Second Life getting Second Wind?

We used to be quite active in Second Life (though I have to confess to never being that excited by it, despite the enthusiasm I tried to show my students).
I’ve felt for a while that tomorrow’s students, growing up on Minecraft might well be more responsive to it than those we worked with nearly 10 years ago. (Was it really that long?!) However, I’d not really considered the implications of VR, Google glass etc., till I read today’s ReadWrite post, and developments that Linden labs are taking. Perhaps it’s time to re-awaken Emmadw Rickenbacker.

Creating a shared bibliography.

Recently, 4 of us have been working on a shared bibilography – using a number of different tools.
For the actual referencing, we considered Mendeley, Zotero and EndNote Web for the shared area. Mendeley was the first one we tried, but it didn’t play as well with the multiple machines we had (Linux, Windows XP/7, iPad) – Zotero appeared to behave better. EndNote Web, while we could get accounts via the University, could have been difficult for sharing with others outside the uni at a later date; so it’s Zotero. As it is, we’re using it in different ways; some preferring the online version, others the browser plugin, while I like the standalone version.
We’d started putting the papers we’d found on a shared directory at work, though that was a little difficult due to the fact it’s possible, but not always easy to get to work directories off campus (especially on the multiple devices we have!) Dropbox has solved that problem; again, we can all use it in ways that suit us best, whether it’s a synchronised folder on the computer, via the website, or via a handheld device.
Now we have a work flow – Timothy is locating the papers, (and generating some nice mind maps of search terms, graphs of numbers of hits etc), while Jane, Jon and I are then reading, evaluating – and, if worth including returning to the original paper to add to the database. Two reasons for that – firstly It’s easier to add all the data automatically; zotero does the hard work, and secondly, the library databases recognise the extra hits & count them

We’re beginning to realise, though, the difficulties of a shared bibliography – and the need to agree on tags, rather than just select our own!

We’ve been doing this work at our secret hideout!
Day 19

Virtual Worlds.

The BBC’s click have a report this week on Virtual Worlds – looking at Twinity and Near Global.
Both Twinity and Near Global have much better graphics than Second Life.(perhaps explaining why I can’t get Twinity to work on my home PC!). I rather liked the ghosts of people in Near Global; rather than Twinity encouraging you to make an avatar look like you – with your name. It will be interesting to see what actually happens – given that some SecondLife users try to have a name as near theirs as possible – and to make their avatars look as close as possible; others will go the opposite way.
I managed to get Twinity installed on my work PC, but it wouldn’t work – I blame the firewall, however, I’ll try again with work laptop and home network.

In Near, they’re going to only have the “right” shops in the right places. Wonder what they intend to do when the shop doesn’t want to participate.

They’re in the video clip – the first item.

Day 1: Relive 08

Keynote 1: Edward Castranova
Looking Economics in SL – and volume of money involved.

Our workshop
Seemed to go well; was well worth the time spent setting up all those training accounts.

Learning to Walk before you Know your name: Ian Truelove & Graham Hibbert
Using OpenSim to let students learn to work within environment – and then start on to the main grid. Also got them to think quite a bit about names – and what your new name might mean in other languages.

Get Real – This isn’t Real this is SecondLife: Margaret de Jong Derrington
Holodecks for language learning! great – can really practice the relevant vocab!.

Fearing your Avatar: Kathy Trinder
Discussing interviews with staff and their experiences of getting an avatar. In particular – one aspect that came out – the difficulties of “lurking” in SecondLife – in the way that you can in forums.

Workshop – Learning together and Learning alone in SecondLife:
Absolutely fascinating set of resources for research skills – though trying to use a shared lift in SL is interesting….

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Massively Multilearner 08

Conference Website
A useful day. This was the second of the MML events I’d attended.
Anna Peachey gave an update on the Schome project (which includes more than just SecondLife!) Some useful points – e.g. “Governance” both as learning & real (to work out prim counts, AUP etc). Much of final build (funding now finished) was student built; though initial build was by staff.
Problem based learning: Islands in the Sun?
Maggi Savin – Baden: Education currently very outcomes driven; students see staff as Knowledge patrollers; etc. Therefore looking at PBL (of which there are many different approaches) within SL. Aiming to organise round the scenario, situations with no “right answer”, students have to initially determine what they need to know. The learning, rather than the teaching is central. Currrently are looking at how this can be implemented in SL. In particular they’re looking at PBL for paramedics, Health & Social care.
They are currently working on the scenarios (rather that particular aspects of SecondLife) Some Information driven multiple screens – where the info changes depending on the choices made by the student(s). SOme are avatar driven events – using bots to interact with students.
Before, Beyond & Somewhere to the left of SL
Daniel Livingstone. Over view of History of virtual worlds & current alternatives. At present, all are changing – and also few are interoperable.
Blended Learning with 3D Virtual Environments.
Simon Bignell (Derby: Psychology) Started with SL for games (so students had top of the range PC etc) , now extending to generic issues (e.g. Essay writing – optional).  Looked at various aspects e.g. appearance / marketing/ pedagogy (e.g. US universities tend to replicate campus, UK unis tend to look at activities)

Findings: Innovation can be difficult. Many students don’t like SL. It’s important to relinquish control. Found that “traditional” (i.e. sit & listen to me) teaching doesn’t work in SL. (Not that anyone was particularly surprised!). Often the most useful spaces were empty “mega-prims” [remember a wall if it’s up in the sky, though!] – with tools e.g. Eloise’s spidergram. Things resembling classrooms not popular with staff or students.

Machinima Workshop.


ng Fraps for screen capture (free version lets you capture up to 30 secs) Make sure frame rate (shown in fraps) is reasonable (can drop when connection to server poor). Use Pinnacle (v. 9 perfectly good enough [c£3 on ebay]) for editing; or any other decent editor you have access to. (Not Windows Media Movie Maker!)

Can be used with students to work out good camera angles etc., as well as staff to create demos.


Various issues arose, in particular, how to manage student expectations – e.g. if they’re gaming students, feel that SL a bit poor; need to stress its role as collaboration tool & not game. Also – how to encourage students to use SL (or whether we should…)

Just one ID?

OpenID crops up quite often in the blogosphere. While I can see the point to a certain degree, there are also issues of merging upmteen accounts into one. Stephen Downes is a strong advocate, though I can see the points that Langhoff raises in the comments regarding security (particularly after the news of the loss of two crucial discs in the UK, and issues surrounding data in Facebook BBC and The Independent). Now, it seems that the idea of a Universal avatar is being worked on by IBM and Linden Labs.

HEA-ICS 07 – SL Workshop

Yesterday we held a SecondLife workshop at the HEA-ICS Conference in Southampton. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people we got; given that it was at 10.30 on the first day of the conference.

We’d got a set of USB sticks with SL pre-installed, and managed to find enough working PCs to get going. The PCs were well spaced, with two screens – which did mean that we were able to have people working in pairs when needed. Not that many people had already got accounts, so quite a bit of time was spent just getting accounts….

Anyway, here are a few images…
– Getting going …

– Editing appearances…