Category Archives: Second Life

New Book: SLOODLE – Conexión de Entornos de Aprendizaje

Towards the end of last year, Dr Ruth Martinez published her book SLoodle. Conexión de Entornos de Aprendizaje. The book is in Spanish (obviously!), so I can’t really say too much about the contents, but I asked Ruth for some more information the book. With SLOODLE having been such a large part of my academic life for a few years, I’m always glad to hear of successes (or even failed attempts) at using it, and great to see this book appearing.

You can purchase the book from Editorial UOC, Ruth’s synopsis follows…

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Reflecting on a Second Life

Vivian Kendall passed away a few days ago, after a long fight against illnesses over many, many years. A Washington State based artist, I only ever knew Vivian through one of her creations – her digital extension into the world of Second Life, Osprey Therian.

On hearing the news, I logged back into SL to respond to some messages and send some of my own, and with a slight melancholy to revisit some of the locations that once were much more familiar sights and regular haunts.

There is a sensation that many retired residents of SL have when revisiting after a long long break of finding the place empty or deserted, and the realization that their friends are no longer around. In fact, the latter may be true, very few of my old friends were in SL at that point and most probably rarely log in now, but dropping into Kuula (still the home of New Citizens Inc., a group dedicated to mentoring and supporting new users) I found a large cluster of avatars chatting, talking, sharing knowledge and skills, learning how to build virtual stuff, or just picking up some free virtual goodies. Pretty much as it was some seven/eight years ago when I first visited Kuula as a new resident myself.

I started SL because I had read so many stories and it seemed so crazy that I had to try it out for myself… and found that I could use the world as a platform for irreverent creativity, making silly stuff that was just silly or funny and that I was able to share these creations and take pleasure in the amazing creativity of others. I made a few fun things, but was generally a bit of a slacker.

But inspired by what I saw, I became convinced that virtual worlds could be a useful platform for formal education – and I became more and more involved in that side of SL and virtual worlds. I created a new avatar, slightly less irreverent, as an attempt to partition the ‘fun’ and ‘work’ sides of SL. Possibly a mistake, as I then found that there simply wasn’t time to maintain two virtual lives – but overall it turned out well, and my most successful academic and educational work all owes its origins to Second Life.

I got to know a huge range of amazing folks from around the world. Some became academic collaborators, many others I still keep in touch with through Twitter, or Facebook and it is amazing to follow the careers of many of these folk.

Just today I saw an update from Henry Segerman who has taken his hobby of creating mathematically driven 3D art from the virtual world to the physical one with the help of 3D printing.

A sculpture that projects from sphere to a plane

Stereographic projection from sphere to a plane

Some of the other folk I know have gone on to do whole hosts of amazing things, academically, artistically, or simply had good careers. But even if success in this world did not follow, that was never the point anyway. Many just had fun and an outlet for creative exploration in SL or just from being part of a community where life was a form of play.

The communities you became part of, the communities that existed in Second Life were almost certainly the best thing in Second Life – not finding a community that you could be part of or relate to was probably the most significant reason for people leaving SL within hours of starting. I was lucky enough in my Second Lives to be part of some really fantastic communities and to be able to visit many many more.

And I was lucky enough that Osprey Therian was a member of some of those communities, and to be able to experience some of the wonderful events, shows and general fun stuff she made happen in SL.

So I’m thinking of SL, the strange world where we met and how it seems to have started so many voyages and stories for so many folk, and wondering where these journeys are going to lead us over the next decades.

But this weekend Osprey Therian, a veteran voyager around Second Life, will be making a final dangerous journey, and many of her friends will be there to see her off and wish her well. I may not be able to attend, but my thoughts are with Osprey as she leaves these familiar shores and seas.

SLOODLE Ongoing: Virtual worlds and learning management systems

Going back a few years, I helped Jeremy Kemp found a project called SLOODLE, a kind of e-learning mash-up between Second Life and Moodle (and later OpenSim as a Second Life alternative). This is still being maintained by Edmund Edgar at http://www.sloodle.org/. Edmund has been doing a great job, updating things to maintain compatibility with the latest versions of Moodle, and enhancing and adding to the tools and features available.

Unfortunately I’ve had very little time to work with SLOODLE over the last couple of years, so it’s pleasing to discover the range of work that others have been doing with it in the mean time. A quick search uncovered the following since 2012:

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From Coffee & Power to High Fidelity

Philip Rosedale, Second Life founder, has a new project to build a new virtual world – High Fidelity. He has a team that also includes, as community manager, Jeska Dzwigalski, another Linden Lab veteran.

The goal is vague but ambitious – something about cloud/peer-to-peer, low latency and high scalability virtual worlds. There is a picture of some glasses and a circuit board.

We’re building a new virtual world enabling rich avatar interactions driven by sensor-equipped hardware, simulated and served by devices (phones, tablets and laptops/desktops) contributed by end-users.

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Meanwhile, In Second Life…

So yesterday I ran my first class in Second Life for a while. For student project work I’ve even rented some land there for a while (having previously managed two islands for the University).

Overall it was a good experience, and for my class it worked very well. There was a lecture and a building exercise and some experimentation with co-editing web-pages from within Second Life (this last a little flaky – in part the result of too many dynamic web-pages for the SL client to manage, in part because of too many client connections for Google Docs to reliably manage).

But returning to Second Life certainly made me think again about it, and the place of virtual worlds in education today…

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e-Assessment Scotland 2012

There is a good range of talks and online sessions coming up as part of e-Assessment Scotland 2012. A full day of talks in Dundee on the 31st of August, with online sessions running for a full week before and after that date. More details here: http://www.e-assessment-scotland.org/?page_id=1030

I’m looking forward to Geoff Crisp’s keynote session, and the Second Life session (yes, there are still folk using Second Life!), but there should be something there for everyone.

Avatar Classroom: Powered by SLOODLE

Things have been very quiet over at the SLOODLE project for a while, but Edmund Edgar and Fire Centaur (Paul Preibisch) have been continuing to work on SLOODLE, contributing to the open-source code base while also developing their own supported solution for end users – Avatar Classroom. There will be a chance to see what they are up to coming soon (SLurl/URL to follow). From Edmund:

Class on Avatar Classroom: Edmund and Fire’s SLOODLE-based classroom, Tuesday March 20th at 8PM Pacific Standard Time

Some people may have heard of the hosted service Edmund Edgar and Fire Centaur have been working on, built on the latest SLOODLE 2.0.

This gives you a pre-fabricated classroom integrated with a fully hosted Moodle website, with all the SLOODLE tools, designed to get you up and running with SLOODLE as quickly and easily as possible.

We have all the usual SLOODLE tools, so you can:

  • Upload their Presentations in Moodle, and have them displayed in Second Life with the Sloodle Presenter
  • Create quizzes in Moodle, and have students complete them in Secondlife using Sloodle quiz chairs, and the all new Sloodle Scoreboard!
  • Create and award points on your scoreboard for quizzes and role-play activities.
  • Submit homework assignments in Second Life, and grade them using the Moodle Gradebook
  • Distribute Virtual items to the class using a web based interface.
  • Record and bridge Student / Teacher chat sessions in Second Life and have these automatically archived in Moodle Chat

We also have a few additional touches, like a shark pool to attack your students if their quiz chairs drop too far.

Fire Centaur will be holding an informational tutorial on Tuesday March 20th at 8PM PST for all those interested.

Hope to see you there!

Are Virtual Worlds (still) Relevant in Education?

Sarah Smith-Robbins asks whether virtual worlds are (still) relevant in education in the current issue of eLearn.

Sarah identifies many of the reasons why VW have slid in popularity and hype. I think learning technologies (and the people interested in them) are still prone to hype and despondence -  augmented reality and gamification to name two of the more recent hype cycles. As the dust settles, there will still be people using VW in education – though unlikely as widely as the hype was leading us to believe.

Sarah’s article does a very good job of explaining some of the key reasons why the recent Second Life centric wave of hype burst – as virtual worlds re-emerge it will presumably be with less wild enthusiasm and a more pragmatic and realistic basis.

ARVEL SuperNews

A mixture of magazine, journal and blog, with a blend of irreverant, useful, bizarre and thought-provoking pieces, ARVEL SuperNews has arrived. Includes lists of upcoming games and virtual world conferences, lists of some current projects, book and film reviews and contributed articles by Jon Richter and Jeremy Kemp and others. By far the weirdest bit was the Dear Chris page… did Chris Dede really write that? Mind blowing. Worth a read for anyone interested in Game Based Learning and Virtual Worlds – you are sure to find something of value inside.

Get your SuperNews here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2080114/ARVEL%20SuperNews%20Fall%202011.pdf