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 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 13 Aug 2008

    TeenGrid project SXSW Panel

    Stem Skytower aka North Lamar
    The last few weeks I’ve been working with Girlstart
    on a summer camp in Teen Second Life. My Teen avatar is pictured above, Stem Skytower is the name. The camp attendees included 19 high school juniors the first week and 23 the second week. The girls came into TSL without any experience. Following a 4 day curriculum based on my undergraduate class, the girls were able to create extraordinary exhibits about women in technology, girls in gaming, and other STEM (science technology, engineering, math) topics.

    I’ll be posting more about the projects and the data we collected in the process. My initial reading of the surveys show that this curriculum once again breaks the Second Life learning curve.
    Fat suits created by GirlStart Teens
    We submitted a panel to SXSW (South by Southwest SXSW) so if you have time I’d appreciate a vote : )

    Gaming as a Gateway Drug: Getting Girls Interested in Technology

    Wanted: Girl Gamers! It’s not just about playing, but using play to ignite a crucial spark. This session will explore how educators, parents and the community can use video games to attract girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).
    vote here

    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 http://www.lively.com/dr?rid=6257502609839847777 ….

    Published by Joe Sanchez on 27 Jun 2008

    ALA 2008…Day 1

    American Library Association 2008 Annual Conference

    After a late night participating in the ITEA conference in Second Life I have finally arrived in Anaheim for the American Library Association Annual Conference. This is the largest conference these eyes have ever seen. I’m not sure how many people will be attending but the Convention Center and surrounding Hotels (plural) are all being used for various sessions and meetings. The conference starts on saturday but many people are already here and there must have 15 attendees on my flight from Austin heading to the conference. The ALA 2008 wiki is nice way to get a glimpse of the size of this conference.

    Tomorrow from 1:30 – 3:30 I will be hosting the 5th Annual Forum on Education. The forum will focus on Service Learning and will feature a celebration of our ALA Editions book The Service Connection: Library and Information Science Education and Service to Communities. A few authors (including me) will present a synopsis of their chapters as we present our ideas and examples of service learning. My chapter is called “Real World Learning in Virtual Spaces: Service Learning 3.0”.

    After the book chapters we will hold a researchpalooza where 12 Master’s students will tell us about their service learning projects in 90 seconds or less… Once they have all shared their projects we will break into a traditional poster session followed by facilitated small group discussions. I posted the abstracts of each project on the ALA wiki if you want to browse through them. The forum will be in the Hilton hotel, California Pavilion B.
    the forum agenda:
    1:30 – 1:40 Introductions and ALA welcome
    1:40 – 1:55. Celebration of Service Learning Book
    1:55 – 2:10 Emerging Leaders Service Connection
    2:10 – 2:30 Researchpalooza
    2:30 – 3:00 Poster Sessions
    3:00 – 3:15 Small group discussions
    3:15 – 3:30 large group discussion

    and these are the questions we will use for the facilitated discussion:

    1. What is your biggest “take away” form this Forum? In other words, what information will you take home and share with your colleagues?

    2. In what ways can you integrate Service Learning projects into your library, classroom, or curriculum?

    3. What is one thing that surprised or impressed you about the types of Service Learning projects presented?

    4. What does Service Learning mean to you?

    5. Are any Service Learning projects similar to a project you are currently working on or recently completed at your library? How do the two overlap? If they do not overlap, do you see a way that a current project can be turned into a Service Learning project.

    6. In your current role as a library professional, library educator, library administrator, or library student, what types of Service Learning projects are you interested in? How can you integrate your personal interest with a Service learning project?

    7. Two connections I noticed between Service Learning projects and ALA initiatives are …..

    Saturday I will be part of a panel focused on virtual worlds, i’ll post more about it tomorrow…check our Sweet Suite
    Sweet Suite front

    The Sweet Suite balcony

    Published by Joe Sanchez on 26 Jun 2008

    Learning Through Enquiry Alliance (LTEA) tonight in SL

    http://networked-inquiry.pbwiki.com/f/12-06_ltea_2.jpg

    Tonight in Second Life or perhaps this morning (2am Central time) my friend Sheila Yoshikawa/Sheila Webber from Sheffield University will be hosting a RL/SL conference,LTEA 2008: Inquiry in a Networked World. I will be assisting with the SL portion of the conference as a moderator just in case Sheila runs into technical problems during the Real Life conference.

    Shelia has arranged for quite a bit of interaction between the RL and Sl attendees. Two examples are copy and pasted from her blog:

    Programme
    00.00 – 01.20 (i.e. starting 8am UK time; 5pm Sydney, Australia time) Inquiry into IBL
    LTEA2800 in SL will start by mirroring the exercise that will have been carried out as the opening plenary in the RL conference: participants will share their ideas about IBL and identify questions or issues about IBL that they would like to explore. Photos and text from the RL conference will have been uploaded to the conference wiki (http://networked-inquiry.pbwiki.com/) and SL delegates will be able to respond to these ideas as well as producing their own ideas about IBL and (if they want) 3D representations. The outcomes from this SL session will also be uploaded to the wiki.

    01.30-02.20 (i.e starting 9.30am UK time, 6.30pm Sydney time) IBL in SL
    The session consists of an interaction between participants in the RL conference and participants in SL.
    Delegates at the SL track of LTEA2008 will lead discussion aiming to illuminate the possibilities for Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) in SL. RL delegates will participate via their own avatars or via facilitators and observation of the data screen. Participants may also compare their views of IBL, and reflect on the affordances of the RL and SL conference in developing these views. Lyn Parker (Maggie Kohime in SL) will lead the RL participants.

    I’m excited to be a part of the conference and to see how the participation between the real and virtual audiences occur. I have attend conferences in a face-to-face setting that streamed SL into the room and I have attended Second Life conferences where video streams of presenters were displayed to SL audiences. Sheila has put a lot of thought into creating interaction between the two audiences going beyond the typical virtual audience asking questions to the f2f. Here is a picture taken from the face-to-face conference of the participants drawing on the table cloths during lunch
    table cloth

    It will be challenge to stay awake since the conference begins at 2am my local time. It doesn’t help that I will be heading to the airport to fly out to ALA Annual conference at 6am….its’ going to be a rough night : )

    To register, email LTEA2008inSL@gmail.com with your RL and SL name. You will be invited to join a SL group (as access to Infolit iSchool will be restricted to conference delegates)

    update
    ITEA 2008 conference” alt=”Learning in Second Life” />
    Here is a picture of the Second Life session…I think this image of the SL users “visualizing” Inquiry based learning is fun to compare with the face-2-face table cloth drawings

    Published by Joe Sanchez on 31 May 2008

    Space Navigator

    Last week my 3Dconnexion space navigator mouse arrived in the mail and I finally had an opportunity to play with it today. After a simple software install the mouse connected to my Mac without a problem, I’m running 10.5.2.

    IMG_0235.JPG

    I was pretty excited to try it out with Second Life so I logged in. Tried to fly…nothing happened. I tried to rez a box…nothing happened. I looked up the 3Dconnexion space navigator webpage and it said the software is only compliant with Second Life 1.20 (7). I needed to download the the release candidate, which I’m glad did (the release candidate works so much better on my machine than the current SL download).

    The space mouse was hard to use at first. It really is a different way to navigate the world. To fly, you pull the mouse up and to land you push the mouse down. To pan you twist the mouse to the left or right . I found it easy to fly around a sim and to land but it was difficult to simply walk up to an avatar and have a conversation. I kept bumping into people….user error

    Building wise the space navigator was a bit overwhelming at first. It was amazing to watch as I was effortlessly twirling prims around on their various axis. Be sure to lock all the surrounding objects including your attached items when you first use the space navigator. If you accidently select an object you are wearing and touch the space navigator your object will get tilted, twisted or flipped pretty quickly. See the picture below. I was wearing wings while I was rotating a box and at some point I clicked my wings which then got all twisted and out of line (this will make no sense to a non SL user). The 3Dconnexion space navigator worked very well with Google Sketchup, in fact it made the tool easier to use. I’m looking forward to learning how to work with the new tool.
    crooked wings

    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 28 Apr 2008

    Student Project in Second Life

    Tonight April 27, 2008 the first group of my students will be hosting their final project in Second Life. The group is having a carnival complete with rides, games, clowns, and DJ to raise money for Wheelies (see the movie below) starting at 6SLT.

    carnival_001

    This is a picture of their rehearsal held on Thursday afternoon. Please join us tonight and help them raise money for a great cause and to see an example of what students can achieve in Sl

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