Playing Around In The Virtual World

Ever since our class last week about Second Life and Teen Second life, I haven’t been very busy trying to understand it. I was very excited to create an account on Second Life and enter the virtual world. I figured why not try something new! I love the Sims game and from what I could tell during class and from listening others speak about it, SL was just like an interactive, realistic version of it. So I downloaded second life (during class time, I apologize hehe) and believe it or not, waited until after class to try it out. I created my avatar and chose the tutorial room. This was where I became frustrated. The first thing I did was walk around the room to practice walking and flying. This was not difficult at all, but there was not exactly any step by step instructions to tell me about how things work. People were trying to talk to me in the chat after walking up to me and since I wasn’t there to meet people, I was a little irritated by this. I just wanted to figure out what the exactly I was doing.

So after wandering around a little I decided that I wanted to change my appearance and outfit. I found the change appearance option under the ‘Edit’ tool bar and was completely overwhelmed by how many options I had to choose from. I could change anything about my face, my hair, my body, my skin color, my height, and my outfit. After about half an hour I still couldn’t decide what I liked so I just decided to leave it as I had it right at that moment and do some more exploring. I found the map of different places I could go and decided that I wanted to leave the tutorial and find a few places that were mentioned in class. But I had no idea how to find them and I had no idea how to switch locations. It looked a lot easier to navigate in class.

Since my first experience was leaving me feeling frustrated I decided to leave it and come back to it another day. I decided to try it out again a couple of days later, but still experienced the feelings of confusion and frustration that I had had on my first attempted. It was then that I decided that SL just wasn’t for me and that I would stick with the Sims. Maybe I made this judgement too soon, but without someone walking me through it I just do not have the time and the patience to explore it and understand it on my own. I think it would be very time consuming until learning how it works.

However, I think that what Erik, Garnet, and Marcel are doing with it with their grade 8s is really neat. They are using Teen Second Life (TSL) to become familiar with and explore the many different cultures that are found around the world.

In this unit students will explore the cultures of people around the world through seven common cultural patterns: economic, political, kinship, artistic, religious, educational, and recreation and play. The activities are designed to help students develop an understanding of how cultures are defined and acquire respect for cultural diversity. They will learn that all cultures have similarities, and they will come to value the differences among cultures for the richness and variety they bring to our world and way of life.

TSL is very similar to SL; however, only people between the ages of 13 and 17 can take part. Adults are allowed to join but they have to have some ties to educational institution, have completed a CRC and are limited to staying on the island that was created for Regina Public Schools. If you are interested in more information about this, please see their website to learn more about their engaging project.

Even though I decided that SL isn’t for me, maybe using TSL would be a different way for me to connect with more of my students if I was to teach an older grade (a new way of differentiated instruction?). I couldn’t see myself using this tool with young students. And maybe with a little more practice and someone to walk me through SL to show me how exactly it works, I would be able to decide that SL really is for me. But for now, I will just stick with The Sims.

Here are some websites that I found interesting and helpful:
http://secondlife.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life
http://teen.secondlife.com/
http://erikvandusen.wordpress.com/
http://garnett-gleim-rps.blogspot.com/
http://web.rbe.sk.ca/support/

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5 responses to “Playing Around In The Virtual World

  1. Pingback: Playing Around In The Virtual World « Miss Hill’s Blog

  2. Sarah, that is exactly how I felt using it my first time. It takes a lot of time to get used to and to find your way around it. Once you do, it is worth it.
    I was actually interning at the school were Marcel teaches. I was able to see his students working on the project and I have never seen them more engaged in their learning. Keep experimenting and who knows you may try it with a future class.

  3. Great site this missshill.wordpress.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

  4. Pingback: My Digital Footprint « Miss Hill’s Blog

  5. Hi Sarah
    I was involved in helping Marcel and Erik get their project going and I now have organized our fourth project in TSL. In the next weeks we have 7 classes of Gr. 8 students who will be dramatizing social issues and using TSL as their “stage” for their work. The benefit of using this space for this project is that it allows several classes to participate, interact, and communicate in an immersive environment, and it allows middle years students to participate in drama which they might feel rather self conscious about doing if it were face-to-face. As you heard from Erik and Marcel, the kids have found it very engaging and their learning was enhanced by the approach the teachers took to that unit of study.
    As with most learning activities, it all comes down to good teacher planning, strong curriculum connections, and work that the students see as meaningful and relevant.

    Best wishes in your career.

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