Archive for April, 2008

Second Life Events for Educators

Bunny Kiwitz at the Sloodle 101 class

If you’re interested in learning more about Second Life or how to use if for educational purposes, I suggest you take a look at this calendar: http://sledevents.blogspot.com/
Many events are listed here and even have slurls (secondlife link locations) that allow you to teleport directly to the site in SL. Remember, you have to have the SL application installed, and you can get that from the Second Life official website.

I was able to attend most of the Sloodle 101 class (that occurs every Wednesday 2x a day). I highly recommend it. Hopefully, I’ll have time in the next few days to blog about my experience in the class.


Generational Wha…? Paul Anka Find his Teen Spirit

Some one help me get up off the floor… Interesting take on Nirvana’s hit.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsS811o21-k]

Taking Second Life One Step at a Time

I’m finding that it’s easier for me to take SL and learning about it in small doses. It gives me the opportunity to focus on mastering a few things at a time. Even with the great tutorials and orientation available though the NMC (New Media Consortium) walk you through the process step by step. There’s so much to learn at first that it’s really best to focus on mastering a few things at a time (for me that’s about 1 hour at a time).

I sort of took a big leap there in one of my first trips and before I knew it I was wandering around a simulated Moroccan marketplace… from the NMC Educational center. Crazy! I flew around Morocco, giving myself a bad case of motion sickness in the process. I really should have spent more time wandering around the NMC area before jumping out there. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get back to where I started. Since then, I’ve been trying to take baby steps. I went back to the NMC education area and found both the menu for educational landmarks as well as the building where you can get free clothes and goodies.

My avatar in the Literature Alive learning spaceI’ve been gradually learning how to do the following things:

  • how to maneuver, fly around and teleport.
  • how to use the chat
  • I changed my clothing, appearance, etc.
  • how to manage my inventory
  • how to ‘buy’ things or get them for free.
  • how to build a prim or primitive (object)
  • basic “rezzing” or shaping of objects (believe me, I’m no wiz at this yet. I’m still struggling with just basic manipulation and application of textures.

I also discovered that the trick to not getting so nauseated in SL is to stay still whenever possible. Move only when you have to. It’s also good to spend some time learning about your environment by clicking on things or reading the notecards that might be present. It’s really sort of strange because I’ve noticed that there are a number of people in SL who seem to be standing still “in their own universes.” This is especially true of most of the “learning spaces” or museum type exhibits. People are taking the time to learn so it seems like their trapped in their own little bubbles. I guess if you think of many Second Life areas as museums it doesn’t seem like such an alien world.

Me in the \

Me learning how to do simple ‘rezzing’ at the Tower of Primitives.

The Tower of Primitives offers a pretty interesting tutorial on how to develop your own shapes and objects in SL. I actually found that it was easier to play with the object creation features on my own, while sometimes referencing the diagrams and displays rather than reading through the texts or notecards. Perhaps that’s because I’m a hands on learner. After ‘walking through’ most of the exhibit I was able to create simple objects such as cubes, cylinders, and spheres, and I was able to apply texture to these objects. I could also make some objects hollow.

I believe that if you go to the “Map” in your controls and type “Tower of Primitives” in the search you can find the landmark location for this helpful learning space. Just click the “Teleport” button and you’ll find yourself outside the tower. Make sure to follow the ‘red arrows’ to get into the building. I spent sometime wandering around outside before I got in.

Resources:

Second Life – Where you can download the SL environment application and learn all about Second Life.

NMC Campus Observer – Site for the New Media Consortium’s information on their NMC Campus.

Is Web 2.0 over complicating things?

Technology allows me to be an ‘on-the-fly’ sort of tourist. I don’t have things planned out before I get to a destination like my parents did. They had travel agents who got them packaged tours where everything from morning wake-up to afternoon snack and evening meals were all scheduled on a daily plan. I shudder to think of enjoying travel in this way. I might read extensively about a place and it’s neighborhoods before I go, but if I know that I can have Internet access when I’m there, I pretty much leave it up to the moment. When we were vacationing in San Francisco, I did my usual thing… went straight to Google maps and searched for places that I wanted to see or needed to visit: food, shopping, neighborhood historical spots, or the nearest Rite-aid to buy a replacement pair of pantyhose. When I was searching for eating places and boutiques, I noticed that a number of places had websites. A number of restaurants sounded good, but they just had too much ricketa-racketa (flash) on their websites. Come on! I just want a menu… or maybe even photos to look at. I want to know what you’re store, business or restaurant has to offer. A few sites required me to download a plug in. Others sites seemed like some design nightmare similar to some conceptual art experience designed by an irritating esoteric character from Nathan Barley. Worse, important information like ‘store hours’ or a phone number was often hidden under some cryptic heading other than the obvious ‘about us.’

Nathan Barley's Website -Bells and whistles and too much junk

I actually thought if their websites are this pretentious, then they must be pretty annoying. Ergo, I didn’t want to give them my business. The funny thing is some small mobile devices don’t play Flash very well. Often the information I needed could just be on a list. Yes, from a consumer’s point of view the web needs to be simple and easy to use. As Jakob Nielsen put it:

“Most people just want to get in, get it and get out….For them the web is not a goal in itself. It is a tool.”

Pushing bells and whistles or other advanced features may be too much if you’re forcing them on users. On the other hand, people should be restricted to just using the ‘tried and true’ methods. Mr. Nielsen argues that focus on Web 2.0 development and applications is causing many website builders to forsake good design. But I think there’s a growing market/audience of people who know how to take advantages and use the newer web technologies. To be fair to these pioneering web developers… they’re still trying to figure out what works and how to make it work well. Though many business successes have demonstrated the power of social networking through blogs, wikis and social networks/online community. A product or service can take off if a few connected users or mavens start talking about it on the web.

From a web educator’s point of view, the web has great potential to bring people closer together and these tools are more than just ricketa-racketa. Also, users can work collaboratively to develop content from written text, to music, podcasts. They can even build on concepts and enrich discussion with video sharing.

If you read this article… Nielsen sounds kind of like (excuse my words) an old fogy… who predicts that people’s use and behavior with and on the Internet will not continue as they grow older. He predicts that Internet use will go down as people age. For the sector of society who will become more involved in the ‘creative’ and ‘technology’ economies this will not be the case. And, of course their use of the technology will change because technology changes. Something just tells me that Mr. Nielsen or his perception and vision of things is sort of …. stuck. Maybe things will be this way for me when everyone is plugging directly into USB (or some kind of electronic) ports or even buying cyborg bio-add ons… I just won’t get it or understand. (Of course, you know I’m joking about the cyborg thing… well sort of).

Show this at your Change Management Meeting – Bronze Age Orientation Day

I love Mitchell and Webb!

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=EpeqPdVyQd0]

I finally got a Second Life


Now how the hell do I get down… I’m stuck flying, suspended in the air. (okay… I figured it out… click the Fly/Stop Flying button).

My first avatar in Second Life

My avatar, Bunny Kiwitz, suspended in the air at the “Pier of Culture.”
All I need is an umbrella and a carpet bag.

NMC second life orientation plaza

My avatar, in the Second Life Orientation Plaza with her new ‘outfit.’

Thanks to the TCC conference I was able to get my first taste of Second Life. I’m not fully hooked yet, but intrigued and I see the range of possibilities in here. I can now see what they meant by “steep learning curve” when it comes to learning how to be proficient in S.L. I unknowingly hit the “fly” button and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Also there are so many features and controls to work with that I found it a bit hard to get my bearings. Fortunately, the NMC tutorial ‘plaza’ allowed me to walk through a ‘museum of exhibits’ that showed me how to become familiar with the controls and features in Second Life. I was also able to learn a few things about how to integrate into “Second Life Culture,” such as how to use gestures and how to properly chat with people in a group.

Bunny the avatar learns how to communicate in SL

During the conference I also attended a lecture/debate on the popularity and future of Second Life. One of the arguments in support of Second Life as a learning environment was that today’s students interact with and process information much differently than their predecessors. Second Life give them the opportunity to access it in a virtual space as well as interact with peers from all over the globe. These “Digital Natives” expect instant access to information and rely on social networking to get and build information. They have a ‘digital literacy’ because they’ve been raised with interactive technology that we “Digital Immigrants” need to be aware of.

Second Life allows participants to actively build both simulated and fantasy models and interact with these models. It stimulates creativity and promotes simulated learning of real-life scenarios. It provides students with the ability to engage in “situated learning” and as the one lecturer quoted, “work together to create a shared understanding that none have previously possessed.”

The half of this lecture that countered the support for SL, argued that the learning curve for Second Life is so steep that it’s just too frustrating for some learners. They also made the argument that subscriptions to the virtual world are dwindling and that people enter and experiment but they do not stay or continue to return. Second Life is merely another techie fad that will eventually become obscure and dated in the wake of progress.

Another point that this person brought up was that all the businesses that invested in real estate in Second Life are now pulling out. Personally, I think that the failure is due to the fact that they took a rather two dimensional approach to applying SL. They simply used it as only a virtual store. How boring! They could have developed an interactive storyline or even learning material around their products, and, oh yes, they could have given more free stuff. Free stuff always hooks people even if it’s free ‘virtual’ stuff.

I have this theory about these new virtual/simulated environments… that is when we (or most of us who are not digital protoges) become immersed in them our first instinct is not to create new and innovative things. We build what’s most familiar to us. In all fairness to the corporate businesses, they were in a hurry (as they always are) to get a piece of the Second Life action so they hastily constructed what they thought would work.

I believe that both sides of this debate brought up valid points. Though I’m becoming convinced that Second Life does provide participants with the opportunity to learn in a rich and interactive environment. Perhaps in the future it will become easier to learn and use.

I was going for the one piece tracksuit thing… maybe not my style but, oh well.

Notes from the TCC – Learning Times Conference Day 1

TCC Worldwide Online Conference is a virtual conference for online educators. The global team that puts this conference together has proven yet again that it is possible to effectively run a virtual conference. Each year their preparation and translation of face to face activities into rich virtual experiences improves. I highly recommend this conference to anyone in education who wishes to glean from the pioneering experience of those in online distance learning. For the next few days, I will try to include my notes from the talks, papers, experiences and demonstrations that I thought were most valuable.

———————————————

PAPER: Videoblogging in Education: The new wave of interactive educational television

Rebecca Meeder, Educational Technology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, USA,

This was an excellent presentation/sharing. Rebecca Meeder provided a terrific introduction into the world of video blogging and how educators from elementary, secondary and higher education.

Importance of Video Blogging- Rise in educators who are using this medium.

<My note: students are using this medium to interact and communicate with each other>

Some Questions for Research

  • How does video blogging influence students with diverse background?
  • Connect learning in and outside of the classroom

Some resources with data:

  • Cofield, J.L. “Effectiveness of streaming video in web based instruction”
  • Sawa, S.K. Online vs. traditional: A comparative analysis of student grads in an online and traditional f2f environment
  • Le Blanc, G. Student and faculty survey reveals attitudes to streaming video.

Examples of Educational Video Blogging:

http://room132.com

Teacher gave weekly updates on what his students were doing in the classroom. Teacher shot from ‘nose-down’ to help students maintain their privacy.

http://speakingofhistory.blogspot.com/

Teacher has students to set up audio blogs where he podcasts on class materials. Students can comment on podcasts and interact. Note: this method can be applied to video blogs as well.

Privacy and Identity à Teacher made sure that students used pen names.

Http://bicycle-sidewalk.com/

Video blogging for ESL students in Japan. Uses videos from himself and other video bloggers to instruct students in English language… exposes the students to what English speakers sound like and also expose students to American culture.

Johnny Goldstein: http://jonnygoldstein.info/bx21

Another prominent video blogger. Taught over 100 Bronx highschool students how to video blog and share things from their varied perspectives.

http://www.youtube.com/user/mwesch

Mwesch (Mike Wesch). Had his students create video blogs… do an ethnography. They got a lot of responses from other on their experiences with video blogging.

Check out the video from this site “A vision of students.”

Good Practices for Video Blogging:

  1. Video length – average video length should be 5-7 minutes. Human attention span. <my note: also video size should be a consideration>
  2. Addressing Accessibility – Need to make sure video is available in a variety of formats (DVDs, or provide alternate way to access via library or school computer labs.) One teacher used subtitles in videos for some students
  3. Video blogs address differentiated learning styles: Auditory, Visual, Textual, Media Richness Theory (Need to learn more about this-> A variety of media works better for certain tasks than others). Some videoblogs can help students keep up with learning in class.
  4. Addressing multicultural education: Allows students to share different perspectives based on their own experience and background. Allows all participants to compare viewpoints and cultural perspectives.
  5. Identity vs. Privacy –
    1. Langhurst – Virtual Book Club discussed content in text communication/chat they can participate in active learning.
    2. Use Pen/Screen names so students can remain anonymous
    3. (Use consent forms)
    4. Comment moderation from teacher is necessary – view students comments before it is posted/ prevents flaming.
    5. Film students from nose down.
    6. Make posting optional (do not force)


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