• Second Life Curriculum and Intellagirl’s RezEd Podcast!

11th September 2008

Second Life Curriculum and Intellagirl’s RezEd Podcast!

Um, two things, pilgrims:

The Global Kids Second Life Curriculum (three nine handy freely downloadable .pdf files–see Chimera’s comment) may be picked up at RezEd now and I’m tickled to be about to open up my copies right after I hit the “Publish” button on this post. Go get yours.

Secondly, you can be downloading those documents at the same time you’re listening to Sarah (Intellagirl Tulley) Robbins’ marvelous interview at the RezEd podcast number 14. I’m roflmao at her clearing up some general misconceptions about Second Life’s demographic. “About time,” says your resident oldie. Ditto about her chiding corporations who plowed money into SL without critical thought about their investment or the most effective use of the platform for best return on implementation. “That’s not Second Life’s fault: It’s your fault! ‘Cause you didn’t do it right!” Heheheheeee.

Kudos to Intellagirl and to the GK folks for all their hard work!


Written by Scott Merrick

posted in Critical Perspectives, intellagirl, Learning | 3 Comments

20th April 2008

Planning a Space in Second Life Part II: Digging into Design

While most educators have had the opportunity to design learning experiences ranging from lesson plans to syllabi, most of us has never been asked to design a school, a campus, or even a classroom. We’re used to making the best of the spaces assigned to us. Designing a learning space in Second Life may be our first opportunity to create exactly the space we’d always dreamed of in which to engage students but the choices can be overwhelming. In Part I we walked through some information gathering questions. Now, it’s time to put that info into action but don’t touch that “Build” button yet. There’s still lots to do!

You’ve probably already gathered the troops and asked them what kind of projects they’re interested in engaging in on your island. The next step is to envision what form those learning experiences will take. You may find that the initial impulse will be to create familiar spaces: amphitheaters, lecture halls, PowerPoint presentation screens but these are all easily purchased. Use your talent to dream up spaces and tools that more specifically fit your goals.

But before you can design, you and your troops need to know what’s possible. Your learning community should get together and try out the following:

– Take a tour: Ask each member of your learning community to find one place in Second Life that they like. Share the landmark with the rest of the team and include notes about design, utility, tools etc in the space that others should take note of and try out. Remember to include spaces that aren’t intended for education. There’s a lot to be learned from themeparks, beaches, dance clubs, and even shopping malls.

– Get crafty: The Second Life Building tools allow you to create just about anything you can imagine. However, not knowing how to build like an expert shouldn’t limit what you want to create. Try doing some sketches, gathering some images from the net, and even taking photographs around campus.

– Play!: Knowing what’s possible can greatly influence what your imagination comes up with. If you have an island invite your learning community (and them only) to come and create anything and everything they want. Let them play, experiment, and learn how things work in Second Life. Then, perhaps after a couple of weeks, wipe your space clean and get serious. Allowing your team to experiment without the pressure of it being public or official will help everyone feel less inhibited and more creative.

If you’ve built an education space in Second Life how did you begin your designs?

Next time we’ll start talking about melding pedagogy and place! Tune in for Part III.

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posted in how to, intellagirl | 2 Comments

17th April 2008

How to Plan a Space in Second Life…Part 1

So you’ve convinced your administration that creating a home in Second Life is a good idea. Faculty, staff, and students are excited. Maybe you’ve even purchased an island.

Now what?

As part one of a series of how-to articles here on the SL-Ed blog,  we’re hoping to help you answer this burning question and perhaps learn from the insights of those who have virtually trail blazed before you.

Though you may have spent months investigating Second Life, done presentation after presentation to get campus buy-in, the purchase or rental of a piece of land may only be the beginning of your journey. In the past few years I’ve been to many campuses who are right at this point. Lots of enthusiastic people not quite sure where to start. It’s a super exciting step but one that can be fraught with politics and more decisions than you can shake a stick at.  In my opinion, the best place to start is with a list of questions. Whether you’re part of a committee of planners or one lone soul in charge of creating a space, I think these questions help make basic decisions. They might seem a bit obvious but bare with me.

1. Who is going to use the space?: Some campuses have the fortunate problem of having many faculty who are excited to begin experimenting in Second Life. A shared, campus-wide island may be the first time that instructors and staff from different departments may have been expected to share a resource. On most campuses, funding and spaces are assigned to specific departments so sharing might be a new concept. But don’t think of it as a hurdle. Think of it as an exciting opportunity for inter-disciplinary collaboration. Make a list of all the folks who are eager to use the space.  Ask them to define what they’d like to accomplish but be sure to let them know that you’re not asking because you want to evaluate their plans (that will just stifle their creativity), instead, be sure that they understand that you’re just trying to allocate resources.

2. Who needs to know about the space? What rules do they need you to follow?: Most campuses have a marketing department or some kind of brand management body (in K-12s it’s often the school board or a superintendent). They usually have a set of rules about how the name, logo, and brand of the school can be presented. It’s best to know this up front (even better to know this before you purchase and name the island). It’s best not to ignore these kinds of influential groups on campus just in case they have requests about official use of campus branding.

3. What’s the purpose of the space?:  Form really should follow function. Is your space intended for recruitment of future students? Purely class-related activities? A student hang-out for distance learners? Perhaps you have a combination of motivations for the space. Having a list early on will help you decide on features and design. For example, a space intended purely for recruitment might need to be a detailed recreation of the campus for tours etc. However, to accomplish the same purpose you might choose to create areas that reflect the attitude and values of the school rather than the physical architecture. Also remember that there may be conflicting purposes depending on who you ask and you may need to create a plan that will appease all involved with one space.

4. What’s the time line and budget?:  Given infinite time and resources we’d all have perfect spaces but this is almost never the case. Inevitibly, a semester is about to begin, budgets are tight, and expectations are high.  If you have a larger budget but shorter time, you might consider hiring out the more complicated bits of the development. If budget is low but you have a bit more time, consider teaching students and faculty to build their own spaces so they’ll have an increased sense of ownership. If both time and budget are at a minimum, which so often seems to be the case, develop a plan that will happen over time. After all, the space doesn’t have to be finished all at once. Create a list of priorities first and do what you can when you can.

5. What do you want people to do in the space? How do you want them to feel when they’re there?: Most of the best qualities of Second Life center around socializing, people doing things together, having fun. Fun spaces encourage people to feel fun. Serious spaces encourage…well, you get the point. Be sure to match your plans, not just to activities, but also to tone/mood.

If you’ve been through the planning process are there other questions that helped guide you? Leave them in the comments!

Tune in soon for Part II: Digging Into Design 

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24th March 2008

Second Life for Dummies Event on Thursday!

dummiesevent.jpgSLEventAuthors of Second Life For Dummies Live in Second Life

Abracadabra – March 20, 2008 – SLED and SLRL’s own Sarah “Intellagirl Tully” Robbins and Mark “Typewriter Tackleberry” Bell, authors of Wiley’s Second Life For Dummies, answer audience questions in Second Life on March 27, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. SLT/PDT.  Along with primary seating at The Magicians Colonnade at Abracadabra <http://slurl.com/secondlife/Abracadabra/201/90/31>, there’s balcony seating in the neighboring sim, Seifert Surface’s xyz.  The event will be conducted in text chat.

A prize giveaway celebrating Dummies Month includes four real-life Dummies prize packs from Wiley, each including a Dummies duffel bag, a copy of Second Life For Dummies, and other Dummies goodies.  For avatars there are free jackets and coffee, Enchanted Teachers’ Apples, and a few surprises.  Instant message Chimera Malaprop or Art Laxness for a teleport offer.

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24th March 2008

Bright Ideas: Using the MyNotes Profile Tab for Class Management

BrightIdeas Sometimes a little thing can mean so much. If you’ve taught in Second Life then you know how aggravating it can be to try to remember which SL student is which RL student. As if remembering all their RL names wasn’t tough enough! Add to that all the notes about class participation, project progress etc and you’ve got a whole lot of information to store somewhere. Here’s a tip that some of you might have already discovered. But hey! If you haven’t, you may just find it useful.

On each avatar’s profile is a tab called “My Notes.” This last tab on the profile allows you to type up information about another person which will only be visible to you.


Using the My Notes tab to keep track of RL names and other class info can save you a lot of headaches. And rest assured that no one  else can see it so you can feel comfortable storing student grades etc.

Using the My Notes tab for class information? As Martha would say, it’s a good thing. 😀

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13th March 2008

Spotlight: Georgia State University

SpotlightEvery university that purchases an island in Second Life has to grapple with the question “How will we use the space?” Some campuses build recreations of their real world campuses, others allow students to create fantasy spaces, and others may just create ampitheatres and other similar spaces to extend campus events into a virtual world. Georgia State University has done something slightly different. They’ve created an island that functions as a resource for educators who are interested in learning more about how to use Second Life.


Intellagirl talks to Downtown Bloch (aka Paula Christopher Project Manager, eLearning Group, University Educational Technology Services (UETS), Information Systems & Technology, Georgia State University)

 GSU’s island, Five Points (SLURL here), is adjacent to GSU’s other island which is still private. Five Points is a great balance of resources and whimsy. From the resource library (shown below) to the beach, Five Points offers educators information and entertainment.


The books in GSU’s libary offer notecards with helpful tips on common Second Life skills.


Tree house meeting spaces offer a less formal meeting option. 

Be sure to pay Five Points a visit.

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posted in intellagirl, Spotlight | 2 Comments

13th March 2008

Spotlight: University of Sussex in Second Life

SpotlightThe University of Sussex recently opened a new island (SLURL here) I recently spoke with Sussex Shepherd (aka Tom Shaw, the graduate intern on the University of Sussex’s Web Team) who built the island.


Sussex Shepherd standing in front of The Falmer House building at the University of Sussex

What makes the University of Sussex island unique is their dedication to recreating their real world campus down to the tiniest detail. Every building was constructed from satellite photos and photographs.


The view of campus from the teleport location.

 Sussex is still in the early stages of development: constructing the island to recruit new students, encouraging faculty to explore new technologies etc. Their island is a great example of a build meant for recruitment. Walking around the island gives you a real feeling for what the real campus grounds must feel like.

If you’re interested in exploring a Second Life campus built with a fine eye for detailed recreation be sure to check out the University of Sussex.


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posted in intellagirl, Spotlight | 0 Comments

10th March 2008

New HTML Page Viewer Can Save L$ on Image Uploads

BrightIdeas You’ve probably heard about the new page viewing abilities in the most recent Second Life software update. If you haven’t, go check out Torley Linden’s awesome video explaining how it works.

Second Life residents have been begging for real, interactive HTML on a prim (being able to view, click, and actually navigate a web page from inside Second Life instead of in a browser pop up) and this new page viewing option is certainly an awesome first step. In the past, to view a web page inside SL, you’d need to take a screen shot of the page, upload the image, and apply it to a prim (primitive shape, the basic building block in SL). But not any more!

This development is exciting enough but Milosun Czervik (aka Ross Perkins of Virginia Tech) has found a new bonus to the recent update…the ability to view multiple images without having to pay for and upload each image. Milosun recently posted his discovery on the SLED mailing list and explained it so well that I’m copying it here with his permission. Thanks, Milosun!

As you know, the capability to scroll JPG’s already exists (partly) in any of the low cost/highly useful whiteboards created by Eloise or AngryBeth. Dedric Mauriac has a scripted “web browser” that does it as well, which is nice as it’s easy to set up and displays the URL as hovertext.

BUT… the added step (and cost) has been that one must take screen shot, then upload to SL at a cost of L$10 each. For one of my famous 112 slide presentations, it’d cost $L1,112 to upload (US $4.21), and a great deal of time wasted waiting for them.

Now, however, FreeView/QT seems to do this with JPG images as well. This means we can do this with NO uploads whatsoever (provided you have rights to change the media texture for a given parcel):

1) Save all slides in PowerPoint as JPG images (a nice folder is created on your computer with all the images in it). PPT does this all at once or slide by slide.

2) Upload those images to a web directory (ex: http://www.host.com/slides/)

3) If you want, use Excel’s concatenate function to create a list of all slide locations (ex. Slide1 to Slide112). The syntax example is:

*Note… I don’t have ‘.JPG’ at the tail end, but it doesn’t matter.

4) Copy this list from Excel and paste onto the Bookmark card in the FreeView flatscreen tv object.


Slide 1 Title|http://www.host.com/slides/Slide1
Slide 2 Title|http://www.host.com/slides/Slide2

Slide 3 Title|http://www.host.com/slides/Slide3

* note the PIPE SYMBOL between the title and the URL (shift + backslash)

5) Using the video controller dialog box for the FreeView screen, one can scroll back & forth through bookmarks (slides). This allows you to view the “slide show” at NO cost!!

It’s a bit slower than the other options because the UI for FreeView is a bit clunky… but it’s free! The other very cool thing I’ve noticed is that the media texture on the screen does not seem to be slow to rez as I’ve seen other textures on prim.
The potential drawbacks:

a) On group owned land, the FreeView TV is set to group, so anyone (in the group) can scroll and change the screen. This is great if you have stand-alone tutorial slides, and not so great if you don’t want people mucking about with your presentation as you give it. It’s moot point if you own the land… and no others can view the controller. It’s also a non-issue if the group is very small.

b) it does require your audience to know enough to set their preferences to automatically place media content. With noobs, this can take a bit to set up. At ISTE and other events, I’ve seen tutorial cards around that help with this.

This, I’m sure, represents a decrease in revenue for LL (shhh) – but it’s great for those who have students who want to show off reports or pictures or whatever, but do not have scads of L$ lying about to upload.

I’ve tested the above on group land at the ICT Library on Info Island and it works perfectly.. it’s on the rooftop garden.


You do *not* need the new candidate browser to make it work, but you will need to be in the ICT Wunderkind, Ltd. group (free to join) to use the controls. Leave the group when you’re finished experimenting.”

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