Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Newest Addiction

So, I have a new addiction within my new addiction.

Lucky Chair Hopping.

My former student, Daliah, got me hooked on this stupid quest, and now it is an obession. Mostly, I look for things for freebies to give students.

I am heading to Linden Labs in the wee hours of the morning to take part in SL Views. I have never been to that other coast over there, so I am excited. It is exciting to one of 12 representing 7 million SL residents. But, mostly, I am excited to meet all of the great people that make SL work :-)

I plan to visit Alcatraz while I am there and get shirts that say "My Mama survived Alcatraz" for the kids.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Two Peas in the Giant V-Pod

A new blog collecting videos and PPTs on SL!

Open Knowledge Foundation is releasing its Open Textbook Website!


Many thanks to The Konstruct for publishing two articles about Second Life!


Yesterday, a few of the EduBloggers got together and met in Second Life. We didn't spend much time talking about blogging, but we spent lots of time trying to get Skype to work and saying hi to new friends.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Breathing New Life

It broke my heart to give up the Literature Alive! Headquarters on Lukekini island. Even though it is has moved to EduIsland II, there was something very special about Lukekini. Sadly, though, it was a residential sim, and, well, residential sims have a hard time coping with educational scripts.

The garden classroom at LA! HQ was my favorite place to work. Above is the last shot taken before I packed it up for the move.

In the past few weeks, as I have moved the various LA! classrooms, I have - literally - had to grab the tissues. When I moved out of Knightsbridge, I had to stop in the middle. My heart was broken. The very practical part of my brain knew it had to be done, but my heart was not willing.

Packing up Literature Alive! HQ and the British Literature Classroom at Knightsbridge proved to me that SL is more than just a fancy. Teaching in SL has become part of my heart. But, Literature Alive! has grown and it was time to move on. New projects have been built, and more are on the way.

The Willow Springs Project on CHSS Montclair is nearly done and students will begin using Bailey's Cafe and Brewster Place at VIT on Wednesday. Lori Bell and the Alliance Library has generously donated space for a Gothic Classroom to teach the works of Mary Shelley (Frankenstein, et al), Dracula, and Horace Walpole. The British Literature Classroom at Camelot features the Lady of Shallot and her tower.

Students will be building their own projects on land generously donated for the summer by Finger Lakes Community College, and living in apartments at Brewster.

It is amazing time to create literature projects in SL, and I am touched by the generosity of the community in helping to host these classrooms.

But, a little part of me still remains in these two first places. These were my first two academic places, and they took forever to build and decorate to make them educational. So, saying good-bye was necessary but not easy.

Home Sweet Home

Some pictures of my home away from home. Adrian built this house, and it has everything that my own house lacks (no dirty laundry!). I did the gardens and the pond.

It is fun to "go home" to non educational things, and Adey and I enjoy virtual horse back riding, going for trips in his carriage, and sailing (though I kind of really suck at that). Having a "life" in Second Life is a nice diversion. As far as SL relationships go, Adrian and I have been together since our newbie days.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bailey's Cafe and Women of Brewster Place

Here is how it would go...

How I spent my Summer Vacation by Betsey

My summer vacation was spent creating virtual learning environments, riding in a virtual carriage, and creating friendships with people all over the world that were met in virtual spaces.

As was my experience in public education, the note on the returned paper says:

You have quite an imagination, Betsey. Please stick to the assignment, and don't create fiction; this is a Serious assignment. Revise and Resubmit.


Above are pictures of the newest series of classrooms for Literature Alive! The Bailey's Cafe Classroom and the Brewster Place Classroom are located on a sky pad generously donated by Butch Dae. The Mama Day/Willow Springs classroom on CHSS Montclair is finished, and I am hunting down a plot of land for Linden Hills. Many thanks to Eloise Pasteur for her talented builds; she whipped out a whole community in an hour. It amazes me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Please Remember

My husband served two tours in the Gulf, and so these things are always on my heart.

Frustrations and Celebrations

I had to the good fortune to present today for the annual Digital Divide conference for Lehigh county teachers and faculty at LCCC. This year, we focused on Web 2.0 tools and the emerged world of 3D (some call it 3.0; others run scared from that term).

The energy at these conferences is amazing. The participants want to know more; they want to learn how to "do it" ("it" being the technology, silly...not the other, more risque "it."). They are sponges; they are early adopters. I am infected by their passion and thirst. They are worth celebrating; they are the future of education. But, their hands have been tied.

After lunch, we do workshops on various tools. I generally do the podcasting ones (Marc says it is the sexy voice; um, right...). Last year, we did the casting workshop over at LCCC's campus where there is eh-eh equipment of the community college, but NO restrictions. This year, we did them at LCTI where the equipment is TOP-O-THE-LINE but, ummmmmm, EVERYTHING was blocked!!!!!



In general, I am about as laid back as a girl can be without passing out and falling asleep. I don't get ruffled much, but certain things set me off. Consistently, CENSORSHIP sets me off.

The HS teachers were amused, I think, by my frustration. They said "oh well; this is how it is." Has NO ONE thought to challenge the school board or THE grand pubah (whomever that might be)? Do the kind and generous residents of the great state of Pennsylvania KNOW that their HARD EARNED tax dollars are spent on GORGEOUS technological tools that NO ONE CAN USE??????



I can't even get a decent laptop at my college to run Second Life. Not one laptop for faculty use is capable of running SL. Not one. But, the high schools have this wicked great stuff, and BLOGGER is blocked!

What is the reason, I asked...why the Gestapo on knowledge here? Oh, my, dear out-of-touch-Desi-Beth....the kids might see porn! UM, HELLLLLLO??? I have three brothers; they ALL saw porn somewhere in their teenage years, and GUESS WHAT? Relatively speaking, they are quite normal guys despite it all. But, that is ok...let them NOT see naked peeps, but let's let them watch prime time TV where every other second is littered with a violent act. Then let's wonder why these kids are soo frustrated that they go swiss cheesing their friends.



We do a terrible disservice to these students if we shut them out of the technology they will NEED to know in order to be successful upon college graduation. The Horizon Report out of NMC shows where we are heading, and we, at least in my neck of the woods, are INTENTIONALLY gating the forest.

Teach responsibility. Teach critical thinking. Embrace some classroom management. Lose the Apathy. Watch Pump up the Volume. Read Harrison Bergeron.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The New Face of Literature Alive!

Literature Alive! has grown over the past few months, and, now that I am off for the summer, it was time to start creating classrooms and repositioning current structures.

The face of LA has grown over the past few months; it started in a mall, then moved to private land, and now covers plots on 10 sims. The growth is amazing, but, really, is rather humbling. So many people have stepped forward to realize this passion that burns deep within me.

Teaching English and making learning fun is a passion. Helping others live out their passion is also a passion. But, the reality is that I could not do this alone. I get no funding from my own college, and it was costing me about 200 USD to rent all the lands I was using (and that doesn't include the costs of uploads or paying designers).

So, I had to rethink my strategy and I had to ask for help. To my surprise, many in the community are stepping forward with various resources. Now, I just need to generate some sources of linden to pay for uploads and to offer some sort of stipend to Eloise (who has been doing all of these work pro bono). She doesn't expect to get paid, but her generosity of spirit (and talent) makes me want to give something to her. SL is how she makes her RL living, and if she is building for me, that means she is not working on a paid project.

At present, the Literature Alive! Project includes:

The Literature Alive Headquarters
New Location!
  • The Teleportation Station (Designers: Desideria Stockton, Neoznet Watts)
  • Founders Hall Conference Room (Designers: Desideria Stockton, Neoznet Watts)
  • Phoenix Educational Design Studio (Designer: Neznet Watts)
  • Desideria Stockton's Official Office/Studio (Designer: Desideria Stockton)
  • Sponsor: Phoenix Educational Designs
  • Designers: Neoznet Watts, Desideria Stockton

The Collaboration Station:
  • The Collaboration Classroom
  • The Treasure Chest Web 2.0 Classroom
  • The Gaming Station
  • The Blog Station
  • The Community Writing Project: A Tale of an Avatar
  • Sponsors: Cattle Puppy Productions and
  • Designers Desideria Stockton, Eloise Pasteur

The Literature Web-Tree of Knowlede Project: This is a fully interactive tree that demonstrates how authors influence authors. Starting with Beowulf, each branch will spread and illustrate other authors that were influenced by the writings.
  • Sponser needed

The DeSales Contemporary Fiction Cassroom

The British Literature Classroom Series
  • Sponsor: Chris Swaine, Education UK
  • Designers: Desideria Stockton, Eloise Pasteur, Students, Residents

British Literature I (Beowulf-Pope):

The American Literature Classroom at Monclair State CHSS (many thanks to AJ Brooks and The College of Humanities and Social Science at Montclair State University for allocating space and Eloise Pasteur and Neoznet Watts for their volunteer building and scripting efforts). Projects in ITALICS are under development:

American Literature I (Puritan-Civil War):

American Literature II (Civil War- Present) UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The Women and War Learning Community Classroom at Drexel Island (Sponsor: Drexel University and Jean-Claude Bradley (Designers: Desideria Stockton, Neoznet Watts, Eloise Pasteur)
  • World War II History Submarine Classroom (Designers: Neoznet Watts, Desideria Stockton, Foe Hammerer)
  • Women's Studies Classroom Suite (Designers: Neoznet Watts, Eloise Pasteur, Desideria Stockton, Foe Hammerer)

Literature Alive! is always hoping to provide free and useful content to the community. It is an exciting time in SL.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Life in the Woods

Thoreau had it right on the spot with life in the woods.

These last few days, I have been working with AJ Brooks, Eloise-the-scripting-goddess, and Neoznet Watts on building a new American Lit classroom and Literature Alive HQ on AJ's Land at CHSS Montclair.

The new classroom features the Edgar Allan Poe House and The Young Goodman Brown Walk.

Thanks to Elo, the Poe House TOTALLY has everything you expect = hidden hearts, skeletons, traps, doors, cats, cobwebs, and eerie stuff.

The YGB walk ends at a bonfire where an Alice scripted rock pesters you to define your ideas about Faith.

The Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage is also finished. It will take palce next week inworld at 11am SLT, but anyone can use it before. There are 12 stations of the Cross that ask participants to act out characters from the Tales.

On the homefront, Adey is building the most amazing house on our private parcel. His building skills are amazing, and I pale in comparison. I planted some ducks and an outdoor patio with lots of flowers. It is sooooo my kind of place!

And, so, I slink off to bed....tired...happy...excited.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dogs Rule: An Interview with NMC

I had the very good fortune to chat with Alan Levine (RL) / CDB Barkely (SL) at NMC Virtual Worlds. Alan is such a cool guy; if you have not yet met him, you sooooo need to do that right quick. You can't miss him; he is the cutest dog around.

You can hear me blabber on with him at the NMC Campus Observer.

It is sooooo exciting to talk to Alan, as he has a true passion for SL education. That kind of excitement is infectious, and we could spend 4 days drinking tequila, singing 80s rock songs, and chatting about virtual education. I might even toss a scooby snack or two at him.

Many thanks to Alan for his energy, passion, and leadership in Second Life.

On Thursday, I will be presenting at the Philadelphia Future Salon. You can get a heads-up view of the slides by checking them out on Slide Share.