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Experience in Second Life

Prior to this class I had never used Second Life. It was an interesting experience to see how people could interact within a virtual world. I believe that games in Second Life could be effective if made properly, but if the users are new to the virtual world, they would have a difficult time getting accustom to the different features of Second Life.

Throughout my experiences in Second Life, I would say that they were overwhelmingly positive. I learned how to make a token and trap, which is something I felt was totally out of my reach. It was very interesting to see how one could manipulate almost every aspect of the tokens and traps. The tokens could be anything from a coin to a treasure chest, and the developer had the freedom to decide. Doing an exercise like this allowed the students somewhat of a free rein to put their production skills to the test, and I enjoyed being able to work on a project that I had no past experience with.

One limitation I found was that it was somewhat difficult to get the avatars to do the things you wanted at any given time. An example of this was when I would click on an object, my hand would raise, and often times never go back down. I’m sure this issue was likely user related, but the problem happened more than once. I think that the tutorials we watched online were great for creating the game, but I needed more of a beginner tutorial to learn how to do everything else. Another issue that came up was that oftentimes Second Life would lag. This made it difficult for the characters, and environment to interact as desired.

I believe that a game such as this would be an excellent tool to teach 14 and 15 year olds about the lives of pirates. It was interactive and engaging for the students, so this enabled them to learn the necessary information while having fun with it. Since e-learning is likely to have a major role in education, it is important to learn different ways to connect with your learners. Although I don’t believe that Second Life will be the best environment for online learning, it is a good program to get familiar with the concept.

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The Use of Virtual Worlds in Education

I was introduced to Second Life this semester for the first time.  I have never even heard of it, let alone used it before.  Immersive learning was not something that I was very familiar with.  Being involved in this project has taught me a lot about immersive learning and the use of virtual worlds in an education setting.

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Just recently in one of my COMM courses, we were assigned a project to create a pirate-based game in Second Life.  The target audience for this game was to be 7th graders, and at first I thought that this was a pretty cool idea because 1. teenagers seem to be more willing to learn if it’s in an informal setting; and 2.With the experience of having a 14 year old brother, I know that kids are into pirates. However, prior to this course I had only ever heard about Second Life from word of mouth, and most of those people were people who weren’t in favor of it.  My only prior impression of Second Life was that it was “SIMS on steroids.”

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Although this was my first experience using the second life software I found it to be very interesting. I think that it is a very creative aspect of learning, due to the fact that most individuals contain a lot more information when they’re having fun while doing the instruction. I thought that it would be hard to develop instruction using this type of learning device, but after sitting down and looking over the different things that you could accomplish in second life, things turned out to be a lot easier.

When creating my part of the instruction, I found most of the process to be as easy as just copying and pasting material. It was very easy to actually accomplish the goal at hand, but the hard part of the process was finding the location where the content should be located. There are a lot of content folders that you have to go through in order to figure out what material works where. To me this was the most time-consuming part of the instruction.

There were only a few minor limitations that I found when using the second life program. Those limitations range from the material that we were able to use, alterations that we couldn’t make to the land itself, all the way to the limitations of where we could go. All together I enjoyed my experience working with the second life program, and I wouldn’t mind working with it again.

Still not convinced

I’ve known of Second Life since at least January of 2008 when it was shown to me at work. Initially, I had the typical questions like “What do you do here?” and “Why does that tree look like a triangle for 5 minutes?” I still find myself asking these questions, although I now know the answers. I am always looking to have my mind changed, but I still am not convinced that the use of this kind of virtual world is a sustainable medium to drive content delivery. View full article »

Virtual Pirate World

Initially when the class was told we were going to be using a virtual world to create an educational game I was intrigued. I was wondering how we were going to make the game educational. I have used Second Life before in another class and was not excited to be using it again. I do not have a negative reaction to the program, I just wanted to learn something that I have not already used. My first impressions were that it was going to be easy to create the game because I have created a game with a similar format before. View full article »

Reflection on Pirate Video

The Second Life exercise that we did in Comm 631 was very interesting to say the least.  For never having ever worked with Second Life before, like anything, it was a struggle at first.  Take a look at the video we ended up with…

http://youtu.be/Lbvlxb-lzoc

My first impression of Second Life was very negative.  Mostly because I never used it before.  It was interesting to see how much my world opened up as Second Life’s world opened up to me. View full article »

Society Is Capable of Defense

It seems that the fear of change combats the ideas of future shock outlined by Toffler.  In many ways, people are constantly revolting against forms of technology that they deem unnecessary and counterproductive to society as a hole.  Virtual worlds are an example of technology that society is not ready for.   Several different applications have come and gone with very little success being shared by any of them.  View full article »

http://www.springerlink.com/content/8663210210u67637/

“Culture Shock” by Alvin Toffler, 1970

“Culture Shock” by Alvin Toffler, 1970

Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, Culture Shock, sealed his reputation as a futurist. It would be easy to forget that this book was written over forty years ago if it weren’t for the heavily yellowed pages of the paperback copy I borrowed from the library.

To think that so many of Toffler’s forewarnings have come to fruition is intriguing. Fortunately I don’t believe all of his warnings are as negative as he portrayed them. Yes the world has been a very mobile society and the idea of a global citizen is bantered around but there is still a large population in the United States who do not travel far from home. Many of us have moved and have reconnected to a community we have found ourselves living in. Routines can be continued even in a new place.

I think the larger social fallout is that fewer people are available to act as volunteers in hospitals, nursing homes, food kitchens, free health clinics, and in local community recreational areas affecting the social fabric of our lives. But that relates to two-income families who don’t have as much free time available for volunteer work especially during the day. I was reminded of the Blacksburg Electronic Village’s longitudinal study where they connected everyone in the community via a network that would allow everyone to communicate virtually. The study was focused on understanding social capital and community in a networked society. One variable that they found a change in was volunteerism, which increased due to the ease of communicating with the members (Kavanaugh & Patterson, 2001). It took a fraction of the time to send an email to a distribution list than it took in the past to phone or send snail mail and then waiting or following up to gather responses. So there are some positive aspects to our ability to communicate quickly and efficiently.

Toffler points out that technological innovation, opens new affluence, new opportunities, and raises expectations for psychological self-fulfillment (p. 114). Comments we hear about the millennial generation are that they have lived with the new technology that isn’t new to them and they believe they have a right to have a job that is fulfilling and meaningful. Which brings me to chapter 18 where Toffler discusses “Education in the Future”. We are living in Toffler’s future and public school education has not changed much as Toffler and his wife Heidi talk about education in this YouTube video named “Alvin Toppler on Education” at

There are pockets of innovation in education and opportunities for self-paced learning as evidenced by the availability of open online courses offered by several large universities. It’s worth listening a recent TED Talk given by Salman Khan who presents his Khan Academy free instructional videos that he started making to tutor his cousins and now has 2200 free videos available that encourage mastery of the content, must respond correctly to ten questions in a row before being allowed to move on (Khan, 2011). He makes the case that technology can humanize the classroom by flipping the current instructional model from lecture in the classroom with homework outside the classroom to instruction outside the classroom via the videos and teacher-to-student/peer-to-peer interaction in the classroom while the students work on homework. What an awesome idea!

The sheer number of topics covered in the Future Shock book was amazing.  We have been in a disposable society mode for many years and consumerism is the method used to keep America believing it’s prosperous. We’ve seen what happens in the U.S. economy when people stop purchasing goods and the economy suffers. Many were accurately depicted and the alarm Toffler sounds of a future shock to the psychological and physically health of the human race is a bit overdone. There are days when I’d prefer to be away from interacting with technology but that is something that speaks to technological literacy of which we don’t learn how to unplug or even believe it’s acceptable or maybe even possible without the fear that the world will pass us by.

References

Kahn, S. (educator) (20011, March 9). Let’s use video to reinvent education. TEDTalk. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html

Kavanaugh, A., Carroll, J. M., Rosson, M. B., Zin, T. T., and Reese, D. D. (2005). Community networks: Where offline communities meet online. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(4), article 3. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue4/kavanaugh.html

Kavanaugh, A., & Patterson, S. J. (2001). The impact of community computer networks on social capital and community involvement. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(3), 496-509.

Toffler, A. (1970). Future shock, (pp. 1-561).  New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Toffler, A. (author) (2008, May 30). Alvin Toffler on the new economy 1/6. Big Ideas. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Raey9DH7wDc&feature=related

Toffler, A. (author), & Toffler, H. (author) (2008, March 14). Alvin Toffler on education. Estrategia Magazine. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04AhBnLk1-s