TLVW, Day 5

Esme, our fearless leader, was at a conference last weekend (about which she probably owes us a blog post 😉 ), so we held that class session yesterday. Two major things in yesterday’s experience.

First, I’m mad at myself because I didn’t get any pics of the Second Louvre, which was among a few spots we toured in class. I’ve been to Paris in FL (though not for many years), and it made the appropriate impression. But it was not until I’d visited Paris 1900 and now the Second Louvre in SL that I realized why France is such a cultural center. I’m not much of an art buff, but this museum was too cool. It was the sculptures that particularly caught me (so much so that I forgot to take freakin’ pictures!). If you’ve been around in SL even a little, you know that good prim-work is the cornerstone of any quality 3D work, and there are some lovely examples at the Louvre. They range from FL-looking pieces (“traditional”-style sculptures) to shimmery, animated, or simply outlandish things that are only possible in a virtual world. I was captivated.

To take a moment and look at this from an educational perspective, just think of what SL museum tours might do for the imaginations of children and young people who are looking for artistic inspiration. Think of how this can augment the notions of art appreciation and art history!

Can you tell the Second Louvre was my favorite part of yesterday’s tour?

So anyway…the second part of class was a presentation by Giannina Rossini on Sloodle, the mashup of the Moodle course management system and Second Life. Basically, adding the Sloodle module to your Moodle installation allows you to use SL to enhance your online course by giving you and your students access to various parts of the Moodle while in SL. This includes chat (the chat can be conducted with those both in and out of SL at the same time), posting to your Moodle blog from in-world, access to glossaries, and more. Pretty nifty, and growing in capability all the time.

A good question was brought up, but there wasn’t time to address it (though I suspect we will in our own Moodle discussions this week): why was Sloodle created? The creators themselves have their answers, some of which are on the website. But the question underneath that is, I believe, “why would we use it?” And my answer is: I’m not sure we would, at least not all of us. It might have been a good tool for this TLVW course, for example, since it’s being conducted completely via Moodle and Second Life. At this point in the course, however, I think of the blogs we’ve created: some of us use the Moodle blog tool, which can be enhanced with Sloodle. Some of us, however, chose WordPress or Blogger blogs, which are – as blogging tools – much more dynamic. If we’d been using Sloodle from word one, these options might not have been available, and I for one would have enjoyed blogging much less. (Let me quickly add that compatibility with major blogging tools is probably on the horizon, since the BlogHUD system already allows blogging to various platforms from in-world.)

The bigger consideration, though, is for teachers who are not using SL as a major component of their classroom or course, even with a major Moodle component. I’m thinking now of the back-end issues, really, since every effort has been made – rather successfully, I think – to make Sloodle easy to use for teachers and students. Unfortunately, unlike BlogHUD (or even SL, to an extent), it’s not a tool you can just pick up and use. It’s a third-party add-on module for your Moodle installation, and for many educators (like me) that means a long heart-to-heart with your sysadmin, IT division, or computer science department. The natural reticence such folks often display when someone wants to add yet another something to the Frankensteinian monster that is the school’s or department’s server comes from the fact that – even if the tool is a plug-and-play module – after the work of the installation, the thing needs to be kept up-to-date (remember that “growing in capability all the time” I mentioned earlier?), and it needs to be integrated from a systems point of view with the rest of the tools on the network (strange incompatibilities pop up for no reason at all, like on my PC, where Thunderbird won’t auto-update if Logitech’s QuickCam software is running). It is what they get paid the big bucks for (!), but is the return (in classroom terms) on the investment (in IT energy and time) worth it? That is, of course, up to each individual. But it’s a serious question.

I did get a pic to share, by the way, which leads to the last thing I have to say about yesterday’s class. This comes from the moment when we are gathering for the Sloodle discussion; Rossini is perched on the orange box, and the rest of us are milling about on the ground. And there’s not a newbie-looking avatar among us! You don’t have to have prim hair or blingy accessories or store-bought tuxedos to transcend that “just out of Orientation Island” lack of style. Everyone here has created their own look, and whether it’s simple or complex, it’s not the cookie-cutter, factory standard. Compare the looks in this pic with those of our first or second meeting, and you’ll see how far we’ve come. Am I too obsessed with appearance? I dunno; how many SL fashion blogs are there out there? Check them out and judge me later. But these are people, not dolls, and in a 3D, visual, digital world, one of the ways to make that most clear is to have an individual look – something at which we’ve all succeeded.

It makes me warm and tingly inside.

Song of the moment: "Telephone Call from Istanbul," Tom Waits

5 Responses to “TLVW, Day 5”

  1. “about which she probably owes us a blog post”
    Done. Thanks for the nudge.

    It sounds like the Louvre opened up a channel for educational potential in your mind. Cool. Get back there and take some pictures!

    Too true about the challenges and cost/benefit of sloodle. There is NO reason to do it if you are not using both SL and Moodle. It is near impossible to do if you do not have the attentive ear of the IT admin or the Moodle server admin. I work at a small college with an all-in-one IT/Moodle admin. He said, “Sure.” But there is a new version of sloodle and I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask him to load it – because that will reveal the endless responsibilities he has signed on for.

    The development team is awesome though. And I anticipate that as the tool set grows it will include tools that will increasingly fill a need. Yesterday they unveiled a tool that far exceeds the current ability of the Linden Html on prim: multiple webpage access, moveable mouse, hot link clickability. It is still way too complicated for average user installation, but holds promise as a tool that will help in-world educators.

    “It makes me warm and tingly inside.” How I laughed out loud at that. But after I settled down, I had to admit that I too am very pleased to see our classmates virtual identities unfold. Fashion critics be damned. -E

  2. Uuch, forgive the poor proofing of that post.

  3. You still stand out in that picture. I don’t know if I’m naturally just drawn to your avatar or if you are just *that* rockstar. =D

    I also like how academics always apologize for their unproofed online postings!

  4. gianninarossini Says:

    I only just found this posting by accident, and apologize if I did not go into more depth about the reasons for Sloodle on the day.

    To me, the quiz chair in the Sloodle tool set epitomizes why one would want to use Sloodle to enrich any Moodle course: compare Edmund’s shiny quiz dragon with the bland and boring looking tick box equivalent in Moodle, and I am sure even you will agree that flying on a dragon as a result of getting quiz answers correct is much more enticing than a Moodle form telling you “Well done!”

    I do understand your technical concerns – remember, I Moodle in my 9-5 job, and even I have not gone to the latest Sloodle version yet (albeit for different reasons).

    Having said that, a lot of Moodle admins are passionate members of the Moodle community. We want to make Moodle as engaging for learners as we can. Many Moodlers are geeks at heart who love nothing more than a new toy to add to the collection, even if it’s just used for testing and playing with.

    Have faith, people. Get your Moodle admins into SL, show them what the potential of Sloodle is, and if they are still not convinced, put them in touch with me and I’ll try to work that Gia Sloodle magic!


  5. Thanks for posting, Gia. You’re a great booster and resource for Sloodlers. I did like your presentation; there was so much material to cover that I bet you could’ve taken our entire three-hour classtime. I look forward to new developments.

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