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Is there life in Second Life? eLearning in Action, Sharjah UAE March 30th 2011

Hi,  This week I'm giving a 30-minute presentation for my colleagues in the UAE about the potential (or not) of using Second Life here. The presentation areas will be mainly focused around:

  • technology - lack of VoIP has meant SL is little used here unless people have VPNs, but the VOiP access situation seems to be changing
  • cultural appropriacy - how to deal with situations in which our students might encounter things in SL which are not acceptable in our culture
  • the time/cost issues to build and maintain a SL presence and what has been learnt from the Dubai Women's college experience (now defunct)
  • Time issues of setting up accounts and familairising teachers and students
  • possible ways ahead for virtual worlds in general

I'd really value your opinions on the above to add to the discussion.  Also - sadly - I can't get SL in our college due to our private network so will have to rely on video clips of SL activity rather than being able to go in and show people around.  If you have any recent video clips of work you've done in SL and would like to share, I'd be very grateful to receive them.

 

With my very best wishes,

Rachel

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Hi Racheal,

 

Great work.

 

Thanks

Rahul Kumar

Hi, Rachel!

 

Time issues: I often train teachers in the basics of SL. Setting up an account and learning the basics needs a half-day workshop in my experience. I can normally get 10 newbies up to speed in a half-day f2f workshop. Ideally, two half-day sessions would be better. I have written an introductory manual, which can be downloaded free of charge from the ICT4LT site, Module 1.5, Section 14.2.1:

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod1-5.htm#secondlife - check out the links in this section.

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/IntroSLViewer2.doc - this is in Word DOC format. I use it in my workshops.

Basic building skills - or rather "assembly" skills - would also need a further time allocation, as well as training in SL pedagogy and methodology - which we are still learning about ourselves.

 

Videos: I have uploaded three videos to our VW SIG Ning, covering Holodecks, Shared Media and the Old EUROCALL HQ. There is now a new joint EUROCALL/CALICO HQ on EduNation III Island, which I manage together with Randall Sadler. Here is the link to the videos:

http://virtualworldssig.ning.com/video

 

Cultural appropriacy: A tricky one, and not just an issue relating to your culture. Many newcomers to SL are surprised by the indecency of some sims. But then that's a general issue regarding the Web too. Linden Lab provides some notes on Community Standards here:

http://secondlife.com/corporate/cs.php

The Women's Resource Hub might be useful too - but bear in mind that this is a feminist movement that might not go down too well in the UAE:

http://womensresourcehub.wetpaint.com/

OpenSim may be preferable if you are concerned about cultural appropriacy, etc. The NIFLAR project uses OpenSim:

http://niflar.ning.com/

 

As for possible ways ahead in VWs, many rumours abound that SL is on the way out, but just this month it was announced that LanguageLab has received $1 million worth of funding to expand its activities in SL:

http://www.languagelab.com/

The Wikipedia article on Virtual World Language Learning has a large section on new technological progress and new developments. I don't understand half of it as it's a bit technical and I haven't had time to explore all the links, but it might be worth a look:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_world_language_learning

 

Regards

Graham

Extremely useful information, thanks so much Graham.

Rachel

Hi Rachel,

 

I have two recordings of SL sessions here and here. Both with a lesson plan or list of ideas how the activity could be used with language classes. And here are machinima (video recordings) made in SL by language students as part of a project. 

 

VoIP issue: SL didn't have voice for several years but was still used for educational purposes. There are educators and other residents who still prefer not to use the voice function. It definitely means less technical problems as voice issues seem to be one of the most frequent ones encountered. In the past, many used, and probably still use, text chat in language education. So, if the focus was more on reading and writing, SL could still be used as an immersive environment for that. Having said that, voice is obviously very useful in language classes and, for me, definitely an added value. I'm happy to hear that the VoiP access situation is changing. In some other Middle Eastern countries, this is not a problem.

 

Nergiz

Brilliant, thank you Nergiz these will certainly help to illustrate the case that there is value to be had in SL.
Thanks so much everyone.  The session went well although 30  minutes wasn't enough time and colleagues went away with more understanding about what SL is as well as their own opinions about it's potential for use in our context.  On the whole, we see virtual worlds as worth staying aware of for the future.

Hi Rachel, Nice to meet you here. I am based in Dubai. I joined SL in 2009 and to content myself with no voice for so long. Now I am more involved with Cypris Chat which is a community that helps people practice the English language in voice. I hope you can visit sometime. There are many learners from Saudi, Morocco, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. Some of them are university students and some are even in high school. Perhaps you can ask them directly about what they think of SL and what they see in it.

I know at least a couple of Language instructors from South America and Asia who do not use SL directly for teaching but introduce it to their students and show them places where they can practice their English.

 

I hope that VoIP issue gets resolved once and for all.

 

Hope to meet you soon in SL :-)

 

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