Friday, December 29, 2006

Second Life: A venue for professional development?

Following is a transcript from the National-Louis University, National College of Education Technology Committee, in which I describe the professional development possibilities of Second Life. The participants are me, Stuart Carrier, Xiuwen Wu, Rob Bowe, and Jane Moore.

CraigC: okay, second life

CraigC: before i go any further, and before you go to the web page, does anyone know what secondlife is?

StuartC: not familiar

XiuwenW: No

XiuwenW: Heard of it

XiuwenW: on ChicagoTribute

JanePM: I followed the website earlier--seems weird--a virtual life?

CraigC: okay, let me be maybe the first to say this to you: this technology represents the future of distance education.

CraigC: i am writing a grant with CPS to do prof dev for CPS librarians.

RobertBo: with Gail bush?

CraigC: one of the central library people (head of tech) suggested investigating secondlife as a platform for pd

CraigC: (yes, writing it with gail)

CraigC: i was skeptical, because i had read the tribune piece and saw it mainly as a playground (which it is....there's all kinds of kinky stuff going on there)

CraigC: gail called it "loopy tunes" (but she hasn't seen it as i have)

RobertBo: You know what they say about Librarians.

CraigC: yes

CraigC: anyway

JanePM: That was my first impression as well...what does it offer that Tapped In, for example doesn't?

CraigC: there is a set of "islands" that are devoted to librarians

CraigC: i now have an office there

CraigC: and have met many of the key players

CraigC: (my wife has been wondering if i have a first life)

CraigC: and

CraigC: i have seen the future

CraigC: jane's question is THE question

JanePM: Scary!

CraigC: what's the value-added compared to tappedin?

CraigC: there will be a huge generational thing on this

CraigC: and many "serious" people will reject it

CraigC: but

JanePM: I can't imagine why I'd want to do professional development in a site where I can buy realistic vamp wounds.

CraigC: i think they will be wrong to do so

CraigC: lol

CraigC: jane, you are an object lesson in skeptism

CraigC: bear with me, okay

JanePM: That was on the first page I got to when I searched for you.

CraigC: i'm not given to wild embracing of new tech just because it's new

JanePM: Always glad to oblige.

CraigC: (jane, you're only on the web site, not the world)

CraigC: it's not a web site

CraigC: it's virtual reality

CraigC: interactive virtual reality

JanePM: OK, set us straight.

CraigC: with hundreds of "locations" and "events" and millions of users and growing FAST

CraigC: every person has an avatar

CraigC: (you see the 'scary" ones on the home page)

CraigC: the librarians are mostly more pedestrian in appearance

JanePM smiles

CraigC: (I've been playing with my appearance, as most people do)

JanePM: So, how do we "find" you?

CraigC: okay, i'll cut to the quck, becuase i have to take a phone call at 11

CraigC: my SL name is Dewey Jung

JanePM: Cute

CraigC: you can search for me if you ever get online

CraigC: my office has the NLU logo on it

StuartC: ok Dewey

CraigC: if i'm online i'll bring you to it

CraigC: (I hear the snickers already.)

CraigC: (this is going to be a tough sell, i can tell)

JanePM: So, we have to join to "see" you?

CraigC: anyway, the other day i was wandering around on infoisland, land "owned" by the alliance library system of western illinois

CraigC: yes jane

CraigC: this was before i met all the key players in the alliance's sl presence....they are the ones who gave me my office

CraigC: anyway

CraigC: i was wandering around and noticed a lot of people gathered together on my map, so i went to see what was going on

CraigC: i found

CraigC: a class on how to do animations in sl

CraigC: let me tell you, it was the most profoundly interesting distance education experinece i have ever had

CraigC: about 50 people from around the world gathered for this previously-announced class

CraigC: we all sat around in a comfy "lecture hall"

CraigC: the instructor told us all to click a spot to get the "course materials"

CraigC: we immediately had sample scripts, images, how-to guides, etc. in our inventory

CraigC: he told us where to find the shareware program qavimator.

CraigC: and how to install it

CraigC: he tells us to use the chat for very general comments and questions, but to instant message him wtih specific ones

CraigC: so the class begins

CraigC: there is a whiteboard

CraigC: he's set it up with screenshots of each step in the process

CraigC: we use our inventory to do more complicated stuff

CraigC: he's talking on the chat and some students are talking on the chat

CraigC: he is responding to IM's, almost immediately.

CraigC: my questions are answered immediately

CraigC: there is no need to 'wait your turn" or to try to listen to quiet voices

CraigC: meanwhile, the students are IMing each other, all over the place

CraigC: networking, finding out about cool tricks

CraigC: so we create animations

CraigC: and we TRY THEM OUT on ourselves during the class

CraigC: so you get to SEE immediately ,what people have done

CraigC: you can IM people to ask them how they did it.

CraigC: WIthin 1 hour we had all made animations

CraigC: within 2 hours we had all built complicated gestures with sound, animation, scripting.

CraigC: it was engrossing.

CraigC: okay, i'm done.

JanePM: I'm exhausted :)

XiuwenW: Does this site charge a subscription fee?

CraigC: not for basic membership

StuartC: i see the distance learning implications

CraigC: stu, i hope so

JanePM: Yes, if you can get past the initial impression.

CraigC: i chatted with a 70 yr old chemistry prof in world

RobertBo: It looks like some charge a fee.

CraigC: he beleives that the VR aspect adds a kind of "physical presence" of others that makes the whole experience so much more "real" than a simple chat room.

CraigC: i agree.

CraigC: yes you can spend money, for sure

CraigC: on land

CraigC: events

CraigC: "stuff" like clothing, skins, furniture

CraigC: but a lot of it is free, too

CraigC: and you can build your own stuff

CraigC: i built a sign, a table, decorated my office

CraigC: mark my words, folks, our "online" work is going to change dramatically within the next year or so

RobertBo: 5 cents to visit the doktor

CraigC: and i would bet

JanePM: We heard it here!

CraigC: that don grady is not going to lead the way.

JanePM smiles

RobertBo: Very interesting!

CraigC: i don't expect this committee to do anything right away

XiuwenW: If students can interact with an expert while viewing the solar system video, that'll be neat.

CraigC: i wanted to inform you

CraigC: we're going to write some experiments into our grant

JanePM: Thanks,'s worth exploring.

StuartC: definitely

CraigC: but we're also going to back it up with a webct presence

CraigC: (just to be safe)

StuartC: yes

CraigC: i recommend going in world

CraigC: look around

CraigC: if you don't find anything interesting, let me know, and i'll be a guide for you

CraigC: Dewey Jung

CraigC: or email me.

CraigC: i have to go

JanePM: Thanks, Craig. I need to go as well. Bye, all. Happy Holidays!