A new look to your Second Life

Second Life Viewer 2, now in beta, is the next generation of Second Life viewers that makes it easy to explore and socialize in Second Life with a familiar, browser-like experience, enhanced search, and fully integrated web-based media capabilities. Test Drive Second Life Viewer 2, Now in Beta by downloading here.

Web 2.0 in Libraries – 2D and 3D

Thanks to Sheila Webber for providing a constant flow of information related to libraries. Her Information Literacy Weblog provides real up-to-date gems year after year – she saves me time I must say!

I have also always enjoyed Sheila’s photography that provides a nice contrast to the steady information flow.

Two recent posts to worth picking up on:

2D Libraries

The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) launched two new guidance toolkits at the annual SLIC Further Education Conference, on 3 December. One of them was A Guide to Using Web 2.0 in Libraries. Add this to your report collection/bibliography!

3D Libraries

Event in the virtual world, Second Life.

When: Monday 14 December 2009, 8am-9am SL time (for

times elsewhere see http://tinyurl.com/yff6e96 )  (oops, I’m not likely to make a 3am meetup!)
Where: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Infolit%20iSchool/127/244/21/
You need a SL avatar and the SL browser to participate

Kim Zwiers (Kim Holmberg in RL) “Researcher, lecturer, entrepreneur” from Abo Akademi, Finland will give a presentation (in voice) and lead a discussion (in text chat).
See http://kimholmberg.fi/tag/library-2-0/
http://www.slideshare.net/kholmber/presentations

Mixed Reality Presentations

I’ve just picked up some information about Mixed Reality Presentations that might be worth checking out. The [Zone] Touch Screen Media Television with Searchable YouTube and Fl… is worth testing.

What’s special about this in-world media TV?

James O’Reilly explains:

“You can substitute the uploading of Powerpoint texture slides into Second Life for L$10 each, and stream a Flickr slideshow into Second Life for presentation purposes for free. When in standby mode, the default screen can be replaced with your own picture by dropping a texture into the contents of the TV. This thus enables mixed reality presentations using Flickr as repository”.

That’s cool!

Second Classroom explores ReactionGrid

Dean & Judy in ReactionGrid

Judy+Dean@ReactionGrid

A bonus of ‘school holidays’ is the opportunity for me to actually have more time to engage in exploration of teaching and learning developments – and this term break was no exception. In fact, the timing couldn’t have been better! The SecondClassroom team got busy, and went exploring new virtual environments for learners.

With a host of online buddies,  Dean Groom and myself  – the Second Classroom duo – had the golden opportunity to explore a wonderful new virtual landscape that has emerged as a real contender in the options for schools wishing to put their toes into pool of virtual opportunities. ReactionGrid, managed by an intrepid, highly experienced professional team keen to provide the kind of service that we all like – personal in nature and professional in all transactions.

ReactionGrid is a virtual 3D environment, that uses the OpenSimulator platform. Think SecondLife, but think less traffic, more focussed on education and learning for business and education – and in a PG environment.  A recent interview with Kyle Gomboy, CEO of ReactionGrid, published at the Metaverse Journal explains:

we’re focused on education and business and have laid down rules similar to those environments and have created a culture here that accepts that in order to be able to bring managers, school administrators and others inworld, they need to experience the medium safely. So we’re hiring former teachers, architects, estate managers and more to help us as we grow on thisparticular world.

Their partnership with Microsoft verifies for me that ReactionGrid is an important new space for educators.

Do read the whole article to get a feel for the developments at ReactionGrid. Keep in touch with developments by following Kyle (Dr_Manhattan) on Twitter.

I’ve had the chance to chat with Kyle, Chris and Trevor in the leadup to submitting a proposal to NECC2010.

Jokaydians @ ReactionGrid

Jokaydians @ ReactionGrid

So far I have been inspired by what we have found, and the benefits of OpenSimulator for education are obvious. The multiplicity of options for local hosting or hosting on their servers is great. A particularly appealing factor is the cost – affordable for any school, even with tiny budgets. In addition there are no complications with access – students and teachers are free to join and get involved in a school virtual learning adventure.

Steve Collis has gone so far as to draw up a 5-year Plan for Virtual Worlds & Integration with Moodle! Steve has demonstrated so well for schools in Australia that integrating a virtual worlds component into mainstream learning actually works! It’s worth reading about the school’s experiences.

The first demonstration of the power of using ReactionGrid for a school project was shown by Vicki Davis and her Digiteens. I visited their work on ReactionGrid and have been inspired by the flexibility and focus on learning.  In fact, if you’re wondering how ReactionGrid works,  take a quick look a the videos from the Digiteen Dream Team: ReactionGrid. The video tutorials might be just the thing to kick you off on your own virtual adventure!

To find out how to log into Reaction Grid with the SecondLife client, or other client options check out Logging into ReactionGrid.

We’re keeping a close eye on ReactionGrid developments at SecondClassroom, and have had a number of new members join the Ning once they realised that something hot! was under discussion.

Jo Kay and the Islands of Jokaydia have helped Australian educators begin to understand and explore ReactionGrid.  Check by to find out when the next meeting scheduled! Jokaydia@ReactionGrid is a great place to start your learning adventure.

Dean and myself – the SecondClassroom duo – won’t let this new opportunity slip by. We know that all educators should be learning about 3D virtual worlds.  Soon enough there will be 3D web access to these environments – but for now we must continue to play and learn together in these new environments.

Keep an eye out for a project or two that might emerge via SecondClassroom.

Check out this video and see what EducationAu has to say about Virtual Worlds in Education.

Second Life Curriculum Resources

Global Kids, Inc. is an internationally recognized leader in using digital media to promote global awareness and youth civic engagement.

The Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy and STEM skills, foster substantive dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation.

Global Kids’ Second Life Curriculum is a key component of Global Kids professional development services. They cover everything an educator or student would need to know to use Second Life, whether on their own or within an educational setting. At the same time, it teaches global literacy skills. Components of the curriculum can be used as hand-outs to develop specific Second Life-specific skills or within a broader educational program designed to teach such subjects as science, film-making or literature.

Get copies of the books from Lulu.  Second Life Curriculum Resources.

Future Learning in a Digital Age

I encourage you to read this report from the MacArthur foundation, published by MIT Press The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (.pdf).

The project began as a draft document posted on a collaborative Web site developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book (http://www.futureofthebook.org) in January of 2007. The draft remained on the Institute’s site for over a year (and still remains there) inviting comments by anyone registered to the site. This recent Report is a redaction of the argument in what is a  book-in-progress, currently titled The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which is to be published in 2010, after the culmination of extensive research and collaboration face to face and virtually.

Quotes that attracted my attention which have immediate relevance to our planning in schools – both formal and informal:

Since the current generation of  student has no memory of the historical moment before the advent of the Internet, we are suggesting that participatory learning as a practice is no longer exotic or new but a commonplace way of socializing and learning.

This puts education and educators in the position of bringing up the rearguard, of holding desperately to the fragments of an educational system which, in its form, content, and assessments, is deeply rooted in an antiquated mode of learning.

Most fundamental to such a change is the understanding that participatory learning is about a process and not always a final product.

According to the report, there are ten principles which are foundational to rethinking the future of learning institutions.

  1. Self-learning
  2. Horizontal structures
  3. From presumed authority to collective credibility
  4. A de-centred pedagogy
  5. Networked learning
  6. Open source education
  7. Learning as connectivity and interactivity
  8. Lifelong learning
  9. Learning institutions as mobilizing networks
  10. Flexible scalability and simulation

Some wonderful reading and professional discussion could ensue if you can get your school’s leadership team to consider these ten Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy.

I am particularly interested in the focus on virtual learning. For example, Quest to Learn: New York, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009. Quest to Learn, a school using game-inspired methods to teach traditional and multimedia literacies, is a joint venture between the Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design in collaboration with the nonprofit organization New Visions for Public Schools (See http://www.q2l.org/).

I know that while it is difficult for schools and education authorities to fast-track their thinking and to be strategic in changing cultures and educational practices, this report, and the book that will follow should provide an opportunity to mandate future developments.