Posted by: cyndera | August 14, 2010

Second Life Convention in Boston

Most of the people I know looked at me funny when I told them I would attend the Second Life Convention in Boston. Most people just don’t know enough about Second Life (SL) and compare it either to the SIMS or think that it is something that is only interesting to a certain kind of people (antisocial, shy, introverted would be the more flattering descriptions … weird, nerd, and creepy are not so flattering anymore).

Fact is though that it is neither a game nor is it just for people who can’t cope with the real world and have to hide behind an avatar. Well, I guess there are those people, but many of us are part of this virtual community because they believe that it can add value to our society and to the way we do things.

I am part of a community that is interested in how Second Life can be used for educational purposes. Some of you have read about the projects that I am part of  (if not, check out http://www.cyndera.com and visit my Zeitgeist blog), so I am interested in what other educators have to say about  offering education in SL. I joined a session facilitated by the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable (VWER), which also sponsored two registrations for people interested in SL education. Me and another lady won the essay contest, and so we are here.

The session was very interesting and brought up a wealth up questions, concerns, and new ideas for educators. Some of the topics that were covered included:

  • How can we make SL safe for children?
  • How can we develop a grid dedicated to education?
  • How can schools implement SL as teaching method?
  • Will SL contribute to a deeper divide between rich and poor school districts as poor districts might not be able to afford the hardware required to run SL?
  • How far should virtual education reach out? Should we limit it to face-to-face teaching, or should we incorporate people and entities that support teachers (such as librarians etc, which, of course, I support).
  • How can we achieve credibility for education that happens in SL?
  • Can SL help to engage students inside the classroom and excite them about learning?
  • How can we combine social media and virtual worlds?

You see, there is much more about SL than just running around with an avatar, doing weird things.

For the last 30 minutes Philip Rosedale (SL Philip Linden) joined the session (unplanned) and answered questions, which was much appreciated.

I also attended a session on how to use SL for business purposes, broadening the audience and amplifying the marketing success. This session was interesting as well, even when the in-world discussion got a bit out of proportion.

Tonight there will be an Avatar-Ball: Come as your avatar or yourself. For me it will be myself as I did not have enough time (or money) to get a costume.

Last but not least some pictures from Boston and the convention. Don’t be surprised if I don’t come back, I already love the city.

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