Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bridging Technology and Academics: The 2007 ITE

I am soooooo excited!!!!

Why? (you ask)

Cuz (I reply)

Last night was one of those powerful SL nights that reinforced my beliefs about using SL to teach. As most of my faithful readers know, I pay for everything in SL - my college hasn't coughed up any financial support. Since I completely believe in open access. I refuse to charge for any of my workshops or class packs. Since most educators are in the same canoe, my system of good-will tipping is, well, not that effective. Thus, I sometimes need a little push to say....yes., this is all worth it. Last night was one of those nights.

The night started as a bit of a disaster...I couldn't log on for hours and hours, and I was scheduled to give a tour. As I dutifully tried to log on every few minutes, my frustration increased. This not logging on business has happened to me a few times...and ALWAYS when I had to be somewhere in world. It is like some inter-galactic traffic jam when my cell phone won't work. You can's call or anything, so you just hope that the people on the other side know that you are a chic of your word and that SL is "being buggy."


I finally got on, and immediately went to my new site on Edu Island II. I am really excited about this new plot-o-virtual-land. This is where I will be housing the American Literature Classroom, the Women's Studies Classroom, the Bradley Science Center, the Information Station (links to other good content), and the Community College without Borders Headquarters. My gorgeous friend, the magical Eloise, has created a game using Jean-Claude Bradley's Organic Chem game , and we played a bit with that. It is exciting to see academic content emerge (even if I have absolutely NOOOOO idea about chemistry). And, of course, my Adrian was there to help me laugh about it all.

After a few rounds of boot-the-Desi (log on/log off - say it in the rhythm of the Karate Kid - wipe on, wipe off), I was able to get over to the Literature Alive! building to host my 8:00 class on using the commonplace book method to teach journal writing. In case you don't know, commonplace books are journals that are specific to literature and religious study. Essentially, you log passages of texts and write about them. They are similar to diaries of the normal sort, but, in a commonplace book, you only really write about texts that you are reading. In SL, this can be done be creating a simple object with a very simple script (if you are interested, fly over to the Literature Alive! HQ and pick up the free course pack).

I had a nice crowd (especially since I only announced it an hour before). The feedback was positive, as well. These workshops help me to present material to my own RL students, so I am glad to have the practice, AND I am glad to help the teaching world think about ways to actually deliver content. We briefly discussed Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 as part of the lesson.

After I was done there, I floated around the world a bit (as I do every day) to search for new edifying content. In a world that changes daily, I like to keep up on the good stuff so that I can recommend it in the Information Station. I am particularly interested in humanities goodies, but, alas, there is little of the literary stuff going on outside of my multi-complex project (which, if you don't know, includes The British Literature Classroom and The Student Gallery of Knightsbridge, The Composition Classroom, The Garden Classroom for Professional Development, The Literature Alive! complex at Leukini Island, and now the American Literature Classroom, The Women's Studies Classroom, the Bradley Science Center, and The Information Station).

As I was floating around and checking out the new Verum's Place discussion place, I came across a sign for the 2007 International Technology Expo. I wandered over to the island, met a nice little chap that was half furry and half robot, and inquired about the expo. He helped me get around a bit, but, alas, I was dumped into the sea. After peeling off my soaked Mysti Tool, AO, sparkly earrings, shoes, and all other sorts of attachments (um, no, I don't wear Xcite), I STILL couldn't get in. The owner, Liam Kanno, had to come fetch me.

First of all, I just want to say that this Liam fellow is just brilliant. The Silicon City is GORGEOUS and he was very kind (offered me a towel and got me to the right place). The ITE inworld event showcases all the techno-goodies of SL. As an educator (that does not build or script), I rely on these tools to teach. Sooooo...I begged this poor man for a wee little spot to set up my Literature Alive! board. He got me all set up, and, even though I don't sell anything, I can sort of represent the technology needs of the academic community at the Expo. I am truly excited about ITE 2007, and I hope ALL of you will stop by the Literature Alive! booth while you peruse the groovy new stuff coming to SL.

Part of my mission is to bridge connections between the academic community and RL and SL businesses. Many educators feel that they have to create or build their own stuff. In RL we wouldn't feel this way...we would go to our Deans...grovel for cash....order our stuff from a book...and jump up and down with glee when it arrived and the tech support staff set it up and passed us the remote. Why should SL be any different?

I am fortunate enough to work with a brilliant builder and scripter (Neoznet Watts). I pay him only 1% of his worth in Linden, and his designs are amazing and efficient. I also rely on all the products made by others in SL and support their business initiatives (Eloise Pasteur, AngryBeth Shortbread to name a few). I have a sort of Desi-Seal-of-Approval going on at the moment...if I test the product and use it, I invite the creator to host a vendor in my wee little gift shop. I make no commission from the sales, but my visitors (an average of 30 a day) know that the products are worth the Linden.

I think it is a great idea to bridge these two communities. Sure, I can spend hours and hours learning how to build and script...but those are hours and hours that prevent me from teaching. I would rather shell out the Linden and support the brilliance of others. Of course, this is getting a bit expensive, and I pay for it all myself. But, my hope is that some RL or SL businesses (PG only) - that have spare Linden to toss about in exchange for shameless promotion - will reward my valiant efforts. Again, I am not looking to make a profit - I just want to cover my rental fees (which now equal about 100 USD per month).

So...a bad day turned out to be a GREAT day in SL!!!!

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