• RezEd: A Resource for all things Virtual and Educational!

28th April 2008

RezEd: A Resource for all things Virtual and Educational!

BrightIdeas The incredible folks over at Global Kids have just launched a new network dedicated to education in virtual worlds. RezEd should be useful to K-12 practitioners as well as higher ed folks. The site promises lively discussions, monthly themes, interviews and podcasts with experts as well as an innovative community of like minded people all sharing the goal of improving education for all. For the site’s launch, RezEd features an insightful interview with Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium regarding his congressional testimony. Go check it out!!

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28th April 2008

Community Colleges in Second Life

Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks has begun a wiki and Second Life group to support the presence of community colleges in Second Life.  She describes the wiki:

“The purpose of the wiki is to collect information about Community College representation in SL.  The Community Colleges in SL (CCSL) group voiced a need for a place to archive useful information and, most importantly, to share a current list of Community Colleges that are using SL, whether they have an institutional presence or not. In short, it is place for us to find each other and to share materials.  The CCSL Resource Center (EduIsland 3) is currently being developed as a compliment to the wiki. The Resource Center will also be a repository for CC builds that are currently homeless and to showcase the in-world work of CC students.”

Visit the wiki here.

You can also visit the CCSL Resource Center to join the group, pick up a CCSL starter kit and to drop off your college’s info.  Meetings are held every Friday at this location at 5:00 SLT.

Thanks to Pipsqueak for putting together the wiki and the group!

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28th April 2008

Places to Visit: Tintern Abbey

SpotlightThe College of DuPage’s interpretation of Wordsworth’s poem, Tintern Abbey is finished. It’s a great example of immersive interpretations of course materials. Be sure to go check it out! http://slurl.com/secondlife/Eduisland%203/195/69/23


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28th April 2008



The Open University is pleased to announce that it is now accepting submissions for ReLIVE08, an international conference for Researching Learning in Virtual Environments to be held at its campus in Milton Keynes on the 20th and 21st of November 2008.

This conference will be of interest to anyone researching learning and teaching in virtual world environments such as Second Life.

The conference organisers are keen to construct a programme that features diverse and innovative research approaches to learning and teaching in virtual worlds. Given the emerging practice associated with virtual worlds, the conference committee are also keen to receive papers reporting on the experience of learning and teaching using virtual worlds that relate practice and outcomes to literature and research in this area. We anticipate that submissions will reflect a range of research methods and will examine issues such as rigour, methods of sampling, relationships between researchers and researched, and the ethics and politics of the research process.

Our keynote speakers are Edward Castranova and Roo Reynolds.    Dr Castranova is Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, Bloomington and an expert on the economies of large-scale online games.  Andrew (Roo) Reynolds is a Metaverse Evangelist based at IBM’s Hursley Park laboratory in the UK, facilitating the use of Virtual Worlds within IBM.

The conference will feature special guests, invited speakers and a conference dinner with an after dinner speaker and entertainment, so promises to be thought-provoking as well as entertaining and an excellent opportunity for networking in the field.  All papers will be published in a conference proceedings and a selection of papers will be published in an additional academic format.

Please find more details at our website on http://www.open.ac.uk/relive08

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26th April 2008

Dispatch from vBusiness Expo

SL Event graphic Now into Day 3 , the vBusiness Expo in Second Life has hosted a number of excellent sessions discussing the business of education in virtual worlds and Second Life. Be sure to register to attend and catch a session before it ends tomorrow! SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Clever%20Zebra%203/20/2/49

Graphic from Fleep's ppt presentation

On Day 1 of the Expo, I was lucky enough to lead off the Education Track with a session about some practical tips for “Selling the Idea of Virtual Worlds to Stakeholders”. Getting institutional support for virtual worlds projects can be a little daunting, but a combination of compelling arguments and a well put together presentation can increase chances for success. One tip, dress your avatar in the same outfit you will be wearing in the real world to help bridge the “reality” gap for your audience. Another suggestion, falling flat on your face off a building in Second Life is also good for an element of humor in your presentation. =) See a sample PPT slide set on Slideshare for Pitching Second life to Educators in 15 Minutes.

Slamander Logo

Jonathon Richter (SL: Wainbrave Bernal) spoke about the SaLamander Project in the next session, describing a very clever tool that educators can use to tag, index, and search learning objects and environments in Second Life. By creating a repository of known learning objects, educators can share resources and help determine best practices for developing educational spaces in virtual worlds. Jonathon encouraged builders and creators of educational content to submit their creations to the index for possible inclusion in a MERLOT linked repository of 3D learning objects. Be sure to pick up your own SaLamander HUD from the Center for Advanced Technology in Education in-world to tag objects you create or find!

RezEd Portal

On Day 2 of the Expo, Barry Joseph (SL: GlobalKids Bixby) of Global Kids discussed “Doing Well by Doing Good: Supporting Non-Profits and Philanthropies in Virtual Worlds” and how Global Kids has been able to successfully create experiences that engage Global Kids teens in discussing and learning about real world social justice issues, while also bringing in such groups as the International Criminal Court into Second Life. They recently launched the International Justice Center in Second Life and will continue to foster collaboration between students and non-profits. He also announced the new RezEd Hub for Learning & Virtual Worlds and encouraged educators to get connected.

Metanomics Logo NMC logo

In a special session of Metanomics, Robert Bloomfield (SL: Beyers Sellers) of Cornell University interviewed Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel) , CEO of the New Media Consortium about his recent testimony to Congress about virtual worlds. Larry also discussed how NMC has engaged and supported the educational community in Second Life to explore what really works in virtual worlds, from sharing information about their experiences developing campus spaces and islands to hosting events like the recent Symposium on Mashups. NMC’s focus on community, collaboration, and creativity is an excellent example for corporate organizations at the vBusiness Expo to emulate.

Typewriter Tackleberry in Second Life

On Day 3, Aleks Krotoski (SL: Mynci Gorki) from the University of Surry and Mark Bell (SL: Typewriter Tackleberry) from Indiana University discuss best practices for performing survey research in virtual worlds like Second Life. One key affordance of doing research in virtual environments is the ability to capture reams of data, not just from the avatar, but also the environment itself. Aleks suggests researchers try to focus on the data they really want, since you can capture more than you need. Mark Bell announced a new SL HUD-based survey tool his team has created to simplify data collection while preserving the immersion of the environment. Both suggest that researchers approach campus IRB groups early on in the process to help ensure plenty of time for answering their questions about the environment.

Education Panel from vBusiness Expo

Sarah Robbins (SL: Intellagirl Tully) of Ball State University chairs a panel with Jeremy Kemp (SL: Jeremy Kabumpo) of San Jose State University and Jeremy Hunsinger (SL: buridan Simon) of Virginia Tech about the future of education in virtual spaces. As long term veterans in SL education, Jeremy Hunsinger points out that educational gaming and 3D spaces have long been a part of the academic computing tradition, and asks, “The future isn’t all face to face, is it?” Jeremy Kemp remarked that he expected to see more concrete data about effective teaching practices in SL than we have seen up to this point. “We need to be studying the efficacy of these models,” he said. Sarah asks, “Is Second Life a ‘creepy treehouse‘?” referring to the term used to describe a place (physical or virtual) created by adults to lure kids in. Jeremy Hunsinger replied, “I’m asking my students to come in here to do their own work,” rather than putting them in a space he created, and he notices that his students are spending time here of their own volition in part due to the different types of experiences students can have here powered by their own curiosity. Excellent panel!

More to come as the vBusiness Expo continues!

Posted by Chris Collins (SL: Fleep Tuque)

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23rd April 2008

Upcoming SLED events

* Optimizing WindLight for Educators – Second Session, Apr. 24 (SL)

* Feast of St. George, Apr. 27 (SL)

* Japanese Garden Opening Ceremony, Apr. 25.

* ELVEN Institute “Communication” Workshop, May 3 (SL)

* Intermediate Virtual World Librarianship – Programming and Planning, May 2 then weekly to May 23 (SL)

 The events above have been added to the SLEDevents in SL public Google calendar, which shows events in Second Life of interest to SLED subscribers, and which may be viewed in your web browser at: 


Written by Bruce Sommerville

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21st April 2008

How to optimize the latest viewers for older hardware (Hint- they will be even faster than the old ones!)

In response to all the conversation recently about educators and WindLight, Linden Lab be holding the second inworld informational session with Pastrami Linden. Pastrami will discuss:
“How to optimize the latest viewers for older hardware (Hint- they will be even faster than the old ones!)”

ISTE will host this session on Thursday April 24th at 3:00 pm Pacific/SL time at the ISTE Beach/Campfire Area http://slurl.com/secondlife/ISTE%20Island/213/150/22

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Torley Linden posted a Graphics Preferences Guide video tutorial here: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/04/11/tip-of-the-week-30-graphics-preferences-guide/ to *show what just about each and every option does*.

This will be a text chat session. Bring your questions!

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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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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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17th April 2008

Windlight Information Sessions Tomorrow!

In response to all the conversation recently about educators and WindLight, Linden Lab will be holding a few inworld informational sessions with Pastrami Linden. Pastrami will discuss:
“How to optimize the latest viewers for older hardware (Hint- they will be even faster than the old ones!)”

New Media Consortium will host the first session, Friday, April 18th, 3 pm Pacific time at the Muriel Cooper Coliseum on NMC Conference Center island.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Torley Linden posted a Graphics Preferences Guide video tutorial here: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/04/11/tip-of-the-week-30-graphics-preferences-guide/ to *show what just about each and every option does*.

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