Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Second Second Life Experience

Yesterday I posted about the Second Life Backlash and Controversy, with corporations supposedly abandoning SL and moving on.

At Virtual Learning Worlds "Bartman" responds to that Wired article (A Deserted Second Life):

The problem I have with it [the Wired article], is that it deals almost COMPLETELY with Second Life as it pertains to marketing and corporations…and inevitabley why SL sucks in that space. I really wish we could get away from this argument for a while. Sure, SL has its issues (technololgy infrastructure, support, shady adult content, unstable and unpredictable economy to name a few), but it still holds HUGE potential for education and training opportunities.

And Karl Kapp talks about the inevitable hype curve in which Second Life is now in the midst. Kapp Notes: The Metaverse Hype, Decline and Realism Cycle--We've Seen It Before

However, a small group of people will continue to plod along in Second Life (or other 3D metaverses) because they see the potential. They see through the hype and understand the potential as well as the limitations of these worlds for learning.

So yesterday, after viewing the SL student video that Karl Kapp had posted in Try Before You Buy, I ventured back. I wanted to check out Renaissance Island, the Second Louvre Museum, and other areas of interest shown in the video.

The students suggest that role playing, taking on someone else's role (experience schizophrenia at UC Davis' Hallucinations site), and guided tours of historical sites are great uses of SL.

[In the comments on that post, Sean Fitzgerald left a link to a great listing of educational SL sites.]

Thankfully, my second foray into the virtual world of Second Life was much better than my first. After logging in, I immediately teleported to Renaissance Island. It's an Elizabethan village, complete with churches and sheep. I started off in the town center.

A box next to the landing point offered a free peasant dress. I tried putting on the dress, but all I could do was put the box on my head, which looked really silly. So I stuck with my normal outfit. There's a lot of things I still need to figure out with SL if I'm really going to get into it, but I think there are some things that it's just fine not to master.

I started wandering around town. A young woman with spiked heels, belly shirt and a glowing belly button approached me and we starting talking. I must admit I found the belly button thing distracting.

So it turns out she's an instructor's assistant at a community college that is starting to experiment with SL. They are thinking of potential uses, including biology and chemistry classes. "Students will be able to experiment without blowing up the lab," she told me.

We talked a bit about gender issues in SL. She says she's been hit on plenty of times and simply avoids the "sex" sites.

We parted and I started to wander. I went into a few houses. There was a lovely collection of Renaissance paintings in one, including Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, which I've always loved. The resolution is poor -- if you were really studying these works for an art history class, you'd want something much better.

I went to a church and learned how to kneel. It was a lovely space. While kneeling in front of the altar, I started to modify my appearance. What sacrilege!

I've been trying to create an avatar who looks something like me, but it's tough. You can spend hours modifying the gravity of your breasts or the height of your chin. After 5 minutes of that, I stopped praying to the Gods of Beauty and moved on.

Another house had a note attached to the wall, which contained a great historical overview of Elizabethan towns. Overall, I think this is a wonderful use of SL with great educational opportunities. Imagine an 8th grade class exploring the village while reading Romeo & Juliet.

In spite of all the SL debate, in spite of the backlash, I intend to keep exploring.


Rebekah Simonds said...

Next time you try to wear an outfit in SL and end up wearing a box, try this:
1. Right click on the box
2. Select edit
3. From the edit pop-up box, select the "contents" tab
4. Drag the folder from "contents" into your inventory
5. In your inventory menu, right click on the item
6. Select "wear"
7. Or, if it is an item that goes on a specific body part, such as a glove, select attach
8. from the menu select the appropriate body part

I hope this helps!

Yz Oh (Rebekah Simonds)

I am one of the authors of the machinima video that you referred to in your posting.

Cammy Bean said...


Thanks so much for the info....I've been flailing around a lot in the menus when I'm on my own in SL. Which is why I think guides are necessary.

Kudos to you and your classmates for creating such a wonderful intro to SL!

Anonymous said...

Cammy, glad you liked Renaissance Island--I'm one of the team that has worked on it, and we are very proud of it (did you make it to the Manor House with the library and links? how about the Galleon at the wharf? the recreation of the Globe?).

Currently most of the learning going on at Ren Island is informal adult learning, as people from different backgrounds and discipliens work togher and learn from each other.

Eventually we hope to have more student invovlement, such as having them research and write addtional notecards like the one you picked up about the history of Elizabethan towns.

Sometime if you would like to have a bit of a guded tour inthe rest of Ren Isalnd (and perhaps some suggestions of other interesting places) IM me in-world.

Diogenes Kuhr

Cammy Bean said...

Diogenese....I'm so glad you found me here! And I did not check out all of those other luscious tidbits you had mentioned, so I'll be sure to go back and explore more.

Tell me more about how you got involved with Ren Island. Is your team an informal team of people who just happened to like this stuff? Are you connected through a university or some organization? What's the story there?

And I'll be sure to look you up next time I'm in-world. (I'm Bliss Yue).

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy,
I became involved in Ren Island like most people did..they happened to find out about (I did through a good friend who did a lot of the build) some time hanging around and enjoying it, and then volunteered to do stuff. This last weekend, I volunteered to represent Queen Elizabeth I at the christening of the new galleon and the team, was kind enough to let me give it a shot. We had a blast, and learned a lot in the process (who would have guessed that a Tudor era ships christening was real different from the version we are familiar with today?)

Anyway, the team is sort of informal, although there are a couple of people from the Alliance Library system who are the primary team leaders, so working with us is perhaps part o their job. Other team leaders are some of the people who have been working on it as volunteers for some time.

The group that is active includes people from different backgrounds, including teachers, librarians, a museum guy, and people who work in or have retired various businesses, including customer service, hospitality, and tech related things. The group ebbs and flows and people come and go, which is one of the interesting things about it. It is very much an experiment and definitely an delightful way for folks from disparate locations and backgrounds to come together and share ideas, opinions and experiences.

Oh, and please call me Dio


Anyway, the