Archive for September, 2008

Published by Joe Sanchez on 11 Sep 2008

Play between voice and chat

So Hurricane Ike looks it will be hitting Texas pretty hard. I have several students that will be affected by IKE especially those from the Houston and Galveston areas. We decided to board up our condos on the Educators Coop island…I think doing this gave them a chance to express their concern for their families and friends and to feel a little closer to home

ready for IKE

Today’s readings were excerpts from T.L. Taylor’s Play between Worlds and Castronova’s Synthetic worlds. As usual my students loved reading Play Between Worlds and it seemed like they wanted to read a little more of it. I think they really connect when they read about virtual friendships extending into “real” relationships. Many of them had experienced that before. T.L. also seems to expose preconceptions about gender that many students have. Many seemed surprised to find out that T.L. is a women.

In my course i require student’s to have voice capabilities for a few reasons. First, i have a difficult time typing for 1 1/2 hours and anyone who has chatted with me in SL or any active readers of this blog know how frequently i have typos. Second, I want my students to be able to communicate effectively with their project clients which means they need to able to switch between voice and text chat seamlessly. Last semester was the first time i required voice capabilities and students ran into some unforeseen obstacles.

During class time we switch between text and voice chat pretty quickly. Usually I’ll start the class with voice as i introduce the readings or explain the format of the day. WHile I talk students usually ask questions or type comments into the text chat. I usually answer in voice unless i need to give a url or slrul. The discussions usually begin with me asking an open ended question and the first couple of students responding with voice. As they respond other students will use chat to add their comments or reactions. At this point I usually type a question into the chat window to keep the discussion going. What i typically see is that students will respond in text up until something either needs to be clarified or a student wants to tell a story. I also find it easy to type quotes from the readings into the chat window where i can then ask for reactions.

An entertaining but insightful chat exchange about Text Chat vs. Voice from the students of INF 315e
Reading discussion
[2008/09/11 9:47] DP: and yeah I’d rather chat than use voice chat
[2008/09/11 9:47] SS: why
[2008/09/11 9:47] DP: Just seems weird
[2008/09/11 9:47] SS: voice seems easier
[2008/09/11 9:47] DP: It is
[2008/09/11 9:47] VT: i like chatting better too
[2008/09/11 9:47] DP: but it’s a little awkward
[2008/09/11 9:47] VM: i agree voice chat kinda weirds me out
[2008/09/11 9:47] SS: i suppose you’re right
[2008/09/11 9:47] OF: I say like a lot when im describing stories so thats why i dont wanna use voice, but i had to cause typing is too tedius when telling stories
[2008/09/11 9:47] FW: like how we haven’t even been voice chatting now
[2008/09/11 9:47] DP: Exactly
[2008/09/11 9:47] TB: because you speak without getting any feedback like nonverbal cues
[2008/09/11 9:48] DP: You can’t tell if the person is being annoyed by your or left his computer as to real life
[2008/09/11 9:48] OF: lol
[2008/09/11 9:48] DP: So you don’t know how to really talk
[2008/09/11 9:48] DP: just my opinion
[2008/09/11 9:48] SS: you cant tell when people are joking in chat
[2008/09/11 9:48] DP: I think joe left his computer
[2008/09/11 9:48] OF: lmfao
[2008/09/11 9:48] BW: so who is going to break the awkward silence now then?
[2008/09/11 9:48] You: ok, these are all good things to blog about : )
[2008/09/11 9:49] DP: You can tell when people are joknig in chat

Published by Joe Sanchez on 04 Sep 2008

Describe Second Life in one word

one word for Second Life (straight)

My students began logging into Second Life on Tuesday night and most of them have spent between 1-2 hours in SL. In class today (Thursday) i asked them to use one word to describe their experience so far. They came up with interesting words that reinforce the work I’ve done on the Second Life learning curve, particularly in regards to the user experience.

  • Boring
  • complicated
  • frustrating
  • addicting
  • awkward
  • malleable
  • tedious
  • porn
  • advanced
  • empty
  • ugly
  • friendly
  • overwhelming
  • As a caveat, I wanted my students to have a true first time experience so i had them log in to SL on their own and they started at orientation Island. For this particular course since one of our goals is to evaluate virtual worlds as a work platform it is important for me to have the students experience what an average user experiences when they first join Second Life. They need to understand why virtual worlds and SL in particular have such a low retention rate for first time users. If this class wasn’t an information studies course I would not have them go through (dis)orientation, instead I would have them start at NMC and I would be there to immeadiatly teleport them to my class island (Similar to the way we setup the Girlstart 4 day Teen SL camp)

    Why are these words important? First we need to acknowledge that the common perception around the SLED community that students will naturally (as in digital native…) love Second Life is a myth. This is my six semester teaching undergrads in Second Life and i can tell you that most students are disappointed with SL and they expect much more from SL than what is there. Students explained that the words “boring”, “empty”, “ugly” referred to the graphics, the “feel” of SL, and low polygon count of the world when compared to online games they have played. A few of them laughed at the “stretched-out” textures that were plaster all over the virtual world. Seriously, these students are not impressed by the graphics of Second Life in the same kind of ways that educators are. One student said, Sl looks a little better than Runscape but nowhere near early Everquest.

    This part is for Linden Lab… It’s been a few years now that I’ve been tracking the user experience of students and they are still saying the same things about the interface and client…Listen to these words – “frustrating”, “tedious”, “awkward”, “complicated”. The students were describing how difficult it is to leave orientation island and to understand the metaphors of an inventory, islands, welcome area, orientation area, base hair and prim hair, walking “into” the water..etc…

    Some of the positive things the students mentioned were “advanced”, “friendly”, “malleable”, and “addicting”. The students were amazed at the amount of user-generated content in SL and that people they met in SL were overall friendly and would give them things. They felt the ability to edit their appearance to be addicting and many spent way more time on that than they thought. Intrestingly, the students all the way back to Fall 2006 said they same things about their avatars and avatar customization became a key component in the design of a roleplay activity designed for an English course (picture below, paper here)

    Second life Avatars in World Literature

    Now for the last word…”Porn”…not much to say except to acknowledge that SL has a lot of porn and that as educators we need to prepare students to the likely possibility that at some point they will encounter porn in Second Life.

    At the end of the semester I will ask students to again describe SL in one word and I will report the words back on the o’l blog. It’ll be interesting to see if/how they change.
    joe

    Published by Joe Sanchez on 03 Sep 2008

    20 new Students + 13 waiting

    The semester has begun and i have 20 new students with an additional 13 on the wait-list for my Working in Virtual Worlds course. As their first assignment i had them all create a one-minute video introducing themselves to the class. They had to use pictures, a soundtrack, a voiceover and post the final video on youtube. The class started last Thursday so they had all weekend to work on it, the project was due yesterday (tuesday). 18 out of 19 students completed the project without a problem, one student “forgot” and another student posted the file wrong on youtube. All in all i think the assignment was a success and we had a great time watching all of the videos in class.

    In my course I emphasize the importance of the narrative and storytelling. This intro assignment is their first attempt at telling a story and using digital media to help them express their identity. When i first announced the assignment the students were intimidated by the task, but once I broke it down into the core parts, 8 pictures, a theme song, a title, and a voiceover they quickly understood that creating a short movie/slideshow is actually not that hard. As you will see, many of them had fun with it. Next week they will be using Second Life to tell a story in their virtual condos, they have to setup their SL accounts between now and our next class (Thursday) and they will have a full week to decorate the condos.

    Here are a few of my students…

    I also made a one-minute intro video for the class,