Today I’m attending the Joint Eduserv/JISC CETIS Second Life in Education Meeting.
Andy Powell gave a presentation through Second Life t-shirts. Each slide featured his avatar with a new t-shirt slogan. Very inventive, amusing and some great slogans. I hope he makes the t-shirts available in world later. Watch the eFoundations blog to see if he posts them online – in Second Life or elsewhere. (My favourite t-shirt I’ve seen in SL so far was Wandering Yaffle’s which had ‘Just Pretend’ on the front… and ‘I’m real’ on the rear.)
Lawrie Phipps, who is heading the JISC Users and Innovation programme (see here for the funding call, one week left to get your bid in!) outlined existing JISC activity in Second Life. No currently funded projects explicitly using Second Life, though some have presences there. EMERGE in particular has developed a number of educational communities, and now has an island in Second Life. He was also able to clarify that JANET (the UK education backbone) has no policy or rules against Second Life use. As an aside, JANET also allows Skype as long as it is set up not to run as a super-node – a common misconception with UK university admins. With luck I’ll be able to get Skype access once more at work…
Hugh Denard of Kings College London, outlined his project expanding the Theatron project into Second Life – building recreations of European theatres in Second Life, and finding new ways for presenting and accessing digital assets. He mentioned as an aside the languagelab, a huge virtual city built in Second Life – covering 15 sims! – with a range of interactive classrooms. These include a murder mystery scenario. Must take a closer look some time.
Some of Hugh’s issues include the difficulty of presenting 1:1 scale models in a virtual world where average avatar height is around 7 foot tall, and where cameras float above the back of the avatars head. He also mentioned that for their project they are building models externally in Maya or similar then uploading to SL using one of the many importing tools available. The project progress in Second Life looks great – including a historically significant modular set design that reconstructs itself in different forms continually.
Next, Ken Kahn from Oxford University presented “Modelling4All: Intersecting computer modelling, Web 2,0, and Second Life”. This project is trying to make computer modelling accessible to all, down to high-school level students – developing the tools and the communities for supporting this. Their work involves web and 3D tools, making Second Life just a smaller portion of this project. Other technologies they are inspired by include Flickr and MIT’s Scratch. I think he has set a tough challenge for his project in trying to build technologies for creating complex distributed models in Second Life in something like a drag-and-drop manner.
After lunch, Diane Carr and Martin Oliver on “Learning in Second Life: convention, context and methods”, then my turn.