Monday, July 23, 2007

Developing doubts about Second Life

"Sitting in a virtual lecture hall is hardly revolutionary, even if you do it wearing wings or a cat costume....

"For K-12 educators especially, Second Life constrains any educator/student relationship because of the age regulations....

"Some people are going to be taken with the fun of flying around or visiting virtual museums, but many more are going to be put off by the “bleeding edge” aspect of constant freezes, crashes, high bandwidth demands, and the difficulty of simply moving your avatar around....

"Second Life is primarily a platform for adults to explore their sexual identity." - Sylvia Martinez on Generation YES Blog

"I would only add that the real pedagogical potential that I sense is in the ability to build, navigate, and manipulate simulations." (Howard Rheingold, in response to the above blog post.)

My comment:

This post hits home with me, especially since I have been once of those who has been trumpeting the potentially revolutionary nature of SL. It is definitely true that the main advantage of SL for educators is the collegiality, and overcoming a sense of isolation. I also “second” the point that for ANYone to rediscover the fun of learning is potentially transformative (for them, if not for the larger system).

I will just add that there are people working on the age separation issue (through one of the ELVEN Institute’s working groups, contact me–Dewey Jung–in SL for details), but the obstacles to turning SL into a true educational environment (where learning rather than sexual identity is the primary outcome) are enormous.

5 comments:

Tara said...

I think your previous blog post (and the picture) demonstrate that if educators want to do this, they need to actually put some effort and thought into this. Does every educator and librarian look like a porn star wannabe with completely unrealistic body proportions? Are hormonal students going to be sorely disappointed when they discover when hot sexy avatar teacher is actually a dumpy lumpy 50 year old woman who is pretending she is a 34 DD in SL? Are they just going to feel sorry for her, thinking that she is so sad about her RL appearance that she has to create a whole other life where she is sexy, “beautiful” and equipped with a completely unrealistic body. Is this what fantasy is about? Telling students to be completely unsatisfied with their bodies and strive to look like something completely unattainable? I went to a class in Second Life led by Eloise Pasteur. The students were giggling that she owned a sexual furniture store. This totally ruined her creditability as a teacher. She is one of the "leaders" of the SL movement. What a great model for our students. I think SL promotes a type of sexual exploration in adults (including educators), where they lose judgment.

http://eloisepasteur.net/ONE/index.php?/categories/13-Furniture

Second Life is revolutionary? Until Second Life becomes more diverse, it is hardly going to be revolutionary for students. Are students just going to be exposed to a world of white people who are striving to be 32 DD's, emaciated and blonde? Will they strive for a world where their teachers are proprieters of sex furniture stores on the side or have "partners" in SL that also have sex stores? This is hardly a world I want to live in and hardly a world I would want students to work in.

Tara said...

Additionally, where are the black people in Second Life? As a black woman, I am very uncomfortable in Second life because every educator place I have visited? Everyone is white, skinny, and white. I want my students to be exposed to a world that reflects a diverse world. Does this show them that people are afraid to be black? There is something wrong with being black? Something wrong with being Latino? Why does everyone choose to be white in Second Life. Again, Second life is hardly revolutionary. In fact, I think it is taking us back. It may be revolutionary for people who feel isolated but it is hardly revolutionary for people who have existing networks and are striving for change in their own communities.

Colleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colleen said...

Hi Dewey,

The posts you mentioned dampened my SL optimism as well. However, after much brooding, I realize I disagree with many of the opinions expressed. Here's my response:
http://tinyurl.com/269zda

Kristy Flanagan in SL

Zak said...

I think Tara has missed the mark completely. If all she sees are white skinny people, she hasnt been to enough places in SL.

Further, Pasteur is one of the best scripters/builders in SL. Judging her by her pixelated clothing is plain naroow minded and unduly judgmental. Isn't this what Tara is attacking?

Quite frankly, Tara has lost all credibility because, once again, another critic has missed the forest for the trees and then held a bonfire.