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More on Second Life – Convince Me

December 20th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

Dear oh dear – my post yesterday on Second Life seems to have created a bit of a stir. Here’s a typical reply from Sean Fitzgerald entitled Graham Attwell Needs to Take a Closer Look at Second Life.

Now lets just clarify a couple of things. I most certainly was not complaining about the compelling nature of Second Life. Just the reverse – that is what impressed me so much. And that is why I think there is a big future in such immersive environments. Would I rather go to a university run Blackboard site or to Second Life. No competition.

I have two big reservations about SL. The first is the limitations on creativity. Sean reckons there is loots of room for creativity – even on a free account. I can’t get it – and neither did my students last week.

Secondly I remain unhappy about turning over big chunks of our learning infrastructure to Private companies – look what happened to Blackboard. Companies are there to make money. We are in big danger of education becoming just another commodity to be bought and sold and I think education is more important than that.

Anyway – just for the record – here is my students first impressions of Second Life after about three hours….

General first impressions

  • I was fascinated by creating my own charater – you can have your own life on the internet – you can get lost in it fast

    You forget you are in the internet – you take it for real – no one knows I am a girl when they see my charater in this game

    My computer was very slow – lot of fun – takes some time to learn how to move the figure

    I dont understand what it means for art – I am sitting here speaking with myself

    I know already role playing games off line and this is not so different – but with this one you can chat

    Control of the avatar is difficult to discover – it took quite a while to find people to talk to

Aesthetics

  • I know many graphic programmes – it is not enough to just create some clothes – this is not enough for art (is this a problem that you have to pay for more functionality?). Can you integrate file formats from other programmes?

    You need to be able to design off line.

    The potential is to make experinces without real consequences. Can test and try things out – no physical laws – and destroy things without consequences in reality.

    Time changes – real time much faster

Communication

  • Communication is not very intelligent ….. the shyness of your real character is transferred to virtual space and applies there as well.

    Is this true (referring to previous point) – because it is not the real world people are more likely to talk. You can leave if you are not intersted in what people say – you just fly away. You dont have to give a good impession of yourself in a virtual world…

    Why am I there – I want more than just talking for the sake of it.

    You can just talk trivia but you can also talk more in depth.

The attractions

  • You can try to be someone you are not…….you can always create someone new.

    If I create my own virtual world in a closed community leaning takes place but not in this case where anyone can take part – triviality of chats show is like this this.

    Immersive environments will be an additional place to learn. In the future there will be a virtual achool where I can go – I can stay at home – but do we want people to stay at home and not have social contact (face to face). It doent replace real life.

    Do we want to mirror our models into virtual reality or do we want something different?

    This is a community of users but not a community of communicators – but there may be interesting closed communities within Second Life.

    It is better to deal with issues as a real person – easy to do in SL but it is not a real challenge

I should add that at the end of the workshop we did a quick scenario game called ‘Headlines of the Future’. And they all saw SL or an SL type environments as having a big future to play in teaching and learning in the future.

I am still open to convincing. My SL moniker is Graham Lightfoot. If anyone wants to meet me in SL and try to convince me I am happy to come and fly with you. I’m off line until Sunday but just send me an invite for after then. Hey, Christmas in SL must be less commercialised than in Pontypridd.

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