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.


5 Responses to “I finally got a Second Life”

  1. 1 Rupa April 24, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Hey Natalie

    I joined Second Life too. But now I am quite alone. I just donno where to go and who to talk to đŸ™‚

    I hope to netowork soon there also đŸ™‚

  2. 2 nkilkenny April 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Hi there, Rupa. I’ll be one of your friends in Second Life. Maybe we should make a plan and meet…. but I, uh, have to figure out how to do that too. I know I can pedal over that darned learning curve. One thing though… I do get nauseous sometimes when I’m in SL too long. I think I haven’t played enough video games to be accustomed to functioning in the 3D environment.

  3. 3 Rupa April 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Hey Natalie

    I sent you a friend request. My Second Life name is Shalini Mandel.

    Do let me know if u recvd one?

    Thanks for being my friend:)

  4. 4 hamtra May 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Hi there: I just recently got an account in SL as well. I’m still wandering around finding stuff to do, but I have been able to locate many free items to modify myself. I can’t believe how much time I spend getting my clothes and hair right.

    This is my second attempt as well at SL as I too got very motion sick on the first attempt. I seem to have battled that somewhat now.

    Please feel free to add me as a friend (Rupa you as well) and I’d love to explore virtually with you. My name there is Sessifet Fittinger.

    Tracy Hamilton
    Discovery Through eLearning

  5. 5 nkilkenny May 12, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Hi, there hamtra… sorry I wasn’t able to respond eariler. I haven’t been able to get into sl for a week… mainly because of other engagements. But I will try to log on here soon and I’ll add you as a friend.

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My place outside of work to explore and make connections with the ideas and things (sometimes work-related) that I'm passionate about.

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