challenges to get something to work.
Pathfinder Linden: What do you hope educators take away from this conference?
Phelan Corrimal: The biggest thing I hope educators take away from this conference is a renewed sense of purpose in each person's ability to be a pioneer. We are currently just scratching the surface of virtual worlds and with each new change in technology, service offerings, process, or product tools suites come the opportunity for everyone to make a contribution to the whole of education.
Pathfinder Linden: What makes this conference unique?
Phelan Corrimal: There is an expression in marketing that sometimes the medium is the message. In business and education however we often confuse the technology as the innovation as being what is unique. And while technology is the medium of this conference I don't see the medium as making this conference unique. Rather it is the way in which people are approaching the technology and the value that is being derived from those interconnections.
Pathfinder Linden: How is this conference similar to educational conferences in RL? How is it different?
Phelan Corrimal: This conference is similar to RL conferences in that there is an expectation in adhering to traditional norms of what a conference is. Opening, presentations, keynotes, poster exhibits, etc.. The trapping of a traditional conference are all well preserved. Whether that is a good thing or not I can't say but certainly it provides a measure of comfort and reassurance to those whose administrations are expecting something which isn't too outside the norm.
In terms of differences though - when was the last time you and 2999 of your closest friends from around the world were able to attend a peer reviewed academic conference for less than $0.50/day including travel and lodging. We are covering just about every time zone from Sydney Australia to San Francisco USA - from Rio in Brazil in the south to Helsinki Finland in the north. That is no small feat and speaks as much to the scope of the community here as it does to the way technology has helped facilitate those iterations.
Pathfinder Linden: Great points. So how can folks register and learn more?
Phelan Corrimal: Registration is free and can be done through our web site at http://www.vwbpe.org.
Pathfinder Linden: Outstanding. Thank you very much, Phelan.
San Jose State University educator Jeremy Kemp let me know about an excellent new resource for the Second Life Education Community. One of the complaints I hear frequently from educators is that it's hard to find all of the amazing educational content in Second Life. Librarian Beth Kraemer, from the University of Kentucky, has a solution -- the Resource Database for Second Life Educators.
Beth and Jeremy describe the new database: "The Resource Database for Second Life Educators is a community-managed list of educational hotspots, instructional design, interactive 3D models, publications, professional organizations and websites on the topic of Multi-User Virtual Environments. Entries are controlled solely by volunteers from the vibrant educational community known as SLED - Second Life Educators. Content is offered under the Creative Commons license (attribution) and the system is managed by two editors from the library community. It is served from the Simteach.com website and Dabbledb.com. Please come and contribute at the portal.
I met with Beth Kraemer (Alice Burgess in SL) last week at the University of Kentucky's Island in the W. T. Young Library to hear more about her inspiration and vision for the project.
CL: Beth, what was the catalyst for you to commit your time and energy to creating this awesome Resource Database for Second Life educators?
AB: Probably my own need initially! We want to start a targeted promotional effort at our university this spring so we wanted to collect examples by subject or department. There seem to be lots of lists like that out there but I really wanted one central place--I thought a central, searchable collection would be really useful.
CL: What's your long range vision for the success and sustainability of the Resource Database?
AB: I would love to see it adopted by the Second Life Education community so it evolves to become a tool that is used and useful, and so others contribute and take part in making its structure most useful.
CL: How can people contribute?
AB: The database main page is available on the SimTeach site. Users can go to that page to both search and contribute. Here's a part that is still under construction--we've currently got an option for people to submit without authentication. The logic behind this is that I personally didn't want to be required to create yet another account in yet another thing! I thought people would be more likely to contribute if it was open. To limit spam, we are reviewing submissions before they go live. We're also looking at implementing a way authenticated users can contribute and have entries go live immediately. Even with anonymous submissions, you'll get an email to be able to update and edit your entry later which is useful.
CL: When did you launch and how many people have contributed so far?
AB: We launched officially the week of February 23, and have only had a few submissions so far other than from Jeremy Kemp and myself, but we have been making adjustments during that period and haven't promoted much since the initial announcement.
CL: Is the database a University of Kentucky sponsored project?
AB: Yes, through their support of my current sabbatical project to explore Second Life. I've made this database part of that project. There has been no cost other than my time, at this point. The database software we are using--DabbleDB--is free for projects that release content under Creative Commons, which of course we wanted to do anyway.
CL: What do you mean, you are on sabbatical for SL? Say more...
AB: I have been granted a sabbatical to explore education and library uses of SL. Librarians at UK have faculty status and are eligible for sabbatical.
CL: Ah, that's wonderful.
AB: yes, it has been a great opportunity!
CL: How many faculty there are using SL?
AB: We have 4 or 5 who have had classes that used SL pretty significantly over this past year. We also have other faculty and many UK staff members who participate in Second Life at the University of Kentucky. We have a blog for University of KY Island, where people can read about some of the classes and other events.
CL: What's your favorite resource contributed to the database so far? Have you discovered something new?
AB: Like asking which is my favorite child, isn't it?? I suppose the ones NOT added by me and Jeremy! I was thrilled to see International Schools Island show up one day! Maybe that's my favorite so far. In addition to resources, though, we really want input from educators--everything from suggestions on using the input form, to structure of the database. We can also make code available to others for embedding tables into their own web pages. For example, if you want a list of SLURLS in a particular subject area, we can give you that.
CL: Oh beautiful.. So you're looking for input at this early design stage. That's great. What else do you need?
AB: Input and entries! That would be wonderful. We really want this to be a community-owned project.
CL: I am looking forward to watching this much-needed resource grow. I know we'll all be amazed by what we discover there. There is such innovative educational work being done in Second Life. Thank you so much for creating a participative resource like this.
AB: Thank you for taking an interest and promoting it!
CL: Is there anything else you'd like us all to know?
AB: This is wonderful. Just please know that the success depends on input from the SL Education community!
CL: And we'd definitely like to tip our hats to Jeremy Kemp, host of the SimTeach wiki, for hosting this Resource Database.
AB: Jeremy is doing much more than just hosting! He's been wonderful in helping design and promote the database. I'm thrilled to have it available through SimTeach.
Welcome to a shiny new blog from the Lindens - on Education, Health Care and the Public Sector in Second Life. With George, Claudia, and Pathfinder Linden as chefs in this textual kitchen, you can expect to be reading a tasty feed of bar-raising projects, ground-breaking grants, inworld and first life conference alerts and reports, and pointers to an ever-expanding set of resources to help you navigate the rich ecosystem that is Second Life. They are adventurous chefs - so They'll be doing their best to keep the menu changing and your appetite for useful information satisfied. Bring on the chefs...
Hi! I'm George Linden, or George Scobie in first life. I arrived at Linden Lab in September, 2006. In my early days at Linden Lab I provided customer support to residents, learning the broad community's common questions and challenges. For the last two years I worked primarily with resident volunteers, developing orientation processes and providing administrative scaffolding to some of Second Life's most helpful residents, all the while sacrificing copious amounts of time and vats of melted blue crayon to keep my avatar's hair sky blue! ;D I have always had roots in education, and in the last couple of months I've been transitioning my primary focus at Linden Lab to supporting the educational community in Second Life. I was very fortunate to learn about many cool education projects at the Education Support Faire and look forward to collaborating more with you in days to come!
I'm Claudia Linden, Claudia L'Amoreaux in first life. I arrived at Linden Lab in August, 2006. I focus on the education community, helping educators pilot and grow successful projects in Second Life. I am continually amazed by the ingenuity of educators and students inventing and co-creating new learning environments and teaching methods in Second Life. I've spent my adult life at the cutting edge of education as an international consultant, eLearning producer, school designer -- the Second Life education community is the most exciting place I've ever been. I have an ear for stories and an eye for innovation. I seek out and tell the tales of success (and failure) in immersive worlds. I look forward to sharing my adventures, tips, questions, and challenges and look forward to discovering yours.
I'm Pathfinder Linden, John Lester in first life. I began exploring Second Life back in 2002 as a Resident. Back then I was working at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University and Harvard Medical School where I was doing research and development in online education, patient support groups, and building communities of practice in virtual worlds. I initially brought some patients into Second Life to help them explore it as an innovative collaborative learning environment, and I never left. The potential of Second Life as a platform for education, scientific collaboration and healthcare support blew me away. I joined Linden Lab in March 2005 and immediately began focusing on cultivating the educator community, building some basic scaffolding and processes to help it take root and grow. My current role is supporting the evolution of Second Life as a broad platform for education and healthcare. This includes helping people identify strategies for success and best practices in Second Life, which I'll be focusing on sharing with you all on this blog.
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