TLVW, day 6

Alright. Now that I’ve got the shoe thing out of my system for a minute, I can get back to business. In class the other day, we used some Sloodle tools with our own course Moodle in order to better get the feel of what it can do for us. We added more definitions to the glossary that we could access from in-world (that tool should allow you to add definitions from in-world) and played with the toolbar HUD and chat logger. We also looked briefly at a couple other unrelated tools.

After that, we broke into two groups to discuss some pertinent issues. My group was thinking about SL’s affordances for professional development, and we came up with a pretty good list. The other group discussed the objections and obstacles to using SL in education. This could not have been a better topic, as not only does it regularly come up in our class forums, but I was just talking about that very question the day before regarding my own campus. What does one say to those who complain of a steep learning curve or other problems as reasons to resist using SL in their department / school / district? What can you show people to demonstrate its feasibility without being to complex or technical? These are important questions, as even the most enthusiastic of us have doubts at least once in a while, and cogent answers are useful not only to convince the unbelievers but to help us articulate our enthusiasm in terms better than “it’s just so freaking cool!”

Then we went to Weather Island, owned by The Weather Channel, to do some surfing. Yes, on surfboards. It looks like a lot of fun, but – ironically, given my own enthusiasm for SL and the recent discussion – I couldn’t get anything to work. My client started lagging super-hard, I couldn’t even see the water for a while, I couldn’t get on the surfboard, and finally the program just crashed altogether. Esme was her usual great, patient self; when I signed on again she did her best to get me back to the beach and on the board. It took quite a while, but it eventually worked a little (and it was freakin’ cool), although it was perhaps the most frustrating experience I’ve ever had in SL. Not only that, but we got griefed on the beach: some bonehead was running around caging people, and another (or maybe the same?) was making sexual propositions in Spanish. So now I truly understand what some of the resisters are talking about when they describe their bad experiences.

Very educational, that was. So, too, was the general experience I was having that day. You ever have one of those days where it seems that it’s just hard to keep up? No, I wasn’t hung over or anything. But class was more talkative than normal that day, and between managing my avatar in SL while looking at Moodle, plus trying to keep up with all the chat going on, it was all I could do to stay on top of things. I found it difficult at times to participate in the discussion, which is usually not a problem for me. It was commented more than once that I was unusually quiet; I can only say that for some reason the multitasking was just overwhelming at the time.

But it got me thinking. It is assumed that the so-called digital natives don’t have that sort of problem. But how true is that? And everyone has an off day now and then, no matter how much they can usually process at once. As we (some of us, at least) strive to integrate more technology into our classrooms, this is a factor that I think must be kept in mind. Even though we as instructors never feel like we can afford it, we should probably always be mindful of the pace at which we conduct our classes.

Song of the Moment: "Simon Says," Drain S.T.H.

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