The Critical SL Eye of the Blogosphere Part I

The Critical SL Eye of the Blogosphere Part I

A few great and much needed posts have hit the blogosphere in regards to Second Life recently, and I couldn’t be happier to read these and sit back with a big grin on my face. It seems we’ve reached a point where SL might be getting what it deserves: educators looking at it with a critical eye.

More than anything the dialogue is being opened because of posts like these and this is critical so let me start with the first major discussion: SL and professional development.

Second Life and Professional Development
Brian Smith (2007), of Mobile Mind-ed,  makes a number of strong points about discussions that take place in SL and in turn questions the need of such a medium:

“I recently took part in a book discussion in SL and while the discussion was rich and engaging I realized, afterwards, that I arrived in world, sat my avatar (Tooka Mulligan) on a couch and proceeded to text chat with those present. Now I ask, was the 3D virtual environment needed? My answer is absolutely not.”

I actually couldn’t agree more with Smith. While many may disagree with me, Second Life is merely a 3d chatroom for many users. Can it be more? Sure. However, the bulk of its use is as a 3D chatroom for which there are many more stable environments.

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At the same time that I agree that these conversations could occur on a number levels within various mediums, I’m not sure it comes down to an either/or situation.  One of the beauties of web 2.0 is a matter of choice and I look to embrace a number of medium in my PLL: blogs, wikis, podcasts, and face to face (f2f) gatherings. Â

Along the same lines, Sylvia Martinez (2007) adds in her recent post the following:

“You can certainly learn through collegial interaction with other professionals, and really, there should be a lot more opportunities for teachers to do that. But counting on Second Life as a platform for more than just voluntary, informal collegial interaction seems premature at best.”

Recently, I have started to see the possibilities of using SL as a virtual face to face (vf2f) component to my PLL, but I honestly can’t tell you how that will turn out because SL is now being used as a medium instead of the focus. Will it or another MUVE hold fast as a component of my PLL? I’m not sure but I’ll let it run its course. What I do know is that it has added another dimension that I feel has been missing to my personal learning environment and that is a spot for synchronous discussions.

The key though is that I’ve made a choice to make it a part of my PLL. What would happen if it became mandatory professional development? Martinez (2007) sums it up best when she says, the “constant freezes, crashes, high bandwidth demands, and the difficulty of simply moving your avatar around… …overwhelm any advantage as a reliable professional development environment for educators”

At this point, there is no stability in the software leading to growing frustrations and flat-out resistance by even some of SL’s adamant users. I speak from someone who has literally grown so mad because I had a SL commitment that I’ve been unable to attend due to crashes that I’ve had to go for a long walk just to relax. Imagine if this was put into hesitant hands. How would they react? Chances are, it would be one and done.

Time is precious and while we, educational technologist, will spend time engaging and evaluating through these problems, it is rare that other educators will do the same nor do should we expect them to do so.

References

Smith, B. (2007). Second Life thoughts part I. Retrieved July 23, 2007, from Mobile Mind-ed Web site: http://mobilemind.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/second-life-thoughts-part-i/

Martinez, S. (2007). Second thoughts on second life. Retrieved July 23, 2007, from Gen YES Blog Web site: http://blog.genyes.com/index.php/2007/07/21/second-thoughts-on-second-life/

[Tags] secondlife, briansmith, sylviamartinez, muve [/Tags]