Monday, 14 December 2009

Thoughts on discussions around SL in learning

Dave White (of the University of Oxford) has just shared a brief set of reflections on the Virtual World strand of the JISC online conference 2009. As he says:

[It] strikes me that Virtual Worlds have become the touchstone for larger themes around technological-determinism and the role of tech in education in general. Despite many examples of the effective use of SL in teaching the debate always seems to move back to these broad areas. In my opinion this is a healthy debate and one which I have seen emerging from a number of quarters recently. However, it does tend to overshadow discussion around genuine practice.

I can't comment directly on the discussions because they were held behind the closed doors of a paid-for online conference - I thought the point of online conferences was that they were supposed to open up debate... oh well - but the notes are worth a quick look.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Lag... and how to help prevent it

Hi... I haven't posted here for some time!

My recent (somewhat minimal) experiences of Second Life have all been rather laggy, which I tend to put down to my home broadband connection being a little sluggish. But it is possible there are other reasons, like the hard disk on my home machine being over-full.

For a great set of suggestions for how to improve SL performance see 10 Ways To Make Second Life™ Run Faster On Your Low Performance Computer.

Well worth a quick read.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Nature to charge for SL conference attendance

Nature are streaming the Science Online London conference live in Second Life, organised jointly with Mendeley and the Royal Institution.

Nothing unusual about that of course. What's interesting is that they are charging £10 (that's about (US)$16 or L$4100) to attend for the day.

Attendance will cost the princely sum of 10 GBP/15 USD to cover costs and will give virtual attendees access to the island for the whole day as well as an opportunity to ask the speakers questions – we will have a member of staff in the audience to get your questions to the speaker just like the RL attendees.

I'm sure this isn't a first but it'll be interesting to see how it works out in terms of uptake. The cost itself doesn't look to be too unreasonable.

The RL event is happening in London (UK) on August 22nd 2009. UK time will probably make this a tricky event to attend for some people.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Theatron 3 website

I'm very pleased to say that the Theatron 3 project, which we funded last year, now has a website detailing the theatres that have been created by the project and some of the ways in which they can be used for teaching and learning.

Good stuff...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


I haven't been into Second Life for a while now... I'm not exactly sure why but I guess you could say that I've fallen out of love with it for various reasons.  If nothing else, I have little work-related reason to spend time in-world and that means it is difficult to find time for it.

I don't actively dislike it but I don't like it enough to keep going back right now.  That situation may change... on the other hand, it may not.

In Linden Lab needs to read Snow Crash again Fuzzysoul argues that Linden Lab aren't working hard enough to transform SL into the premier platform for education and business conferences (their stated goal). I think I agree and I also agree with the analysis of the inherent problems caused by the teleport anywhere and economy based on land value approaches that LL have adopted.  I'm less convinced by the argument for better facial features - but maybe that's just because my imagination isn't very good.  My favorite avatar remains my original, default-skin one :-(

For me, and I say this with a certain amount of hindsight, the most valuable and fun experiences in Second Life were those associated with meetings and events (particularly hybrid RL/SL events). Yet, as a platform for collaboration and communication, SL sucks in many respects. This is partly a personal view, but I know from having stood up in meetings and said this that others agree with me, voice destroys the immersive aspects of SL yet chat is hopeless for most kinds of serious conversation. 

Until this is resolved SL with struggle to be a compelling place for collaboration. Our avatars are either an extension of our real selves or they are pseudonymous alter-egos. If the former, then voice will work fine (it seems to me) but I don't think SL is currently set up to support that kind of mentality (why give avatars non-RL names for example). If the latter, let's accept that chat will remain the predominant communication channel and recognise the collaborative limitations that result.

I want to believe in virtual worlds like Second Life but right now I'm struggling to hang on to my faith in them.  Somebody please pray to the gods of the metaverse for me!?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Orange education days

Somewhat belatedly (seeing as how the first day was yesterday!) but I note that Orange have arranged a couple of interesting 'education in SL' days on Orange Island.

Note to self: it's probably worth keeping an eye out for future events.

Friday, 27 March 2009

What is the Library of the Future?

JISC "What is the Library of the Future?" debate - attend in SL - Thursday 2 April 2009, 14.00 - 17.30pm (UK time)

The JISC are holding a BBC Question Time style event in Oxford next week discussing the future of the libray.  40 places are also available to attend and contribute virtually in Second Life.

Details about the Second Life venue will be emailed to you following registration.

Note that all delegates (including those attending virtually) are asked to provide a question for the panel as part of the registration process.

What is the Library of the Future?

You are cordially invited to join the future of the library "Question Time" style debate to consider how researchers, learners and society at large can be best served by information into the future?

JISC and Oxford University Library Services are jointly hosting a public question and answer debate in order to discuss what information and library provision mean in these changing times; technology has had a huge effect on the behaviour of both information consumers and service providers. What is the library and what do libraries need to do in order to support knowledge, innovation and society?

The event will take place on Thursday 2 April 2009 in the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics, University of Oxford from 2.00pm until 5.30pm. It will be followed by a reception in the Divinity School, Bodleian Library, until 7.00pm.  We also have some Second Life places available.

To register for your place at the event:

Unable to attend but want to follow or interact with the event?

The event will be amplified beyond the walls of the library:
  • Via the JISC libraries of the future blog - tag #LOTF09
  • Via live web streaming on the day and available for download after the event;
  • Via Twitter, tag #LOTF09
All the links and feeds can also be found at the libraries of the future home page

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

World builder

Impressive short movie from Bruce Branit:

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.
World Builder was shot in a single day followed by about 2 years of post production.

Nothing to do with Second Life, except in the similarity of building techniques, and the fact that despite all the technology the resulting virtual world looks disappointingly like the real world :-)

[Via Digital Urban]

Monday, 9 March 2009


News from the Theatron project:
Looking for a place in Second Life for performance, a resource for the study of theatres, inspiration for creativity, or just a neat place to take a look at? Then you might want to take a look at Theatron Island .

Theatron is a project run by King's Visualisation Lab at King's College London and funded by Eduserv. Seven theatres are available on the site; these are Theatre of Pompey, (Roman) Epidaurus, ( Greece , Greek and Hellenistic) Globe Theatre, ( London , Renaissance) Odeion of Pericles, ( Greece , Greek and Hellenistic) Piran Round, ( Cornwall , UK , Medieval Hellerau Festspielhaus, ( Hellerau , Germany , 20th C) Odeion of Agrippa, ( Greece , Hellenistic and Roman)

If you would like to arrange a visit, or book the space for a class, then please contact Mark Childs ( ), IM Gann McGann inworld, or follow this SLURL to the viewing platform. Only one of the theatres is rezzed at any one time, but any of the other theatres can be rezzed on request.

Theatron Island is part of the Theatron Project, which also involves the UK Higher Education Academy's English Subject Centre and PALATINE , the Dance, Drama & Music Subject Centre. Five other institutions from across the UK are performing and creating within the Theatron spaces. More information about the project is available and you can take a look at the findings as we develop them at our wiki. A project website is under development and will be launched shortly.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Manual

This is the best SL resource I've seen for some time... The Manual: a list of 81 in-world activities ranging from easy (#1) to hard (#24) and the sublime (#28) to the ridiculous (#50).  Kudos to the guys at Leeds (@kisa and @cubistscarboro) for pulling this stuff together.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Facets of virtual worlds

Sarah Robbins' Virtual Worlds Facet Study is now available as a Google spreadsheet .  There's a lot of material here, covering 70-odd virtual worlds, so it's well worth looking at.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Tom Eckersley exhibition

As a spare time activity I'm putting together an exhibition of posters by Tom Eckersley for the ArtsPlace gallery on Eduserv Island.  The posters, 24 of them, have been selected (and used with permission) from the Eckersley Archive hosted by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).

As with any activity like this in the UK, clearing rights over the images has taken a while but I'm grateful to staff at VADS for dealing with this side of things on my behalf.

As you can see, I've got as far as uploading the images and plonking them onto poster sized prims.  Note that I used Picnik, the online image manipulation tool, to add a frame to each poster.  Now I need to get the sizes and aspect ratios correct, position them on the walls of ArtsPlace and create a notecard for each holding VADS catalog record for each of the selected posters.  Shouldn't be too long, assuming I get my finger out.

Watch this space...

Thursday, 15 January 2009

AudioStreaming Firecaster

When we hold RL events for which there is a SL audience we usually use voice-chat to carry audio from the live presentations to the SL delegates.  I've always felt uncomfortable about using Art Fossett to carry this audio, even in those cases where it is Andy Powell who is speaking but particularly so in other situations.

For tomorrow's Maximising the impact of Virtual Worlds in Teaching and Learning event in Glasgow I've created a new avatar, AudioStreaming Firecaster, just to carry the audio from the event onto Eduserv Island. AudioStreaming will be positioned just next to the slides (that Art Fossett will be displaying in-world in sync with the RL speakers' slides).  That's leaves Art Fossett free to move around the SL venue as I see fit.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Education Support Faire

Linden Lab have announced an education support faire, to run for 6 days from the 25th to the 30th January 2009:

To support the educational community, we would like to invite you to participate in and attend Linden Lab’s inaugural Education Support Faire! Over the years, Second Life has provided ways for the world of academia to put to use creativity lending to immersive education, distance learning, knowledge sharing, faculty networking–and many other ways to enhance the collective educational community’s efforts in the real world. The success of projects surrounding these efforts within Second Life can be attributed to the many innovative educators, academics, and students who have chosen to utilize Second Life for these purposes.

The main goal for the Education Support Faire is to bring together educators, academics, and students to explore the support mechanisms available to residents who use Second Life to enhance real world educational efforts.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Maximising the effectiveness of virtual worlds in teaching and learning

Those of you not attending the joint CETIS/Eduserv "Maximising the effectiveness of virtual worlds in teaching and learning" event in person next week in Glasgow may like to note that we are planning on making the audio and slides of all the presentations available in real time on Eduserv Island in Second Life.

Audio will be made available using the SL voice chat facility and copies of all the speakers' slides will be visible in-world.  We will also try and allow for questions to speakers from virtual delegates via text chat.

As virtual delegates you should make your way to the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island

Presentations start at 10.30am (2.30am SL time) though I suggest getting there a little earlier to test out audio, etc.  You are welcome to drop in for only those presentations that interest you.  The full programme is available at the first URL above.