• Nudging the Adoption

21st November 2008

Nudging the Adoption

I know. This is an odd title. But I had the opp today to “present” to a group of Web developers at Vanderbilt University, a truly marvelous institution–more like a massive city of learning–that has not yet set more than the random exploratory toe into Second Life. Thanks to the Vanderbilt Web Spiders and particularly to good friend Melanie Moran for inviting me to share.

I blogged it madly at both my main bloggies, scottmerrick.net and Oh! Virtual Learning, so I don’t need to repeat it all here (there’s powerpoint at scottmerrick.net). I do, however, feel like I need to give you an embed of my little “shadetree machinima.” I was so tickled to hear applause for it today that I’m encouraged to share it out here:

Thanks to my friend and new landlady, Kathy Schrock, and to my friend and long-time “boss” Ginny Shepherd, the visionary leader of the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach, for contributing to our entry into Second Life. It’s going to be a long, lovely journey…

Written by Scott Merrick

posted in Locations | 0 Comments

25th September 2008

Copy this post to your colleagues :)

Crossposted from scottmerrick.net and Oh!VirtualLearning:

Here’s an email I sent out to my colleagues at University School of Nashville Just a minute ago. Think it’ll work? If you wish, feel free to copy it to send to your own school’s teachers (substitute your own example, of course, and delete the reference to helping with the resource room. Oh, heck, edit it any way you want!).

If you’re not in the “oh, god, how silly” camp in conversations about 3Dinternet virtual environments, and you want to investigate Second Life beginning at a safe and informative entry point, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), an 85,000 member organization with well over 3,000 of them using SL, has created a new way to enter the environment, accessible at the webpage at http://secondlifegrid.net/programs/education . I helped a very little bit with the design of the resources room and I’m very proud of the work ISTE’s doing.

Just visit the site, follow the directions, and feel free to Search “Scottmerrick Oh” and offer him (me 😉 friendship.

I dropped into ISTE island for a bit just last night and made a new friend, a teacher from New York, who has used two relatively new computer programming tools (Scratch and Storytelling Alice) with her students for years, and I’ll be picking her brain as I move toward helping introduce those tools for our K12 students at USN. Whatever your professional interests, SL is a way to extend your learning about them in collaboration with teachers on a global scale.

Here’s a screengrab:
Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”–Kurt Vonnegut, from “Cold Turkey”


Written by Scott Merrick

posted in how to, Locations, PD Opportunity, resources | 0 Comments

8th August 2008

ISTE Blogger’s Hut for Educational Blogs

Blogbuttons at the Blogger's Hut on ISTE Island

Helloooooo, all. Scott Merrick, here. I’m Scottmerrick Oh in Second Life and I blog frequently at my little Oh! Virtual Learning effort. I’ll be doing some cross-posting when I feel that’s appropriate, but this little introductory post here is mostly to let you know about our blogging resource at ISTE Island, the Blogger’s Hut. Designed to be informative and fun, sorta the way learning should be, it’s there for any and all educational bloggers, not just those of us covering our favorite MUVE. There’s a brief inro to blogs, there are links to videos, and there are now two windows of blogbuttons so that you can go find new blogs for your RSS feed aggregator simply by browsing the blogs that result from clicking the buttons.

Every month, a polling station collects votes for the featured Blog-o-the-month whose RSS feed will be displayed all month in the RSS object, allowing quick scan of subject headers. Clicking on the RSS box will open up the featured blog for your reading enjoyment. This month, it’s Jeff Agamenoni’s “From Mr. A to Mr. Z” and I’m pleased that Jeff (Henny Zimer in SL) is not one of your long-running blogstars, but a relative newcomer to the discipline: That’s the beauty of democratic vote, ya’ll! I love Jeff’s fresh-from-Montana perspectives on teaching and learning and the wonder he shares with us as he discovers new tools for teaching.

Come see me at ISTE Island, where I occasionally docent, along with the dozens of other teacher-volunteers who do so, and by all means vote for your favorite blog for RSS display the month of September: This month we’re choosing between four stellar examples of leading edge thought about teaching and learning. The predictable thing to do, of course, is to list them here, but I’d rather have you visit this SLurl and check them out!

See ya at SLCC!!! Oh, and if you can’t get there, I’ll be streaming some sessions into ISTE Island from Tampa. Either way, I hope to see you there!!

Posted by Scottmerrick Oh (Scott Merrick)

Written by Scott Merrick

posted in Cool Tool, Locations, SLCC, tips, tools, ToRead | 1 Comment

12th June 2008

Spotlight: Virtual Chemistry for Real Students

SpotlightIf you’ve ever seen a floating molecule in Second Life, chances are it was created by Dr. Andrew Lang, a mathematical physicist at Oral Roberts University, otherwise known as Hiro Sheridan in-world. Hiro recently demonstrated working prototypes of several different tools in collaboration with Jean-Claude Bradley, a chemistry professor at Drexel University, known as Horace Moody. The demonstrations included a molecule rezzer that allows a user to name a compound in text chat and watch as it builds itself in front of you atom by atom, and a docking simulator that demonstrates how molecules bond together to form more complex structures.

Molecules in Second Life

Molecule docking simulation. Image courtesy of Eloise Pasteur.

“This shows the docking of one of our molecules in a malarial enzyme,” said Horace, “I collaborated with Rajarshi Guha at Indiana University for the coordinates, and Hiro did the rendering.” The molecules floating in air move together step by step, and students can control and replay the process by using chat commands. “This demonstrates a chemical reaction with all the intermediates shown,” says Hiro, “This is really hard [for students] to see on paper, but easy to show here.”

docking station

Molecule reaction mechanism. Image courtesy of Hiro Sheridan.

Hiro also built a 3D periodical table of the elements, based on a 2D spiral peridoic table created by Professor Theodor Benfey. The 3D table shows approximate relative sizes of the atoms for comparison, color codes each group, and when each atom is clicked, information about its atomic structure, chemical properties, and typical uses spits out from the device. A free copy of the 3D table is available on the ACS island.

3D periodic table of elements

3D periodic table of elements. Image courtesy of Hiro Sheridan.

Hiro and Horace are using these tools to help students prepare for exams or projects, but they use Second Life in other ways as well. Hiro teaches an honors course called Science and the Imagination, and he recently arranged to bring science fiction author Joan Slonczewski into the virtual world for a presentation to the class. “I give my ‘virtual reality in science and science fiction’ lesson in virtual reality, they get a kick out of it,” said Hiro, “That’s the kind of use that I’d like to see more of, really taking advantage of Second Life’s affordances.”

Hiro also built the presentation and HQ areas where the American Chemistry Society holds meetings, and discussed residencies for chemistry faculty available on the island. “Kate Sellar has started an ACS resident chemist program, she offers free land to ACS members to form a community of faculty collaborators and students get to build too as ‘resident helpers’,” he said. In addition to the cafe, Hiro has a number of science related freebies at the ACS HQ as well as a science fiction set at the Second Nature sim.

“As the technology gets better, so will the benefits of Second Life for education. Right now it is still in its early stages but I see it becoming mainstream in about 4 years,” he says, “The things that are possible already are almost unlimited right now, they’re just hard to do for the average educator. But Second Life is ideal for showing students 3D concepts that they just can’t get by looking at a static webpage.”

Be sure to stop by and check out Hiro and Horace’s work at the ACS island!

~Posted by Fleep Tuque

Written by Chris Collins

posted in Locations, Spotlight, tools | 4 Comments

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