Virtual Worlds are genuinely real spaces for learning

The school year is rushing to an end. Amazingly, we’re soon closing off the first decade of the new century that was going to be our hallmark of innovation and change. We promised ourselves we would put industrial models of schooling behind us.

For some this leap into new modes of learning is more than they can take on. For others it’s the natural extension of what learning has to be for our connected, mobile-enhanced learners.

I hope the next decade brings magical things for us all.

One thing we know is that we need to bring ‘out of school’ gaming and virtual worlds activities into the daily learning cyles of our students. We need to bring back the connections between school and home, and be prepared to provide environments that are authentic to the technology use of our students.

Here’s an article titled Virtual Worlds are genuinely real spaces for learning which I’ve had published in the recent issue of Access, the national journal of  the Australian School Library Association.   Have a read!

Thank you to my various friends and colleagues who so willingly shared their knowledge and information about their own explorations of virtual learning environments.

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

Teen Second Life – Wascana Island

A quick tour of some of the places on Regina Public Schools’ Wascana Island on the Teen Second Life grid. It shows some of the places for gatherings and meetings as well as showcasing two “in-world” projects that are currently (2008-2009) on display.

Soundtrack: Moderato – Alexander Blu (Creative Commons)

Blog o’ the month on ISTE island

What happens when I get behind in my RSS reading?  Oh My!!  A tweet from Scott Merrick alerted me to the good news!

Welcome Judy O’Connell’s “Hey Jude!” blog to the RSS feed in the Blogger’s Hut at ISTE Island in Second Life, chosen by vote on a polling object and now featured in the Hut with its topic headers happily inviting the browser to open up and check out the incisive and informative blog posts Judy shares.

So now, take Scott’s advice:  get thee on over there (SLurl) to the Blogger’s Hut and try your hand at voting for one of March’s nominees. They’re all international, “honoring the International in ISTE” and they all have an education-in-virtual-worlds focus.

Who knows? You may find a new favorite for your very own RSS aggregator!

The nominees are:

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Back to [Virtual] School

The most recent issue of EDUCAUSE has a fantastic focus on Virtual Worlds in their Back to [Virtual] School issue Volume 43, Number 5, September/October 2008.

“Whether it is Second Life or another virtual world, this foundational movement is not going away. The question to be addressed in the coming months and years is how higher education and, subsequently, individual institutions will determine the best way to continue to move forward with virtual worlds”

I highly recommend a read. I have grabbed for myself the PDF copies of “Virtual Worlds? Outlook Good” and “Educational Frontiers: Learning in a Virtual World“. You might like to pick out other articles for yourself.

Lively Google (second) life – don’t miss this!

Have been saying for some time now that our online experiences are going to become more and more 3D. Yes, we need to explore all the options – which is why we are looking at Teen Second life as a co-curricular learning experience for our students ‘in world’ at Skoolaborate. Another option for our Year 7 students will be Quest Atlantis. But kids will get into anything that is going, so I am going to watch this closely!

Like the beginnings of the web, when we first learnt about ‘www’ searching, and visual interfaces, it is time for us now to turn our educators thoughts towards emerging 3D environments. No, we can’t put it off any longer! There are many options of course, but the most recent entry into this from Google Labs (for PC only at this stage) is Google Lively.

Second Life requires users to download and install a separate “client” software package that taps into the online world. Lively also requires a download and installation–Windows only for now–but then people can use Internet Explorer or Firefox to enter the virtual world.

Integration with the ordinary Internet takes several forms. For one thing, you can pipe in content hosted elsewhere on the Internet, including photos or videos. For another, you can embed your Lively area into your blog or, using widgets Google has written, on MySpace and Facebook Web pages. And you can e-mail your friends a normal Web address to get them to join. You can set up you own online spaces–rooms, grassy meadows, desert islands, and you can change the clothing or form of your avatar. And of course you can chat, do backflips, or whatever takes your fancy. Check out the rooms, apparel and accessories at the product catalogue. Read more about it from Ars Technicha (the art of technology).

Guardian Tech says:

At the moment, Lively doesn’t support user-generated content, so you’re stuck with whatever is available in the Google catalogue (click the “Shop for more” button),,,,,it’s another step in Google’s plan to achieve world domination…..

There are already a couple of systems like this around, such as Pelican Crossing, SceneCaster, Imvu, Meez and RocketOn (still in a closed alpha). But Google, like Microsoft, can use its market power to get Lively in front of a lot more eyeballs.

So, is this an important part of Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information”? Or is it just a cheap knock-off that will be binned by Christmas?

This is definitley another 3D thing to check out. Truth is, if it is a Google product, students will grab it and play with it, as they did with Sketch-up and Maps. Watch out world!

Information literacy – and Second Life

If you read this in time – then I recommend attending the a mini-conference focused on Inquiry Based Learning on 26th June in Second Life (the virtual world) from 0.00-05.00 Second Life Time (this is 5-10pm in Sydney, for times in other regions/ countries go to
http://tinyurl.com/6oo4n3).

It is a free event, taking place on Infolit iSchool (Sheffield University’s island in SL, which is focused on Information Literacy and Inquiry Based Learning). The focus of the mini-conference is exploring the nature of Inquiry Based Learning (IBL), and its use in teaching in both Real Life and SL. The mini-conference is aimed at anyone who wants to discuss the potential of IBL, learn more about it and/ or exchange experience: you may be using IBL already (whether in RL teaching or SL teaching) or just be thinking about using it.

Note that delegates can attend one or more of the sessions – you can choose the ones that suit your schedule or interests. It is a SL track for a real life education conference taking place in Sheffield. It includes a “crossover” session interacting with the real life conference: Lyn Parker (a librarian at Sheffield Uni) will be leading that discussion in real life. Anyone who wants to attend in SL should email LTEA2008inSL@gmail.com including their real life and SL names. There is full info on the sessions at

http://networked-inquiry.pbwiki.com/About-LTEA2008-in-Second-Life

(optional extra para) Inquiry Based Learning is basically like problem based learning but more open ended – more like learning through research – and several unis in the UK have a focus on it, hence the RL conference.

From Sheila Webber, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield


CNN enters Second Life

Just as CNN asks its real-life audience to submit I-Reports — user-generated content submitted from cell phones, computers, cameras and other equipment for broadcast and online reports — the network is encouraging residents of Second Life to share their own “SL I-Reports” about events occurring within the virtual world.

CNN citizen journalism everywhere you turn! It is interesting to speculate how many teachers are abreast of citizen journalism trends, and the impact of these types of initiatives.

Read the report or watch this introductory video from CNN.