Published by Joe Sanchez on 08 Apr 2009

Learning and Role-play April 15 at 6:00pm SLT

Role play in Second Life
April 15 at 6SLT I will be leading an interactive discussion about the use of role-playing for learning in Second Life at ALA Island . During the event we will participate in a role-playing activity so I ask that attendees come dressed as a favorite historical figure. We won’t be judging the avatars so homemade, default, slider-type avatars will be fine. This is a learning experience so please don’t feel the need to purchase a new avatar and by all means don’t be embarrassed if your avatar doesn’t look as good as you like. As you will see, role-play is more about being able to “play” the role rather than looking the part.

I think this will be a fun event and will get us (educators in SL) away from the typical slide show and lecture format that currently dominates educational events in SL. At the event, ALA Tech Source will have a Chapter of “Virtual Worlds: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations” available for free!

From the Tech Source Blog

ALA TechSource is proud to present our first virtual world event—a discussion of virtual worlds, libraries and education with Second Life expert Joe Sanchez. Sanchez, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas, is the author of February’s issue of Library Technology Reports, “Virtual Worlds: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations”.

Please join us on the ALA Island on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:00pm SLT for an exclusive interactive discussion and presentation of his work. We’ll be discussing virtual worlds and their potential to impact library service and freedom of information, as well as Joe’s work with LIS students using Second Life. One of the topics discussed will be role-playing in virtual worlds, so we are asking all participants to come dressed as their favorite historical figure!

Published by Joe Sanchez on 02 Mar 2009

Second Life Report published

Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations

In October i wrote an issue of Library Technology Reports about some of my research in Second Life. The Issue, Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations is now available through the ALA TechSource Bookstore. In the report I identify the Second Life learning curve and how the learning curve creates barriers to student learning. I also discuss ways that i have designed curriculum to overcome the learning curve with specific examples from K-12 – higher education. A former student of mine and my current TA guest authors a chapter about libraries in SL. Her chapter is one of the few pieces I have read that that pushes back against some of the common held beliefs about building a library presence in SL. The editor of LTR says

In this issue of Library Technology Reports, virtual world virtuoso Joe Sanchez takes us beyond a mere exploration of Second Life and looks at the history of virtual worlds and how educators have used them as tools for learning in the twenty-first century. Sanchez extensively and objectively explores the pros and cons of using second life for both educators and librarians, and a chapter guest-authored by LIS student Jane Stimpson examines several examples of public libraries who have established a Second Life presence. Topics covered include:

A Social History of Virtual Worlds
Public Libraries in Second Life: Expanding
Service to the Virtual Environment.
Pedagogical Applications of Second Life
Barriers to Student Learning in Second Life
Understanding the User Experience in Second Life
The Second Life Learning Curve

To read more about the report visit TechSource

Published by Joe Sanchez on 03 Dec 2008

Invitation to Student event

This is an invitation from a group of students enrolled in my Working in Virtual Worlds course at the iSchool at UT Austin. The students have created a presence and SL training for a local non-profit organization called Partnerships for Children. They will be raising Lindens to purchase items such as tooth brushes, shampoo, and diapers for children under the care of Child Protective Services in Austin
Texas.
partnership for children in SL
Their project has three components, creating a presence for the organization, training the members of the organization to use Second Life, and hosting a fundraiser to raise funds in order to purchase basic needs items for children. The picture below is one of the vendors that is selling Real Life toys that will be given to children in Austin. Donations range from 50L for toothpaste through 5000L for a comforter. Please stop by and view their work and make a small donation, everything helps!
partnerships for children 2

Message from Students:____________________________________
This is an invitation to our Holiday Ballroom Gala Event benefiting ?Partnerships for Children. It will be held Wednesday at 4pm(SLT) at the?Educators Coop (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Educators%20Coop%201/74/91/21). It will be formal ballroom attire. We’d ?like for you all to be able to join us in our cause and to help make ?our event a success.
How You Can Help: ?You may go to the 2nd Floor of our space and right-click on any item ?that you may wish to donate and click “Pay.” (The amount in $L should ?be the amount in USD$ needed to purchase the item in real-life. We ?will use the money to purchase these items physically and give them to ?Partnerships for Children’s Rainbow Room.
We hope to see you Wednesday! ?

Published by Joe Sanchez on 10 Oct 2008

Virtual Worlds Expanding Real World Views

Last week after making the official announcement to my students that we had been selected to host a Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur Grant competition in our class I planned on devoting an entire class period to discuss service learning. I asked Leslie Jarmon to give a talk about her Alley Flats project and to discuss the impact it has already had for the community. She agreed and expanded the talk to incorporate a tour of the Non Profit Commons. During the tour she provided my students an opportunity to explore the NPC to find organizations or communities they might be interested in. One of the places we spent time at was Kiva (micro loans Kiva.org ). I’m copying a blog entry from one of my students to share her thoughts about the experience

A Cause for All Means
October 3, 2008
Visiting the Non-Profit Organization island in Second Life had really shown me that a sim could really be used in positive ways. Throughout all the risque features and socialite parties in Second Life, it was such a wonderful thing to find some light through it all. It was a light that reached out into reality and actually affects the lives of real people. Such a light was this island and in this, one of my favorites was Kiva and its cause. I enjoyed see the faces of real people, real people that we can actually help through the awareness provided by Second Life. The Kiva office in Second Life did serve its purpose as a real physical office would in the real world, to create awareness and connect two worlds of people. It is the connection between these two worlds that Kiva provides that serves as the link between two people that transcends all barriers. It really touches my heart that I can help real people help trying to get by in life. I believe that the awareness and promotion of Kiva was very perpetuated especially by the help of Second Life. In fact, thanks to this visit to Kiva from Thursday, I decided to visit Kiva.org and will help to donate a loan to a farming community in Cambodia, which is where my family is from. The people in this picture look a lot like my relatives who have passed away due to the Cambodian Holocaust, otherwise known as the Killing Fields. So seeing that I can contribute some way to these people, who probably have survived the Killing Fields, just as my parents, brings a smile to my face. I am always all for a cause so great and I’m glad to see that there are more non-profit organizations promoting their cause through Second Life. It always makes me see even more that Second Life is really a sim of the real world in that just as there is always bad in the real world and in Second Life, you can also always find good within.

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There were similar reflections posted by students last week many of which involved action on their part. Its surprising to me to see that one experience can set change in motion. If this last week has been any indication, I can’ wait to see how the students answer their service learning challenge.

Published by Joe Sanchez on 08 Oct 2008

Student Build Challenge (video)

On Tuesday my students had to turn in their first collaborative build in Second Life. My instructions for the assignment are below (from an email)

In your teams I want you to create something with your land. You will need a theme, an entry point, some type of navigation, and something interactive or a “feature”. Think back to the tours, the water park had rides, Bear Island had an arcade, The classic car museum was a Museum, what will be your group feature? How will people know where to go? How will they know what to do? How will you make your place a “living structure”? We will spend 15 minutes in your space on Tuesday, October 7.

Some possible themes are:
The Future
Winter Wonderland
Halloween
Small Town texas
The Presidential Campaign
A historic time period
Chaos
Organization
despair
wild west

We had a good time exploring their areas and and they learned some key skills through the process. 1) The difficulties of collaborating in a syncronous environment, 2) the Challenge of permissions in SL when sharing objects as a team, 3) thinking about “interaction” and “living spaces” in a virtual world (how do you design it), 4) hosting a large group of people (18 students + 5 guests). They did a good job and I was able to make a quick and dirty machinima of the their builds, enjoy

Published by Joe Sanchez on 02 Oct 2008

Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur Grant

Its official, my Working in Virtual Worlds course has been selected by the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Foundation to host their first Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur Grant in a virtual world. My students and I are thrilled at the opportunity to partner with the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Foundation. Service learning has been a consistent theme in my Working in Virtual Worlds course and I’m proud to say the service learning component has been student driven. The official press release with details of the grant can be viewed here.

The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation has announced that the University of Texas will hold the first Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur (CASE) grant program for an online virtual world project that serves the community and contributes to student learning. This competition will seek to find the most innovative way for students to serve the community online in the virtual world Second Life.

I have a book chapter describing the Service Learning projects my students have completed in Second Life titled, Virtual Worlds: New Spaces for Service Learning that will published in In Service Learning: Linking Library Education and Practice The book is scheduled for release in the Spring of 2009.

In the meantime, if you want to see what i think is the best example of a service learning project completed in Second Life thus far, please visit the Alley Flats located on Educators Coop 1. The Alley Flats project was completed by Leslie Jarmon’s (Bluewave Ogee) students in the Fall of 2007.

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 22 Apr 2008

Virtual Worlds Overview

Some of the students in my Working in Virtual Worlds class recently submitted an extra credit assignment where they had to pick a virtual world and make a short video providing an introduction for a noob audience. These are the first few i have received.

Habbo Hotel

Furcadia

World of Warcraft

Club Penguin

This extra credit assignment turned out pretty well so i think next semester i will incorporate it into the regular content of the class. Each student will have to create a machinima about their final project so this exercise gave them a little practice before the major movie is due.

Published by Joe Sanchez on 07 Mar 2008

Report from the Trenches: Teaching Second Life

My students begin spring break today which is great for me because while they all head south to the beaches on South Padre Island I get to stay home in student-free Austin and attend SXSW. Since we have almost hit the midpoint in the semester i thought now is a good time to share some of the work they have been doing in my Working in Virtual Worlds Class.

Tasks completed so far in SL:

1. Get to the island

2. Claim a condo

3. Use their condo to tell a story

4. Give a tour of their condo to the class and tell their story

5. Build a flag that waves in the wind, a bench, and send a postcard and notecard

6. Create a group and take the class on a tour of an SL location

7. use a 4096m plot of land and create a scene with a group.

#7 was just completed on Tuesday, mind you, they have had weekly readings, weekly 350 word blog posts, and a test already this semester. Here are the instructions i gave for #7.

In your teams I want you to create something with your land. You will need a theme, an entry point, some type of navigation, and something interactive or a “feature”. Think back to the tours, Mercedes had a car to drive, Mexico had a pyramid etc.. what will be your group feature? We will spend 15 minutes in your space on Tuesday March 2 so have stuff for us to do.

I basically handed over 1/4 sim to four student groups. They have complete access to terraform, build, script anything they want. After a weeks worth of work they created a Winter Wonderland, A Wild West Town, A forest sanctuary, and a tropical beach. I made a quick and dirty 2 minute screen capture of the class on tuesday. Take a look and see what they did.

Published by Joe Sanchez on 06 Dec 2007

Last day of class Fall 07

Well tomorrow is my last day of class for Working in Virtual Worlds. Its been a very interesting semester and it ended with quite bang last night at the Custom car and Motorcycle show. The sim peaked out at 62 avatars and many people were sending me IMs trying to get into the show but the sim was jammed pack. The Drag Rats, the student group hosting the event, did a great job networking with the Saints of Hell at Slaytona to organize their event. The live Dj played great tunes and the outfits and dancing were outrageous. I felt like i was at a biker rally. I think the students enjoyed themselves too, it was a perfect ending to our SL experiences this semester.

Students of UT present Custom Motorcycle Show

 

Before the event I was able to take a class picture in SL, a few of  the students had already left by the time I remembered to take the snapshot but this is a good sample of our rag tag bunch. 

INF 315e Class Photo Fall 2007

I’ll be writing more about the class and my reflections on teaching this semester in the next few weeks as things start to slow down. I’m can’t wait to see the end 0f semester evaluations, the Virtual Team analysis reports, and the final machinimas being completed by the class on December 17.