Posts Tagged: Chilbo


27
Mar 10

Governance in Virtual Worlds

On Friday, March 26th, I participated in the Governance in Virtual Worlds 2010 conference sponsored by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and World2Worlds.  The conference description:

Virtual worlds and online games are used by millions of people around the world for recreation, corporate and academic conferencing, formal education, research, training and charitable work. These worlds have given rise to public-policy issues, both ancient and cutting edge. Governance in Virtual Worlds will provide an exploration of these issues by professors, journalists, corporate managers and community activists. Learn what it means to be an active citizen, a creative producer, and a savvy customer, and meet the people shaping policy for the worlds of the future.

Now, I’ve attended a LOT of conferences, conversations, symposia, discussions, and other such things revolving around virtual worlds, but I must commend John Carter McKnight, Adjunct Professor of Law at  Arizona State University for putting together a truly excellent group of panels.  (And I’m not just saying that because I was on two of them!)   Though the conference was plagued with technical issues at the beginning, which happens sometimes, the panels sparked good conversations (and sometimes heated debate)  and it was the first time in a while I heard some new ideas that made me stop in my tracks and think, “Oh, yeah.  Why aren’t we talking about that?”

John Lester (formerly Pathfinder Linden) Gives Keynote Opening Address

For long time SL peeps, one of the highlights of the conference was John Lester‘s keynote opening address.  Formerly known as Pathfinder Linden, who did much to promote the education and health care communities in world, John appeared as his original avatar from the SL beta (the first one!) days, Count Zeeman.  John’s keynote was unfortunately one of the ones marred by the technical challenges, but he talked about the biological responses that humans have to our virtual experiences.  He gave an example of a teacher who brings her students in world and right off the bat has them jump off a mountain.  The students feel fear, vertigo, and all these physical reactions, they don’t know if they’re (their avatar) is going to die, they don’t know what to expect.  The physical reactions we experience in virtual spaces are due to our brains having evolved to think in, navigate in, and respond to 3D data, we have entirely natural responses to 3D cues, it activates our lymbic system just as if we were standing on a physical mountain.  Ok maybe to a lesser degree, still.  🙂

Of course, we’re missing key components of physicality in virtual worlds, particularly the non-verbal cues of body language, posture, etc.  John reminded us Snow Crash fans that in Stephenson’s novel, the thing that made the metaverse take off was when it incorporated the natural body language of those who were jacked in, so we’re not yet at a point where I yawn in real life and my avatar yawns as well, but that’s where we’re headed.

I’m not sure if this was just my take or John’s, but there was some conversation that augmented reality is likely to top into the mainstream before virtual worlds, since handheld devices are already ubiquitous and the super-smart-phone genre like Droids and iPhones are becoming more commonplace and affordable.  John mentioned the augmented reality windshield GM prototyped that I tweeted about the other day (woe the day our windshields get hacked!) and we talked about a future where our HUDs were not just on the screen but in our contact lenses.  Good stuff!

In terms of governance of virtual spaces, the issue is that our current system of laws and courts are processes that move so exquisitely slowly, and yet the pace of technological change is accelerating at an ever faster pace.  How are we to govern spaces that our current systems are not even remotely equipped to understand, let alone arbitrate?  And that, of course, was the key question of the conference.  It was great to see John and despite the audio glitches, it was great to see him in world again.

Keynote Panel:  The Politics of Virtual Engagement

Next up was the keynote panel, which also had a rocky start on the technical end (again, not the fault of the conference organizers!) and I didn’t get to show my slides so I’ll embed them here:

I’d hoped to talk about how we can look at the small scale governance issues already cropping up at the institutional level, like in higher education, and then extrapolate how those issues will affect the larger ecosystem of institutions participating in virtual world spaces, but the tech issues got our timing and things off to a rocky start, so I’m not sure how much came through.   In any case, the “Politics of Virtual Engagement” at my university are just one example of many, but I think there are lessons to be learned.  For example, virtual world evangelists and people like me trying to introduce the concept of virtual worlds to academia have to have a deep knowledge of our institutional culture.  The needs of our student population are different than the needs of faculty, which are again different from the needs of administrators and staff.   The trick is trying to weave those needs together into virtual spaces and experiences that tap into what can only be done in virtual worlds or that virtual worlds do better than other platforms. People have to see how this technology meets their needs before it can scale up.  This is as much true for every other domain – business, non-profits, online communities – as it is for higher education.

And the questions and issues raised by the students, faculty, and staff at the University of Cincinnati are likely to be echoed across the spectrum of institutions who move into virtual worlds.    This technology forces us to renegotiate long standing and entrenched boundaries that DO exist in the physical world, but are highly permeable in the virtual world.   What can we learn from early adopters who are already negotiating these shifting boundaries to make it easier for the early majority?

I also think virtual worlds expose the limits of our creativity and imagination in ways that are.. somehow less obvious in the physical world.  Give a teacher the freedom to work in any kind of learning environment they can imagine rather than a traditional classroom, and you’re bound to get some blank stares.   And who can blame them!  They aren’t accustomed to having that kind of freedom and flexibility, and conceptualizing the actual SPACE in which learning takes place is not in their knowledge domain because in the physical world, someone else designs the classrooms.  And it isn’t just teachers, students, staff – it’s also me!  The plasticity of virtual worlds gives us tremendous freedom to create settings and experiences that can’t be replicated in the real world, but our imaginations are not yet caught up to the possibilities this technology makes possible.

I feel that way even after participating in virtual environments for over 15 years at this point.  Every day something new shakes my world and hints at possibilities I hadn’t even considered.  It’s fascinating stuff.   And I think in the long term, all the other issues – who owns your data, privacy issues, conflicts over copyright and IP – these issues don’t have simple black and white answers, the inter-relationships forming between individuals and individuals, and individuals with institutions, and institutions with institutions, and scaling all the way up to encompass the global digital community and ecosystem, these things are so complex, and emerging and evolving so quickly, I just can’t imagine that our existing institutions will survive in anything resembling their current forms.   I guess we’ll see!

Real Laws in Virtual Space

There were two speakers in the next panel who made a lasting impression on my overwhelmed brain.  Joshua Fairfield, Associate Prof of Law at Washington and Lee School of Law, and Gregory Lastowka, Professor at Rutgers School of Law.   This post is already getting long, so I’ll sum up quickly.  Joshua’s main point was that we are spending an awful lot of brain cycles worrying about how RL law is going to impact virtual worlds, and not enough time thinking about how the rules of virtual worlds would be horrific if implemented in RL. Good point!  From my quickly jotted notes as he was speaking:

Imagine IP licenses embedded in our toaster, our clothing, our cars, as we do have constraints on our use of virtual property. What then?   On privacy, we all know from the Bragg case sued Linden Lab, LL has ALL communications from people in world, all IMs, they were able to pull up IMs from years before.. All of those convos can be sometimes must be made available without a search warrant, no probably cause required. The essential irony – we go to escape and are under constant surveillance. Cell phoen tracks you through GPS whereever you go.  So the question is, are we losing our personhood?  Personhood, once property and privacy are in trouble, personhood will follow. We are a social network in our selves, the social networks we use are coming to OWN that tangle of connections that we are. We will hand over our personhood when all aspects of our behavior, posessions, creations, and communications are owned by .. someone else.

Gregory Lastowska’s talk was also good, again my raw notes:

Virtual Worlds as a separate jurisdiction.. virtual law as separate rules of physical jurisdiction. Play spaces are governed by a separate set of rules, we can look at different human societies, say the rules pertaining to education, religion, or family, they are sort of “special spheres” of human interaction, so there may be some precedent for game worlds, but that isn’t the trend we’re seeing, the courts are treating them just like web sites, so not seen as separate sites of jurisdiction which may not always be the right way. David Post, Jefferson’s Moose, hypothesize different laws for cyberspace. If we were to look at the internet and copyright law, we never would have developed our copyright law as we did because much of it doesn’t WORK as applied to the internet, the net is constant copying, every microsecond there are violations, and when it comes to financial importance, lawsuits, Napster etc. you see the general trend is to limit the growth of the technology in order to serve the copyright law, and that seems ,.. not good.

SO – if this were a separate space, what kind of law would we have?

Second the point on augmented reality, separate from VW issues? We will see some issues from VW will also be issues with augmented reality, primarily the difference between the customer/client and the owner/server operators, as we move towards cloud computing, balance between tech and law, Lessig’s Code..

Got interrupted, work phone call.  Then a meeting and I missed some of the next panels.  Bummer.  🙁

Virtual Self Governance

The last panel was about how communities existing in virtual worlds govern themselves, and I was really excited to talk about my own virtual community, Chilbo, in this setting.   Here are my slides from that presentation:


Now strangely, it seemed that one of the other panelists was upset that I had slides, that I talked specifically about how the Chilbo Community formed and was governed, and especially that my last slide invited people to visit and explore our town.  Frankly, I thought that’s what everyone on the panel was going to do, per the instructions I received from the conference organizers, so I’m not sure exactly where the miscommunication occurred.   If I wasn’t supposed to talk specifically about Chilbo, then I’m not sure what the point of the panel was!  Further, the other panelist also seemed to disbelieve my statements about our experience.  I didn’t expect any of the content I presented to be .. inflammatory or controversial, rather I thought the point of the discussion was to talk about some of the specifics of how different in world communities form, govern themselves, and use the tools and platforms to self-organize.

Perhaps I misread the tone of the other panelist, but I felt distinctly defensive after a bit.  As hard as it may be to believe, yes, we do actually mostly govern by consensus and no, acrimony, arguments, and strife are not very common – in fact, it’s quite rare.  That isn’t to say there are never any disagreements, just that differences of opinion or conflicting interests seem to be resolved with little fanfare and few fireworks.  I confess, I know very little about the inner-workings of CDS.  I’ve very pointedly made an effort to let the structure and processes of governing Chilbo evolve out of our specific culture, community, and needs, rather than trying to emulate or model it after something else – because in some sense, though human communities are obviously not new, the thing that IS new is the who’s, why’s, and how’s of how we have all come to be together in this particular virtual world, in this particular region, at this particular time.   Though as Rose Springvale said, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel (a good point!), I think we also have to give ourselves the freedom to imagine new ways of self-governing to break out of systems of governance that were developed in a pre-digital age.

In any case, I’m not suggesting that the Chilbo model is perfect for everyone and maybe wouldn’t work for any community but our own, and it isn’t even as if I understand exactly how or why it seems to be as successful as it is at constraining the discord that often appears in online communities, but for whatever reason, it seems to be working for us on a lot of levels, and so my goal was to share about our experience.  That really shouldn’t have offended anyone’s sensibilities, I don’t think.

Overall, I felt it was a great conference and I was sorry to have missed a couple of the panels, but I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did and many thanks to all the folks who organized, attended, and participated.


11
Mar 10

When Game Devs Engineer the Real World – You Brushed Your Teeth, +5 points!

The concept of “Life as a Game” is certainly not a new one, when I was a kid, the game of Life was my favorite board game of all time.  I still remember the thrill of filling up my little car with boy and girl babies I imagined I’d have  at some point in the far off future, or the crushing defeat of bankruptcy, a term I didn’t really understand, but in that context basically meant “Game Over.”  Spin the dial – what does the game of Life bring you next?

And it’s not as if I’m not a big fan of video and online games – I cut my teeth on the Atari 2600/5200, hand drew maps in colored pencil to find Princess Zelda, played Ultima on a Commodore 64, still have an account on the Medievia MUD that goes back to 1994, have an 80 level holy spec priest on WoW (they nerfed holy spec, don’t get me started), and most recently celebrated the completion of my horse stable on Farmville.

I grew up on games – the first generation to grow up playing video games – I was a “Girl Gamer” back when we were a pretty rare breed and I’m still playing now that “gaming” in its various forms is so common that the Pew Research Center reports that, “Game playing is ubiquitous among Americans teenagers. Fully 99% of boys and 94% of girls report playing video games.” They also report, “More than half – 53% – of all American adults play video games of some kind.”

We are increasingly (already?) a nation of gamers.

And yet, despite the fact that virtually all young people game, and over half the adults in the US game, there still appears to be a very finite line between “gaming” and .. everything else.  We still delineate “real life” (RL) as separate from game spaces – even when the space isn’t actually a game space, as in Second Life.  The skepticism and often openly hostile reaction of scorn/pity that Second Life residents get from non-SL peeps is almost remarkable considering that the very people delivering that heaping dish of disdain turn right around and log in to WoW or EVE or Farmville.

Just yesterday, in a debate about a topic wholly unrelated to gaming, someone I was arguing with bolstered his point with the concluding line:

“I think of you as less of a person for using Second Life, and for no other reason.”

Now, to be fair, we were engaged in a sort of theatrical debate where the low blow is not only acceptable but expected, and it was all said in good fun and humor, but.. like with many kinds of humor, it was funny because it had the faint ring of truth.  Many people actually DO think less of me as a person for using Second Life, just as a decade ago they thought less of me as a person for playing EverQuest, just as a decade before that they thought I was not only insane but maybe dangerously insane for talking to strangers on the internet through those weird BBSs and MUDs full of D&D playing soon-to-be-axe-murderers.

Ahhhh how times have changed.  The internet, she vindicated me. And ahhh how times of changed, now half the adults in the US play WoW or some other game and it’s not so crazy anymore.   Alas, I’m still waiting for virtual worlds to vindicate me, but having gone through this combo-pity-scorn routine a few times, I’m not shaken by the current state of attitudes about virtual worlds, augmented reality (why would you want to look at DATA on top of the REAL WORLD on your PHONE, what’s wrong with you?!), or most of the other technologies I use that cause people to look at me askance and with wary eyes. (Twitter????  Whaaa???)

What DOES cause me great concern, however, is that these Ludic Luddites have no clue about what’s coming.

Barry Joseph delivers the SLEDcc 2008 keynote address.

I have to give all due props to colleague Barry Joseph (SL: GlobalKids Bixby) from Global Kids, an organization that does great work with youth in New York City, for introducing me to the concept of a “ludic life” at his keynote address at SLEDcc 2008.

His keynote talk, Living La Vida Ludic: Why Second Life Can’t Tip, is worth watching, and it’s one of those talks that sticks in your mind like a burr, at the time it didn’t quite penetrate (I was one of the conference organizers, so my brain was on 50,000 other things) but it stuck with me, and in the years since, the message he delivered only resonates more strongly with time.

Loosely translated, it’s about living a playful life.  It’s about combining the adventurousness, fun, openness, exploration, and all of the other joyful aspects of our game play into our “real life”.   The central thesis of his keynote was that virtual worlds and other platforms like Second Life can’t and won’t tip, until the broader culture of “living la vida ludic” tips.  One must come before the other, and back in 2008, he made it clear that the title of his talk could be taken in two ways – first, that virtual worlds like Second Life would NEVER tip – or that something was holding Second Life back from tipping into the mainstream.  He left the question about which interpretation was right for the audience to decide, but I thought then as I do now that the answer was the latter.  There are forces at work holding back virtual worlds, Second Life, AND the ability for us to live a ludic life as openly and as joyously as we wish we could.

Those who don’t understand not only feel scorn and pity, they feel fear.

Yes Virginia, NASA scientists say  the earthquake in Chile may actually have knocked the earth's axis.   It's not just your perception, the world has actually shifted.

Yes Virginia, NASA scientists say the earthquake in Chile may actually have knocked the earth's axis. It's not just your perception, the world has actually shifted.

As I said to a good friend of mine the other day, I’m struggling with this.. feeling I have, that all of the meta-narrative that stood at the very foundation of my understanding of the world – how the world works, where it’s going, where I fit into it, what I’m supposed to be doing – the meta-narrative from my childhood seems to not make much sense anymore.

The world seems off kilter.  It’s changing so quickly, I don’t know anyone who feels like they can keep up with the pace of change.  And so many major systems that underpin our society and culture appear to be, frankly, broken.  On the rocks.  Our government. Our banking and finance system. Our ecosystems.  Our healthcare system.  Our system of education.  None of these systems and institutions appear to be meeting the needs of our society as we experience it TODAY.  They all seem to be failing us.

Why?  It’s a no brainer, of course, and not an original thought at all.  It’s simple – the systems and institutions built to address the needs of a pre-digital-society don’t work to address the needs of a society that can get, transmit, and transform information as quickly as we can today.

And boy is that causing a lot of fear.

I feel it, don’t you?

Fortunately, the nation’s best teachers have some advice

(well, mostly the nation’s best male teachers, but that topic is for another post)

Chris Lehman at TEDxNYED explaining that changing education necessarily means changing the world. Photo credit WayneKLin.

The rousing chorus of last week’s TEDxNYED conference, where superstar educators from K-12 and higher ed like Larry Lessig, Henry Jenkins, George Siemens, Mike Wesch, Amy Bruckman, Dan Meyers, and others converged, is that the education system is not only broken – it’s getting worse. They blasted out  conversation starters about why and how and what needs to change in the US (educational system).

Perhaps most importantly, the subtext of the conference was that the issues teachers and educators are facing aren’t just confined to the “educational system” – as if it’s some discrete thing disconnected from the society and culture at large – and indeed, as George Siemens said, considering that society dumps every ill and issue at the doorstep of education to solve, it’s amazing the system functions as well as it does.  But take out the word “education” from these TEDxNYED Talks, and they are talking about what society at large needs to do to adapt to our changing circumstances.  (The videos aren’t up yet, but they’ll be available on YouTube soon.)

At least for the purposes of this post, I think the first important piece of advice came from Michael Wesch.  Which is simply this:

When a game changing technology enters a society or culture, you don’t have the option to opt-out.  It changes everything.

All those Ludic Luddites, who fear the technology, avoid the technology, feel that the current systems of getting things done would work just fine if only they could better regulate, standardize, and enforce them, are just plain wrong.  The world has shifted and there’s no turning back now.

What does this have to do with gaming?

Slide from Dan Meyers' talk at TEDxNYED - quests anyone? Photo credit kjarrett.

Well, I’m getting round to that.

As I watched these presentations and suggestions from teachers about ways to improve (society) education, I couldn’t help but see game elements – and the ludic life – infused throughout their talks.

When Dan Meyer talked about changing math curriculum to stop asking kids to give the answers, but instead help them figure out what the important questions are, it looked like creating good game quests to me.

When Lessig and Jenkins talked about mashup culture and how destructive it is to limit the creativity unleashed when you put tools in the hands of individuals, it reminded me an awful lot of how content gets created in virtual worlds like Second Life and OpenSim.

Or what about this quote from George Siemens’ presentation:

George Siemens at TEDxNYED. Image credit WayneKLin.

The solutions we need to address societies biggest problems – (global) warming, population growth, poverty – will be found through serendipity, through chaotic connections, through unexpected connections. Complex networks with mesh-like cross-disciplinary interactions provide the needed cognitive capacity to address these problems.

Sounds like the serendipitous, chaotic, and unexpected connections you form in WoW, or EVE, or any other game world, and “mesh-like cross-disciplinary interactions” is just fancy talk for good class balance.  Can’t have too many tanks and not enough healers or the whole thing comes crashing down.

Ok.  And one more, also from George:

The big battles of history around democracy, individual rights, fairness, and equality are now being fought in the digital world. Technology is philosophy. Technology is ideology. The choices programmers make in software, or legislators make in copyright, give boundaries to permissible connection.

This is, of course, the perennial battle between the game players and the game gods. Except wait, what?  The whole story of the birth of the US is all about us being our own game gods.  Hm.

In any case, the point here is, I think the Ludic Life is starting to tip.

We haven’t hit it just quite yet, but the elements of game play that Barry talked about in 2008 are starting to show up in the oddest of places.  The World Bank is funding an Alternative/Augmented Reality Game called EVOKE that has thousands of people, from school kids to adults, and from all over the world, playing a “game” that promises to teach us how to address major global issues and respond to global crisis.  Oh, and you might win scholarships, grants, or seed funding from the World Bank if you have a good idea.  Put that on your resume!

While Facebook and other social networks like Twitter have been the talk of the town, a recent NPR story cited research showing that more people play Farmville than use Twitter.  And it isn’t your kid playing, it’s your mom.  The average Farmville player is a 43 year old woman, and there are 80 million people playing.  80 MILLION.

Smartphone apps like Foursquare and GoWalla are turning our real lives into games, too.   I’m now the proud “Mayor” of Queen Mary’s Family Restaurant, where my mom and I go have breakfast on Sunday mornings.  I had to edge out some other fella who got there before me.

So, what’s bad about that?  Isn’t this a GOOD thing?

Well, yes and no.

Many thanks to my good friend and neighbor in Chilbo, Roland Legrand (SL: Olando7 Decosta), for the post on his Mixed Realities blog that brought the video below to my attention.   Check this out:


What happens when game devs (working for corporations?) become our primary social engineers instead of the nominally elected politicians?

Naturally,  I’m interested in the ways that game mechanics, game culture, game concepts, and game design filter out and influence RL.  And though I work in higher education, my undergrad degree is in Political Science and my not-so-secret passion is sort of the nexus where the emerging metaverse and game culture is changing “real life” society and culture, which of course includes education but goes beyond edu, too.

I know I’m not the first guild master to think that herding this bunch of cats is way more complicated than many RL jobs, or to realize the skills I learned adventuring with my guildies often had applicability to real life situations. I’d like to think I learned something about teamwork, diplomacy, compromise, and all sorts of organizational, strategic, tactical, and political skills through my journeys in worlds that only exist in bits and bytes.

Generally speaking, my career, my work, this blog, everything I’ve been doing for the last 10 years is about bringing this technology to people who don’t have it/know about it/use it yet.

But watching that video gives me the willies.

First, because I don’t think it is as far off in time as some think it might be.  Second, because I don’t think it’s that far fetched in terms of what could actually come to pass.  And third, because I’ve been a lowly peon player in the game god universes/metaverses for a really really long time.  On an old BBS I’m still using, I’m one of the “moderators”.  And you know what we say?  This ain’t a democracy.  Don’t like our rules, don’t play.

Furthermore, my post the other day about Stickybits demonstrates just how quickly the barriers to privacy are falling.  I posted that barcode just to figure out how the service worked, and before I knew it, I was collecting the home addresses of my blog readers without even realizing what I’d done.

Want me to know your home address?  Go ahead, download the app to your smartphone and scan that barcode.  I’ll get an email within a minute or so letting me know you scanned it, and where you were on the planet when you did, right down to the address and a lovely Google Map pinpointing your exact geo-location.

And I guess I should award you 5 points if you scan it.  Redeemable for..  I don’t know what yet.  An hour long private tour of Second Life, I guess.

And now I’ve broken the #1 rule of the 140 character metaverse, which is to make a really really long post and get to the end and not have any answers.

I don’t know exactly what train we’re on here, but the train seems to be moving ever faster and faster.  And I worry more and more about who’s driving the train, and I have a sort of sick feeling that about half of the passengers have no clue that they are even on THIS train – I think they think they’re on a different train entirely, and that they’re driving it.  But they aren’t.

I dunno.

As much as I love gaming, and I do love it, I’m not so sure I want Crest giving me points for brushing my teeth.  I think I’ll have to come back to this.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far, and if you have any thoughts, I’m all ears.


7
Jul 09

Reconnecting with Connectivism (CCK09)

Sign Up for Connectivism & Connective Knowledge 2009!

Faithful readers may remember a series of posts last year about a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) I took called Connectivism & Connective Knowledge, taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes through the University of Manitoba’s Extended Education program.

George and Stephen are offering the course again this year, and just like last year, it is completely free and open access to any and all who want to participate.   Here’s a brief course description blurb:

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future.  The course will begin on September 14, 2009.

I highly recommend the experience to anyone involved in education in any capacity.   George and Stephen utilize the web, RSS, blogs, wikis, podcasts, tagging, and crowd sourced teaching and learning in a way I’ve never experienced in any other course I’ve ever taken, and the experience last year had a tremendous impact on my understanding of what a “course” is, is not, and what it CAN be in the future.  Sign up here to receive course information in preparation for this year’s course!

Connectivism Cohort in Second Life

Last year I facilitated the Connectivism Cohort in Second Life, an experience that also taught me quite a lot about using virtual worlds as a site for meeting, discussing, sharing, and building in the context of a MOOC like Connectivism & Connective Knowledge.  You can read more about my conclusions and experience as a facilitator (in addition to some stats about participation) in this post from last year CCK08 – Off the Wagon, But Not Off My Mind.

While I won’t have the time to be a main facilitator for a Second Life Cohort of the class this year, if someone is interested in taking this on, the Chilbo Community in Second Life can host the cohort’s meetings and work in the re-purposed Education Village.   The Connectivism Reading Room is still available for holding discussions, and the sandbox and houses/offices can be used again this year for anyone who wants to participate.

Interested in facilitating or using Second Life as part of the CCK09 class?  Let me know at fleep.tuque@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to help!


15
Dec 08

Public Twitter Station in Second Life: The “Presence” Problem

Concepts like “place” and “presence” can get really mushed up when you’re working in the metaverse. I’ve been puzzling about these concepts so intently over the last couple of weeks that I was actually motivated to do some (*gasp*) scripting to see if I could mediate that “sense of presence” in Second Life. Let me explain.

The Presence Problem

Right now I am sitting at my desk in my office at home physically, and at least nominally I’m also sitting at my desk in the Chilbo Town Hall virtually (which is where I park my avatar to let people know I’m probably off in another window instead of paying attention at that moment), AND I’m also “on” Twitter and IM. So, if you wanted to get in touch with me for a synchronous conversation or “visit” with me, you could come to my house in Cincinnati and ring the doorbell, but a) that would probably freak me out unless you’re a really good friend and b) being an internet peep, you’re more likely to send me an @fleep or DM on Twitter, or if we’re good friends you’ll poke me on Gtalk or AIM or send me an SMS on my cell, or if you’re a Second Life resident, you’ll log in and look for me in the Town Hall.

So many places I’m in at once, and that’s just trying to keep things simple – we’re not even including all the asynchronous options. But if you asked me “Where are you right now?” the answer I’m likely to give depends on context – if you called me on the telephone or sent me an SMS I’d say I was at home, but if you IMd me the same question in Second Life, I’d say I was in Chilbo, and if you asked me on Gtalk or AIM or Twitter, I don’t even know which way I’d answer. BUT, the truth is, I’m am in all those places and locations and “mental spaces” simultaneously – and yet it’s not REALLY simultaneous because my attention can only be focused on one “space” at a time.. Or is that really true?

And forget about me for a moment, “where” are all my friends right now? What are they up to and if I have a question or want to visit with them, “where” do I go to find them? With so many options and each relationship/friend connected to me in different ways through different media (some are on Twitter, some aren’t; some are in Second Life, some aren’t, etc.) it gets to be quite complicated not only figuring out where _I_ “am” but also where my friends “are” too.

This is probably a round-about way of approaching this issue, but that’s how the question/problem presented itself to me a few weeks ago when I was crunching numbers from the Chilbo Community census data and saw many comments that Chilbo often felt “empty” and that the residents of Chilbo didn’t know as many other residents as they’d like. I was a bit surprised by that finding, since the traffic reports show Chilbo gets pretty steady traffic, between 700-900 visitors per week, and because I am connected to so many Chilbo folks on so many different platforms, Chilbo rarely feels “empty” to me because even if a Chilbo resident’s avatar isn’t in the sim at that particular moment – I still “hear” what they are up to on Twitter and can still contact them any time through Second Life IM or Gtalk or wherever. I have a sense of where people are from all these other tools and that tenuous connection is enough to convey their “presence” to me that it doesn’t matter that they are not physically in the room with me or virtually in the sim with me. But are others having that experience?

If you’re not on Twitter or other web places, does Chilbo seem even more “empty” or disconnected than if you are? And could that be mediated with some way to “blend” these spaces?

Shopping at Ordinal Enterprises

That was my question. And so I embarked on trying to modify Ordinal Malaprop‘s fantastic TwitterBox script to see if I could attempt to blend two different “spaces” together – the virtual location of the Chilbo sim and the .. “mental space” of Twitter (and if you use Twitter and SMS on cell phones, you know Twitter can be used on the go just about anywhere you are physically).

Now I should note, despite taking a programming class (I got a B+ and was thrilled), I remain stubbornly obtuse when it comes to understanding all of the logic involved in scripting. The lines of code, the variables, the repetition, the test-fail-test-fail all to no avail.. I find it incredibly frustrating. And, it turns out that in my ignorance, I attempted to modify the wrong script – instead of working on the basic one Ordinal gave me, I began with the more complicated one, so this probably took me many many many hours longer than it should have, and I was determined to try to figure it out myself and not bug one of my coder friends to help me, so it was an even longer time before I realized I’d taken the hard path. Doh. However, I am very pleased to report that THIS “Fleep Tries to Program” story has a happy ending! I eventually had to ask for help, but I learned much more about the Linden Scripting Language than I probably have in ages, and I have a working prototype going in-world, so I think all the torture and 3AM nights was worth it.

Chilbo Public Twitter Station - Instructions Poster

So what does this thing do? Considering all the effort it took, it sadly does not do your dishes or laundry. What it does do is a) imports tweets from the Chilbo Twitter account and all the people that account “follows” and reports them back out into the Chilbo sim in Second Life by printing the line in local chat and b) allows anyone in the Chilbo sim and within local chat range to send a tweet OUT of Second Life to the web world (through the Chilbo account).

So, if you’re walking down the street in Chilbo and happen to be near a Twitter station, you might hear a little birdie tweeting sound and see text appear on your screen that says “fleep: I’m waiting in line at the grocery store” and a few steps further down the road one that says “malburns: I’m visiting this cool sim in Second Life” or whatever our tweets might say. If you know Fleep and you know Malburns, even if they are not there in Chilbo with you, might you feel that Chilbo is less empty if you have some sense of what Chilbo people are up to at any given moment? Does it change your sense of presence if in some ways Second Life and Twitter are blended together so that your attention does not have to be focused on one OR the other, but can engage with people in both spaces at the same time?

Chilbo Public Twitter Stations disguised as birdbaths..

Will it change the sense of “community” and “connectedness” the residents of Chilbo feel with each other if they can send and see communications to and from Second Life even without being logged into Second Life, or for that matter, even if they don’t have personal Twitter accounts?

I don’t know, but that’s what I’ve been working on lately. I guess we’ll see how it works out. I’m still tinkering with the script, but if you’d like a copy in progress just let me know..


21
Nov 08

CCK08 – Off The Wagon, But Not Off My Mind

CCK08 Bandwagon goes on without me

Between the crazy workload for Fall Quarter, being out of town for conferences, and a bout with the Martian Death Flu, I confess to having fallen completely off the CCK08 and CCK08SL bandwagon. I didn’t just fall off, I think it ran me over on its way out of town. =)

Today is the first day in I can’t recall how long that I’ve had a moment to just sit down and think about CCK08 – and how woefully sad I am that I’ve ended up missing most of it. The first few weeks were a little overwhelming, but also very exciting, and the conversations we had at the synchronous meetings in Second Life were some of the best.. deep thinking I think I’ve ever truly done about “education” as a knowledge domain – what does it mean to “learn” something? What ways do we “learn”? How do we know when something is “known”? How do we “learn” best? Through the materials and readings in the course, the discussions and videos and podcasts, and the dialogue with colleagues and facilitators, I really enjoyed the experience.

Then life got in the way and the CCK08 bandwagon rolled on without me.

But it didn’t leave before leaving me with lots of interesting concepts, thoughts, conversations, and resources to think about and revisit. In spare moments making the rounds to check for litter in the Connectivism Village in Chilbo, I’ve stopped into the reading room and clicked the little TV screens or radios to listen to a recording of a session I didn’t get to attend. Or when triaging my ever-overflowing email, I take a second to scan The Daily newsletter to get a sense of what the wagon is talking about now.

And thinking about it, I really.. appreciate and admire the work and effort that has gone into this experiment. Even when my life is so truly busy that I don’t know which end is up, I am still “connected”. The technology implemented purposefully, in addition to the technology used and resources created ad hoc by the various participants, really enables you to “hook in” to this network in a multitude of different ways so that even when you aren’t paying attention – the currency of the web – you still are connected to these people, media, places, conversations, and readings. You have access to subject matter experts, a cohort to discuss and work with, and wide-ranging library of resources created by not just the instructors, but the participants themselves. You have peer review and feedback built into the system – every single time I contributed to CCK08 in any way, I _always_ got a response from another person – someone friending me back, or following me on Twitter, or leaving a comment on my blog, or responding to an email or question. I certainly did a lot of _CONNECTING_ when taking this class.

But I’ve been thinking it’s a real shame that I had such a hard time managing all of my other responsibilities and couldn’t fully participate, because it seems like under normal circumstances, this would be an almost perfect learning environment for me. When I did have the time, I wasn’t just “engaged” in that clinical sense (the “engagement” buzzword is starting to wear on me), I was really _into it_. It felt like learning, but it was _fun_. It was interesting, and thought provoking, and though I don’t know how much I “learned” if I had to take some standardized test about the course material, I can tell you I learned a heck of a lot.

CCK08 discussion in the Connectivism Reading Room

And in realizing that 1) I’m still connected to the people I formed bonds with in the beginning of the course (I’m imagining the lines between the boxes on my social network graph, and realizing that it wouldn’t work to model those lines with, say, thickness as an indicator of the strength of the bond, because in reality, the bond is mutable – at times I have weaker ties with nodes in my network, and when they become relevant, or needed, or reach out to me in some say, those ties become stronger – so the “lines” should be modeled more like energy flowing, with ebbs and tides), 2) I still have access to all of the archives, media, and readings from the course, and 3) I actually learned a tremendous amount of skills, information, concepts, technical tools, and other people in an extremely short period of time…

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not so ashamed to have fallen off the wagon, after all, because the metaphor of the wagon is all wrong.

It’s really puzzling to take a course about the course, that is to say, learning about connectivism and connective knowledge by putting into practice the theory of connectivism and connective knowledge. I can’t separate out in my mind which of my .. reactions, for want of a better word, are related to the course material – the theory – and which are related to the experience of taking the course – the implementation. I think for the moment I’ve given up worrying about it. In the end, I realized that I’d been thinking of this “course” as a “course”. And when I could no longer participate in the “class”, then it felt as if I’d dropped out, and the group traveled on without me. But I think what this class taught me most of all, is that my concept of what makes a “course” completely clouded my thinking about the experience. I don’t think I failed the course, nor do I think the course failed me. This was a voluntary effort, and when I had the spare brain cycles to attend to it, I learned one heckuva lot.

So now, all these weeks later, I’m finally getting around to writing my first paper about/for the course, even if the synchronous component of it is nearly over. And I hope that all the plethora of resources that people created will remain for as long as they can, so if others fell off the wagon, or want to refer back to them as they continue on with their learning, they will be available to everyone who comes after. I thank @arieliondotcom for bringing this to my attention.

CCK08 - Building in the sandbox

I did fail, however, in fulfilling my role as a _facilitator_ of the Second Life cohort, and I DO feel guilty about that. I apologize to all those who showed an interest in exploring how learning about Connectivism might be enhanced by using a virtual world. I did my best to provide the space, the tools, the initiative, the original organizing force to help make it happen, but I didn’t have the time to really _facilitate_ its use. I’m not sure what – other than time and personal attention – I could have done to improve making the tools available to whoever wanted to participate. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears. Here is what I did try:

– I created a web form so that anyone with an interest in exploring the SL cohort could sign up

– I created a central information page about the SL cohort, on a wiki, that anyone who requested access got it, and included a few frame work pages to store transcripts, a place to plan activities, and a space to share cohort members’ web links (blogs, twitter, whatever) so we could connect with each other outside of SL.

– I created a CCK08SL Googlegroup and added everyone who signed up on the webform, so we could communicate asynchronously via email with each other

– I created a space in Second Life, with informational rooms linking back out to web resources (to provide a visual component to digital resources), offered anyone new to Second Life a personal home/office space, offered kiosk space for experienced SL participants to share their other work/projects in SL with members of the cohort, and left as large a blank canvass sandbox space for people to play with building/creation as much room as Chilbo could afford to provide (land costs money there too!). I tried to add some “fun” or “interactive” elements like an automated bike tour and visually pleasing spaces to make the SL component as attractive and functional as I could.

CCK08 - Connectivism Village in SL

Here are some stats on the results, as of November 20, 2008:

133 people initially signed up for the Second Life cohort on the web form.

94 of those people responded to the very first email inviting them to join the SL Cohort Googlegroup (email list)

46 people responded to an email and expressed a time preference for synchronous meetings on Doodle

– There were 72 messages posted to the email list (only members could post, 69 web views of the discussion (anyone/public could view)

16 people responded to the invitation to create an account on the wiki to edit it, and 4 people took the time to make any edits (highest rate of participation was those who responded in email or added their blog to the wiki:

SL Cohort Blogs

* BarDil Joyce: Dilip Barad’s Weblog http://dilipbarad.blogspot.com
* Claude Desmoulins An Education and Technology Blog http://connecteded.wordpress.com
* Fleep Tuque: Fleep’s Deep Thoughts – http://fleeptuque.com
* Graham Mills: TidalBlog – http://tidalblog.blogspot.com/
* Sia Vogel: World Wide Wiser – http://siavogel.edublogs.org
* WainBrave Bernal: Technology, Education, & the Future – http://hothousestrategies.com/tefblog/
* Yvonne Anthony: Making Connections http://fass.edublogs.org/

I’ve subscribed to them and thank those who made the effort to share.)

It generated 88 emails, IMs, tweets, or messages from Second Life that I would classify as “support requests” – these were not on one of the lists, they were personal messages to me asking for assistance. (I think I answered all of them, though sometimes not as quickly as I would have liked.)

In Second Life, a total of 808 unique avatars visited the Connectivism Village. These 808 visitors spent a total 14,652 minutes there. (244 hours total, a half an hour per person averaged across all 808 unique visitors, but my intuitive sense from getting a daily traffic report is that about 30 people spent the vast majority of time there, coming back repeatedly week over week. I have the data if anyone is crazy to do more analysis, but it’s in plain text form, a separate text file for each date.)

– The highest number of visitors together at the Connectivism village at the same time, throughout the whole period, was a max of 14 simultaneous avatars.

7 people in the “experienced SL’er” category created a kiosk to share info about their other SL projects.

5 people in the “new to SL” category took advantage of the free home/office and personalized their space.

8 people contributed some kind of object, build, or project in the cohort sandbox.

CCK08 - Sandbox

So. Coming out on the other side of my part in this experience, here are some things I think I’ve learned:

Facilitating a MOOC or even just a small part of one took an enormous investment of time. Ultimately, I couldn’t sustain it at this particular time in my life (crazy busy time at work, very ill family member requiring lots of care, up to my eyeballs in other volunteer projects/efforts). If I had more _time_, however, the mechanisms I used to communicate, get information, and share information, seemed to work pretty darn well for me on my side of the facilitation equation. The googledoc sign up form worked perfectly, the googlegroup invitations were kind of a pain, but once it got going, it worked with no additional tinkering. It is definitely possible to organize larger-scale coordination using free or nearly free web-based tools with a moderate level of tech savvy-ness. It wasn’t the technology implementation that required so much time, but rather the _social_ investment required. I could have increased or sustained more participation, I think, if I had spent more time poking, prodding, emailing, twittering, meeting, asking for help, teaching.

Wikis, in this experience, and with other projects I work on, continue to be one of the hardest tools to get people to use. I don’t know why this is, but people who otherwise sign up, contribute, join.. they really fall off the wiki wagon quickly. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to facilitate wiki participation, but I must be missing a really big clue bus on this one, cause I’ve tried everything, and participation on wikis (vs blogs, email lists, even SL itself!) is always lowest.

Virtual worlds platforms offer two really key affordances to education – 1) the sense of co-presence that enriches synchronous interactions (the sensation that you are really “there” and the other people you’re with are also really “there” and you are all “there” together) and 2) the ability to model, create, simulate, build, share, and collaborate on projects, environments, symbols, data visualization, and other elements that make up the shared environment. In my judgment, except for in the beginning, and even then by a smaller number of participants than I anticipated (only 14 at the height of it), the Connectivism Cohort in Second Life failed to really leverage either. That isn’t to say that those who did participate didn’t get some value out of it, but out of 133 people who originally signed up, I would guess that maybe 20-some people out of the SL Cohort got _some_ substantial value out of their participation (either talking with other class members, or creating something in the space, or learning more about Second Life/virtual worlds).

We simply didn’t have enough participation with enough skilled SL content creators to really explore the medium together in a substantive way, particularly in how a virtual world platform could be used most effectively for _this specific course_. I imagined people collaboratively building together, modeling things we read about or saw in the course content in a 3D form, exploring how concepts might be best represented in 3D versus text, video, image, or 2D. Except with a few minor exceptions, that just didn’t happen. We were more successful in leveraging affordance #1 – I don’t think I am the only one who came away from our synchronous discussions feeling that it had been a very valuable way to spend my time, and that I learned a lot from them – but these remained very small discussions, usually with between 3 – 6 participants.

CCK08 - Fleep and Arielion discussing the readings

As I said, I think I made some mistakes along the way, in how I framed the cohort, or implemented the various technologies I used. For example, we scheduled the synchronous meetings at several different times to accommodate different time zones, but I think having many different meeting times just diluted the initial momentum and fractured what could have been a stronger, more connected group. Now I’m thinking, if you’re going to commit to the synchronous participation of using a virtual world, then you have to really commit and pick a day and a time and stick with it – unless you have a much larger starting group, more passionate participants, or more people to facilitate the meetings. It seemed like as soon as I stopped being able to make the synchronous meetings, everyone stopped going, even though I had hoped people would just continue on without me, as I’d tried to “crowd source” all the tools needed to do so.

Or perhaps I incorporated _too many_ technologies in trying to empower the crowd. Maybe if I’d just had people sign up for the cohort and then invited them to the group in Second Life and done ALL of the communication through Second Life, maybe more people would have participated… I’m skeptical, though, since SL’s built in communication tools are suboptimal and often don’t work. I dunno.

I’m not entirely sure what all I could or should have done differently, and I do regret “falling off the wagon” – but I don’t regret for one second any of the time I spent on this endeavor. I feel like I got quite a lot out of the experience, and I hope that at least some of what I contributed made the experience better for others taking the class. It was an active, engaging learning experience for me, and I think I will continue to ponder over and learn about connectivism and connective knowledge well into the future, helped by the multitude of resources created by others and shared with me.

So, in conclusion, my thanks to everyone who participated, helped, encouraged, or otherwise took part. My apologies to anyone I let down by not being there enough. I hope this information is helpful to you in some way, even if the rest of it was not. And mega-great thanks to George Siemens and Stephen Downes, who did their own part to encourage me and the SL Cohort, and who gave us all the opportunity to learn together through the Connectivism & Connective Knowledge course. It was one of the singularly most interesting classes I’ve ever taken and I hope I’ll get a pass. =)

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12
Nov 08

Superstruct: Inventing the Future – 2019

Screaming 3D Bootstrapper Csven Concord had been pinging me for weeks about the Superstruct game organized by the Institute for the Future. I finally got a few hours to take a look at it and was stopped cold at the very first mission of the game: describe yourself in the year 2019. Not a fantasy you, but you you, where you think you might actually be. It took me three days just to accomplish mission #1 to make my profile.

My efforts to get into the Superstruct mindset were somewhat hampered by the technology being used. Not sure if it’s just my PC or that I’m using the FF3 browser, but I continually have to relog into the site over and over just to navigate around (is it not tracking cookies properly or what?) and the framing they use makes it hard to grab direct links to specific content. With some trial and error, I finally got to Cven’s Screaming 3D Bootstrappers Superstruct page, and managed to add myself to the S3DBers wiki page, and saw a call for help under the heading “Young Farmer’s Outreach”:

Request: “we need 3d VR environments that mimic the reality of a farm/ranch so that our young farmers can share their skills”

So the idea is that it is the year 2019, and five major superthreats are having devastating effects on human populations. To play the game, you create or join Superstructs (groups) to address one or any of these threats by using your unique talents, resources, and perspective to generate ideas, stories, videos, websites, pictures, or anything else that helps us imagine how life would really be in that situation and what solutions might really work to address the problems we face in this fictional reality of 2019.

In my imaginary 2019, the Chilbo Community has grown tremendously into a large, global community in the metaverse. To deal with the Ravenous superthreat – where major disruptions in the global food supply chain threatens the world with starvation and lack of healthy, nutritious food – the Chilbo Community has established a virtual garden to allow farmers and scientists from anywhere in the world to help people learn to grow their own gardens. In this fictional world of 2019, Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ReDS) has also forced many cities and populations into Quarantine, so the Chilbo Community Garden might be especially useful for those stuck in quarantine zones where access to food supplies may be dwindling. By using virtual world technologies to connect people who cannot visit one another in real life, we can spread information about sustainable farming to a larger audience, use the 3D modeling capabilities of virtual worlds to create roleplay scenarios, display equipment and demonstrate techniques, and reach populations who are isolated because of possible contagion.

To flesh out this idea, I worked with some Chilbo residents to actually build out this garden in the Chilbo Nature Preserve in Second Life, and recorded a machinima clip to “report” on our progress in the year 2019. This is only the second machinima I’ve ever made, so pardon the amateur execution.

When I think about the future of education, I wonder why we don’t spend more time doing THIS kind of work. I wonder if we’re teaching students the skills they need to really evaluate information on the web in context. For example, in the process of “playing” this game, I came across the ReDSNet Project website. Now, this website is so well done, so realistic, it would be easy to think ReDSNet was real. How many students would have the skills to read for content AND context and eventually discover that this is a fictional website? How many students would have the creativity or skillset to create a fictional website that was so convincing? How can we use these types of .. roleplay scenarios to build digital literacy skills that really WILL be useful in the year 2019?

I wish I’d had more time to spend on the Superstruct game/concept. It was really a fascinating, thought provoking exercise. And even if the machinima still doesn’t make any sense to anyone but me, I enjoyed the experience, I spent some time seriously thinking about my own future and where I _want_ to be in 11 years, I got an excuse to practice my machinima skills, and I strengthened some bonds in my network, personal and professional. Quite an accomplishment for some crazy collaborative game on the intarnets that I only had a few hours to play.


19
Oct 08

Conferences and Projects and Articles – Oh My!

Since the start of school in September, it’s been a whirlwind of activity! Like Dorothy, I’m trying hard to stay on the yellow brick road, but the poor blog suffers when I get too busy. Here’s a quick update though on a number of exciting things..

University of Cincinnati Galapagos Islands Project

Progress continues on the Galapagos Islands project, and I have to give all due credit to my student assistant Ferggo Pickles for his truly excellent work in creating the sculpted animal models! News of our project is spreading and we’ve gotten very kind mentions in EDUCAUSE Review, the Chronicle, and even Virtual World News! Another blogger discussed our work too, but I wasn’t sure if it was positive or negative considering we don’t have any plans for visitors to pull the tails of lizards. =)

Chilbo Community

Incredibly, the Chilbo Community marks its two-year anniversary this month! We held a Chilbo Town Hall Meeting this afternoon, and I managed to complete the 2008 CCBP Annual Land Census and am preparing to distribute the 2008 Resident Census in the next few weeks. A note to any Chilbo residents reading this – you’ll have to complete the survey to keep your house or store in Chilbo, so be sure to read that email when it comes! Aside from all of the professional opportunities I’ve had because of Second Life, I must say Chilbo – the place and the people – is my favorite spot in the Metaverse. Whatever serendipity led me to meet such great people, I’ll never know, but I continue to be grateful that I did.

Connectivism Course

The Connectivism & Connective Knowledge course continues into Week 7, and I have fallen woefully behind on the readings, and even missed the last couple of meetings in Second Life! Still, the Connectivism Village continues to receive a high amount of foot traffic and I keep getting emails that people really enjoy the resources we’ve provided there, so I’m hopeful that the sometimes asynchronous nature of our connections in online networks doesn’t dilute the usefulness of the space. I hope things will be a little calmer this week and that I’ll get to attend the next Second Life cohort sessions!

EDUCAUSE 2008

I have the privilege of working with AJ Kelton (SL: AJ Brooks) from Montclair State University and Joe Essid (SL: Ignatius Onomatopoeia) from Richmond University again this year to stream in the EDUCAUSE 2008 Virtual World Constituent Group Annual Meeting into Second Life in a few weeks. How often do you get to work in an evening gown! Looking forward to the conference itself, and the Second Life interaction. Are you coming to EDUCAUSE this year? Leave a comment and let’s meet up!

What: EDUCAUSE 2008 Virtual World Constituent Group
When: Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Time: 4:55pm to 6:10pm EST (1:55pm to 3:10pm SLT)
Where: Orlando, FL and in Second Life
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Montclair%20State%20CHSSSouth/129/158/22

Learning, Libraries, & Technology 2009

Another symptom of the “too busy!” syndrome – I almost missed the opportunity to put in a proposal for the Learning, Libraries, and Technology 2009 conference! Formerly called the Ohio Digital Commons for Education, the new name didn’t ring a bell when I saw the Call for Proposals in my in-box – doh! Thankfully, my good friend Brenda Boyd (SL: Stargazer Blazer) at Miami U gave me a poke with a sharp stick about submitting something – thanks Brenda! This is without a doubt one of the best educational technology conferences I attend all year. Ohio educators especially should go to meet and network with great colleagues, learn about what’s happening in the state, and to get new ideas to bring back to your home institution. In the years that I’ve attended, I don’t think I’ve ever come away from it without learning something new and immediately useful. Will cross my fingers on the proposals!

I’m sure there’s something else I’m forgetting, but that’s it for today’s updates. Hope everyone else is having a great quarter or semester so far, and maybe doing a better job of keeping up with everything than I am!

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14
Sep 08

CCK08 – Connectivism Village in Chilbo

(This post is about the Massively Online Open Course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge being taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes from September to December 2008. Over 1900 participants have signed up, and I am facilitating the Second Life cohort for the course. Over the following months, I will be posting about the experience, home work assignments, and other materials related to our activities.)

Cross posted from the Chilbo Community Blog:

Following the end of the very successful Chilbo Summer Fair, we said goodbye to the Ferris Wheel and fabulous rides, artworks, and projects and made way for a new three month project in Chilbo.

Connectivism Village in Chilbo

Connectivism Village - Main Gate

The Main Gate of the Connectivism Village down in the south Madhupak area of Chilbo.

This month marks the start of the Connectivism & Connective Knowledge course, a Massively Online Open Course.  From the course info:

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens (SL: Whatever Russel) and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge – will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course. The course will run from September 7, 2008 to November 29, 2008 and will be fully delivered online.

Over 2000 participants from around the world have signed on to take part, and several members of the Chilbo community are fellow students, including Gann McGann,  Olando7 Decosta, Samuel Sputnik, Sine Rennahan, Tara Yeats, and Wainbrave Bernal.  The Chilbo Community is hosting the Second Life cohort of the class, and Cosimo Urbanowicz has also joined some of the early discussions and helped with the construction of the Connectivism Village down in Madhupak.

SL Cohort Wiki: http://chilbo.wikispaces.com/Connectivism+Course+in+Chilbo
SL Cohort Googlegroup: http://groups.google.com/group/connectivismSL
SL Cohort Tag: CCK08SL

Second Life Cohort Weekly Meeting Times:
Tuesdays at 11AM SLT (-7GMT)
Thursdays at 6PM SLT (-7GMT)
Sundays at 5PM SLT (-7GMT)

Purpose of the Connectivism Village

Initially, the impulse was simply to see if other students in the course who also had Second Life accounts were interested in meeting weekly in-world to discuss the Connectivism course.  Though there are many communications tools used as part of the course structure, I’ve begun to feel I haven’t really “met” someone until I’ve “seen” them – even if that meeting and seeing takes place in avatar form.  Psychologically, it seems as if I don’t feel the same level of engagement with another person through their blogs, tweets, or discussion board posts unless I’ve “met” them first, and I was interested in meeting other students in the class.

Connect - Week 1

Thursday is ladies night?  Members of the Connectivism course discuss the first week in Chilbo’s Shrubbery Amphitheatre.

But as I began to read more about Connectivism, I started to think that it might contain concepts that could be better visualized in 3D, and for SL building, the Second Life cohort would need land and prims.  After talking with folks in the community, we cleared up the Fairgrounds area and made room for a temporary Connectivism Village project that would last three months and house members of the course who needed a home base in Second Life.

Connectivism Village - Homes and Offices

Small mini-homes and offices are available for members of the Second Life Cohort of the Connectivism course for the duration of the class time.  Some students are interested in finding roomates!

The Fairgrounds area is also large enough to host some central facilities and resources for the course, to help make sense of the plethora of web based feeds, tools, readings, and course media.  The Connectivism Second Life Cohort Office will simplify the process of folks joining the cohort, and the Connectivism Reading Room contains all of the assigned weekly readings and some introductory materials for the course.

Connectivism Village - Reading Room

The Connectivism Reading Room can help students visualize course readings and discussion archives, as well as provide a place to discuss readings ad hoc through the week.

The Connectivism Course Tools Sundae Shop is a whimsical take on the somewhat overwhelming nature of the course structure.  With several websites, communication mediums, RSS feeds, and course emails, Moodle forums, Facebook, and on and on, it’s a little rough trying to figure out which tools will work for your particular needs.  The Sundae Shop is a metaphor for taking the flavors you like and sampling some of the others, not putting every choice on the sundae!

Connectivism Village - Course Tools Sundae Shop

The “Menu” of various course tools in the Connectivism Sundae Shop.

Beyond the few buildings near the plaza, however, I think it will be the Connectivism Sandbox that will hold the most interesting content of the course.  Here we can play with models, particles, sets, artwork, media.. whatever strikes our fancy as we play with the concepts of the course and learn more about Connectivism.  For those who are new to building in Second Life, visit the Ivory Tower of Primitives for a walk through, self-paced building tutorial.  The Ivory Tower is a cultural institution of Second Life and shouldn’t be missed even if you’ve learned on your own!

Connectivism Village - Overhead Map

An overhead view of the Connectivism Village in the Chilbo Community (Madhupak sim).

I look forward to seeing how the Second Life cohort of the course progresses, and I encourage anyone from Chilbo to participate or check it out!   If you have time to wander down, please say hi to any students you see too!   They are members of the Chilbo Community Building Project group and have the group tag “Chilbo Connect!”   ~  Fleep

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19
Aug 08

3 Great VW Panels @ Chilbo Summer Fair!


Cecilia Delacroix gives a poetry reading at the Chilbo Summer Fair 2008.

The Chilbo Summer Fair is well underway, with tours, rides, cultural events, and more happening every day this week!

Three upcoming panels promise to be of interest to virtual world enthusiasts:

Virtual Worlds Day Panel
Wednesday, 8/20, 3 PM SLT
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

This panel will feature a discussion about the current state of virtual worlds and how they may evolve in the future. What do we hope to see? What would be a “bad” outcome?
Moderator: Fleep Tuque
Panelists: Malburns Writer, Tara Yeats, Olando7 DeCosta


Second Life Community-Building: What We’ve Learned – Island Experience

Saturday, 8/23, 11:00 AM SLT
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

This panel is one of a pair of panels that will take a look at lessons learned that can make – or break – communities in Second Life. What’s the “glue” that holds virtual world communities together? What helps people engage? What are the challenges? What Second Life tools and features help – or hinder the process? Saturday’s panel will focus on island communities; Sunday’s panel will focus on mainland communities.
Moderator: Tara Yeats
Panelists: Sophrosyne Stenvaag, Director, Extropia Core; Fleet Goldenberg, Community Manager, EduIsland II, 5 & 6

Second Life Community-Building: What We’ve Learned – Mainland Experience
Sunday, 8/24, 12 NOON SLT
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

This panel is one of a pair of panels that will take a look at lessons learned that can make – or break – communities in Second Life. What’s the “glue” that holds virtual world communities together? What helps people engage? What are the challenges? What Second Life tools and features help – or hinder the process? Saturday’s panel will focus on island communities; Sunday’s panel will focus on mainland communities.
Moderator: Tara Yeats
Panelists: Prokofy Neva, Owner, Ravenglass; Fleep Tuque, Land Steward, Chilbo Community Building Project

Check the Chilbo wiki for the full schedule of events for the Chilbo Summer Fair, and hope to see you at these terrific panel discussions!

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16
Aug 08

Chilbo Summer Fair Begins Today!

Chilbo Summer Fair!

August 16 – August 31 – in and around Chilbo & neighboring sims

Chilbo Summer Fair

The Chilbo Summer Fair was conceived as an idea to celebrate our community – an excuse for everyone to get together and have fun and invite friends!

Please check the Chilbo Summer Fair Planning Wiki for the possible schedule changes.

Chilbo Summer Fair Scheduled Events!

August 16 – August 31 – in and around Chilbo & neighboring sims

Open throughout the Fair:

Chilbo Fairgrounds: rides and fun!
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Madhupak/15/65/65
Ferris Wheel , Go-Cart Race Track, Boat Ride, Avatar Cannonball, Skydive Ride, Bouncy Castle, The Dormouse’s Tea Party Ride

Exhibits & Builds:

Scheduled events:

Saturday, August 16

11AM SLT – Walking Tour: The History of Chilbo – Fleep Tuque
Location: Starting at the Town Hall
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/112/230/121

Join us for a walking tour of the Chilbo sim! We’ll poke into the nooks and crannies of the community, visit the places and spaces where Chilbo began, and explore the hidden treasures and artifacts of our community’s history!

12 PM SLT – FlowerBall Reception
The tour will finish up at the FlowerBall, an interactive art build that was voted one of the “Ten Best Art Installations of 2007” by New World Notes. The charming, witty, and extremely attractive co-creators Douglas Story and Desdemona Enfield will be on hand to answer your questions – and hell….maybe musician Aldomanutio Abruzzo if we can get him to come by.
If you do visit, be sure to follow the annoying directions – you’ll get a much better experience if you do. Also – scripters take note: there’s a great deal of complex and interesting scripting involved in the pre-loading of the music clips that makes them play smoothly. Desdemona’s achievement is that you don’t notice all this.
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Madhupak/166/45/68


Sunday, August 17

1pm SLT – Presentation: HIV 101: What is HIV and How Does it Attack the Immune System? – Lizzette Zenovka
Location: SL HIV Education & Prevention Center
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Madhupak/130/80/60


Monday, August 18

3PM SLT – Go Kart Race – START YOUR ENGINES!!!
Location: Chilbo Fairgrounds
SLurl:

Join us for a smashing good time at the Go Kart racetrack in the fairgrounds! Contestants will compete for the best time around the track, feel free to practice ahead of time, but all scores will be reset before the race! First Prize: $1000L Second Prize: $500L Third Prize: $250L


Tuesday, August 19

4PM SLT – Poetry Reading – Cecilia Delacroix
Location: Chilbo Shells Plaza
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/80/100/116

On Tuesday evening, Poet Cecilia Delacroix will perform some of her favorite works in the Chilbo Shells Plaza. Cecilia previously gave a reading centered on a nature/seasonal theme in the Shrubbery Amphitheatre, and is memorialized there for donating the lovely backdrop of images that graces the area behind the stage. Beyond her poetry, Ceclia also enjoys wine, jazz, and running many art galleries in Islandia’s canal district in Second Life. Please join us to celebrate her latest poetry!

6 PM SLT – Virtual Artists Alliance workshop
Location: Chilbo Sandbox
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/197/20/93

Led by Rezago Kokorin, the premise of these sessions is simple: the host introduces a concept or technique that can be applied to building in Second Life, and the remainder of the session is dedicated to experimentation, using the concept or technique for artistic application. Rezago is an accomplished sculptor and photographer in both realities. The workshop sessions are very open and feature a lot of sharing of knowledge among the participants. It’s always interesting to see the variety of creations from a group of people all starting from the same point. Join us for some fun with the prims in the sandbox.


Wednesday, August 20

3 PM SLT – Virtual Worlds Day Panel – Fleep Tuque
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

This panel will feature a discussion about the current state of virtual worlds and how they may evolve in the future. What do we hope to see? What would be a “bad” outcome? Panelists: Malburns Writer, Tara Yeats, Olando7 DeCosta


Thursday, August 21

Noon SLT – How does reading inspire your virtual life? (about 50 minutes)
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

Olando7 Decosta (Roland Legrand) is not a professional philosopher, though he graduated in philosophy, but he still feels the urge to read some philosophers when he tries to make sense of his life as a Second Life resident. Olando7 will present some of his favorite thinkers in this context (Derrida, Deleuze&Guattari, Baudrillard) during 15/max. 20 minutes, and invites the audience to share their favorite philosophers and writers (also fiction!) and how reading throws some light on their virtual experiences.


Saturday, August 23

Time TBD – Second Life Community-Building: What We’ve Learned – Tara Yeats
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

This panel will take a look at some lessons learned that can make – or break – communities in Second Life. Potential focus on emerging plans for Mainland zoning and how that may impact existing communities and new ones. Panelists: TBA


Tuesday, August 26

6 PM SLT – Virtual Artists Alliance workshop
Location: Chilbo Sandbox
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/197/20/93

Led by Rezago Kokorin, the premise of these sessions is simple: the host introduces a concept or technique that can be applied to building in Second Life, and the remainder of the session is dedicated to experimentation, using the concept or technique for artistic application. Rezago is an accomplished sculptor and photographer in both realities. The workshop sessions are very open and feature a lot of sharing of knowledge among the participants. It’s always interesting to see the variety of creations from a group of people all starting from the same point. Join us for some fun with the prims in the sandbox.


Saturday August 30

Time TBA – Music in the Shrubbery – Tara Yeats/Leslee McCarey hosting
Location: Shrubbery Amphitheatre
SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilbo/167/129/109

Live performers throughout the day. Schedule to come.

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