I have been wanting to write this post for some time. I came to Second Life in 2007 as an educator being taught about a new way to use technology to enhance education. At the time businesses and educational organizations and institutions were being brought into SL at a rapid pace. I remember the experience as if it were yesterday. July 2007 was when I first heard of SL. I was one who quirked a brow, tipped my head, and wrote it off as not something for me. Fall 2007, I had a bit of downtime and was looking through my conference notes, visiting sites I had been told about back in July and came across the SL information again. I paused, quirked a brow, tipped my head and this time figured, why not? So my original avatar was born and I haven’t logged out for any significant amount of time since.
I think I can pinpoint the length of time it took me to realize that SL didn’t have any real value to me as an educator of elementary children based on when my “alts” were born. I had created an avatar for my husband, and then Silly because I thought I had made a mistake in avatar creation the first two times (I hadn’t, but now I had a spare avatar, yay me!). Then after these three avatars I created others for role play once I learned what role play was (thanks to SL). So based on the rez dates of these other avatars I figure it was only after about 7 months. I was disappointed to see the initial excitement of SL die in my colleagues, but I wasn’t about to dwell on it. I recognized the creative potential of SL and immersed myself in it. During my 7 months on the educational side of SL I presented to other educators on Web 2.0 tools and participated in networking, as well as attending talks on a variety of educational subjects. Eventually all that dwindled to hardly anything at all and I was left to my own devices, so off I went to explore the other facets of SL.
So why do I bring this up now? I am working on a second Masters in Educational Technology. This is a degree I have wanted for many years and this year the opportunity to achieve it finally arrived and I had to act. In my class last week our project was “The Future Classroom” and what technologies we foresaw being of use. Virtual environments had been a subject of discussion, so naturally my mind went back to my original avatar and initial experiences with SL. I know many educational organizations gave up on SL for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest being changes in pricing for sims for educational use.
For my graduate project I dusted off my original avi, gave her a much needed make over, and began exploring the present educational landscape of the grid. I was saddened to find so many dead groups and sims that no longer existed. Discovery Education is the organization who introduced me to SL and now has no obvious presence on the grid. For a time I thought ISTE was gone as well (International Society for Technology in Education) but as I worked on my project I found it in fact still remains, which I found very exciting and encouraging. I read many an educator profile and joined all sorts of educational groups in the hopes that there are still active educators out there. I was pleased to find over the days since resurrecting my original avi, that I have gotten many notices from several different educational groups. The majority of them have to do with building/creating content in SL, but ISTE sends their notices as well about educational discussions or excursions in SL. One of these days I will join them. The summer is coming up and I will have a lot more time soon. I plan on carving out some of that to explore what brought me to SL in the first place…education.
I follow the The Drax Files by Draxtor Despres on YouTube as well as The Drax Files Radio Hour with Jo Yardley, both are my favorites when keeping abreast of the latest news in SL. I think Drax does a lovely job of capturing the allure of SL in a very positive way for a great deal of people, not only educators. It was through him that I learned of the new CEO of Linden Labs Ebbe Altberg’s desire to reconnect with educators, which I found very promising as well as intriguing.
So here I am donning my explorer hat again as I revive my educational avatar and observe SL from an educator’s standpoint with nearly 7 years of SL experiences behind me. I still believe there isn’t much an elementary educator can do with SL, but that SL does have something to offer those who educate students in high school and beyond.
The original me: Ms. Fouroux. Of course I had to infuse a bit of fashion into this post so here it is!
skin & shape > Erin by League
hair > TRUTH HAIR Gretchen
eyes > IKON Eternal Eyes – Hazel
jewelry > Cae :: Entangled :: Ensemble
dress > Baiastice_Ory Combination-shirt & floral skirt-butter (Current round of FaMESHed)
pose > Manifeste
Both photos in this post were done by my dear friend Gethsemane Idler and used in my project for class. I adore his work and had to share them with you as well!
If there are any other educators out there who might like to chat sometime, drop me a line! I will say for the record I am in no way leaving the world of SL fashion, I enjoy it and the people there WAY too much. The point of this rather wordy post was to share a bit of my RL passion and interest with you.
Oh and one more thing…I just read my professor’s marks on my Second Life presentation for class…he loved it and gave me full marks.
Thank you for reading!
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
~ Oscar Wilde