During the last two weeks my EC&I 832 class has explored Second Life. I had some technical difficulties with computers, installation, mics and sound. I visited Second Life for an orientation then on my second trip for our tour I felt discouraged by the problems. I looked back to check what I had written on my first trip in 2008.
“March 13, 2008: 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.”
Hmmmmm…sounds like I had the same difficulties two years ago when I was trying to access Second Life. This time my school MacBook wouldn’t allow a Second Life upgrade so I couldn’t access the site. It was back to my husband’s HP laptop. Did I mention that I had no idea where his audio controls were when I finally got into Second Life?
” March, 2008: Okay, so now I’m in Second Life and I’m teleporting to our i 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 lost people on the tour, we had to learn to walk straight and follow our guide and others kept sitting down at unexpected moments.”
This also sounds familiar. My new group was wandering around, we lost each other and had to get teleported back to the group. I ended up in a few strange places and then had to ask to be brought home again.
I see the potential for education and the way it could enrich student learning. Unfortunately, each time I’ve tried it I’ve experienced technical problems which frustrate me. The technical problems alone would stop me from using Second Life with my students because I think that if I’m frustrated I can’t imagine how a class of students would feel. I’m not shutting the door on virtual world learning but right now Second Life isn’t for me.