Published by Joe Sanchez on 11 Jul 2008

Learning in Lively

Learning in Lively 4

This morning (7/10/08) at 10am CST I brought my students at the University of Texas at Austin into Lively for a class session. We met in Lively for a little over an hour. During that time we built a room for the Educators Coop and taught each other how to use various tools such as embed URLS into objects, embed youtube movies into objects, and change the music stream in the room. We had a pretty good time playing with the default animations such as body slam and punch. Overall as a class we found it easy to use though very limiting since we couldn’t create our content. After a few minutes we had added just about every type of object into the room and there was little to do after that. We had a lot of fun discovering and i think my students enjoyed seeing me in a position where i was asking them for advice about building and navigating in a virtual world

Learning in Lively 1

We did visit the Linden lab room built by Pathfinder but there were way too many people there and we experienced a lot of lag. I choose a pig avatar and as you can see my students picked a variety of other types of avatars. It will be interesting to see what Lively becomes. I’m most excited by the browser-based client and the ability to embed rooms into web pages..especially facebook.
Learning in Lively 3

The room we made is here ….

Published by Joe Sanchez on 29 Apr 2008

Student Event: Second Life Idol

Tuesday night from 6-8SLT a group of students in my class will be hosting thier final project; Second Life Idol at the Music Academy Online in SL.    They have 8 contestants, all Real Life singers who perform in Second Life lined up and ready to go. The event will be three rounds with audience voting to determine the winners. a 5000L prizer and an iTunes gift card will be given to the winner. During the event donations will be taken for the Relay for Life. Last Thursday the event was featured on the Music Academy Live weekly broadcast on SLCN.TV. A clip of the show is below.

Watch the video


Published by Joe Sanchez on 17 Dec 2007

Student machinima

This is the first of four student machinima projects I will be posting created by the students of Working in Virtual Worlds, a class I teach in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. Students were required to plan, coordinate, and host an event in Second Life as part of the class activities. Originally we had planned on having two tests in the semester but when the students asked to replaced the second test with a machinima project I agreed ; ).

The machinima project was an open assignment, i required the machinima be about the event they held and that every group member’s voice be heard. Other than that they had creative freedom. This is a video produced by the Drag Rats (4 students) who held a custom motorcycle show in Second Life. Many thanks to the Saints of Hell in Second Life for agreeing to partner and work with the students on their assignment. As you will see, the event was a huge success, at the highest point over 60 avatars were at the event. The video is five minutes and the students begin their narrative about 3 1/2 minutes into it.

Corin Lipinski led this team and produced most of the video. She graduated last week from UT Austin with a degree in Advertising and she is looking for an entry-level job in Austin. As you can see she is very fluent in everything Second Life and Web 2.0, if you have an opportunity available or have any leads for her please email me and I will put you in contact with her.

joe / North lamar

Published by Joe Sanchez on 21 Nov 2007

y I <3 SL

Music Academy OnlineOne of my favorite places in Second Life is the Music Academy Online, if you are a music lover and you haven’t visted Benton Wunderlich yet, you need to get there. I met Benton through Joskie, a fellow Educator Coop resident. At my first visit to the music academy Benton was hosting one of his weekly Wednesday night dance parties (9pm) where he was pulling songs from his vast music collection. Great thing with Benton is that he not only plays great songs but he can’t help but tell you about each one as he plays them. Keep in mind, he has taught music appreciation and has a Ph.D. in composition so he “knows” his collection.Monday night night I attended a presentation by Benton called ZAPPA AND IVES. The content of the presentaton was fantastic but the way Benton used Second Life to create a musical experience within SL is what really blew me away.

Music Academy Online 2

Benton began the presentation by giving each person a notecard with a short Biographical sketch of Ives and Zappa along with a list of tracks and albums he would be playing. Next, Benton described the similarities of each composer and gave a little bit of historical background. From there, Benton started to play his selected tracks. At this point, Second Life surpassed any other medium including face-to-face, television, radio, or any other combination of multimedia. Here is how and why

Music Academy Online 3

1.Benton streamed music through Second Life and a very high bit rate that enabled each user to control the volume and level of the music they were listening to. Initially I was listening to the music through my speakers but when I wanted to get a “closer look” I plugged in my headset. This individual control of the audio level surpasses a listening session in a face-to-face environment; an audience member cannot simply turn up the volume in a public setting.

2. Benton used text chat to prompt the listeners when important transitions were about to occur. Text chat is the key. In another environment such as face-to-face or radio, Benton would have had to speak above the music to prompt listeners. Doing this would have been a distraction from listening to the music. Text chat on the other hand didn’t get in the way of the music and for me at least, provided a richer experience.

3. Having the event in Second Life created a shared experience for the audience. I interacted with Benton and other audience members. I knew they were “there”. In fact, the audience requested that Benton replay one of the songs we listened to. SL enabled the shared experience, allowed interaction between the audience, and created feedback loops for the presenter.

Music Academy Online 1

4. Visual aids, while Benton was playing a work by Ives he displayed a picture of a conductors score with hand written notes on it. Seeing the Score helped to show the complexity of the music and illustrated the variations that can be taken with a piece. Plus, it was just plain cool to see a musical score to the piece of music you are listening to. In addition to the score, pictures of both Ives and Zappa were displayed.

The combination of the music, the narrative, the shared experience, and the visual aids created an authentic learning experience in Second Life that in many ways surpasses an experience in Real Life.

Check out the Music Academy Online in Second Life when you get a chance, a calendar of events is available hereTell Benton El Guappo Sent you….

Published by Joe Sanchez on 13 Nov 2007

Invitation to Student Project in SL

The G3s - student project

This Thursday the first of four student groups in INF 315e will be having their team event in Second Life. The “G3s” as they have named themselves are hosting a benifit party at the Happy Clam this Thursday from 7-9PST

Their invitation is below. I hope to see some of you there, they are tyring to raise $60,000L for the habitat Trust for Wildlife.

We are a group of students from the University of Texas at Austin. We are enrolled in a class ” Working in Virtual Worlds”. As part of a class project:

We are hosting an event on Thursday, November the 15.
9-11 pm central time. 7-9 pm SL time.

It will be a benefit concert at the Happy Clam Island. On the Organica Stage.

The organization we are raising money for is “The habitat Trust for Wildlife”

“The Habitat Trust for Wildlife is a SL group and RL nonprofit charity dedicated to Giving Nature Sanctuary. We acquire globally imperiled habitats for rare, threatened and endangered species in the USA. In addition, we have research projects on coral reefs in the Caymen Islands and Cozemel, Mexico. Our priority is the conservation of biodiversity hotspots. We presently own and manage over 500-habitat acres in Southern California.”

Thank you
Adrienne Pinklady
Allie Pizzicato
Dre Hastings
None Benazz

Published by Joe Sanchez on 03 Nov 2007

Breaking the Second Life Learning Curve #2

Its conference season which means I haven’t been posting lately but I wanted to revist my post about breaking the SL High Learning curve. To recap, I have a class of 20 undergrads at Univeristy of Texas at Austin and I am teaching a course in Second Life called Working in Virtual Worlds. We meet once a week in class and once a week in SL. I have never offered a “training” session or a handbook or any other of the “best practices” often talked about at SLED events. In fact, i really wish we would stop using the term “best practices” in regards to teaching in SL. We should replace it with “some practices” but that is another blog post…

My class island was setup so that each student would have their own space, a condo. The first week of class each student had to claim a condo and by the fourth day of class each student had to use their condo to tell their life story following the “hero’s journey” and give a tour and presentation to their classmates. The condos were fully integrated into my curriculum for the first four weeks of class.
INF 315e life stories in SL

Task 1 – Claim a condo
For students to claim a condo they needed to put their name on it. I didn’t give the class any directions here; I let them fend for themselves. To put thier name on a condo the students had to learn how to import a texture, create a prim, texture the prim, resize the prim, move the prim, and place the prim on the outside of their condos. Putting your name on a prim is an easy thing to do but remember, these students had only been in SL for a week(including a three day weekend), and most had only been in for a few hours at this point.
Inf 315e first day of class
The students used a variety of tools to create their textures. A few used PowerPoint to make a slide, then they exported the slide as a jpeg, a couple used Illustrator or Photoshop, some used Microsoft paint, but the majority used a variety of Myspace Banner creation tools such as Pimp Text or Glitter Text. I didn’t know about these tools and this is a perfect example of why teachers in SL need to allow room for students to find their own solutions. If I would have set boundaries or given them instructions I would have merely forced them into using my solution (Powerpoint into Jpeg) rather than having them solve a problem and create their own solution (Pimp-text).

All of my students were able to accomplish this task on time. I do not teach in a computer lab and the projector installed in my classroom only has a resolution of 800×600 so I can’t really demonstrate SL in my classroom because the screen can’t display the entire interface. My students were able to pick a condo, place their name on the condo, and take a screenshot of their condo with out having a training session, a meeting in SL, a guide book, a list of tutorials or any thing other kind of “training” materials.

What they did have was a short doable task, a virtual assignment anchored in a real life task, a visual product which allowed students to model their behaviors based on other work they saw, a “game” or rather a competition to claim the best condo (ocean front of course), opportunities to help each other out, and an opportunity to be creative. Creating a texture with their name on it gave each student an opportunity to express themselves to the class. All in all I would say this assignment had a high level of internal motivation and the successful completion of the assignment gave each student a little bit of self confidence in their ability to create in SL. By the second class day we started to demystify Second Life

Published by Joe Sanchez on 27 Sep 2007

IBM Protest in Second Life

I woke up at 3:30am and I couldn’t go back to sleep so i decided to log in to SL to see if i could visit with some of my international friends. I saw a large gathering at CommonWealth island so i headed over to see what was going on. This is what I saw
I teleported right into the middle of the staging ground for the IBM virtual strike.
IBM workers are organizing the first virtual strike in history. It is taking place on several of IBM’s islands in Second Life.

Based on the info available at the staging ground, the strike centers around a labor dispute in Italy where workers asked for a 40 euro’ raise during their contract negotiations. IBM refused and in turn cut their employees “productive results benefit”, a 1000 euro loss. Since IBM is often cited as a company with a Second Life presence, the striking employees thought it would be a good idea to leverage the press attention IBM receives and turn it towards their cause. I took a snapshot of the Protest information card, click on the image for a full size view.


Of course, my main interest in the virtual strike is in the approach the people use to collaborate through the virtual world environment. This virtual event is very well organized. A staging area is used on CommonWealth island where instructions are given to each avatar along with a protest kit that includes a t-shirt, several signs with slogans, giant floating fish that an avatar can attach to themselves, and a notecard with instructions and details about the protest. The protest packages are in several different languages. Strike leaders are positioned at the staging ground directing the strikers to a particular IBM island. Once there, avatars simply stand or walk around the island holding their signs. Below is a snapshot from the IBM Business Center at 4:17 am Central time.
IBM Protest

In the picture you can see the protest t-shirts, signs, and a giant protest fish in the back ground. An interesting side note, during the setup period for the protest, the administrators of CommonWealth island “locked down” the island anticipating that anti-protester “griefers” would cause problems so they disallowed scripts on their land. Unfortunately, the strikers planned on using a teleport script from the staging area to the IBM islands. Since the use of scripts was turned off, strikers had a difficult time getting to the virtual strike. Keep in mind, the strikers are mostly Italian and the leaders seem to be English speakers (at least while I was around), which caused a lot of confusion. But, what happens when virtual world groups run into communication problems? That’s right, Web 2.0 technologies get introduced to save the day, in this case, a blog

The blog was used as an alternative means to provide teleporting coordinates to each striker. SLURLs were posted for each protest location along with instructions in English and Italian. The strikers are well behaved, they stay out of the way of any work going on at IBM islands and they are simply wearing low prim protest signs. At one point an anti-protester griefer did release a particle weapon but it was mostly harmless and the Mario images gave us all something to talk about : )

IBM strike

Published by Joe Sanchez on 21 Sep 2007

Breaking the Second Life Learning Curve

Much has been said though little published about the high learning curve in Second Life. In a research study I wrote last year, Second Life an Interactive Qualitative Analysis, students reported a very high learning curve in SL. In fact, the IQA systems map of the affinities reported Anger as a primary outcome of the student Second Life experience. Along with Anger, interface difficulties and technical difficulties were secondary drivers within the system.
Second Life an Interactive Qualitative Analysis

The student experience in this particular case was heavily influenced by the instructional design of the course, the lack of Second Life experience by the instructor, and the terribly erratic Second Life crashes and downloads from the Fall of 2006. The students in this undergraduate English course were indeed angry about their experiences in SL. Many did not see the connection between Second Life and their curriculum and when students would ask for help, their instructor and IT support staff did not have the expertise to assist them. Students were also asked to build objects way beyond their capabilities thus leading to the belief that Second life has a “high learning curve”.

I receive frequent email inquiries about Second Life an Interactive Qualitative Analysis, most being about the high learning curve in Second Life. Seems like this paper has become one of the sources of the Second Life high learning curve literature. Yes, students reported a high learning in their Second Life user experience. The data from this class is a snapshot of the student experience in Second Life during the Fall of 2006. It isn’t a definitive statement about every Second Life student experience in SL, though many valuable lessons can be learned from this particular Second Life implementation. In fact, many of the lessons learned from the year long study can be found in a Sociotechnical Analysis of Second Life, a paper focusing on the administrative side of supporting a Second Life implementation at a university. Which brings me to my point, Breaking the Second Life Learning Curve.

INF 315e Second Life classroom

This semester I’m teaching a course called Working in Virtual Worlds. I have twenty undergrads and we meet Tuesday and Thursdays from 11-12:15. Tuesdays we meet face-to-face and Thursdays we meet in Second Life. I’m using ¼ sim as my classroom, I feel that is the minimum size needed for a course if you expect your students to build and host events. So what does my classroom look like? My classroom for the first part of the class has a large beach, five condo buildings, a movie theater, giant tennis balls, and skeet shooting. Students in my course have to choose a condo to live in, this is their space. To choose a condo, students were required to put their name on it. I didn’t give the students instructions on how to do this, they were challenged to figure it our for themselves. In this exercise, students learned how to import images, how to work with textures, how to build signs, to rotate objects, and how to control the XYZ axis for positioning, and how to purchase Linden dollars. To reiterate, they learned this without any directions from me…. My next post I’ll share the many ways they accomplished this and their second assignment, which was to tell their life story in Second Life. In the first week of the semester, I got students to break the myth of the “high learning curve” of Second Life. Below is a picture of the Second Week of class, students giving tours of thier first build.

INF 315e life stories in SL

Published by Joe Sanchez on 20 Aug 2007

Exploring Virtual worlds

I finally had a chance to post a video project I’ve had on the backburner all summer. This video “Exploring Virtual Worlds” is a conceptual piece for a video series I’ll be making over the next few months about virtual worlds. The video was shot between April and May and already some of the info like Starwood Hotels in SL is outdated. Time moves pretty quickly in virtual worlds. The original video is two minutes longer and it actually gets into the heart of the virtual world experience. But, since the audience for this video is people (educators more specifically) who have never heard of virtual worlds, I thought I would scale the images and videos back and feature more Real Life than virtual life.

The video is shot with a greenscreen backdrop, edited with Final Cut Pro and finished off with After Effects. The soundtrack is a cumbia written by an Austin Band named Grupo Fantasma, they are currently on tour with Prince. Catch them if you can, they have an unbelievable life show. Enjoy the video…

Published by Joe Sanchez on 07 Aug 2007

Teachers, college students lead a Second Life

USA Today
Beth Sussman from USA Today wrote a short piece about universities teaching in Second Life. Beth Ritter-Guth, a resident of the Educators Coop, is quoted in the article as she describes her Literature Alive! program in Second Life. I also get a nice quote towards the end of the article ,but, what I’m most excited about is that they printed pictures of my class.

This article is nice because it helps to explain the types of teaching activities some of us are doing in Second Life. The article even made the light bulb click for my dad who now has a good understanding of my work. He even made a few excellent wisecracks. The funniest is his comparison of the role-play activity featuring Malcolm X and Mother Teresa with the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Bill & Ted
He membered (yes, he said it just like this) how I constantly watched Bill and Ted with my younger brother. Anyway, for those not familiar with one the greatest movies of all time I’ll give you the basic plot. Bill and Ted are a couple of high school metal-heads with dreams of becoming a super rock group called the Wylde Stallions. Bill and Ted are both failing high school history and if they don’t pass the class, Bill’s dad will send him to military school. As Bill and Ted try and figure out how to pass they are confronted by Rufus (George Carlin). Rufus is a man from the future who eventually tells Bill and Ted that they are going to be a super big rock band who will eventually bring about world peace, but, they must pass their history class. Rufus gives them a time machine and the adventure begins. The movie ends with a climactic finish when Bill and Ted bring Ghengis Kahn, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and many others into their history class presentation. So, My dad equates role-play in Second Life with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

After hearing from my dad, my older brother then tells me that i’m not doing anything new at all because Dire Straits had the virtual world concept nailed down back in the 80’s. Touché…