I’ve not discussed it much on this blog, but a project I’m involved in a lot these days is Sloodle. As part of this, I’ve been in San Jose for the past 10 days. If you are interested in games-based learning and/or Second Life in general, this might not be the most thrilling post. If you have an interest in Sloodle, read on…
A busy trip over. My visit to SJSU’s School of Library and Information Science is at an end. During the course of the 10 days, I met up with Steve Sloan: SJSU Tech on a Mission. He kindly collected me from SFO – and we had a great chat about the use of blogs in the classroom. It’s clear that assuming that all youth take the same approach to technologies such as blogging is a misconception – for journalism students, blogging has a great deal more relevance than it does to many computing students.
I visited the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI Ltd., where I gave an impromptu presentation and got to pick some minds. In our efforts to build a community around Sloodle, who better to get advice from than the people behind Tapped In – an international online community of teachers. The Centre is also a partner in Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE). LIFE are similarly interested in ways to support the development and sharing of educational tools within Second Life – on the surface quite simple, but which can be complex when issues relating to updating and networking with developing platforms are introduced. Hopefully there is room to learn from one another here. I left very optimistic that we may be able to pick up a good number of pointers and some very good advice from the center. And that was only my second day in San Jose.
Wednesday, and a visit to the amazing Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Nicely symmetrical as my trip is being funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. Jeremy Kemp & I were able to chat with Toru Iiyoshi, the director of the Knowledge Media Laboratory. Many thanks to James Morgan for helping to set this up. Again, I think we came away with some great advice. Then we rushed back to SJSU for my presentation to the SLIS faculty – which went well, with a packed room plus a busy audience in Second Life. Apologies to the Second Life audience – for reasons unfathomable, it appeared that perhaps as many as half of the Second Life audience had problems with the video stream.
During my talk, Jeremy pulled objects out of his inventory from time to time that helped illustrate in 3D what I was talking about. I think he coined the term ‘PowerSpace’ for this – combining text, audio, perhaps video, and 3D objects to give a presentation. Kind of Powerpoint++. I’d expect to see more tools supporting this kind of presentation inside Second Life soon.
Then SJSU SLIS officially opened their Second Life island. Again, an busy room in real-life, plus a busy and well attended party in Second Life. The Second Life party was particularly well organised – with a lot delegated to student guides who did a great job of arranging entertainments and taking people on magic-carpet tours.
Thursday, I sequestered myself away to catch up on writing. Thursday evening I was very kindly invited to a faculty meal at a local steakhouse. I can honestly say that I have never in my life seen such a large steak. Or such a large portion of cheesecake. So who do they think they are kidding by offering three kinds of artificial sweetener for the coffee?!?
Friday, a trip to San Francisco, and a brief and pleasant visit to Linden Lab, chatting to Claudia and to some of the developers working on web-interoperability projects. Claudia has been a fantastic proponent of Sloodle – and it was good to be able to discuss our ideas for where Sloodle goes next and to get feedback from Linden Lab.
Monday & Tuesday were more about writing up all that was discussed over the previous week, and trying to do some forward planning. Managed to meet up with Edmund Edgar – who has been very busy coding, experimenting and supporting end-users get to grips with Sloodle – in-world and chat on Skype. Also a few discussions with some people who are using/experimenting (or planning on using) Sloodle. As much of this as possible has ended up in a discussion forum posted in the news forum on Sloodle.com.
The key challenges this is hoping to start to address are:
- Establishing Sloodle as an entity
- Establishing guidelines and supporting processes for developers
- Making it easier (& more rewarding?) for people who want to join the project and want to be able to contribute
I think more than a few points from the discussions earlier in the week made it into this document in some form or other.
No time to list all the exotic foods ate, or noxious drinks tasted at Jeremy’s behest…