A couple of meetings about Second Life
Three meetings in three days at the end of last week meant that I didn't get a lot of time to blog about stuff. I'm trying to catch up now...
On Wednesday I went to Oxford to speak to staff at ASKe (part of the Business School at OXford Brookes) about Second Life. I gave them an updated version of my standard "Second Life in 3600 seconds" presentation which actually lasts about 90 minutes in practice, assuming that people are stopping me to ask questions as we go thru. It sounds like a long talk but actually goes very quickly, from my point of view at least, and there are no shortage of things to talk about. Recent updates to the presentation include discussing 'voice' as a communication medium, and something about some of the more recent findings published by JISC around student expectations of ICT at university and what they make of Second Life as an educational tool.
I probably ended up being more negative than I meant to be during this presentation. In general, I am now conscious that there is a danger of being seen as an SL-evangelist (just because I regularly talk about SL, and because I openly acknowledge that I like it from a personal point of view). However, I do not want my presentations to be seen in that way - I want to offer a balanced view of pros and cons. It's possible that I over compensate as a result. Anyway, I think / hope that it was a useful session for staff there, and I'll be interested to see what conclusions they draw about making use of Second Life in their activities.
On Thursday we held our joint JISC CETIS / Eduserv Second Life in Education event at the London Knowledge Lab. This went very well I think, with interesting presentations from all four of the projects we have funded this year, an overview of some of the issues around using SL by yours truly, a summary of the JISC position on Second Life by Lawrie Phipps and a discussion session at the end led by Paul Hollands.
I gave my presentation thru the medium of SL t-shirts, a somewhat unusual approach and one that I originally wanted to do in-world - dragging new t-shirts onto myself as the talk progressed. But I lost my bottle, using a canned Powerpoint presentation instead, not least because we didn't have access to Second Life in the venue until about 20 minutes before the start of the meeting. (The irony of not having Second Life available at a Second Life meeting was not lost on us - and Martin Oliver in particular pulled out all the stops to get things working for us in time).
One thing that did strike me is the breadth of activity that we have funded - which is great. Oddly, it wasn't really until I sat down and listened to all four presentations, one after the other, that it fully struck me how diverse the projects are.
We billed the day as offering a chance to:
- showcase the projects to the JISC CETIS community
- explore potential issues with using Second Life in Education such as interoperability and sustainability
- discuss ways in which funding bodies can best support the community's activities with virtual worlds.
I think we definitely achieved the first and second of these. I'm less clear about the third, though Lawrie's talk touched on the emerging JISC policy in this area.
All the talks (slides and audio) are available from the meeting wiki and slidecasts are promised soon (thanks to Sheila Macneill).
The "1 in 10" issue was raised again towards the end of the discussion - partly because I suggested that I'd missed an "I am the 1 in 10" (a la UB40's hit single of the early 80's) t-shirt from my presentation. One in ten is the proportion of people who 'get' Second Life, as stated by Babbage Linden in our symposium follow-up meeting. I suggested, as I've done before, that this kind of proportion (it doesn't matter what the exact figure is) means that we have to adopt a flexible pedagogic approach around Second Life, allowing some students to use SL and others to do something else. Several lecturers in the room tended to disagree, arguing that "if it's part of the course, then students will just have to get on with it" and "how many students get traditional lectures anyway".
Actually I don't strongly disagree. My personal preference is for a flexible pedagogic approach anyway - but I can understand that it isn't always going to be practical to do so for all sorts of reasons, not least time. Anyway, I digress... and I've missed loads of other stuff from the presentations and the discussion, so well worth reading the other blog entries about the event - all of which are linked from the wiki.
Overall I think it was a very good day and several people have asked about the possibility of doing some kind of follow-up when the projects are further into their work. Watch this space.