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January 30, 2009

Maximising the effectiveness of virtual worlds in teaching and learning

A quick note to say that the materials, audio and presentation slides, from our virtual worlds meeting that took place at the University of Strathclyde exactly 2 weeks ago, organised jointly with CETIS, are available from the meeting Wiki.

I have to confess to having missed much of the content on the day being rather unsuccessfully tied up with technology, trying to stream audio and slides from the event to a virtual audience in Second Life. I can sum my part in the day up by saying that I learned three things:

  • Firstly, having access thru a firewall to run Second Life is not the same thing as having access thru a firewall to run Second Life voice-chat.
  • Secondly, having a 3G dongle is very handy in an emergency (thanks to Sheila MacNeill of CETIS for use of hers on the day).
  • Thirdly, taking two laptops to a meeting sometimes isn't enough (but I couldn't carry any more anyway).

From my point of view the day was very frustrating, with the combination of a broken laptop and network restrictions at Strathclyde meaning that the afternoon session couldn't be streamed. But, from what I heard on the day and have seen since, we had a great selection of talks and there's material on the Wiki that is well worth viewing if you haven't done so yet.

Final thought... I note a tweet from Ren Reynolds (one of the speakers on the day) saying that delegate badges needed to list Twitter accounts and Second Life names alongside people's real names. Yes, absolutely... this is something we, and others, need to get into the habit of doing.

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As I follow more people on Twitter I have now had a few occasions where I've met f2f people that I met on Twitter first. This has led some strange 'by the way I'm ostephens on Twitter' introductions. I'm only aware of it when I know they follow me or vice versa. I always want to say this early on as it often means I know things about them (what they do, their family, when they last had coffee) - and I feel uncomfortable, slightly stalkerish, if I don't immediately reveal this. This strange short cutting of the 'getting to know you' process is something I'm not completely adjusted to yet - but I do think 'alternative identities' on badges is an interesting idea - the question is, are the badges going to be big enough?

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