website tracking

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

PBL event at Coventry

I went along to a conference in-world hosted by Coventry University for a discussion on using Problem Based Learning in SL on Tuesday. We gathered in an arena of standing stones, nice touch, and it soon became clear to me how International the gathering was with candidates from the US, Germany and Hong Kong. In fact while so many people in RL are wondering about the advantages that virtual worlds can possibly offer, this surely this must be one. Forget carbon footprints and think about the joys of industrial action, cancelled flight, terrorist alert and DVT free long haul travel. Anyway, coming from a computing background, it was refreshing to see such a range of interests that included Language and Design, Science, Architecture, Marketing Economics and Games Technology, and I must a have missed a few others, plus some very notable SL freelance developers. All in all this made for a good mix and I am sure promoted the lively discussion that followed.

Of course before you can get student or staff involvement for that matter, there has to a learning curve and this was discussed from a number of perspectives with estimates of 6 to 8 hours just to accommodate the demands of Inventory, Search, Maps and Events etc, in other words the day to day housekeeping type of activities. Then coming to the acquisition of reasonable competence in Linden Scripting, an estimate of 6x90 minute sessions for non-programmers was proposed, and 5 hours for building, which seemed to pass virtually without opposition, so that would seem to set a rough benchmark. So if you are proposing rolling these particular aspects of SL to classes, this I am certain will help your planning. And do bare mind as someone pointed out, that the general comfort zone with the interface probably doesn’t start until somewhere between 10 and 20 hours of use anyway.

There was a fair bit of discussion around PBL and builds in SL and again this is another of those curves, which along with all the other things that will need to be learnt in this new virtual world may be frustrated by access given the hardware and connection speed demands in running SL. Though having said that, I am reminded of the assertions that would emanate from the ‘one hand clapping’ school of philosophy, do you need SL to learn SL? Did I need a computer to learn programming? Well not all the time and with the availability of SL books and websites especially the numerous YouTube videos, you can and I do learn a great deal about SL in RL. From my own perspective I am currently pursuing a programme of encouraging students to work as online collaborative communities, and so building and scripting aside, for me SL is truly the ‘Killer App’ of all Social Networking software.

The idea of implementing PBL using SL as a roll play adventure, almost treasure trail, combined web link type of web quest exercise was an interesting one, that a few people seemed to have plans for and others latched onto including myself with enthusiasm. The whole idea of using roll play brought out a surprising raft of ideas surrounding the prospect of an avatar being more RL than SL, in that you could induce the need for food, water, the hazards of injury, survival etc.

I must say that for me utilising the net is central to many of my activities and plans for SL. The arrival web page on a prim is going to give us all some good in-world opportunities to make use of the wider Internet, and I look forward to that with eager anticipation, while at the same time of courses appreciating the substantial difficulties technically in being able to make this happen.

I left the session, with some new ideas in mind and a sense of growing fascination with the way that SL is being adapted to the needs of its residents and look forward to more long haul, short stay conference teleporting.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Voice in SL

I have just downloaded the and installed the Second Life FirstLook client that support 3D voice and it seems to be working fine on the main grid. Once you have the client running and logged into the grid there are a few new parameter that need to be set from the SL Edit/preferences option, but if you follow this link it will take you to a Flash movie tutorial for those specific settings. My first impression is that even using a pair of headphones for the £1 store, the results are fine, delays are minimal. From my perspective in using SL principally as a personalised learning and collaborative social networking tool for students, the arrival of real time in-world speech provides an even more immersive and engaging experience, though I know there are calls from those who see this feature signifying a loss of anonymity particularly for accent and gender. But take take heart on that one, voice distortion is I am sure is just around the corner for those out there for who this is a genuine concern. I know eagerly await the arrival of web page on a prim, but then isn't that just typical, some people are never happy are they.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Mag Rack

While browsing around SL recently, I noticed that a number of free or very cheap in-world magazines are being published, so I decided to create a new rack in my virtual library. Prim Perfect is a genearl type SL mag while Voodoo Extreme specialises in gaming. Hope you enjoy the facility and please be sure to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Mags and videos

While I have been busy publishing some more Shimmer Island videos and posting them on to YouTube this week, I have also come across an excellent online newspaper, the Metaverse Messenger, its a pdf with back issues, very well produced and packed full of articles, well worth a read.

Friday, 6 July 2007

SI on YouTube

I have been able to present my work in Second Life on two occasions this last week. Firstly at a CAMEL (Collaborative Approaches to the Management of E-learning), event held here at Bromley College and then at the Greenwich University 'Designing for Learning' Conference. It was at the conference that the use of pre-recorded videos really came into their own, when just before my slot, Linden Labs took SL down for a scheduled update. The day was saved though, because I had screen videod my material just in case the night before. I have now started to upload these with voice over to YouTube and you can find the first in the series at this link