New viewer brings new tools for educators

This post is now three weeks old, which is ancient in the blogosphere, but it points out some useful info for educators who use Second Life, and it’s still valid, even though the “beta” has now been officially released.

While the article talks about five new tools for educators, I think the most significant one is the arrival of the long-talked-about “HTML on a prim.” The official name is “Shared Media,” and it’s simple to set up. The Second Life wiki has a good resource on the “how to,” which will eventually wind up in the Knowledgebase.

The gist of it, though, is that the “old way” involved setting the URL via something on the Land tab. In other words, the URL was tied to the parcel. Shared Media, on the other hand, is set in the object itself via the + symbol at the bottom of the Texture tab in the Build menu.

The upside: it’s easy.

The downside: unless you are using the new SL 2.0 viewer, you are completely unable to view the Web page. It would have been nice if somehow they could have enabled people with older viewers to at least see the page, but I understand why they couldn’t. (If it hasn’t clicked for you, look up a couple of paragraphs: the old way tied the URL to the parcel; the new way ties the URL to the object. Therefore, the older viewer has no way to understand an object with a URL tied to it.) Users of the older viewer will simply see the texture you choose for the tie-in.

So I’m going to make a texture that says “If you would like to see this Web page, please make sure you’re using Viewer 2.0 and then play your streaming media.”

Someone who does so will see not just a picture of a Web page (which is what the old style, in essence, did), but a fully interactive Web page, subject to the security restrictions the builder puts on it.

I think this will open up a whole new dimension for using SL as a tool of education.

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.