Saturday, 21 June 2008

Virtually educated - the reality of using Second Life and other virtual worlds in FE

I gave a presentation at the JISC RSC-SW Summer Conference a couple of days ago...

Not my best ever presentation, partly because I'd structured it into 4 areas that were only semi-related to each other and partly because the room was quite full and we were projecting my slides onto a side wall so that Chris Swaine (Chris Eggplant) could live-demo Second Life while I was talking. Thanks to Chris for doing this - it gave some distraction for those who were bored by what I was saying... more importantly it gave a room full of people who were mostly quite new to Second Life a real sense of what it is about.

My talk was preceded by a talk by Chris and Susan Williams, both of EducationUK Island, who gave a very nice general introduction to Second Life and its use in education.

Anyway, here are my slides:

The most contentious point in the presentation (I think) was when I said that up to 90% of people (i.e. students and staff) will not "get" SL - by which I meant that they will not understand the point of it or identify with being "in" a virtual world. It was certainly the thing that people picked up on most in questions at the end. This figure comes from a comment by Babbage Linden in the in-world meeting that we held following last year's symposium, where he suggested that "only 1 in 10 people get Second Life anyway".

Thinking about it now, I have no idea if this is a reasonable proportion to quote or not - and I should have probably made this clearer on the slide. It's related to issues around feeling "embodiment" (or not) in virtual worlds, as well as to more general issues around the sense of "coolness" (or not) that people associate with Second Life.

I'd be very interested to hear people's views on this.

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