Friday, August 17, 2007

Choosing her OWN Adventure

On Wednesday night, the Contemporary Fiction class at DeSales wrapped up. I am always a bit sad when classes end, and this group, my little literary pioneers, are special. They were my first "fully immersed" class. Other classes did unique lessons in SL but didn't spend EVERY lesson there.

I was a bit worried. I have to admit. The builds were going up...but the content just wasn't there. The students knew that they were being graded on content....they HAD to know...I only nagged them like a billion times.

And magic....the content starting popping and there...and then everywhere. Desperate calls from the library on main campus from one student...she was sitting with the librarian....where do we go next? Another student sending up flair guns to my Gmail...PLEASE help me figure out how to cite this and such....

All of a was working....

On the first night of class, Vodka4 Babii, a former Miller Light Girl and Senior in Pharma Marketing, announced that she hated reading and there was not one single thing I could do to make her like it. No offense, of course...

On the last night of class, there she stood in RL and in SL, next to her Choose Your Own Adventure maze, prouder than spit when she won the 50 USD Visa Cash Card for the People's Choice Award. Her maze taught the concepts of the genre, cited her sources, and used the design to immerse the audience.

Overall, the 8 week class went well; I learned a lot from the students, and - hopefully- they learned a thing or two, as well.

MANY MANY MANY thanks to Marcius Downing and Finger Lakes Community College for hosting our student plots this summer, and MANY MANY MANY thanks to Eloise Pasteur for donating her time as a builder/scripter for the students. Also, many thanks to Daliah Carter for helping students get dressed in bling and introducing them to SL social life and to Laura Nicosia for her help with the Gloria Naylor novels.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three Boys and a Bad Kitty

Right, that title could be taken any number of ways....but, no, it is not an adult film...

I just returned home from conducting a two-day training at Indiana University of PA. The 25 or so faculty were incredibly refreshing! They were enthusiastic, kind, funny, and FUN!!!!! Watermelon launching, anvil attacks, and a Princess sim-crashing moon bounce were all mixed into creating immersive interactive content.

The NMC studio session is going GREAT, as well. The students are engaging, refreshing, funny, and FUN!!!!

It must be a disease....virtual "students" (with PhDs) and real "students" (with PhDs) all engaging an environment at various levels....and being incredibly AWESOME!

Many thanks to the amazing Komputer Merlin (RL Lloyd Oynet) and his lovely wife, the Goddess Estelle, for their warm hospitality (and the world's MOST incredible wine, book, and cottage collections). Many thanks to DrPartridge Allen (RL Al Partridge), his hilarious wife, Mary, and their wicked cool daughter, Lilly, for entertaining me with hilarious stories about STD costumes, steak, and peas. Honest to Pete, that was the best dinner party I have been to in a long time!!!


I returned home after a daunting 6 hour journey through Eastern PA construction (if they would just build the damn roads RIGHT in the first place - - we wouldn't have to fix them every 4 years). The boys....oh, dear....well, it is no wonder I don't travel much.

My husband seems to think that cheese is as good a meal as the first thing DD asked for was food..."Mommy, can you feed me?" Now, The Boss-Man assures me that he did, in fact, feed them hot dogs and cereal, and gave them milk with their cookies, all 50000 that they ate, so, they got wheat AND dairy....

The boys - all three of them - were shirtless. This is common with the boss, but, generally speaking, we like to dress the children, ya know, just in case they have to go outside to fetch a wayward power ranger. The Boss says that they didn't want to wear shirts and that they were practicing being REAL men....confirmation from the Mother-in-Law suggests that they did, in fact, have shirts on when she left an hour, the manly hour must be after 7 but before 9 (or when I walked in and said, ummmmm, clothing?? I was only gone TWO days; certainly the laundry isn't ALL dirty?)

And then there is the Bad Kitty...and her brothers, Bert and Mikey, who were circling the food dish and meowing as if they had been starved for a month. The cat dshes (all 16 of them) were all on the floor, so that proves that - at some point - they were given food. Evidently, they invited friends because the math doesn't work out (3 cats - wet food twice a day...I fed them before I left Sunday, so that SHOULD equal 9 dishes - MAYBE 12 if he had fed them tonight...but he admits that he forgot...which is incredible to believe since you can't walk in our kitchen without the beck and call of the BK...). Of course, the Iams dispenser was full, but the Princess Bad Kitty prefers wet to anything she has to crunch upon....

and then there are the dishes....I got them paper products because Moms know that boys and bad kitties don't do dishes...and, well, the pack stayed closed, but my sink was full...of cereal bowls and cheese plates....

I would like some tools from SL....a teleporter and the ability to send back dirty dishes. Oh, and mute....

Friday, August 10, 2007

No more BOOKS????

I almost had a heart attack when I received Jeremy Hunsicker's email to SLed....some dude invented a Literature Factory. WOOT!!!! Then I read the fine print...this word-bot-thinger CREATES literature...without ANY human input.



Someone best wake up Walt Whitman, cuz' I think he is dying all over again...

So, I met Ciemaar Flintoff inworld and took a tour of the Literature Factory. It is actually VERY DOES work without human interaction, but the POINT is that the literature isn't all that good. What make Literature worthwhile to love?


and machines ain't got no soul...

BUT, it does show that language CAN use the same sort of computational structure as numbers...and that is a worthwhile lesson.

I was very impressed by Ciemaar Flintoff and the Literature Factory. Literature Alive! in Second Life endorses the project, as it makes students think about the HEART of it words on a page...or is about soul?

Wanna check it out yerself? The grand opening is Saturday 4pm to 6pm SLT at the Literature Factory at Kula 2 (189,9,25). Check out the wee bloggy, too:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer Lovin'

What I did on my summer vacation:

1. Taught my kids Green Grow the Rushes, Ho!, London Bridge, and Kumasaka.

2. Left hot dogs on the grill for 3 hours.

3. Lost my cell phone 6 times (not yet recovered it).

4. Watched Superman Returns 3000 times.

5. Watched Batman Returns 3000 times.

6. Bought my son a tuxedo so he could be a Blues Brother.

7. Got chased down by the beach police for walking with my husband along the shore line (um, how did I know that it was illegal after 11? Ok, there were signs. But, I sincerely didn't see them. cough).

8. Watched fireworks from the beach with my kids, and then built a three foot Volcano in the night sand. Then played every stupid boardwalk game out there. Had to carry the 3 foot Nemo for at least 17 miles back to the hotel.

9. Collected 75000000000 (so it seemed when they fell out in the van) soda tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey.

10. Tried Escargot.

11. Counted Dolphins with my kids on a morning excursion

12. Fetched my sandal from the same water when the 4 year old "Curious Jugi" tossed it overboard.

13. Converted the entire living room into the BatCave.

14. Rescued my son from the clenches of an angry goose.

15. Created Ubieye JuJuFruit (the family Neopet)

16. Built Hell with Eloise

17. Watched the sunrise in my bathrobe at a restore Victorian B and B (after setting of the fire alarm 3 times from the shower)

18. Watched Curious George 20000 times

19. Watched I Love Toy Trains 60000000 times.

20. Got a Slip and Slide Injury

21. Hired my niece to be a Mommy's Helper

22. Co-Chaired the BPE conference

23. Flew 6 hours to San Francisco

24. Beat 6 guys at poker at the paint ball trip (yeah - told ya so)

25. Enrolled my son in Tai Kwon Do

25. Played pinball

26. Picked cherries with my kids

27. Met lots of great new people in SL

28. Met some Lindens

29. Found my junior high diary - laughed so hard, I snorted

30. Fell in love with teaching (again)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The DNA Test

Right. So. I was always the annoying girl in the car whipping out the latest Cosmo quiz and grilling everyone in the car about their personal manifestas.

This one wasn't my fault. Blame Chris Hambly. He posted his scores on Facebook; he is an Advocating Leader. He turned me on to this DNA quizzer thing, and I now know that I am a:

You can read all about me and my personality on the graduation page.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Desi's got Dumbo

Today was one of those days where I was jumping for joy, but trying not to jump too-too much because I gotta double ear infection from swimming at the lake.

For one, I am getting ready to send an avatar over to the Teen Grid. This is soooo exciting because it is a chance to build literary content over there. The down side is that I have to have her packed and ready for Tuesday, and that means I seriously need to get cracking. If you have good educational content, and wish to share it with the teen grid, please send it with full permissions to Literature Binder inworld. Send an im, too, so I can give you credit for being super duper awesome.

Second, we heard word today that Dr. Nancy Trun's National Science Foundation grant aimed at working with the feral cat population was approved. Why do I care? Well, part of the grant supports the work of my students in technical writing. More importantly, though, this says that the NSF is looking at science and writing and are not opposed to funding projects that match writers with scientists. What can be more awesome that that? Well, working with Nancy! She is smart, funny, and TOTALLY addicted to cats (just like that OTHER scientist I love working with down there at Drexel (yeah, Jean-Claude - you). It is amazing to be surrounded by super smart people all of the time. Some get all nervous or threatened, but, truly, it is an inspiration.

Third, Eloise and I will be running a workshop for the up and coming NMC Symposium on Creativity. Working with Elo is always great, but I am reminded of our similar passion when we put together resources. Eloise is a scientist in RL and and educator, so she has the right combination of uber know-how. Watching her work is like sitting on the ledge watching Gaia.

Fourth, the land at the Educator's Co Op is finally open for visitors! I had my student there today and guests. It was exciting. It is called Desi and Eloise's Educational Chop Shop. More exciting? Laura Nicosia is getting a parcel there, too. When she and I get our literary brains a-flowing, just watch out! Yet another brilliant brain to be around! My SL is gooooood!

Fifth, I will be meeting with a Chronicle reporter next week to chat about SL. Of course, I am still all over glowing about USA Today and the Philadelphia Inquirer. It is exciting to get positive press for educators in SL. It is a little weird, though, as I always think that THIS brilliant or THAT brilliant person should also be mentioned.

Sixth, Adrian has built a wicked cool flying saucer, and I want a day to fly around in it using voice chat. I need to hear him say mauve incorrectly.

Finally, I am ready to launch out the Literary V-Canon project; this works in conjunction with the Literary Holodeck project, but is meant to be a gathering of all literature landmarks in SL. It is exciting to go around and search. But, more exciting, is the opportunity to meet MORE brilliant people!!!

So - in all, it was a good day. My throbbing ear drums and the antibiotics are making me a little icky feeling. My ears appear normal looking (so says the boss), but feel like Dumbo swapped heads with me. Went to the gentle and kind Dr. Glenn Kaye, who, despite an icky profession of looking up noses all day, is an interesting dude. He put this loooonnnnnng thinger in each ear - and - I SWEAR - it was attached to a Hoover power sucker on the other end. In any case, he was cleaning something brilliant out of there.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Immersion and Other Twice Told Tales

The Literature Alive! world is spinning at uber speed. Daily, requests pour in for literary builds (Moby Dick was the request yesterday). If I had all the free land in SL, I still don't think we could find room for all the builds! What an awesome challenge!

Of course, it would be wicked cool if folks built their own literary builds. But, most folks can't build or script (big hint, Eloise is the Goddess in these areas - - I am her mere servant). And most folks don't have Daliah-the-Former-Student as Executive Lucky Chair Gift and Freebie Grabber (AKA Executive Assistant).

Literature Alive! is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing open access literary content. Eloise and Daliah work for scraps (literally) and volunteer their time. Every donation goes to land rentals and texture uploads.

But, you have heard this all before :-)

Why do it? Why bother?

The other day, I met with some nay sayers. They don't think literature should be digitized. Literature can not be immersive. Literature comes from books, stays in books, and people like me will ruin reading.

Quite the contrary, I argued. The use of immersive technology FOSTERS a lifelong love of reading. Examples? Look at Vodka - she hates reading, but remembered loving Choose Your Own Adventure Books. She is creating a virtual CYOA book in SL based on the THREE she is reading (she only needed one). Take Fifelc - she hated the technology on the first day...she now has a car submerged in water to highlight her short story.

There are no right answers when it comes to teaching. There are some wrong answers, but I am not qualified to know what those are (wellll.....). I just know that the classes I remember most from those blurry days of undergraduatehood are the ones that had experiential activities.

So, Twice Told Tales.... Literature Alive! isn't just about teaching my students; it is open access and is meant to be a grid wide community service. Fostering a life long love of reading is the goal....and we are getting prim at a time.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Literature Alive! in USA Today

What a busy day!

The day started with a lovely brekkie with my good friend. I have decided that I am at the age when cranberry juice, while seemingly delicious, should be avoided (especially before a presentation). This is a shame, as, yum, cranberry juice is totally yummy. Perhaps I overdosed on it LAST summer when I spent a week in Cranberry, PA. They serve it with everything, and, well, I just could't say no. It is true; I am a cranberriholic.

Anywho; after I met with my 12 step, just say NO to cranberry committee, I headed over to the Lehigh Valley Technology in the Classroom Symposium. I had 45 minutes to wow the masses on the uses of Second Life in Education. You can see the slides over at SlideShare.

I returned home to find that my proposal to the Open Education 2007 conference in Utah was accepted. I think I am out of travel funds (sheesh Louise, I KNOW I am outta funds), so I am going to see if they will allow me to present virtually (that IS the bennie of Virtual Worlds, eh?).

Well, after a class discussion on Ursula LeGuin's depressing but telling short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, I came home to find this link waiting for me from USA Today. OF COURSE I sent it to my mother, father, neighbor, neighbor's dog walker, and neighbor's dog walker's great aunt Rosie. It isn't EVERY day that Schnecksville filters its way to a national paper!

It was a great day. Now, I need to go dream about all those cranberries I can't squash ad drink up :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The last few days in SL have been wonky. I had never heard that term before SL, but I am pretty sure there is no other word that can describe life in SL on a hack-day.

It started fairly innocent...the hair and shoes went up my butt. Generally, this says "clean cache." I do all that, relog, and poof, Desi is Barbie once again. 5 minutes later, I go to grab a steaming hot cup of tea, double bagged, 2 glorious Splenda, and I return to a message "you have been logged out by an administrator."

OH NO!!!! They FINALLY discovered that my inventory, near 37,000 objects, is causing the lag in SL and are revoking my fishing privileges! WHAT TO DO!?

A quick phone call from Daliah, then my next door neighbor, and then a Gchat from Elo confirms that, no, indeed, it is a grid-wide problem. Whew. I hadn't unpacked the glamour-pink thigh high studded boots yet. Whew.

We finally get in, but I am stuck at home. Can't TP anywhere. So I sit (above) on the couch thingy and do other things. I read my daily dose of blogs, SL Insider, and SLNN. I played some games with the kids on our newly released vintage Atari while listening to old Rolling Stones 45s on my newly released record player thinger-ma-bob. I explained the meaning of life and did an in-depth comparative study with my 5 year old convincing him the Cocoa Pebbles are way better than Cocoa Puffs. Folded laundry, fixed dinner, and then played 3 rounds of Texas Hold Em (NOT in SL...NOT in SL....NOT in SL). Returned to see Desi sitting on her pillow thingy, and, lo, she STILL couldn't move. Decided to use the down time to sort my Grid Crashing inventory before Phillip Linden revoked my SLibrary card. No go. I had neither an inventory nor friends to complain about it to...

Weekends in SL are wonky. There just ain't no better way to say it!