Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Life as an Avatar: Second Life

This week's assignment is all about virtual worlds, their potential for use in education and ways that they can serve as adaptive technology. Second Life is the most extensive and therefore warrants it's own post. Now, I've used Second Life before... At my old company, I attended trainings, press conferences and similar global events in Second Life. I created my avatar, navigated in-world and used various methods of communication. However, I still learned something from this unit.

Lessons Learned:
1. Being an early adopter is sometimes a disadvantage - My avatar design is pretty basic compared to the new designs being offered at sign-up currently.
2. Avatars can change outfits - However, creating new outfits is complex and time consuming.
3. It's really easy to find your way around when you already know where you are going - TC Educator looks exactly like Teachers College in RL. That's a big help. It also means we need to allow for more exploration time when things are not familiar.
4. Linden meet Nintendo! - We really need better navigation devices using motion control.
5. Headsets help - It's a lot easier to communicate by voice with your SL friends and neighbors. Chat & IM are too slow.
6. On SL, nobody knows you're a dog, really! - Even more true than ever, on SL you can be whoever you want to be. This makes it a great platform for individuals with disabilities who might normally be uncomfortable in social situations. There are also lots of Worlds and Groups that offer services and accessibilities for these individuals.
7. Equitable Education for All - Second Life offers the ability for teachers to differentiate instruction and is especially valuable for learners who are visually or kinesthetically oriented.
8. SL expands the RL in numerous ways - SL offers opportunities to explore RL places in ways not possible in RL. It also offers physically impossible or difficult visualizations of scientific phenomenon, new innovations and places to explore, and a graphic design studio for students.
9. Meeting a RL friend in SL is a lot easier than meeting a new SL friend - Here Debbie & I are meeting after watching the class lecture in Milbank Chapel at TC (SL):

10. Exploring takes hours - You can easily get caught up in-world for hours on end and not even realize where the time went. Hence, this brief lessons learn post! If you want the full analysis with a lot more detail, feel free to read my Virtual World Accessibility Analysis in your free time!

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