Second Life How does it stack up with educators in Alaska?
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Second Life • Founded by Linden Labs in 2003 • All the founders are gone • 16 million accounts worldwide • 30,000 “residents” online at any given time • 300 universities use SL to conduct classes and/or research • K-12 use currently mainly as professional development tool
What is it? • “The internet’s largest user-created, 3D virtual world community” • Two grids: • Teens 13-17 • Adults 18 and over • Substantial barrier between • Pales in comparison to WOW
UAS JSD NOAA SL Partnership • Use NOAA’s presence in SL as a teaching and learning tool • Engage high school students in science • Capitalizing on the visual immersive environment • The teen/adult barrier a big problem
Case Study • Investigator: Assistant Professor Chip McMillan from the UAS School of Education • Student: Aleut high school student Chelsea Suydam from Seldovia, Alaska
Is Second Life a practical and useful tool for teaching high school students? • What are the time and energy requirements for a talented and motivated high school student to create something worthwhile in Second Life? • What are the learning benefits for such a student to create something significant in Second Life? • What are the technical, logistical, monetary barriers to using SL for education?
Procedure: • A talented and motivated Aleut high school student was paid $15/hour to create a virtual, but authentic Aleut barabara in Second Life. • She was required to document the time required, the technical and emotional trials, the learning and personal rewards.
Chelsea’s Input • 38 hours total time spent over 3 months • 1 hour to step up an account in SL • 14 hours learning the basics in SL, e.g., Online SL tutorials, SL help sites, reading the SL text. • 4 hours learning about barabaras from a variety of sources. • 13 hours building the barabara. • 4 hours on telephone, e-mail and in world with Chip • 2 hours of tech. difficulties.
The Output • Chelsea Suydam: • Learned something about her culture • Learned to set a goal and meet it • Personal satisfaction • Acquired graphic design skill • Acquired skill in content creation in Second Life • Enhanced problem-solving skills
Chelsea’s testimonial: I feel that having to replicate a structure built in real life – a barabara built and lived in by the Aleut in Southwestern Alaska – caused me to thoroughly think about how these people lived, what materials were available to them, and what tools they had to build with. Creating a virtual version of what they have been creating for centuries enabled me to sort of breathe in the Aleut culture. By doing research online and having the benefit of residing in a traditionally-Aleut fishing village, I was able to envision the materials they had to build with and how the barabara reflected the land and the people's needs.
Chelsea, continued As I was a beginner to Second Life, I didn't work extremely efficiently and it took me time to get comfortable with all the tools and controls I had to work with. I found certain controls frustrating throughout the whole development of the structure. Some of these were controlling the camera; changing values in size, position, and rotation; copying objects; and linking and unlinking objects.
Conclusion • To a highly motivated high school student for whom traditional schooling has been successful, Second Life does not appear to be a more efficient venue for learning. • As part of a semester-long course where visualization is at a premium, Second Life may be a recommended platform.
Open Simulator • Launched 2007 • Open source simulator • Just like Second Life except no fees and no restrictions – like the teen/adult barrier • Host a sim on your own server(s)