Month: October 2009

Configuring island

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we are reconfiguring one of the islands PSCC has in Second Life. We’re organizing a meeting to talk about what to do with it; if you would like to be part of it, you can make use of the form here.

To defeat spammers, I’ll remove this post after we’ve gathered the input.

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SL provides unique opportunity for architectural collaboration

Draxtor Despres has produced a detailed video about how architects and architectural students from all over the world are collaborating using Second Life, and how SL even enables them to communicate more clearly and meaningfully with client. I noted the participation of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. If you’re not familiar with them, they have mad cred.

As Draxtor notes in the description:

Four leading architects from the US, New Zealand and Egypt discussed what [Pres.} Obama promised in his Cairo speech: an online network, facilitating collaboration across geographic and cultural boundaries.

The event featured was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. That’s some serious support, however you look at it.

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Inworld speakers address education and SL

The Second Life College Fair is going on this weekend. (More information about the College Fair in general here.) There are a lot of speakers (full list), but three have particularly caught my eye, and I wanted to share what little I know at this point in hopes that it might serve someone else.

  • Claudia Linden of Linden Lab will speak at 5 p.m. SLT (8 p.m. Eastern time), topic not announced yet, but Claudia is the liaison for much of higher ed in SL.
  • At 6:30 p.m. SLT (9:30 p.m. Eastern), P Charles Livermore of St. John’s University in New York will address “WHY SECOND LIFE???” I particularly like the triple question marks; I suspect he will be getting really practical.
  • If you can get yourself up on Sunday morning and don’t have church conflicts, I think you’ll benefit from hearing Dr. Anthony Curtis, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (just over the hill!) speak about “Educational Uses of SL.” It’s at 7 a.m. SLT (10 a.m. Eastern).

All speakers should be findable at this SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/International%20Schools%202/101/156/55.

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Virtual space and learning

Here is a great, practical post about using virtual space effectively for learning. I’m taking a chance putting it out there–now I’m going to have to try to apply it.

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Reconfiguring Campus2 in SL

This is primarily for those Pellissippi State folks with an interest in our presence in Second Life.

Things languished the last year or so, as we anticipated. We were all overwhelmed with moving to a new Course Management System, a new Content Management System, a new Student Information System, budget cuts. overwork, etc. Along with others, I found myself having to track my time and energy into other things. That situation has improved somewhat, and so we are looking at that potential again.

As we’ve mentioned in other articles, Second Life has fallen off the radar of the mainstream media, but since I’ve gotten back into it I’ve been impressed with the continued growth of educational endeavors there, and the ways in which people are figuring out how to use it to foster learning, along with the serious research that is being conducted on SL as a medium for education in distance and hybrid situations. The University of Texas system, for instance, has announced a system of around 50 islands to provide significant space to each of their 16 real-life campuses. Plus, we have people working on an open-source version that can reside on our own servers and potentially hook into the larger metaverse, part of a larger world-wide effort that is likely the next stage in developing a virtual universe that might be considered Web 3.0 or 4.0.

Several faculty were interested in the possibility of SL at one point. We would like to completely rebuild the island known as WindingRiver Campus2 to make it more useful for learning, given SL’s unique capabilities. We’ll have a meeting to discuss this when we get back from fall break, probably at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, but subject to rescheduling depending on feedback. If you are interested, please drop an email to dking at pstcc dot edu to make planning easier. Thanks!

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Legal info from a different perspective

The Fully Informed Jury Association’s Web site starts with this quote (as of today):

The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.

The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.

You’ll find a library of information, including legal precedents and links to other sites on the concept of jury nullification. It sounds dry, and it can be, but on the other hand, it’s also solid, and has the potential to empower average citizens.

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Great example of virtual training

Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago has demonstrated and documented a process that provides a viable component of real-world training: Second Life. In Case Study: Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago Uses Second Life to Conduct Emergency Training the hospital’s report is summarized (and linked, for those who want to see the actual study). As Amanda Linden reports:

Training doctors, nurses, staff, administrators, and patient families at a hospital is a daunting task requiring real life context. That’s where Second Life comes in. A year ago, Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago approached Centrax, a Chicago e-learning company and Second Life Solution Provider, to create a mirror image, or an exact replica, of their hospital so that they could train everyone through a variety of scenarios—all safely behind a computer. Within four hours, they had run a team—most had never been in Second Life—through the entire training exercise successfully.

Lest this be misunderstood: no one is suggesting that such training can completely replace real-life experience. Nevertheless, I saw something in this article strongly related to my own experience and contention of some years now: I don’t know exactly how it does it, but the virtual experience does an amazing job of making things “feel” real, e.g., actually being in the presence of another person. I was impressed by this quote from the report:

Kathleen Fortney, Centrax Director of Client Services, observed the training while sitting with the security participants, who were “very enthusiastic.” Fortney explained, “One of them, in describing the virtual ‘suspicious package,’ said there was a strange odor emitting from it. I interpreted this to mean…that the experience evoked prior knowledge, which is something that instructional designers strive to achieve in their designs.

If it can work like that for working professionals, it can likely provide useful educational experiences for college students.

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The case against government support of alternative energy

Here’s a succinct but well-reasoned alternative view concerning energy policy that could be an idea starter for a speech topic: The case against government support of alternative energy comes from the Cato Institute, which is, in more general terms, a good general resource for solid information that supports positions outside the mainstream.

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New category for speech ideas

I’ve added a new category that, over time, will grow to be a substantial part of this blog. Some sources offer good starting points for developing speech ideas, especially ideas that are “off the beaten path.” Post in this category point to these. Most, if not all, of these sites are chosen because they do not fit the predominate assumptions of our time and are likely to be contrarian as a result.

For instance, most people assume, based on media coverage, that there are basically only two political positions: liberal and conservative. In reality, political ideas exist in a much more complex matrix than a mere bipolar spectrum can comprise. A site such as Nolan Chart not only makes this clear, but also offers resources for exploring ideas not only of interest to peers in a speech class, but also outside the usual conversation.

It is not our purpose to advocate any particular position, but rather to enable effective advocacy by students, which is furthered by going outside the mainstream to surface and examine assumptions that otherwise would not even be noticed as assumptions.

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