Yet again, I’m going to miss tomorrow’s VWER meeting in Second Life® because of two other meetings. This has happened all too frequently since they changed their US Eastern time. For me, it used to occur just after work, so I could attend at home without being bothered. I try to attend now at work at the new 2:30 PM Eastern time, but that’s such a hot time for meetings that I often have to choose something else. It’s also annoying to try to attend from work because our network is not friendly to virtual worlds and voice is always blocked. But you and I both can look at the transcripts that are posted on the VWER site. Not as good as being there, obviously.
So, just for old time’s sake, here are a few pics from my past on the land we used to have at my current institution. A little item I built after being inspired by the General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Yes there was a 1939 World’s Fair with similar views of the future–I wish I had seen either one of them in person. I think you can tell which one was the model that inspired me. I had much enjoyment from building campuses in Second Life.
Long, interesting discussion here of what might happen when (and if) Second Life® makes its way onto the Steam gaming platform, including the old discussion of whether or not it’s a game: http://www.dgp4sl.com/wp/2012/08/steam-powered-second-life/
Thought about that as I sat through the EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Constituent Group meeting in Denver tonight–although I was still in Ohio :-( Sorry to hear so many of the old complaints, but in my view, virtual worlds will always be a niche market tool in education, and so what? It’s not the web, even if it turns up in a browser someday. You need a high tolerance for, maybe even an attraction to failure to enjoy working in virtual worlds, and you need a clear purpose and lots of technical and creative support. So what?
Here are a few uninteresting photos I snapped at the in-world part of the meeting plus one interesting one from a visit to the MadPea Carneval. Too bad that sound from Denver could not have been piped in world better and too bad that we could not see each other.
The EDUCAUSE 2011 meeting of the Virtual Worlds Constituent Group (VWER) last week in Philadelphia was a positive success with 19 attendees. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but it had been lower last year, I heard. It was suggested that perhaps we are moving out of the “trough of disillusionment,” as that space is called that emerging technologies often fall into after an initial period of over hype (note the image of the Gartner Hype Cycle). As usual, the meeting was simultaneously held in Second Life® and this year on Jokaydia.
There was the usual lamenting of changes in the relationship between Linden Labs and the education community, although many try to interpret the changes, not as a rift, but as a wake-up call for educators to take charge of their own direction in virtual worlds, whether in Second Life or somewhere else. Jokay suggested just that, that educators have to find what is right for them, that there is not a one size fits all environment or way to use it.
I only had my iPad at the conference and could not go in-world during the meeting, a problem that was discussed–access is still an issue to using virtual worlds successfully in education. I really think it will remain a niche market technology if it can’t be made into a browser-based technology. Still I am an evangelist for virtual worlds, albeit an evangelist in the wilderness, it often seems, especially as my institution has serious access issues, including the economic condition of many of our students.
The Ohio Learning Network (OLN) is exploring opening space in an OpenSim grid, comparable to what they have in Second Life®. As noted in the recent OLN Meetup notes, the “project is still in the discussion phase.” This is all part of the education world’s reaction to the new pricing in Second Life, but should have been an option all along for non-profits. It should open up a more vigorous attention to using virtual worlds for education. Like learning a new language always makes you more aware of the finer nuances of your native language, designing and creating and hosting our own virtual spaces will take us back to the core motives and values of education in a kind of pioneering sense.
Some advantages to hosting your own virtual space are a relaxing of building limitations, such as prim size, as well as creating your own privacy and age settings. for the best information on virtual worlds exploration, see jokaydia.com and the jokaydia virtual worlds wiki. She has lots of resources for OpenSim and ReactionGrid exploration.
Will Tri-C join the OpenSim adventure? We’ll see. What would you like to see us do? Would you like to see us explore something private or join an educational grid with some other institutions?