Wednesday, November 22

Second Life Redux

I have been getting some grief around the web for my post suggesting that SL is not a training tool. May I beg the community for some help?

Please respond to this post with use cases, examples either real or theoretical, of people learning in Second Life.


Anonymous said...

Clark, you might be interested in all the work and examples shared on the Second Life Educators listserv. This page includes links to a Second Life education wiki, educational regions in second life, a related researchers listserv, and more:

Looks like there's a lot of learning going on. ;)


Anonymous said...

Let's try that address in a link.

Click here for the Second Life Educators listserv and links to additional information.

Tom Haskins said...

Here’s some excerpts from last week on the SL listserv for Educators:

Some of the current features of imagiLEARNING include:…..Our North Shore surfing area, with examples of scripted waves which interact with avatars and the surfboards….. Bottom line...imagiLEARNING is intended to be a showcase for the many uses of SL as an opportunity to visualize learning and to otherwise introduce traditional educators to the new culture they so often see as a threat.

In May we released Camp Darfur Comix, the first RL/SL mashup comic book produced inworld and for real world activism. By June we figured out building, opened up our alpha set and started producing machinima shorts. July featured events for machinima for educational use and capturing footage at live events for the videoblog

We bring real world organizations into the teen grid through mixed reality events utilizing streaming audio and video, as well as providing spaces for screened guests to come directly into Global Kids Island.

I've purchased a lot of texture libraries from SLExchange, along with a device to store them all in to make it self serve for students to grab textures for themselves. It looks like a large book with 25 texture samples per page

As far as design goes, I have even apprentised myself to one of the SL designers to learn the fashion industry and how education happens from within world. What fun. Nyte with Innocently Evil has allowed me to join a class and to become an apprentise in a very medieval style of education. No moodle, no tech, just SL (as if that is medieval!!!). I'll let you know how that goes! …. Today I set up a lemonaide stand in the RL Gerald D Hines College of Architecture, to give away lemonaide for L$0 and promote the course, an elective to students. A business course begins with marketing the students, lol.

Darius said...

Here's my favorite example:

Virtual schizophrenia comes to Second Life
Wagner James Au sez, "A medical doctor/computer programmer recently built a simulation of visual and aural hallucinations in Second Life, based on the descriptions of real schizophrenics. In other words, it's a virtual, first-person recreation of the illness, and the potential applications (therapeutic, neurological, social, etc.) are pretty exciting. Also eerie, disturbing, and likely to disturb your sleep for a day or two afterward."

Karl Kapp said...


I have a few short examples of Second Life used for teaching at a post titled "More Second Life".

Karl Kapp said...

Here is another article about using Second Life to teach. This time it is about teaching people about how to save and manage money using the virtual economy in Second Life. The article, Wells Fargo Launches Game Inside "Second Life" is a good discussion of how the virtual economy can be used to teach about the actual economy.

Prokofy Neva said...

Clark, I don't know you and I didn't see your original post that is now causing you grief (link please?) But *thank God* somebody is finally starting to ask this question in a critical, common-sense, normal way. Education has been surrounded by a tremendous amount of hype -- and sometimes secrecy (on secret islands or inaccessible islands) that at times seems similar to the hype around big business holding hyper-vents.

Notice this enthusiastic post from Tom Haskins is all about learning...about SL *itself*. His one example about waves seems something better experienced in RL, and his other examples are taken from experiencing and discovering the technology *itself*. As one tekkie explained it to me, it's like the early days of the Web, or like ham radio, where most of the talk on the channels of communication are about the thing itself -- and people call "education" merely learning the capacity of the technology. So it's all frightfully precocious and self-referential and we're waiting for it to become less juvenile.

I'm waiting. I really would like to see SL be useful for education -- for representation for data, for something other than Aimee's planets. If I get served up that tired and retired Schizophrenia story *one more time* I'm going to shriek. What have you done *lately* about schizophrenia or any other psychiatric conditions for that matter?! How can SL and its promoters keep endlessly reciting this one, overexposed and tired example, as cool as it once was??

Here's the reality of the virtuality, as I see it, after 2 years of trying to do just simple things like have discussion groups or coordinate various inworld campaigns:

o the interface for communication is poor -- even more poor than the Sims Online. People cannot easily shake hands or embrace, though of course they can connect intensely and can have elaborately real cybersex. The chat box is clunky, and not in a balloon easily read with lots of space for typing -- people tend to tap out one line, and somebody immediately interrupts them, frustrating with their half line, and it splices from there, compounding miscues and miscomprehension, one after another.

The aspect of IMs -- people able to undermine any group effort, or listening effort involved in focusing on one person, by chatting above the heads of everybody else in the room -- is very disruptive. People kid themselves that they are multi-taskers. They're afraid to create any kind of metric to see how much tasking they are really getting done with this distractability.

I won't even get into crashes, lock-ups, lag, etc. I think this has objectively worsened, though I still cope with it and still use SL for my rentals business and just for studying virtual worlds.

There's no serious whiteboarding capacity -- you can't get together and all work on a text together as you can even with Yahoo or Skype or plain email quickly. You can't hold more than X number of characters, and there is no HTML on a prim, or object inworld yet. To make a book or a PowerPoint, you'd have to upload one page after another that you separately compose outside of SL, page by page, each time paying $10 Linden as a fee -- so it gets costly and also pointless as lag makes the turning and rezzing of the pages a trial.

I find RL teachers I know using SL and struggling with building and such that they feel they're behind their students, who take to it better -- but they suspect that the social and gaming aspects of SL are attracting them, and they aren't learning anything. Of course...they're learning about the technology.

I believe SL will become a tool for education someday. It cannot become that if people constantly lie about it, hype its capacities now, and pass of "mash-ups" and "mixed realities" which consist of avatars watching videos of their real selves watching avatars as "education". It's only playing around.

So that's ok -- play with it, and use the features of the virtual economy and the accelerated nature of the world to make models, try prototypes, experiment. Unfortunately, in their headlong rush to make it a "business application" and link it up to "real life in Second Life," the Lindens and the educators they sponsor with subsidized sims are ignoring or even stepping on the possibilities of a rich and robust simulated second life as the main teaching tool this software has to offer. Trying to do RL stuff in SL is clunky right now; people might do better doing SL stuff that works better and then seeing how it evolves.

Clark Aldrich said...

Thank you, everyone. And interesting SL milestones to come.

Anonymous said...

Hi Clark,

Two of my favourite examples are the similarly named Global Kids and Global Outreach Morocco projects.

Both are excellent examples of constructivist learning where the students (teens in the Global Kids project, college students in Outreach Morocco) need to learn about a subject in order to create a project within SL. Both projects require the students to learn a lot outside of SL - but what SL brings is a tool for collaboration and a means for the teams to create projects that they can then easily expose to a public.

This was key to both projects. Global Kids had the teens select a serious social issue of their own picking - Sex Trafficking was chosen - and then build a project to educate others. What makes this different from a typical classroom project with a conscience was (a) the teens working on this were spread across the globe and (b) they were able to share their work with a 'public' of other teens able to experience and visit the project.
See for more.

Outreach Morocco went so far as to include a field trip to Morocco, and has involved students in developing real business plans around a virtual project. Much of the project could have been carried out with generic game technologies - but it would then be a next to impossible challenge to convince Jo Public to download a Virtual Morocco. Within Second Life, it becomes a virtual tourist destination in its own right, and one that supports the real-world aims of the project.

Phew, I'll leave it there for now - with a link to the SL education workshop proceedings from earlier in the year: