Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

My Logic is Cold in Idaho

coldlogic at the University of Idaho 1

Most newcomers probably don’t know about the grand days when a lot of colleges were experimenting with Second Life as a teaching tool for various subjects (mostly computer oriented), and even as the first steps in a virtual form of distributed education.  After all, if you could get the classroom out to the students instead of the students coming to the classroom, so to speak, the options for teaching your subject could grow exponentially.1

Most of the colleges have left, sadly, except for perhaps an occasional computer-science class taught by a rebel, unreconstructed professor or two.  A few remain, though, such as the University of Western Australia, and, here in the United States, the University of Idaho.  Idaho’s campus actually covers five regions, and was designed with some care for looks in many areas.  Where I am here is near the center point of the complex, and I’m wearing a goodie that just came out from neve, the new label offered by coldlogic.  It’s perhaps not the perfect top to wear as the days go cold — which they’re doing with a vengeance here in RL Alabama right now —

Tingling with antici…pation? Turn the page.

Academic Survey for Second Lifers: New World Notes

New World Notes logo

From New World Notes comes an invitation to participate in an academic survey — which we’ve seen a fair few of lately, including one on purchasing habits and reasons inside the virtual economy.  This survey deals with a variation on that old question that has plagued many a psyche, not to mention a conscience, since we started going through Second Life:  Am I really interacting with a man or a woman on the other end here?

New World Notes: Virtual World User or Gamer? Please Take This 5 Minute Survey for an Academic Study on Male & Female Avatars

Read Ham’s article carefully.  There are two separate links, for those who are men in real life, and for those who are women.  Click the appropriate link to continue.  The survey itself will ask you if you prefer to use a male or female avatar in world.  (No personal information is gathered, such as name or E-mail address.)  The questions look a little peculiar, and seem to be focused on avatars who participate in sword-and-sorcery RPG areas.  (I wonder if it was originally meant for World of Warcraft players?)  Beyond that bubble, it looks quite straightforward.  Hamlet has promised a writeup when the results are released.

Newbie Starter Resource from Strawberry Singh

The ever-gracious and ever-lovely Strawberry Singh has published a starter guide for Second Life newbies at her blog.  It’s a very useful item for someone trying to get their feet under them, and could even offer a few tips for us oldsters of 3 or more years’ duration in world (grin).

Thanks to New World Notes.

M Linden Replies to NWN Article on Discovery Island Building Tutorial Problem

In my article last week, I noted how the comment of a reader of the New World Notes article on the new “first hour” experience for newcomers to Second Life sent me to check the place out.  I found it to be the fact:  no mention of building, and no basic tutorial on the subject at all.

Hamlet Au went deeper on the subject and asked Linden Lab about the matter.  Petra Linden replied that the Lab is planning to add an area for build basics in the future; and, in a comment to the story, Mark Kingdon (M Linden) adds that, since the design of the islands is modular, more areas can be added while keeping the “natural flow” of the concept in place.

It’s good to know that the Lab is taking note of this so quickly.  As I said in my own comment to the article:  “Without something to let the newcomer know distinctly that building [is] possible, and to let them experiment at least briefly with it, at least some percentage will never know what that Build item on the menu bar is all about. Without new content creators — and new creators’ ideas to keep the pool fresh — Second Life builds would eventually stagnate.”

New Welcome and Discovery Islands Missing Important Things for New Avatars

I’m one of several Residents that went exploring yesterday.  After reading Ham Au’s article on his visit to the new Welcome and Discovery Islands for new avatars, I went ahead and created an alt account to investigate on my own.  (You can see pictures of some of the six areas at New World Notes.)

The whole idea of revamping the welcome regions is to give the newcomer training and tools to get going in Second Life, and to retain them — the great problem.  It goes hand in hand with the reworking of the viewer to version 2, another move to get and hold new accounts.  And, to a certain degree, the job gets done, especially when the new experience is compared to the jungle and game settings on some of the old Orientation Islands.  (I came in through a Scholar’s Island myself, and so didn’t have all those distractions.)  With a little practice, you can pick up the basic functions of movement, flying, chatting and camera control — all the main things that a newcomer needs to know to function in avatar society.  And apparently, according to Pete Linden (in Ham’s article), retention rates improved during testing.

But I also went into my mentoring shtick without announcing who I am — not that I’m exactly an SL celebrity, or would want to be; and, of course, these newbies wouldn’t know jack about me or this blog.  And I discovered, as Marianne McCann had noted in her comment to Ham’s article, that there was no visible mention of how to build content.  I also found no notes of how to change appearance and clothes or wear attachments, and no explanation of the Linden dollar economy.  Ham says that there are videos with tutorials about the Discovery Islands, but they did not seem very obvious as things that played, and I never got one going.  (In the Lab’s defense there, I think I need to update QuickTime on my computer.)  I didn’t even find a mention about sandboxes; and you cannot rezz up anything on the ground there — not even packaged gifts from the Lindens themselves.  And I found just as many questions from newcomers as I ever have seen.

I’m not sure that this new welcome system works.  Yeah, the old official welcome islands had descended into hell on wheels with griefers and spammers thick on the ground.  But my first impression (and probably my only, depending on a chance for return) is that a newbie gets less information here than they did before.  I’d rather direct them to jump in at someplace like the Trinity College orientation ground in Dublin region, at least at the moment.  That, plus maybe a corps of greeters who can answer newbie questions consistently and in a friendly manner.  I think this would do a lot more for retention in the long run.  I plan on dropping in again, if I can teleport onto one of the islands as a “well-aged” avatar, and see what happens then.

Time, of course, and apparently increased concurrency, as well as a growing Grid economy, will tell the final tale of whether this new system works well.  In the meantime, I’m getting ready to answer a lot of newcomer questions….

=====

UTexas System Prepares to Experiment with SL

Just released on the Big Blog:  the University of Texas system — 16 campuses worth of universities — plans to start experimenting with Second Life.  It doesn’t look like they’ve built anything yet, but college campuses in world are often interesting.  And, from a more practical view, this shows that SL is far from dead, far from being a non-practical venue for serious work.  Universities and libraries seem to flock to the Grid, even while the naysayers make more announcements of the Imminent Death of the Grid Expected.

Bravo to UTexas, and welcome in world when you arrive!

Harper's signature

Saint Leo U. Gains New Students Via SL

Writing from Gulf Shores, Alabama….

A quickie note of an interesting item from another blog:  the SLENZ Update speaks of Saint Leo University in Tampa, Florida, gaining enrollments based on their Second Life regions.  Remember that AT&T commercial from the late 1980s, with the university professor lecturing on music styles, and the student from across the continent signals in to ask a question?  We now have the implication that something like this may actually happen, based on the fact that students are enrolling for classes based on the potential for distance learning of a virtual-world.

Harper's signature

%d bloggers like this: