Monday, October 29, 2007

Petal's adventures in Second Life

I joined the big kids in Second Life last night - I met the Kiwi Educators Group last at Koru for their regular Sunday evening meeting at 8pm (I am the relatively 'normal looking person' and Carolyn is Lala (the fox wearing stockings!)). Isa Goodman took us on a tour of some snazzy IBM sim sites. I am still at the stage of having to concentrate too much on basic things like walking to be able to concentrate on more sophisticated activities. I was a bit disgruntled initially because I had little help-I needed a buddy to hold my hand and walk alongside me. There seemed to be little conversation although when people got talking about hacking into the the simulation, I was scared to death. I found it very intimidating to be with these experienced SLers. I got very fed up because it seemed like a massive waste of time. And my dear husband was annoyed that I was spending my Sunday evening on an activity that excluded him and wasn't benefiting me in any way. However, once I had logged off, a SLer emailed me and volunteered to take me on a tour the next time I logged in. So I'll be taking her up on that.

The question is: do I invest a lot more time getting used to this when I know that very few midwives use it, and we're not using it in our program yet? Do I take the lead in using SL in midwifery with Carolyn, or do I concentrate on developing skills in areas that have more immediate application such as facilitating online meetings with Elluminate? Any thoughts?

12 comments:

Leigh Blackall said...

I think you should take the lead and help make my job a little more interesting :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for your kind offer, Leigh - i think I've got enough to do. In the meantime, Carolyn and I are providing plenty of entertainment for the 'girls' in the office - they all think we're mad!

Sue Waters said...

Learning to use Elluminate is not hard - they have great recorded guides here. If you have not got your own vroom (24/7 access to your own free Elluminate room) I suggest you get yourself one from here.

The hardest bit is not learning to use Elluminate but learning how to be an effective online faciliator using Elluminate to deliver courses. Totally different skill altogether. Watch some of Lance Dublin sessions here - he is really good.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'm sure you're right, Sue. I just need to stop being so impatient and take some time to learn about SL. But, as I think you said in another forum, there's only so many hours in a day and I have to prioritize my own particular learning needs.

Carolyn McIntosh said...

The thing is it is not just what we think about it, but what the people we are likely to be working with might think of it.
I am sorry I did not stay closer to you, and communicate with you myself in there. I think I was expecting some direction, I missed the conversation about hackers though, don't know how. I did not get any communication or conversation happening at all.I feel very much that I am learning myself but I do know a few things about moving around eg, I can sit down and I can fly. (Wow! I hear you say?) Still we could probably learn more together than we will apart.

As I was saying, the feedback I am getting form others who are not participating in this course is that it is all pretty stupid and a waste of time. There is no interest in getting involved at all.

I can see that, with distance students, one could create the possibilities for group learning opportunities but as I am yet to experience anything like this myself I will reserve my judgment on this.

Aaron Griffiths said...

Sarah

Sorry that you found the IBM tour do disappointing. It was a hard ask for the newcomers for sure and one that I wouldn't normally have inflicted on those so un-used to the SL environment, but it was such a coup to get a guided tour of the IBM sims (their research engineers Pipe and Gizzy were our guides) that I thought I should put out the offer anyway. Regarding the conversations; there were an enormous number happening and I did try a number of times to get yourself and Lala onto the correct channel for joining in. We were all using the Kiwi Educators private channel to chat as it meant we could communicate across distance but the instructions didn't seem to get through to you both amongst the other chat going on. I must confess it is rather difficult, given that there are now a number of experienced users in the group, to keep both newbies and the older hands satisfied and we do try to strike a happy medium; obviously not suceeding this time around.

The Kiwi Educators group is very interested in trying to facilitate the entry of newcomers into SL. We were all new once and have gone through a similar learning curve so do know what it is like. If it would help at all I'd like to offer the same hand that Zorarah did to you all, that of being a mentor to one or two of this group and helping you through the learning process. Others in the Kiwi Ed group have also offered to help out so if their are any who do want a hand just IM me (Isa Goodman) and I can make arrangements to have you set up with an inworld mentor. Obviously we should take it as read that there would need to be some desire from your end to go through the journey.

Remember that we are all volunteers here and have put an enormous amount of effort into trying to facilitate a New Zealand educators community inside Second Life. As you do Sarah, I have a partner who would rather spend Sunday evenings with me and the also the long hours I often use up prepping each week's session.

To end I also take on board that there are probably better things to invest your time in in terms of the least effort for the most reward. I would add this note though. Just over two and a half years ago when I did the same course you are doing now the facilitating communities members investigated The Palace, a 2D static avatar based chat environment. I thought it was pretty advanced in terms of bringing presence to synchronous chat environments. Three years on and we are now looking at immersive 3D virtual environments, fully programmable with real world physics, voice enabled and able to hook directly into learning management systems. Whether we like it or not the technical capabilities available to the general computer user in the street is heading into these sort of environments. Educationally Second Life is really only just in the starting blocks and as yet there's very little happening there in the field that has me going WOW!! But I do get glimpses of possibility and that's enough to keep me on board. For many I guess it is just too early in the piece for that possibility to be evident. But for me being on the journey is fun part; even though at times it is a difficult and frustrating experience. And the greatest benefit of the journey; a trip shared by a community of like-minded educators from all around the globe, sharing, communicating, helping out (Zotarah for one, who offered to help you out, is from California).

Regards
Aaron/SL: Isa Goodman

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, Aaron. I must apologize for sounding grumpy and critical in this post-I was feeling frustrated with myself. As I have said before, I see the potential of SL and when we push midwifery education in its direction we'll be really grateful for the help of people like you. I think for the time being, I'll concentrate my energies on learning more about things like blogs and wikis (and finishing my PhD!). Thank you for taking the time to answer my post.

David McQuillan said...

Hi Sarah,

I have a similar opinion to you of SL. I can see potential, but for our programme I think it's still quite far off. I have concerns over the time taken to become familiar with using the interface, and as far as I can see at the moment the benefits don't outweigh the cost of the learning curve & potentially freaking some learners out. Especially if people like us who are fairly computer savvy find it so frustrating.

Hence my non-participation. I've said to Leigh that I'll come to SL if it's required for the course, but I'm not really interested in spending my time there at present.

Sue Waters said...

Hi David

The main reason I went into SL was because there are a lot of conferences by educators in there. I am also the same as you with no potential for work (our bandwidth would not cope).

Since you are learning about these tools and have been learning about a lot of different tools I really think you have made the right decision. I tell my lecturers one step at a time - rather than overwhelm yourself with too much. If you enjoy going into SL - fine but if your time is better suited focused one other aspects than that is what you should do.

Sarah Stewart said...

To Sue and David, I have to say that I have had slightly 'second' thoughts about SL. After deciding that I was too busy to put any more time into SL and deciding that for the time being I would give SL a miss, my esteemed colleague Carolyn said something today that made me pause for thought - she thought it was important to maintain a presence in SL to try to make midwifery/midwifery education visible. So once I have finished all the various projects I am involved with at the moment, I am going to pay a more concentrated effort on finding my way around and become confident with interacting with people-sounds like that's going to be my new year's resolution as opposed to my usual one, which is losing weight!

Aaron Griffiths said...

Sarah

When you do find the time to get inworld be sure to contact either Arwenna (Stardust) or myself (Isa Goodman) if you need any assistance.

Regards
Aaron/SL: Isa Goodman

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you very much for that, Aaron. I'll take you up on your offer!