Monday, April 11, 2011

Second Life

So I visited Second Life again, I had been assigned this project before, so I once again ventured into this 3D virtual world, and I have to admit, it still had no appeal for me. In the photo to the left I am sitting near my favorite feature in Selmo Park, the waterfall. I love the water falling, there is a rainbow and a campfire. I feel very calm here, although I will admit the first time I came to the area, I overshot the ground and fell into the middle of the water and it took me a while to figure out how to "fly out", this visit I did better at walking and flying around.

There were some upgrades with this version but I am not really sure they are "upgrades." I started in the basic version and as I was playing around I found an option to change my Avatar, so I tried it thinking that I could then customize the avatar, but you cannot do this in the in the basic mode. So I quit so I could log in to the advance mode. So I thought I could make changes to my avatar and it had changed so much from the first visit, I just made a couple of changes and gave up, it was just too much work.

I have attended meetings in this virtual world and it is a nice environment for meetings, but it can also be frustrating if some people are typing and some people are talking. Plus I found it difficult to maneuver to different rooms and work in the small groups with complete strangers. Myself personally, I would much rather go to a Webinar than meet in a virtual world. It just feels unnatural to me, but I do not come from a "gamer" generation, I just never liked them. When I was in school D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) was around, and I tried it once, but just was not for me and Second Life reminds me of D&D, where you have to create this character and you are not really yourself. It's like the names in Second Life, you just can't use your own (or if you can, I couldn't figure that out) so when I went to log in it took quite a while because I could not remember how to spell my last name (Imaging Iadyl) but the capital I in Second Life looks like an L, so I kept spelling it wrong. I would rather just use my name (I have enough user names and passwords to keep track of as it is).

Mitch Wagner wrote a review and he stated that "It's the closest thing we have now to Star Trek's holodeck." I think that is so true, it is extremely futuristic: flying, morphing and teleporting. But if you are into that sort of thing, it is very appealing. He also said that there was a lot of hype in 2006-7 that this would be bigger than the internet, which did not happen, however it does have a loyal fan base of about 680,000 active users. I have subscribed to the Edtech Community and get notices about events, but usually don't have time to attend because I have so many other things that I have to do. Maybe if I could just take my time with it and it not be an assignment, there would not be near the frustration that I have experienced.

Wagner went on to report that with the recent upgrades, there is hope that Second Life could achieve Facebook popularity. I think it will have to get a lot more simpler before it will achieve that level of popularity. I do think that the announcement of Second Life Enterprise would allow businesses to purchase their own private virtual worlds that they can run behind their own firewall. Again, I would rather invest in video conferencing and actually see a real person than train in a virtual world.

Initially the K-12 educational environment was not eligible for Second Life (originally must be at least 18), so there was Teen Second Life. According to Global Kids' Online Leadership Program, Teen Second Life was merged with the adult version and now students as young as 13 can sign up but with limited access and they have to be sponsored by a "Sponsoring Organization" and individuals 16-17 can have an account but are limited to islands with a General Rating and are not allowed to visit the more mature sites. I am really on the fence about these changes, there is a lot of mature content and mature conversations that I have come across and I don't know if it is the best decision. However, it is like anything else, it requires supervision. Kids can get to a lot of mature content outside of a virtual world, but with its surreal interface I worry if the line between online predators is blurred because of its role playing environment. Really need to read the Terms of Service carefully.

Also to really use this environment it requires a pretty sophisticated computer with a newer graphic card and extra ram, otherwise it just takes too long to build the world and operate in the environment. I was having problems with the new viewer on my Mac, had to restart my computer a few times and a few of the menu items cause my system to crash.

I really believe though that everyone needs to decide for themselves how to best use this in an educational setting. If you have a young, adventurous audience it may really hold their attention and they may learn more than a traditional setting. I would not totally right it off, but I would need that particular audience to make it work.


  1. I love your Star Trek quote! You aren't the only one who had trouble with flying the first time out. Great job on your post!

  2. My system is slow sometimes...

  3. Great post. I think the common comments are "time" and "frustration" when all of us talk about Second Life. I agree that it is better than it was last summer.

  4. The new SL got me a bit. I had to spend a few minutes trying to figure out where things are. But, after all that's done, I'm not a huge fan still. Even when I (had to) worked on it I was always complaining about it. My colleague was my complaining partner - we felt the same way. BUT, there really are some instructors using it. A handful, like at UCM, but they still use it.

    I'm glad you fell into the water due to your own navigational errors and not because of my busted bridge. I hate that bridge problem. Thought the upgrade would fix it :P