Last night was my first foray in Second Life. My EC&I 831 class from the University of Regina toured Second Life last night with the help of tour guide Kirk Kezema from the University of Saskatchewan. The first challenge was to create an account and an identity in Second Life. I am Global Chesnokov. Now, if you don’t know how this works you are allowed to choose your first name then there are choices for your last name. I chose Global because at the time I had the tv on the Global television network and their logo/name was on the screen. Next I had to choose what I looked like. Unfortunately I made the same choice as two other people in my class so we had triplets wandering cyberland last night. I could only tell it was me when I read my name above my head. If I was going to do this again I would personalize my identity. I now had to install the Second Life program to my computer. Well, my school MacBook wasn’t letting me do much and the browsers weren’t recognizing the Second Life url for my tour. I tried on my PC at home. I installed the program then the flashing blox came up telling me that my video cards were too old to support the program. Finally, I used my husband’s brand new HP laptop with a 17″ screen. He said I could use it for the class and then he was uninstalling Second Life. He couldn’t imagine what sort of educational value playing a game could be.
Okay, so now I’m in Second Life and I’m teleporting to our meetng place which is the EECM Meeting Hall. We meet in a virtual lecture hall and are asked to sit down. Sounds easy right? Guess again. We looked like a group of kindergarten students trying to form a circle. It was truly sad. Finally our leader was able to organize the virtual world neophytes and explain what would happen on our tour. We visited the University of Saskatchewan’s virtual world,The Discovery Channel’s Learning Centre and had an opportunity to speak to one of their staff members, and finally the Space & Flight Museum. We didn’t visit the University of Ohio’s virtual world but I found a introductory video on YouTube. We lost people on the tour, we had to learn to walk straight and follow our guide and others kept sitting down at unexpected moments.
I can see how there could be opportunities to use a virtual world in a middle years classroom. I think it would be interesting to visit The Discovery Channel’s Learning Centre to participate in some of their programming. During a Science unit I would like to take my students to the Space & Flight Museum. My husband asked how I would keep track of my students and I answered that it would be like any other field trip when I would do head counts. It does open up some interesting possibilities for classroom use.
So who out there is a Second Life resident? Why and how do you use the your virtual world? How does anyone think a virtual world could be utilized in a classroom? I’m interested because I see the possibilities but I’m sure there are others like my husband who can’t imagine any educational value.