Archive for January, 2008

Published by Joe Sanchez on 29 Jan 2008

Teaching with Voice Issues

USB head set

This semester i am requiring my students to purchase a USB headset and mic so we can use voice chat in Second Life. Of course, when implementing SL nothing is as easy as it seems. As usual I look to Social Informatics as a way to analyze the problems. Social Informatics is “the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses and consequences of information technologies that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts.” In this case problems with voice chat arose even though the students had the proper equipment, networks, and access to Second Life. Only about 1/2 my students were able to use voice chat…so what happened?

My RL classroom doesn’t have computers in it so when we have class in SL students need to find their own access. My instructions have always been, if your computer doesn’t work with Sl go to a computer lab or use the library, problem solved. But when you throw voice chat into the equation it shakes things up a bit. Most computer labs on campus are quite work spaces, students wear headphones and most talking is between two students who might be collaborating on a project. Talking in the labs, especially for students “playing a game” like Second Life is not tolerated. Some students couldn’t use voice because of the following scenarios:

1. students who were on campus because they had class before or after mine,

2. students who had to use a computer lab because their home computers couldn’t run SL

3. students who don’t own a laptop but were away from there desktop computer that can run SL

a student describes this on his blog

Another downside of being in the lab was the fact that I couldn’t talk. I should probably try to find a place on campus where I can get a fast connection and talk at the same time. (Any suggestions? I don’t live on campus so I can’t go to a dorm room, and I can’t play from home since I have class immediately before this one).

class in second life

About 2/3 of the class could not participate in the voice chat because they were in a computer lab, using a library computer, or at a wireless hotspot on campus where they couldn’t or rather, they didn’t feel comfortable talking. Very interesting barrier to a technology implementation, a social barrier rather than a technical barrier. The institutional and cultural context within the University of Texas at Austin acted as a barrier to voice chat in SL. Cases like this lend support the idea that we need to base our Second Life teaching on actual uses of Second Life rather than possible uses of Second Life.

Even with this barrier however, students reported that were more comfortable learning in SL compared to our face-2-face classess. Some quotes from their blogs are below.

One thing I noticed about holding class in Second Life was that more than the usual people participated in the discussions that we have. It seems that the barrier of shyness or being uncomfortable with expressing one’s opinion was just taken away. The reason for this I think is because when class is held in the virtual world, most everyone is in a comfortable zone, for me it was my apt. (which was a good thing because I didn’t feel like being out in this cold weather lol). Since you are not physically there, and instead a virtual form of yourself is there, then you are more inclined to participate without any sort of anxiety or fear to speak out.

Class in Second Life yesturday was really interesting in a fun way. I feel like i can open up and contribute more when i’m not in an actual classroom i think it’s because i’m shy in public. Having conversations through the computer is what our generation does though so i feel more comfortable that way.

once we were in the virtual environment everyone was talking. Arguments flew back and forth. Side conversations were held. For the first time in the two weeks we have been meeting, Joe’s conversation was practically secondary to the class conversation.

First off, I will say that the meeting was a lot more convenient and informative than meeting in a classroom. It was a big relief to be able to get an extra 1/2 hour of sleep.

BTW, Leslie Jarmon and I were featured in an article titled Universities Use Second Life to Teach Complex Concepts in Government Technology Magazine.

Published by Joe Sanchez on 10 Jan 2008

Highlights from Wednesday at ALISE

Highlights from Wednesday at ALISE (Association of Library and Information Science Educators)

Yvonna Lincoln delivered the first keynote (yes the Lincoln of Guba and Lincoln Naturalistic Inquiry qualitative text). Her research centered on the role academic librarians can play to engage the community in order to bridge the digital divide. She also touched on “library anxiety” and how the development of vigorous marketing campaigns can be used to invite the community to participate in programs. I really enjoyed her ethnographic methods discussion and how she incorporated the methodology to study organizations (libraries and communities).

Margaret Mackey from University of Alberta gave a fantastic session titled Rights and Rites of Access to Virtual Communities. “Rights” referred to the need to provide access to rich media material in libraries. Patrons have the “right” to access rich media in the same way patrons have the “right” to print materials. “Rites” referred to the media literacies teens develop as they work with rich media such as video games. She used the term “Thick Play” to describe the breadth of emotional, physical, and mental engagement teens experience when playing a game. Her research showed that librarians or young library pages (14 year old kids) could turn play into media literacy by scaffolding activities with teens as they engage with media. An example would be talking to teens about the games they play, the strategies, the narratives,  the design, etc… by having a dialogue she suggest librarians can help expose the tacit knowledge of rich media held by teens and make it explicit, leading to the development of rich literacies.

LiLi Luo and Jeremy Kemp from San Jose State gave a session about the work they have been doing in SL. The session touched on the kinds of activities/assessment/projects being done by the LIS students on the San Jose State island. Jeremy Kemp is really good about sharing his SL experiences with the Sl community so in a sense nothing new was presented but the audience reacted really well to his presentation and of course SL dominated the discussion after the panel.  It was nice to meet the SJSU Sl folks in person. Jeremy looks like his avatar…

In the afternoon I was on a panel Experiential Learning in Virtual Environments: The Internet Public Library, Second Life, and Web2.0 convened by Lorri Mon from FSU (Lorri Monji in SL and fellow Educators Coop resident). Lydia Harris from Rutgers started our session with a theoretical background of Experiential Learning, she was an amazing speaker and she set the foundation for the rest of us. I will be posting her paper and the PowerPoint slides from the panel when I get back into Austin. My part was about immersive learning through Second Life and focused on my Working in Virtual Worlds class. This panel was pro all the way, Lori really did a great job aligning the speakers, each presentation introduced the next persons work and several people told me afterwards that the panel was extremely well coordinated and flowed. nicely Thanks for inviting me Lori : )

mmmm, cheese steak and lager,,mmmmmm

Published by Joe Sanchez on 10 Jan 2008

ALISE and ALA this week

Tuesday  i jumped on a plane and  flew out East for ALISE and ALA MidWinter, should be a fun time. ALISE is “the hiring” conference for information studies and the conference for education in LIS.  This morning I headed out to the local FOX affiliate for an interview with Loriene Roy ALA president and my suitemate for the week. The weather lady was scandalous, she wore a black coat opened over a lace bra, too hot for Austin TV, but ok for Phili?

I hate flying but i was able to spend time with my nintendo DS. For the trip I loaded TopGun, Brain Age 2, and Classic Arcade Games.DS on the airplane

At the airport I was able to pick up and read one of my favorite teen age magazines (ironically Dimebag was still on the cover). I love Pantera, the Dimebag tribute articles made my eyes swell up a few times. We miss you DIME, Black tooth grin for ya my man 


More real content later : )

Published by Joe Sanchez on 04 Jan 2008

Another Student Machinima Project

This is a machinima created by the G3s, a group of 4 students in my Working in Virtual Worlds class that held a fundraiser at the Happy Clam for a non-profit organization called the Wildlife Trust (see this post below for more info). The students raised 72,000 Linden, about 300USD during their 2 hour benefit party.  This was an open ended video project, the instructions were to keep it to 2 1/2 – 3 minutes, and to have each student’s voice represented in the video.