Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hell is BAAAAAAACK! (Dante's Inferno Returns to Second Life)

Dante's Inferno has returned to Second Life!!!

With MANY thanks to our anonymous donor, we were able to unpack and rebuild the Inferno. We have added a few new features, and are continuing to think of new and better ways to add content!







Ironically, the land arrived on Good Friday. If you know about the text, you know that Dante (the character) began his journey on Good Friday.




While we had hoped to have Hell opened by Easter, it takes a lot longer to build hell than we expected :-0 Visit it and make sure you have your ambient sounds, movies, music, and particles turned on.













Many thanks to Eloise Pasteur and Eloise Pasteur Educational Designs for building the Inferno (again), and we are always looking to add content!

To open the island, we are having a Build-a-Lucifer contest (kind of like build-a-bear, but not).

















To build him, you need to use the description of him here. The winner will receive our undying praise and 10,000 Linden Dollars.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Interesting Questions about My Second Life and Twitter Neglect

This is the COOLEST chair in Second Life.


There must be a gaggle of professors requiring interviews of SL educators. I must have done 5 or 6 interviews this week. Most of the questions are pretty standard...who are ya...whatcha doin...whya doin it...

One student asked: Where do you get your inspiration?

Well, truly, I am inspired by literature. I love a good story. I love a bad story written well. Literature is full of great stories. Think about it...isn't is interesting that Grendel just took over a whole big hall and a bunch of guys sat around and said, "oh yeah...that is our resident monster dude over there, but we, valiant warriors, are too lazy to get off our duffs to do anything about it..." until Beowulf shows up and says "DUDES! Why on EARTH are you eating out here when you got that big ole bad hall over there???" See...it is all about language. Making it fun for students. At some point, SOMEONE loved Beowulf (and not just stuffy academics). It was a bedtime story. Little kids and giggling teenagers sat around listening to Dad tell that tale AGAIN to the guests.

In an email today, someone pestered me about my lack of twittering. I READ my twitter log; I just don't write on it much (I am a busy girl, ya know).

Honestly, I love the concept of Twitter. I think it is a great tool for learning. I don't use it in the classroom because I have 50000 other tools that I do use. And, to be honest, there is SOMETHING to be said for privacy. I don't need to know what all my friends are doing every moment of the day. Hell, you really don't WANT TO know what I do all day (wash dishes, more dishes, more dishes, then some more dishes). It isn't that I don't love all my dear friends; I just don't need to be attached to them all the live long day.

Now, some people use Twitter to post interesting links to articles they are reading. Others use it to say, "Ooops! Dropped the Soap!" Really? Oh, that is fasssscinating. Ugh.

I am not much of a phone person either. Ask Mark. He calls all the time: Whatcha doin? Nuttin. How about now? Still nuthin...getting ready to wash dishes. Again? Yup, again.

I really am not that interesting. I could maybe drum up something interesting, but it would be bupkus. My life is relatively boring. I am infinitely jealous of the twitterers with these exotic exciting lives...they MUST have maids or dishwashers or SOMETHING!

I have friends that twitter from their mobile phones...documenting every second of their lives (getting on the plane...got to my seat) and (plane has landed...I can Twitter again!). ARGGgggg. I hate my cell phone, and I do not use it for ANYTHING except calling cabs and my husband (on rare occasion...like car accident kind of occasions). Trust me...you do not want to talk to me when I am in the grocery store with Mustache Man thrashing about on the floor demanding Spiderman Cookies or when I am in the middle of chasing Sharpie Boy down the street as he chases a cat that LOOKS like Mikey-our-cat but isn't Mikey-our-cat. You DEFINITELY do not wanna interrupt my loud singing in the car, and you don't want to talk to me when I am working out at the gym (truly, I could only huff at you and maybe snort). So, your best bet? Email.

My Twitter friends think I am being old fashioned. Nope. I celebrate the use of Twitter in the classroom. I celebrate your right to post your most mundane details. I celebrate the documentation of every moment of life for all of the world to enjoy. But, I am not inspired by it; I am inspired by a GOOD story or a BAD story written well :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The American Project in Second Life


Life is cooking in my virtual world. Three sets of students are now inworld. One group is testing their American values (DeSales), one group is studying feral cats (LCCC), and the last group is building Spoon River (LCCC) for literature class. In total, there are 123 students in SL this semester. So, yeah, I am fairly busy :0

The students at DeSales are full swing into their immersion/survivor activity, "The American Project." We have lots of drama going on; please visit our faculty voice thread where Eloise and I (and our student assistant, Daliah) comment on the challenges and twists in plot.



Here is a small little video, as well, about the project:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Philip Rosedale Linden Leaving Linden Lab


Apparently, in the world of hot start up companies, the CEO lifts off and leaves after the honeymoon period. As the blogosphere will tell you, Philip Rosedale Linden is no different...he is just following the prescribed path.

The flood of articles range from "OMG! The Sky is Falling! Run Now!!!" to "Yup - this is what happens" to "You'll see...it will be BETTER now."

Seeing as I don't know the future, and I have no way to predict how this will go, I can only read the articles of reputable publications. The problem is...many of them hated Second Life to begin with...so they are doing the whole "told ya so" dance. The Wall Street Journal, for example, says that businesses have scaled back because of "pranksters." Um...maybe they scaled back because they missed the WHOLE point of virtual worlds? Maybe they realized that people wouldn't just pop over to virtual space to read URLs out to web space?? Ack. Don't get me started...

Look. Second Life ain't dead.

Jeremy Kemp, in a great post to the educator listerserve, listed all the reasons why education isn't gonna die any time soon in SL. In fact, it may just pick up...many of us wrote grants that are JUST coming in now...so we have commitments for at least 2 years. In many ways, educators are really suited for this type of change in helm, as we often experience change of administrators in our daily lives. Our colleges have not yet closed, and we change chiefs a LOT.

But, there are more than businesses and educators to worry about here. What about the residents? They do, in fact, make up the rest of the world. Anshe Chung, the amazing woman behind the millions, is not going to pack it in because Philip is stepping down. She will continue to make money because new people will still want their own slice of the land pie.

Additionally, there will always be people in Second Life that make it what it is...a great social space. Prokovy Neva, also a land holder, is the King of Drama in SL. His blog is, whether you love him or hate him, one of the best out there. He coined phrases like "fettered inner core" or "FIC" to refer to the people who, evidently, attend SL Views or get special preferential treatment by Linden Lab employees (note to self...I attended SL Views, and I don't get special treatment...in fact, I am fairly confident I am not even on the radar to receive even a free tee shirt). Anywho. Prok has invested a lot into his SL work (as a writer, as a gossip hack, as a land owner), so I don't see him leaving either.

Will things change? Well...sure. The changing of the guard always means...um...change. But, it may be BETTER. Maybe someone will come in and say "fix the damn lag." I am not sure it is possible with the bajillions of UUIDs floating in the space, but, hey, you never know.

So, am I jumping ship? Will Literature Alive! step down?

Not a chance.

For starters, my best friends in the entire world live in virtual space. While I can certainly IM Eloise Pasteur in GChat, I would not be able to build Dante's Paradiso with her there. or go to the Job exhibit at Sea Turtle Island. Daliah Carter and I would not be able to go Lucky Chair hopping in real life. I would never have met any of the people that I hold near and dear...Brainwave, PipSqueak, Hiro, Horace, Lorelei, Intellagirl, LauraMaria, Adrian, Bryan, Jeremy, Butch, CDB, Larry, Fleet, HappyHolly, Marius, Crash, Gus, and the list goes on and on and on....

And... students and I could certainly NOT have a watermelon massacre in real life.

Secondly, students LEARN better in virtual worlds. The students building Spoon River hate me and Second Life right about now (their projects being due in less than 26 hours). But, if I call them in 10 years, the chances that they remember something about Spoon River will be significantly higher than if I just gave them some paper to write.

Finally, there is much to be done. Now that we have all figured out that we shouldn't just build what exists in real life (one article called it "a boring place to be"), there is much to do! I am STILL looking for a full sim to place Dante's Inferno (and Purgatorio and Paradiso). Walden Farm is just being built! The World of Wartime Journalism Project will take place this summer...and there is rumor that there might even be a home for the Underground Railroad/Tribute to African American authors build. Eloise, Daliah, and I are VERY busy - no matter WHO takes the helm at LL.

Second Life has never been about the employees at LL. Second Life has always been about us...the content creators. Whether we are educators building that interactive Testes...or land owners like Anshe...or writers like Prok....WE, the collective, have made the place great. Since WE haven't resigned, we have nothing to worry about!

IMAGE SOURCE

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reflections and Predictions



Literature Alive! recently celebrated its first birthday. Literature Alive! was created because I simply could not find anything literary in SL, and I needed something of substance to offer students.

The first build was on a rental property in Knightsbridge; it was the first British Literature classroom. In these pre-Eloise days, I did all of my own building and scripting with the help of Adrian and Ligeia Westwick. Back then, it was a beautiful house with lots of things to click, but there was nothing to do other than read.

At first, we used the British Literature classroom for everything, but then gave birth to Literature Alive! We established a headquarters at Lukekini Island, and interest in literary projects caught on at the SL Insider (w Massively) where Eloise was a columnist. During her interview, she asked where LA was heading, and I explained all that I wanted to to do but recognized that my basic building skills and lack of funding would prevent any forward movement. Eloise took pity on me, and started to build interactive displays while I went out a-beggin for land grants. My thought was that people would donate land before they would donate Linden, and they would welcome builds that would help establish their own presence within SL.

Fast forward one year.




We have hosted over 30 builds in Second Life devoted to literature. We have held 52 workshops for faculty. We have been home to over 250 college students using SL to learn about literature. Through the very generous land donations of our colleagues and the volunteer efforts of Eloise, Literature Alive! has grown in leaps and bounds.

Where next?

Our main hope is to continue building environments. This summer, students will be working on WW2 and Journalism, and we hope to build a full sim Dante exhibit (inferno, purgatorio, and paradiso).

We also hope to return to offering free workshops for faculty using SL to teach. This is the best part of what LA has done in the past, and it is something that ebbs and flows with student presence.

As we look over the past year, we are amazed by what we have been able to put together with no budget. We - literally - grew out of a dream.

As we celebrate this first birthday, please let me take just one second to thank the people who have made it possible to exist and thrive.

  1. Without the help of Eloise Pasteur, Literature Alive! would still be at Lukekini hoping to do something MORE in SL. While she makes her living by building and scripting in SL, she has volunteered her time, talent, and treasure to help us grow. Without her, we would not be where we are right now.
  2. Daliah Carter is the assistant everyone dreams of having. She shops for props, she helps students get dressed, and she takes excellent notes.
  3. Our sponsors: There are so many of them, but we are eternally thankful to Finger Lakes Community College, Monroe Community College, Montclair CHSS, Georgia Southern SCU, Education UK, SLCN.TV, Cattle Puppy, the Foundation for Rich Content, The V3 Group, Liz Fherenghetti Landscaping, EduIsland II, NMC, FireSabre Consulting, MillionsOfUs, Eloise Pasteur Educational Designs, Alliance Library, Caledon Libraries, VIT World Group, Nature Island, and Drexel University.
  4. Our Friends: We have so many friends on the grid that it is impossible to list them all. However, there are a few that have been truly special to us and we want to be sure to thank them as well: Butch Dae, Marcius Dowding, Crash Thibauld, Larry Pixel, CDB Barkely, Intellagirl Tully, Bryan Mnemonic, AJ Brooks, LauraMaria Onomatopeia, Claudia Linden, Blue Linden, Glenn Linden, Sambuca Carter, Lorelei Jonot, PipSqueak Fiddlesticks, Audio Zenith, Max Chatnoir, Horace Moody, Troy McLuhan, Fleet Goldberg, Fred Fuchs, and FlipperPA.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Boss's First Video

My husband, Spiff, made his first movie:


Animoto v OneTrueMedia

So, I want to see which one I like best. Truthfully, I like them both. But, I thought I would toss the vote out to my faithful readers. Which output format do you like better? Please vote in the COMMENTS tab below! Artwork in videos is by my colleague Ron Blue; check out his gallery.

OneTrueMedia



Animoto


Open Notebook Science

My friend and colleague at Drexel, Jean-Claude Bradley, is an Associate Professor of Chemistry. His revolutionary work in Open Notebook Science challenges the "old way" of communicating science.

Check out his latest video talk on what ONS is and how it will impact the world.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Summer Lovin

This summer, I will be teaching in a learning community connecting students in Journalism I at LCCC with students in WW2 History at Penn State.

Here is one of our joint resources that can be played inworld with the new HTML on a prim concept!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Addicted to OneTrueMedia

Another One...

Teaching in Virtual Worlds

I just returned home from Denver...and have about 1000 RSS posts to read. Ack.

Anywho, I presented at the League for Innovation on teaching in Second Life. Here is the wiki, and here are the slides: