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Home NASA Connections Digital Learning Network Research and Information Fluency Tools Educational Uses of Second Life for DLN Staff: Read This Before the Tour

Educational Uses of Second Life for DLN Staff: Read This Before the Tour

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Written by lruberg45!
28 Feb 2009
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First, A Few Facts about Second Life

Second Life1 (SL) is a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) owned and managed by a company called Linden Labs in San Francisco, California (USA). Residents use customizable building blocks called prims to sculpt and mould their world. Current user metrics indicate that there have been a total of 16,781, 504 sign ups for Second Life (as of Jan 2009) with between 47,500 and 77,500 avatars in-world concurrently during the month of February 2009. Second Life key metrics (current to May 2007) report that 28% of avatars were aged 18-24, 39% in the 25-34 age range, 21% in the 35-44 age range, and only 12% were 45 or older. This multi-user virtual world is truly international. Self-reported nationality data shows that 25% of users are from the United States as compared to 39% for European countries.1

What to Expect from this Second Life Tour

I’ve planned a tour that will take about an hour.  I’ve planned the sites we’ll visit so that you’ll get an introduction to several of the key capabilities of Second Life as a 3D virtual social environment.  There’s a lot more that I think you should see and experience in Second Life, but this tour will give a brief exposure to some of the locations and features that may be useful to you as a science education media specialist.  Here’s an outline of what we will do on the tour.

1.      Orientation and information resources – it’s helpful to be able to know where to go or to take others to get help with basic avatar functions and locations for free resources.  As part of this stop on the tour, we’ll review some basic navigational and interface functions. I\'ll show you how to take snapshots in SL, and I encourage you (in the tradition of a typical tourist) to take as many pictures as you can during the tour.  You can use these snapshots and landmarks to remember locations that you want to return to on your own.

Consider: What orientation guides have been most helpful to you?  How would you structure an orientation for others who you want to join you in Second Life?

2.      Group meetings, community-building, social networking, and governance – Remember that there are real people associated with the avatars you’ll meet in Second Life.  However, you are socializing in a virtual world that is evolving its own rules of governance and engagement.  We visit a few locations that are specifically facilitating and exploring human relations and community building in Second Life.  NASA hosts a variety of designs for social meetings in Second Life. 

Consider: What kind of community-building and social networking do you see Second Life offering to enhance your work?

3.      Blending discussions and presentations across medias – Concerts, panel presentations, radio shows, movies, and special interest group discussions can be offered alternatively in Second Life with a live, geographically distributed virtual audience.  Second Life has a few good examples of how existing media presentations are enhanced in the virtual world context.

Consider: How could a DLN presentation be enhanced by having an optional Second Life presentation?

4.      Designing, prototyping, and user testing - What if you could introduce a NASA product by showing it as intended to be used in a Second Life showroom?  We’ll drop in on a commercial showcasing which allows customers trial use of new kitchen layouts and appliances.

Consider: Are there locations on NASA Colab or eEducation Islands that are already well-suited for offering this kind of immersive user experience?

5.      Communities of practice – Second Life like Walmart is 24/7.  Opportunities for global collaboration and sharing abound.  There are also heads-up displays (HUD) that can be used to translate text across languages, so you can chat with people even though you may not be speaking the same language.  The Discovery Educators Network, EduIslands, ISTE Island, and SciLands are examples of the virtual locations fostering communities of practice.

Consider: How could you use a community of practice in SL to support your professional development programs?

6.      Roleplays and simulations – The range of simulations and roleplays being conducted in Second Life continues to grow.  The virtual world simulations provide an immersive experience in which participants can act out situations that could not easily be done in the real world. Some of the more interesting include medical and emergency response simulations.  We’ll visit an example of a popular sim as part of the tour.  I’ve also found that viewing machinima of Second Life simulations and roleplays can provide an effective and timesaving way to get an overview of a virtual world opportunity that you may not have the time or access privileges to do in world.

Consider: Essentially everything in SL is a simulation, how could you use this condition to reinforce learning goals and lessons presented in DLN modules?

7.      Science education – Museums, university science departments, K-12 science educators, professional science societies are all actively creating simulations, virtual experiments, symposia, exhibits, and displays in Second Life.  SciLands, a microcontinent of science-related lands, contains a wide range of astronomy, physics, biology, genetics, technology, and sociology educational opportunities.  You’ll find much to come to and explore in this area.

Consider: How could you incorporate selective use of SciLands simulations and exhibits into your DLN professional development programs? 

I’ll be scheduling 3 to 4 at a time for the DLN staff tour.  I’ll be sending you an email with information about how to register.  We’ll start the tours next week.  

 1Gauthier, A. (Oct, 2007). Astronomy in Second Life. CAP, 1 (1), 32-34.

Last update (11 Feb 2012)


Comments


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Safety
Written by: Terry Hodgson On: 04 Mar 2009

You may want to look at these too:

ISTE Publishes Online Safety Books for Parents, Teachers

17 Feb 2009

ISTE recently released two new books about internet safety. "Raising a Digital Child," by Mike Ribble, offers a parent-friendly guide to new technologies and their age-appropriate use. "Safe Practices for Life Online" by Doug Fodeman and Marje Monroe is geared toward educators of middle and high school students. View excerpts and order your copies today.
Read more.

Terry/Sal

 



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Re SL as a safe environment for teens
Written by: Stephanie Smith On: 04 Mar 2009

 

Terry covered some highlights of the division between main grid and teen grid.  Let's remember that the teen grid is an order of magnitude smaller than main grid and that every adult there has been screened.  There are teen only islands such as the teen grid mainland and privately held teen islands.  There are also mixed islands with teens and adults that are education oriented.  The mixed islands with teens and adults are known as closed or open islands.  On closed islands, the adult owner(s) has complete control over which teens are allowed on the island  A teen avatar on a closed island can't go to any other island on teen grid.  The teen of course can have another avatar that travels freely among the open islands and the teen grid mainland.  That being said, is any online environment 100% safe for anyone?  Nope, so be careful out there :)

 From my briefings I am under the impression that the current plan for DLN is to use the main grid for professional development of educators 18 years and older.  It would be reasonable to assume that things morph as knowledge and opportunities are realized.  It is important to plan ahead and to understand how to serve teens in SL and the infrastructure of operating on the teen grid should that situation arise.

The question has been asked what is the utility and value of providing DLN services and activities within SL and I can suggest that it is yet another value added medium where we can engage the Huge educator community and the public in STEM based activities and scientific literacy which are goals of the NASA education office.  Additionally, NASA eEducation in SL can be considered as early positioning for the transition that is taking place from flat web space to 3D interactivity.

> What will keep the teenagers inside our site and not allow them to "roam" outside to other sites? Even if you have a closed estate on Teen >SL, teens can still visit other places on the Teen Grid.



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safe environment for the teens on Second Life
Written by: Caryn Long On: 04 Mar 2009

See article at

 http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/virtualworlds/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=207600559



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Concerns about providing a safe environment for the teens we are inviting to NASA site
Written by: Terry Hodgson On: 04 Mar 2009

I'm sure Stephanie/Caledonia Heron can add more to this, but let me take a crack at answering some of your concerns:

> How do we provide a safe environment for the teens who visit our site?

You should only be using Second Life main grid for students 18 and over and for educators. Teens younger than 18 are not supposed to be on the main grid. To work with teens 13-17 in Second Life, you need to acquire space on the Teen Grid. On Teen Grid, you can, for example, acquire your own island, and keep it closed to only those students and educators who are registered with your project. Adults on Teen Grid (and there are few) have to undergo a background check before they're allowed on, and even then they can not roam about all of Teen SL and interact with students freely.

> How do we know they are teens and not on-line predators?

Teen SL provides many checks for preventing this. It may not be 100% full-proof, but having a closed estate on Teen Grid would prevent the random adult from entering your space there. We (Learning Technologies) can help you explore these options and concerns to help find a fit for these virtual world venues that will work for you. Laurie's group (COTF) can help you further explore the educational value and pedagogy possible in these worlds.

Also - we are exploring multiple virtual world environments, not just Second Life. Some of these can be run on NASA computers that are behind the firewall. That way you can control exactly who you let in.

> If we invite teens to our site how do we keep on-line predators out?

You would have a closed island on Teen Grid, or look at using another virtual environment that you could "lock down".

> How do we keep someone from grabbing a teenagers IP address and finding out where they live? If this occurs will NASA be held responsible for providing and marketing an un-safe place; especially if something happens to a teen who visits our site?

I'd have to research this, but I believe there is no way to trace someone's IP from Second Life activity. Do you know Stephanie or Daniel? There is a greater risk - as with all social media - of having the students voluntarily give out information to strangers that they should not. So educating your students to a set of safety rules for social media is an important first step to introducing them to environments like Second Life.

> What will keep the teenagers inside our site and not allow them to "roam" outside to other sites?

Even if you have a closed estate on Teen SL, teens can still visit other places on the Teen Grid. This is why Linden Labs has locked down Teen SL to the degree it has. Of course, their security is not perfect, so we can have further discussions about these concerns and possible solutions.

> Following up with this question, how will a teacher keep their students on the NASA site and not have them wonder to the many unacceptable sites available in Second Life?

The bottom line is that there is no more full-proof way to keep a determined kid from getting into areas of Second Life or of the internet that they are not meant to get into. So we have to rely on education and technology to help us achieve the safest environment possible. The other extreme is something libraries and schools filtering everything to the Nth degree. That has it's downsides too.

> Did you know, some schools block Social Networking sites, such as Second Life, for all the reasons listed above?

Yes, we certainly do. No one is suggesting this will work for every school. We (NASA eEducation (aka Shelley Canright and other HQ managers via the eEducation Roadmap) are asking you to look at these environments and see how to take advantage of them where it makes sense to do so. We're inviting you to explore these possibilities with us, and Learning Technologies and COTF are here to help you do that.

Terry Hodgson/Salamanca Congrejo



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Concerns about providing a safe environment for the teens we are inviting to NASA site
Written by: Kelly Witherspoon On: 04 Mar 2009

How do we provide a safe environment for the teens who visit our site?

How do we know they are teens and not on-line predators?

If we invite teens to our site how do we keep on-line predators out?

How do we keep someone from grabbing a teenagers IP address and finding out where they live?  If this occurs will NASA be held responsible for providing and marketing an un-safe place; especially if something happens to a teen who visits our site?

What will keep the teenagers inside our site and not allow them to "roam" outside to other sites? 

 Following up with this question, how will a teacher keep their students on the NASA site and not have them wonder to the many unacceptable sites available in Second Life?

Did you know, some schools block Social Networking sites, such as Second Life, for all the reasons listed above?

Personally, as a parent I do not allow my younger daughter to use Second Life for all the reasons above.



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Avatar appearance
Written by: Damon Talley On: 02 Mar 2009
It is not that I didin't save.  All hairstyles are bald even though they have different types.  Color of hair won't change using sliding bar.  I am apple clicking on my Avatar and selecting appearance.


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Second Life mental paradigm shifts
Written by: Terry Hodgson On: 02 Mar 2009

P.S. Signed, Terry/Sal



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Second Life mental paradigm shifts
Written by: Terry Hodgson On: 02 Mar 2009

Great article, Laurie.  I'd like to suggest an addition to item 2 on your list, based on my experience and observations. 

- When participating in professional or educational activities in SL,  treat it as you would any real-world professional or educational activity.

There is a tendency to think of SL as a big playground and SL activities as somehow less important than real-world activities (even if you're tasked to work in SL).  You will have this great urge in SL to goof around and cut up - even in "serious" meetings - so just be aware of that tendency and keep it in check, when appropriate. 

Treat this venue and the professionals you work with in SL as you would in any other venue or professional encounters.  I can't tell you how many times I've been "stood up" for a meeting in Second Life because somehow, the person I was meeting with didn't think of it as a "real" meeting.  If you make an appointment to meet in SL with someone, treat it as you would any real-world meeting - show up, or if you can't, inform the person you were to meet with and reschedule.  

This is just one of the sociological things I find interesting about SL.  It's so much fun that work seems like play, so one consciously has to remember to stay focused on business when you're there to do business.  ;-D

 

 

 



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Regarding Changing Avatar Appearance
Written by: lruberg45! On: 02 Mar 2009

I can think of a few suggestions to help you with changing your avatar appearance.  First, Terry is right, the easiest fix is to make sure you click the SAVE button before existing the "change appearance" interactive field.

Two other suggestions are (1) if you picked up clothing or hair or skin at a "freebie" location, you usually have to set these "boxes" outside your avatar and open them and then select those you want to "WEAR."  (2) You mention that you are using Second Life through a browser.  You may find that downloading the software and working directly from Second Life is more efficient and has less drag.  We'll take a few minutes at the start of the tour to review a few key tips about appearance.

These were great questions.  Thanks both of you for posting!! 

--Laurie

SL: Youcee



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Changing Avatar appearance
Written by: Terry Hodgson On: 02 Mar 2009

Did you hit the Save button after you edited your appearance??

Another good way to change your appearance is to acquire hair, clothes, or even whole avatar bodies or skins, eyes, etc.

 Terry Hodgson/Salamanca Congrejo (SL)



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Changing Avatar appearance
Written by: Damon Talley On: 02 Mar 2009
ps Mac/Firefox


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Changing Avatar appearance
Written by: Damon Talley On: 02 Mar 2009

Hey Laurie,

I'm able to move, jump, teleport, chat (text and audio), etc..

But I've been able to change my Avatar's appearance.  For some reason it doesn't seem to "take".  When trying to change hair color it doesn't seem to let me change that at all.  I'm wondering if it is a browser issue.  I'm on Mac/Safari. 

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