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Thoughts on bicameral brain, sliced differently

43 Folders is a really good blog however you look at it. Today, though, I’m impressed by the post on “Life hacks: Smarty Pants v. Dumbass.” It’s one of those insights that will make you say, “Of course!” and it explains so much of what we all deal with.

P.S. It’s worth looking at just for the graphic that illustrates the dichotomy.

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Getting audio in SL

I’ve had a couple of good experiences being in Second Life and getting audio via a Skypecast feed—enough to recommend that faculty members get a free Skype account.

If you’re not familiar with Skype, it is primarily a way to make free “phone” calls to any other Skype member PC to PC, and low-cost calls to regular telephones from your computer. You need to have some basic equipment, of course, including most usually headphones and a microphone. Most computer headphones that you can pick up at Wal-Mart will satisfy this, so it’s a low-cost solution for its original intention, i.e., talking one-on-one to someone else.

It has also turned out to be a low-cost (in most cases, free) way of audio conferencing. That’s what we’re interested in here.

I must tell you I have mixed feelings about it. Chat certainly has disadvantages, not the least being that for most people it takes longer (even fast typists can’t type as fast as the average person can talk) and loses the subtle intonations that can come from voice. However, I don’t particularly like an audio-only channel. I’ve always felt more awkward on the telephone than I do either in person or via written media. Plus, the audio leaves no record.

I’ll admit to having gotten accustomed to e-mail, bulletin boards, chat, etc., automatically enabling record-keeping. I’m an old reporter, but with electronic communication I seldom have to take notes any more–I can just go back through the actual transcript. I’ve gotten so rusty that when I recently had to cover a couple of audio-based gatherings, I was only saved by the fact that someone had recorded it and posted the results for download.

Having said that, I think Skype could make our inworld training sessions better. It will be simpler than trying Audrey’s patience by setting up an Elluminate session each time. On the other hand Elluminate would allow us to record the session. We should probably try it both ways.

If you want to try Skype, just go to their Web site and download the software. When you install it, you get the opportunity to create a free account. The software will run in the background in your systray (the little area in the lower right-hand corner of your screen–officially the “Notification Area,” I think). For our purposes, what will happen is that I will create a Skypecast and send you the link for it. (I can also post it via Chat inworld, where you can copy and paste it into a browser.) If you just follow that link you’ll be able to log into your Skype account and join the audio.

Hint: this limits your ability to eat while you work.

The Skype client itself is very small and shouldn’t interfere with running SL, but having to open your browser could be another challenge. Some computers don’t have enough memory to have SL and a browser open at the same time. That will be one of the things for us to consider. Of course, if that’s the case you probably won’t be able to run SL and Elluminate at the same time.
I will Skypecast the training session scheduled for this Friday, so if you want to try this, go ahead and get a Skype account and software between now and Friday.

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First Parkway campus CC a success

We had 22 people take part in the Conversation Café, not counting the two facilitators (plus a couple of people who came through just long enough to get their passports stamped, but they don’t count). Mary Bledsoe, in charge of the Student Life office, provided cookies and coffee from the cafeteria, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Discussion was lively, and in some cases stayed with the announced topic (Overwork, Overscheduling), and sometimes went in other directions (such as the recent election), all of which was fine, since the point of CCs is more to connect than to stay on topic.

I’m always amazed at Marsha Hupfel’s ability to summarize the tables at the CCs she facilitates. Maybe she’s just better organized, and maybe she thinks to get a reporter at each table. We’ll aim for that next time.

I was impressed, though, that at least one table connected with each other enough to make arrangements to get together again to continue discussion.

We have decided to schedule two CCs on the Parkway campus in the spring, one in February and one in March. One will target the MWF pattern of classes, and the other will target the TR pattern of classes. Although we wanted to establish a time to begin a tradition, we’ve already seen that we need to shift the MWF time a bit to more closely align with classes, so whatever day we schedule, we’ll start the CC at 2 p.m., and we’ll set the TR time to coincide with that class pattern as well.

Be sure to check the listings page for those and other Conversation Cafés at PSTCC.

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Find the PSTCC Islands

We have two islands under development in Second Life. (Note: for the following links to work, you must already have the Second Life client installed on your computer, and have an active account. Find out more on the Second Life page.

Here is Island 1.

Here is Island 2.

Note: the two Islands are still under heavy development.

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Useful links within SL

As more PSTCC members get into Second Life, having a list of useful place inside SL becomes more important. We had several faculty leave Help Island today, somewhat nervously, because they’re not sure they can find their way to the Help facilities inside the main SL world. So I’m going to start a listing of places that are good for newbies. I anticipate adding to this list, so you might want to bookmark the post.

This list uses SLurls–links to locations inside SL that, when clicked upon, will open the site and show you the place on its map, which, in turn will let you click on the “Teleport Now” button. That will start the Second Life client (if it’s not already running) and locate the spot on the inworld map. Once the inworld map has located the spot, you can click the “Teleport” button on that map, and will wind up at the location. It takes a bit of clicking, but it’s better than writing down the region name and XYZ coordinates, and then entering them by hand.

  • Help Island Public replicates the resources found on Help Island.
  • New Citizens Plaza–one of the most helpful places in SL. They hold frequent free classes in basic SL skills. You can also join a group and be able to set your home here.
  • Jubata Area Freebie Lot–as the name implies, many, many freebies here.
  • Academy of Second Learning–solid, free classes on basics of SL life, including business, building, inventory management, etc.
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Magnolia Conversation Cafe Synopsis–October 3

Politics, Poverty and Health

We had 15 people join us in conversation. I share my gratitude for Vina Clark, who brought a group of students from Main Campus. Two tables were full of folx engaged in lively discussion and, as in the past, I would like to share some of the points of view. Each table focused on different aspects of the topic.

Table 1 seems to have begun with poverty. Many questions were asked and addressed about poverty. The role of government and employers seems to have created some intense discussion. Most seem to believe that employers do not show care and concern of their employees and are only concerned about their profits. It was suggested that perhaps if the employees wanted to be more productive and happier, they could start caring more for each other, organize together to change the workplace policies that they do not think are fair.

The conversation shifted to communities and how to improve them. It was suggested that people have to work together to first emphasize the good things they have and that they are proud of and then work together to change the bad parts.

This led into the idea of where you live affects how you live. If you do not feel safe and your home is not dry or is falling apart, you will have a poor outlook on everything around you. When one has to worry about where to live, it leaves them with less energy to work on anything else. It was mentioned that Knoxville does not keep public housing in good repair. (I can hear some of you now!)

Services in a community matters and the store closing times in East Knoxville came up. Companies that stay open 24/7 in other parts of Knoxville close at 8 or 9 o’clock in East Knox. It was wondered whether this sends a message about the whole community. It was noted that this makes it harder on the people who live in this community and sends the message that they can’t be trusted.

And finally, the topic of minimum wage jobs came up. Some noted that the younger people are not satisfied with minimum wage jobs and this dissatisfaction contributes to illegal activity. Also noted was the fact that minorities have to put up with more abuse to keep a decent job. Examples of this were discussed by those with this kind of experience. The “good ole boy network” made up of Knoxville employers was something very hard to contend with and makes it harder for minorities in the workplace.

Table 2 began with politics and policy.

Poverty and health are very reliant on education and political policy needs to address this. Another said the political policies support the growth of poverty and this leads to all other social ills connected to poverty. People in poverty have a sense of powerlessness, no voice, consequently, they don’t participate in the political arena. One of the conversationalists brought home the point of policies that created social problems when police cordoned off a section of a block because of violent and illegal activity and the homes outside the cordoned off area were unaffected by the police action and yet were the same as the rest of the block before the action.

To shorten this up, I will share the closing remarks from Table 2: One said that her interest increased in politics and social issues and what’s going on in general. Another commented that it was very interesting to hear the different points of views during the conversation. Following this, it was noticed how many different points of view there are on any given subject. Politics became more interesting, and even seemed possible to participate in as one of the participants noted. And finally, “This has been very energizing. How can I get more involved?”

So there you have it! Keep conversing folx!

Respectfully submitted by someone Working for Peace (what a great boss!),

Marsha Hupfel

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Blount County CC rescheduled

The Conversation Café that had been scheduled for around noon on Oct. 26 has been postponed because of a conflict with the scheduling of the Council of Student Advocates. Since the students who tend to be active in that organization were fairly likely to want to take part in the CC, it made sense to postpone it. We haven’t yet rescheduled. Check the listings page for updates.

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This blog will house several categories of posts. Watch how it develops. To be a “good” blogger, you have to blog frequently. I don’t know that I will be a good blogger, in that sense. The upside is that I will only post when I actually have something to say. There will be others in here as well, people who are conducting Conversation Cafés or who otherwise collaborate with me on projects, so that will make it worthwhile to check back here. Use the Categories listing on the side to find the specialty you’re actually interested in.

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About King’s Corner

This is a place for publishing ongoing discussions about some of the academic issues in which I’m involved, including Conversations Cafés and Second Life use in education. Anyone can make comments, but you must register in order to be able to do so (this is just to cut down on comment spam). Let’s collaborate!

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