Friday, May 25, 2007

Virtual Worlds for Studying Real-World Business

by Rob Bloomfield (a.k.a. Beyers Sellers, Kingsfield Island Resident)

Some of you already know of my interest in virtual worlds as a platform for business research and education. I finally have a paper for public distribution, available for download at Feel free to pass along to others.

If you find the proposal interesting, visit the Wiki website at

(The url will also take you there, and is easier to remember).

You might also consider joining my SL group, "Worlds For Study."

WFS is focused on the use of virtual worlds for education and research in business, law, economics, etc. , not Second Life per se. However, SL seems to be *the* place to find educators interested in virtual worlds, as indicated by the success of today's "best practices" conference.

By the way, if you are interested in using "serious games" for education in non-business settings, you will still find some helpful ideas . And everyone seems to enjoy the part where I describe my own experience in SL

Workshop Materials

by Kim Hampton and James Rickman

Kim writes: I am creating a workshop Web site as part of a professional resource we are developing at Bedford/St. Martin's (an academic publisher). I am interested in providing a forum for teachers to exchange, share, comment on, and post workshop materials for community use. One topic I'd like to include is "Teaching in a Virtual Environment."

Has anyone created a collection of workshop materials that address this topic, specifically how to teach in SL? We would love to work out a deal where these materials could be posted to our site. Please let me know if you have anything you'd like to contribute.

James replies:

Underlying pedagogical assumptions (Editorial)

by Owen Kelly

I find it interesting the way different strands of different threads can come together sometimes in an entirely personal way and trigger off something else entirely.

For example:

  • People have been worrying about the right clothing to wear when appearing before your students in an SL class;
  • Mechthild Schmidt leapt on someone she thought might be commercialising Teen Sl, when I read the post as indicating that a bright teenager was using Teen SL to rehearse his life as an adult;
  • Kimberley Hampton has just wondered if anyone has "created a collection of workshop materials that address this topic, specifically how to teach in SL?" and would like to publish it;
  • Birdie Newborn has just challenged Chris Swaine, saying that "the underlying assumption of your argument, Chris, seems to be to corral Second Life into traditional guidelines" while she thinks that "SL offers wholly new potentialities".

These all tie together for me into a topic that concerns me: what kind of pedagogy does Second Life support, or (more interestingly) what will happen to pedagogy once it has been metaversed?

Almost everyone in SL is a prosumer in Toffler's sense of the word: their consumption and production are inextricably intertwined. This necessarily includes their part in the production of the comunal meanings that they in turn consume. This must be especially true of so-called virtual worlds like SL where the very existence of the world is a communal fantasy: an act of communal production that is at the same moment an act of communal consumption.

This means that everyone in SL is (to one extent or another) self-educating (we can throw in terms like micro-learning, informal learning, if you like) and that puts a large burden on almost all traditional notions of pedagogy. In a knowledge economy mediated by digital interfaces you should be able to claim prior-learning credits for all the PlayStation games you have become familiar with.

I have several specific reasons for raising these general points now.

1. We have just finished a project in SL called Semano Semano, which was a pedagogical experiment that I have documented in two interlinking essays here:

I would be very interested to have any reactions or comments either here or on the site itself. (Please note: I am not suggesting that our work is either interesting, important or right; merely that it is interesting and important to me and I would like to share it because I think it may be pointing in an interesting direction).

2. The fourth League of Worlds conference will be taking place in Sweden at the end of October (The first 3 were in Helsinki, Finland; Melbourne, Australia; and Boone, North Carolina. The fifth is scheduled to be in Mexico.) This conference arose from the kind of concerns that I am outlining here. If you are interested then you should find details at This year we are planning to hold a shadown conference in SL and I will keep the list up to date with news about that.

Both 1 and 2 are attempts to wrestle with the question of how pedagogy will radically change in a world of self-training prosumers (of whom our teenage entrepeneur from Teen Second Life might be a good example). I suspect that we ignore this question at our peril.

And I teach in outfits borrowed from Zorro or the Matrix depending on my mood :)

Classroom alternative to YouTube for sharing SL related content

by Cathy Arreguin
Because K-12 institutions routinely block YouTube, it can be difficult to show great educational examples of Second Life, as well as those wonderful tutorials by Torley and others.
However, I was just clued into TeacherTube. com as a purely educational alternative. In fact, Suffern Middle School (Ramapo project), CATE and English Village projects already have great posts that might really help communicate the educational potential of SL to others. Edutopia also has a featured article this month for reference.
TeacherTube also allows for support files, such as Word docs! Check it out!:
TeacherTube videos tagged with Second Life:
Edutopia article:

NMC Campus Updates

by Alan Levine
June 6-9 Live form Indianapolis
Second Life Events at NMC Summer Conference
The annual NMC conference is being hosted by IUPUI and will feature a significant number of sessions related to Second Life and Virtual Worlds. We are right now planning a number of these to have counter parts in SL, including live video streams of the opening and closing keynote sessions, and a live audio stream from a session where we will hold a RL+SL NMC Campus Teachers Buzz Meeting.
Also, at the conference reception on Wednesday, we are going to ask our remote participants to show up at NMC Campus on the beta grid, so we can do a live audio session to and from the conference. I have to let you know the last demo I did for this at a presentation from University of Mary Washington had a HUGE impact on the audience.
We are also exploring some spontaneous audio streams and interviews from Indy.
Look for details sometime next week on the NMC Campus Observer
Educators in SL Survey
Thanks to the 180+ who have already responded to our survey. There are a few days left before we close it, and we'd really like to push the numbers higher. Please share the survey link widely:
The information is already shaping our thinking for the future, and you can expect to see the results publicly shared in mid to late June.
NMC Orientation Island In the Works
Things are moving nicely along with the development of an Orientation Island to assist educators and students entering SL for the first time. They will use a special account registration form on our site, and rather than being sent to the wild public Orientation, where newbies have been known to get chased by large body parts not normally displayed in public, they will experience the basic orientation of walking, flying etc, but also end at a location full of educational resources and teleports to destinations. Ultimately, this will be also a place where SL educators may return to for refreshers on how to do these things.
We are interested in anyone that wants to share any education resources (thanks to those who already volunteered) or might be interested in participating or help shaping some sort of mentor program.
There are a lot of improvements in the works for the account creation / orientation process from the main SL site as well.
Howto Event in August
We are in some early stages for a in world conference in mid August aimed at provided practical lessons, tutorials in building, scripting, machinima, avatar customization, and more of the key things worth knowing. Stay tuned, but we will have a call for presenters ready by mid to late June.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Innovation & support in SL

by A.C. Vandergraaf

You are invited to participate in an academic study on Second Life. We are interested in the innovation-related practices of Second Life members so we can study the composition and structure of the Second Life community and the extent to which members receive resources and support from Linden Lab and other members. The questions focus on information sources such as the Official Linden Blog and the forums, and Second Life features and tools so we can study the ways in which Linden Lab invites and supports Second Life residents to create in-world content and to further develop the Second Life platform through (close) contact with Second Life members.

Take me to the survey!

(this project cannot succeed without your help, so we offer you a chance to win L$...)

If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact Rocketgrrrl Tripp (aka Shenja van der Graaf) For further information you can check the website where the results will be posted in due course.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Australia Council Grant - SL Artist Residency

by Sean FitzGerald
For the Aussies...


"The Australia Council for the Arts is offering up to $20,000 for a collaborative artist residency in the virtual world of Second Life."

Second Life job openings at Global Kids

by Barry Joseph

Global Kids' Online Leadership Program, now in its seventh year, is
about to experience significant growth in a number of areas with the
hiring of eight additional staff members.

PDFs for each position, along with a description, position status,
and question area, can be found at:

Article about CATE-SL in Eugene Weekly (Oregon)

by Jonathon Richter

Here's an article that the Center for Advanced Technology had written about us in our local hip paper, The Eugene Weekly

Eduserv "Virtual worlds, real learning?" Symposium 2007

by Nick Noakes (from Eduserv listserv)

Subject: Eduserv "Virtual worlds, real learning?" Symposium 2007
Powerpoint slides and streaming media

The Powerpoint slides and streaming media from the Eduserv Foundation
"Virtual worlds, real learning?" Symposium 2007, which was held on the
10th May, are now available from the Eduserv Website at the following

Article on teaching styles in SL

by Carol H Tucker

In Second Life Insider:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Global Kids presents Prof. James Paul Gee on Sloodle!

by Tabitha Tsai

For the last 2 weeks, one of our interns, Nik385 Doesburg (in Teen Second Life) has been hosting an avatar contest on Global Kids Island.
The story goes something like this:
On May 31, 2007, 2pm SL time, a special alien visiting from a planet unknown to us, is expected to land in TSL somewhere near our volcano, and this friendly so-called alien will be looking for an appropriate avatar outfit to "fit into" as he/she explores Global Kids Island for the first time.
The teens are excited to find out who this special alien guest is, for now all they know is that his name is James Paul Gee. For those of us in the field of games and learning, you might have heard of Professor Gee from the University of Wisconsin or read one of his books.
We are thrilled to invite Professor Gee to Global Kids Island and as part of welcoming him to TSL, Professor Gee will be speaking on a live audio stream while trying on different avatars created by teens. At the same time, we invite adults within SL or outside SL to listen in on the audio stream and participate in a live chat with teens via *gasp* SLOODLE!
Here's how you can participate in our first ever mix grid Sloodle event:
On Thursday May 31st, 2007, 2pm SL time, Gee will be landing on Global Kids Island in TSL.
Open a regular browser and paste this audio stream beginning at 2pm SL time:
Once you are listening in, please register for a free Sloodle account. You can also do this prior to the event to save some time.
Step 1:
Click on this link:
Make up a user name and password on this page. If the user name is available you will be taken to their registration form.

Step 3:
Fill in the mandatory fields in the registration form which are:
First name, Surname, Email, City/ Town and Description
Then click update profile

Step 4:
After clicking update profile, you will see this message: "You are about to enroll yourself as a member of this course. Are you sure you wish to do this?"
Click on YES and you will immediately be a part of the teens dialogue on TSL with us.
The main goal for this event is to encourage teens to interact with Professor Gee in a highly interactive and fun way. He will be speaking to them addressing issues such as avatar representation, online identity, and the embodied nature of learning that he expects to embrace as he tries on different avatar outfits created by teens.
Teens will know in advance that adults from around the world will listen in and participate in the live chat dialogue with them. The event is scheduled for no longer than 1 hour. Everyone is welcome to listen in.

2007 Best Practices Conference Update

by Beth Ritter-Guth

IT IS ALMOST HERE!!!! Can you believe it?

On Friday, MAY 25th, over 600 educators will gather for 24 hours to share all of the educational goodness going on in Second Life!

To tease you....please feast your eyes upon the schedule of presenters!

To tease you even more....zoom your pixelated-red-eye to the NEW SERVICE being offered by MySLProject at This was created for our conference and will be a resource that ALL of us can use!!! Please go ahead and sign up now (even if you aren't coming to the conference!). It is FREE!

BUT..who on earth would MISS this conference????

What does it cost? NOTHING! It is FREE FREE FREE!

What do you have to wear? Well...we have no dress code, but clothing is preferred.

What skills do you need? Well, you should go through orientation first before signing in, but other than that, we are chalk full of really sweet and nice people, so we will guide ya along.

If you want to attend, all you have to do is register ( (so we can pass you some 100 freebies at the door) and land yourself at the Welcome Center upon arrival (SLurl

Do you have questions? Concerns? Donations of freebie stuff? General praise, adoration, or pocket lint? Please im Desideria Stockton.

Automatic Chat Tools for lectures and tours

by Ross Perkins

Both the SpeakEasy HUD tool by Dudeney Ge and the Serial Chat Feeder 2.0 HUD by Janor Slichter are available for free in the "Scripted Gadgets" vendor at the ICT Library on Info Island.

Serial Chat Feeder: Tool 10 of 19

SpeakEasy: Tool 17 of 19

Short overview: one wears the HUD (appears in top left) and, via the edit tool, drag & drop a notecard you've created into the Contents folder. Upon exiting the Edit screen, it's ready to use! Touching the HUD device makes the text (on the notecard you've created) appear. The Serial Chat Feeder (version 2) now allows the user to load up to 3 card and choose between them.

I have used the chat tool in the past - it is TREMENDOUS help for facilitating conversation, as the bulk of the talk/tour can be activated with a simple click, allowing one to answer questions, call on audience members, send IMs, rez objects as needed, and so on.

Note: When send a long line of text via the chat tool, have a good feel for how long it takes your audience to read it ... otherwise you "sound" like a Yankee (fast talkers) and folks around have a hard time keeping up, especially noobs who do not know how to access their chat history screen.

ICT Library on Info Island


Professional Research Group for Educational 3D worlds

by Jonathon Richter

We're looking for more people that belong to (or that can soon join) the American Educational Research Association (AERA) - for a Special Interest Group (SIG) especially for 3D Virtual Worlds, such as Second Life.

The Applied Research for Virtual Environments for Learning (ARVEL) special interest group at AERA, " is a community of educators, scholars, and practioners dedicated toward research in and on virtual environments. Using a variety of research methods, we support a diverse approach to understanding the optimal use of virtual worlds and environments for educational purposes. We're interested in developing a comprehensive research agenda, intended to encompass the breadth and scope of learning potentialities, affordances, challenges, and shortcomings of immersive virtual learning environments. "

We must have at least 30 members of AERA to qualify for this SIG - and demonstrate how we are a unique research community in need of a SIG.

Guess What?!? We have 29!

The next member of AERA to commit to paying the $10.00 annual fee will have the honor of fulfilling the minimum number of signatories necessary for our September 15th application. It will then be time for a small celebration - though I would like to continue the campaign until we reach between 60 and 100 signatories.

A healthy SIG for Multi-User Virtual Environments will need an active membership: the number of presentation sessions granted at the annual conference is determined somewhat on the number of proposals submitted through the SIG.

Please consider joining AERA if you are a Second Life resident and higher education faculty member - and sign up for ARVEL!

You can do so by editing the wiki here

Monday, May 21, 2007

Strong Group of Instructional Videos

by Ed Lamoreux

Just in case you've not noted the YouTube location of Torley Linden's instructional videos. Very helpful collection :

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What can SL do for Education?

An SLEDitorial by Chris Swaine

Learning Environment: As an alternative learning environment, it provides:

  • an alternative and potentially neutral space away from the 'traditional' classroom, which can be socially inclusive for those learners which the formal establishment has woefully failed.
  • enables real time interactions and global alliances which are not constrained by traditional 'location' based environments.
  • In 20 years time, we will laugh at what we now call a VLE [Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle etc etc] as being very quaint and 2D

Support Networks.

  • Formal and informal, multiple support networks - from peer to peer through to trusted intermediaries - through to synchronous and asynchronus communication channels
  • Collaborative space. One of SL's huge benefits is the collaboration - both for learners and educational practitioners

Learning & Teaching Dynamic

  • Enable all learners to experience a greater variety of teaching and learning styles - fab for kinesthetic and audio visual styles!
  • Can help to blur the distinction between the role of the teacher and learner.
  • Different opportunty for greater range of interactions with the teacher
  • The traditional role of the teacher and the learner can become blurred, which potentially puts the learner more in control of their own learning [andragogic /heutagogic approaches]
  • Allows different learning styles to be deployed and adopted - especially for kinesthetic and audio visual learning styles.


  • Alternative environment to support formative and summative assessment - from RARPA [recognising and recording progress and achievement in non accredited learning -] through to virtual portfolios
  • Fabulous opportunity to showcase work in an interactive 3D environment rather than a 2D website, or though paper portfolios
  • Help learners to become more actively involved in designing and carrying out their own assessments.

Personalised Content

  • Enables a 3D environment for curriculum areas from marketing and PR to fashion and design, languages to retail.
  • Allows another technology solution to be deployed [working on the premise that the technology should support the learning and teaching and not the other way around!] It is also 'just another tool' that a teacher [or learner] can deploy as part of any learning episode.

Flexible Curriculum

  • Enable the curriculum to be more bite sized and delivered anytime - anyplace - rather than the institutional and non flexible 9-5 Monday to Friday.
  • Can link home/school – home / college
  • Help to provide flexible learning pathways
  • Enable learners to co-design, manage and access the curriculum in different ways

Responsive Infrastructure

  • Technical specifications for running SL are still very high for many users to effectively use SL to support learning and teaching. Therefore, there is a risk of supporting the 'digital divide' - those that have - and those that have not.
  • E-safety - this is more about education that setting up yet more barriers [which I.T. departments revel in "How can we make it not happen"!] - but for organisations it is still a real issue from firewalls to learner safety.
  • Connectivity - not all places have a decent broadband connection

Evidence and Evaluation

  • I would very much doubt there is much robust [robust = key word] evidence yet that virtual worlds DO support learner retention, achievement or attainment. However, I also have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before that starts to filter through. The fact that the community is now over 6.2 million worldwide and at any one time over 20k are in-world suggests that something is good - and it isn't just sex!

Inspection Frameworks

  • Certainly the UK, Educational inspectors through OfSTED just couldn't cope with Second Life - they can barely cope with the concept of email! Therefore, there will continue being a struggle using this technology as inspection is a major driver [along with funding]

Short Survey: L$1 per response!

By Chris Hambly...

Just to take your minds off surveys for a sec, here is a survey. 1 linden for each comment

Question, "Do-you-treat-online-relationships-differently-compared-to-face-to-face-ones?"

WANTED: SLURLS to NonLinear Fluid Virtual Spaces and Experiments

By Emin Saglamer (17-May-07)

I am helping a group of architecture students from Istanbul Technical University. Their project is exploring the results of what absolute freedom creates in a virtual environment. When they say absolute freedom they mean, freedom from physical constraints, gravity, etc.

Could you please send me as many SLURLS as you can to experimental non-traditional spaces that have been created in SL? I am not asking for pretty RL simulation spaces. What I am looking for is just like that sim AngryBeth has her Pencil Factory in: Completely off the hook crazy but awesome at the same time — because it forces the user to rethink space and navigation.

You can send your SLURLs or landmarks in world to Troy Vogel.

E-Portfolio Open Access

By Jonathon Richter (Univ. of Oregon; WainBrave Bernal)

Jeremy Kemp and I presented at AERA last month on the Virtual Portfolio or vPortfolio concept - extending and enhancing the ePortfolio notion into 3D space. The slurl for our work-in-progress spot is here: and we'd really like to collaborate with folks from the Second Life Educators group on ways to build out this idea, literally! :)

While 2D portfolios have traditionally relied, in one way / degree to another on the metaphors of (a) Map, (b) Sonnet, and (c) Mirror - depending upon the purpose of the ePortfolio (who is the audience, who is setting the goals, who is reviewing it - and is it for summative or formative evaluation?) - 3D or vPortfolios may generate new metaphors for collections of student work for the purposes of teaching and learning:

1) the Portfolio as Quest: collections of work can now immerse the viewer in a story, retold when a user ventures through.

2) the Portfolio as built Community: students can "hang out" and create things in a formal or informal setting, making and doing (much like a number of sims in SL - like my home in Chilbo!)

3) the Portfolio as Museum: Students can create a walkthrough (or flythrough) of an interactive exhibit - on a large or small scale.

4) the Portfolio as Marketplace : Students can use an economic scale to see how well the artifacts that demonstrate their knowledge now bear out their own skills.

There may be others out there in SL and other Multi-User Virtual environments - but my belief is that you are using a relatively inexpensive Portfolio Tool with Second Life. There just hasn't yet been a lot of development in any of the above 4 areas - though there ARE examples, of which I would humbly ask folks to submit so we may showcase them at the vPortfolio build on San Jose State's place.

We also are experimenting with the use of SLoodle as a way to capture reflection (via chat and blog tools) so students have a way of narrating why they feel they have met particular standards.

As for 2D, I like Elgg for learner - centered and OSPI for institution-centered portfolios. I've used Adobe Acrobat Writer and HyperStudio (ahem!) as generic tools to create them at Montana State, where I was in a previous life.

TaskStream and Avenet are great proprietary options.

If you or anyone is interested in finding out more about our vPortfolio work, let me know!

How about an open source OBJECT repository to enhance education in SL?

A question by Fire Centaur: ...Since we have all of these fabulous educators making great 3D objects for their presentations, why not create a repository where everyone could submit and catalog the objects they've created for their presentations... then, the community would have a rick library of presentation aids to use and share... I think this would be a great way to enhance the current SL education offerings... what do you think?

Jonathon Richeter (Wainbrave Bernal) responds...

We're aiming to do just that! Creating a repository and searchable database of Learning Objects available in Second Life with the help of the whole Community of Practice is precisely the aim of a newly funded "proof of concept" project called SLamander or The Salamander Project.

We have recently struck a partnership with MERLOT ( to develop a typology of interrelated dimensions that are useful for educators of all stripes using this mileu.

We are also working with the good people at San Jose State - particularly Jeremy Kemp and a new group of mentors to assist teachers in SL (Greylin) - to develop the concept on several fronts: Salamander Tool development in Sloodle and a Salamander HUD and in testing things out prior to an official launch.

Right now, for example, we are working on developing the best way to create a slurl nomination and survey-based description tool that would log directly to a database. We will then filter these - possibly asking folks for further info - and then starting to place them in the MERLOT search interface. Next friday we're presenting at the Best Practices Conference on the concept and plan to be releasing more information about the particulars when they are more concrete such that we have capacity for folks to be more involved.

We should be ready for a full public announcement in the Fall 2007 - though this is a way of "getting the word out" now. ;)

Our initial effort, prior to officially partnering with MERLOT, was done here:

Anyone interested in this is welcome to suggest ideas, or get involved by emailing me: jrichter -at- uoregon . edu

Student project - open house

A report by Daniel Livingstone (SL/Buddy Sprocket)

My students showed off their in-world project yesterday (18 MAY 2007) - though
it will be on display a couple more weeks. For the Second Life part of the course, they were working with a Scottish theme - looking at education & business uses.

Not nearly as grand as Global Outreach Morocco, but still hope you might find in fun. Please leave comments in the comment box if you do!

P.S.: Money from any items sold goes to a local charity.