Friday, 6 April 2007

Meanwhile in Manchester...

I repeated my talk about Second Life in Manchester for a group of about 40 learning technologists. It was a good turn out and people seemed to enjoy the talk. It was blogged here with some interesting follow-up about the value of virtual creations. I used the same slides as in my presentation to Eduserv staff last week.

It probably doesn't come across well from the slides but in my talk I wanted to stress two things...

Firstly, that my aim in giving these presentations is not to add to the levels of hype that already exist around Second Life. My intent is only to give a balanced view on the strengths and weaknesses of Second Life in the context of its use in education.

Secondly, that there is no point in approaching Second Life as if it is a game. Second Life isn't a game, and if you approach it in that way, i.e. expecting a purpose to be laid out for you, then you'll go away disappointed.

Some thoughts flow from this second point, which I didn't really expand on in my talk - they occurred to me during the 4 hour train journey home to Bath. People seem to engage most with Second Life when they have some purpose to being there - a librarian setting up a virtual reference desk, an artist building a virtual exhibition, a programmer building a scripted object, a teacher putting together a virtual lesson, and so on.

Second Life is much less engaging if you simply turn up to see other people's creations. I suggest that for the most part, people who only do the latter, get bored pretty quickly and go home wondering what all the fuss is about!

Now, in the context of education, we want our students to be as engaged with Second Life as the teachers - more so probably. So it is not sufficient for us to prepare things in Second Life for our students to do - we need to find ways for them to build stuff for themselves. I suspect this is why we are tending to find that Second Life works better in some subjects than in others.


Actual Al said...


I was at your manchester presentation and found it very interesting - although I haven't yet got my feet wet with SL.

You mentioned in the talk about using SL for teaching. Have you got any examples of course materials or examples that you could share?

Best wishes

Alex Hardman

Ade said...

Yep nice one Andy. The talk was really successful and generated quite a bit of interest in SL. Thanks again!