Entry point in Second Life
Adding 2 gig of RAM made a big difference in roaming around SL. I am now able to move around, watch buildings rez (appear) in reasonable fashions, listen to live music at the Blarney Stone pub in Dublin,
explore some education sites, such as Angel Learning Island and Terra Incognita, without any interruptions, get roasted slowly on a rotisserie at the West of Ireland island,
and still have email, and music playing in the background.
However, with continued research and exploration, I'm finding the whole virtual world situation quite overwhelming. Here's a video that shows screenshots of 50 different virtual worlds currently operating or in private Beta:
Obviously, the development of virtual worlds is very much on the frontier. But they seem to be expanding exponentially, as is suggested by the term metaverse. Though metaverse basically means a 3D world that has "no specific goals or objectives," and is usually meant to describe a self contained world, like Second Life, it seems actually to be morphing more into the expanding landscape of multiple virtual worlds, including massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG). This exponential expansion leads to a steep learning curve for those just getting started in considering their use in education, at least it seems so to me at this point, even with my sabbatical opportunity to devote significant time to exploration.
What I'm having most difficulty with is an entry point into using SL for online classes. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Sarah Robbins requires students to use SL, and to meet as a class twice a week, minimum. I understand her reasoning--again, if students aren't required to use it, they won't--and I agree. However, making SL the primary "place" for the class means that the instructor has to have significant experience with the application. Now, I don't have a problem with getting to that point as an instructor. However, I've found--both for myself and other faculty who aren't ubergeeks (and I mean that in the most respectful way possible!)--that playing with online tools, software, applications gradually is the most effective way of getting my feet wet. Then from semester to semester, I add more where I see benefit.
I did so with discussion board, chat, sending documents, assignments on the web--through DIWE, AltaVista Forum, Blackboard, Angel and so on. And I've always encouraged other instructors at LCC just to start simply as an entry point into incorporating online applications into their classes, trying one thing in Angel, such as posting assignments, or playing with a discussion forum and then adding another the next semester.
So can one do so with SL? What is the entry point into using the application among the other online tools an instructor has at his or her disposal? That's part of what I need to discover in the next week or so.
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