TLVW, day 2

So, class met in Second Life again today. We got off to a slow start, having problems with the settings for voice communication. Voice is something I actually haven’t yet used myself, and I’m not sure I’m sold on it just yet. I attended a discussion earlier this week on teaching tools in SL, where the presenter and some of the audience had voice. On the one hand, information was able to be shared pretty efficiently, as most people can talk faster than they can type and still be understood. However, there are occasional bandwidth problems and other technical difficulties one might encounter which usually create delays or at least hiccups in the presentation, especially when the audience members start saying/typing “I can’t hear” and you get a chorus of “me, too”s – things really grind to a halt. There was a tech on hand to handle the sim’s broadcasting, but there were times when the problem was the presenter’s mic, or simple grid lag. What can you do?Teaching Tools seminar Plus, as I realized quite quickly, capturing the text was of course an impossibility. Fortunately, I have WireTap on my Mac for audio capturing and used that, but it’s therefore also fortunate I have a 320GB external hard drive, because capturing nearly an hour of audio is really hard on the drive space, to say the least. And the audio capture really requires a lot of cleanup, as there were big pauses and fades as the presenter’s avatar moved about the amphitheater. I guess text capture probably requires cleanup in general, too, so I won’t hold that against voice.

Still, I’m not sold on it.

When we got things together, we went to the BIOME sim and got a Q&A session with Clowey Greenwood, a bio prof from Northern Michigan University. The sim is pretty cool on its own, but more importantly the discussion provided some good ideas. She uses text-only in-world, and uses SL largely in conjunction with WebCT – which, evidently, NMU students totally dig. When I was at Northern Iowa, most of the students I encountered couldn’t stand WebCT. Myself included, truth be told. I like Moodle better by far.

The BIOME sim has a giant-scale microscope with various single-celled organisms one can examine, and I guess one of the things Clowey has her students do is take photos of/with these and incorporate them in Powerpoint slideshows to present reports. I think that kind of thing could be extended to various fields in both sciences and humanities, if you can find a relevant build. For example, I heard there’s a new Land of Lincoln sim, and that could be used as a photo setting for presentations in a history class. Similarly, there are always builds related to literature and the sciences floating around. One of my favorites is the International Spaceflight Museum, though that might have only very specific course relevance. Still, it’s something to think about.

One other interesting thing Clowey said was that her grad students generally appreciate working in SL more than the undergrads.Q&A at BIOME I’m not sure why, but I found that pretty surprising. Some of the others weren’t surprised though, with the theory that the younger people want an environment with more direct action, like a game world. I don’t know how we can get across to some of these young people that it’s something different and needs to be approached with different expectations.

In any case, I thought it was a good session. Hopefully the rest of the class got good things out of it – we’ll see what the coming discussions bring!

Song of the Moment: "Never Had a Friend Like Me," Robin Williams

One Response to “TLVW, day 2”

  1. Hi B-
    Turns out Dave is in the Idaho class, not the vermont class. Too bad but I’ve given him your blog info and thus, he can connect with you. I think he will.
    He’s been pushing me to look into SL for some time now, and he’s visiting in a couple weeks and will give me a tour and set me up.

    I also read your instructor’s (?) blog about Day 2. The idea of developing your avatar is insteresting and how it can affect your RL expression of Self (you know that interests me a lot). So I’ve noticed from the pics that you are the only one with an alter-ego. It seems everyone else in your class is pretty conventional in how he/she has set up his/her avatar. Does this affect how individuals interact with you? or how you interact with them? What’s it like, I wonder, to sit in a class with a big black guy with wings and a mohawk? I know some students in RL have issues with just having a black person in class. Do your wings change colour (they seem to)? Why do you seem to have high heels (are you channeling Prince?) LOL. If you change your Avatar per the class activity, what will you do? I suspect the teacher is trying to get the rest of the class to experiment and maybe step outside the norms (where they currently sit) and yet, you’re already there so what’s the next step for you?

    OK probably enough questions. You can reply in my regular mail if you wish, or here and let me know.

    Thanks.. your view on SL (as on most things) I find very stimulating.

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