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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Class Meeting in 3D World of Second Life

Learning in 3D Class sitting around conference room table.

Jumping into a virtual world can be a fun but scary and daunting place for first timers. As instructional designers, one of our "missions" is to help learners overcome the scary and daunting aspects so learning occurs.

One of my beliefs is that designers need to be made to feel like learners again so they can empathize with the people for whom they are building instruction. To that end, last night, I threw students into the 3D virtual world of Second Life. I purposefully did little instruction and then sent them off to explore the world and comment on the learning aspects of different places they had visited.

During the debrief a number of conclusions where drawn:

1) Throwing learners into a virtual 3D world is a big step, navigation needs to be clear, goals need to be clear and directions need to be clear.

2) Technical problems arise, not everyone could hear my Voice over IP. So I had to resort to typing so everyone could "hear." You need a back up or need to test and retest the virtual world so that learners don't need to worry about technology when they are in virtual worlds.

3) It take time to acclimate to clicking on items, using your arrow keys to move and, especially, using the camera to view what you want to look at.

4) Sometimes too much freedom is too much. Students indicated that talking off clothes, having too many clothes to choose from and not knowing exactly where to go can be overwhelming.

5) Flying was "weird" but fun.

6) Background noises are nice for ambiance, horrible when trying to have a discussion or meeting.

What did I miss? Any other "learning insights" from last night's class?

The class accomplished its goal of pointing out some difficulties in virtual worlds. We will eventually overcome all those difficulties and design and informative and effective educational session but a little "frustration" and "confusion" by an instructional designer makes for better designed instruction. Having been a student using technology makes you a better designer using the technology.

Here are some examples of past Machinima that students have done.

Visualization of Data from Ariella Furman on Vimeo.

Here is one done by a professional. See the original post Don't Forget the Power of 3D Machinima

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Sheila 207 said...

Class was unique. If it hadn't been for the technical difficulties I think I would have enjoyed it more. I had gone through the tutorials before class, so I felt confident. When I had the technical problems I became frustrated. So, I can see how technology would be a deterrent to folks who have little paitence. I have patience and still got frustrated, but worked through it. As I said, "I got lost in space but made my way back." Look forward to exploring more of these 3 D Worlds - hopefully with less problems.

Kirsten said...

I agree that the experience last night was a bit frustrating, but I attributed that to being a "beginner" when it comes to using Second Life. I am eager to explore the possibilities of Second Life more. Once I'm less of a "beginner", I will be able to better judge what are the actual, legitimate flaws of Second Life or improvements that could be made.

Jordan said...

At first I thought second life was for people who had too much time on their hands. It seemed to be a social website where people who did not want to see the light of day would make freinds and waste their night away talking to an avatar that looked like a super model. As I logged in, I felt lost and confused. I did not know how to navigate and not having direction of what to do was very annoying. Flying was very hard and creating a 3D image of myself just seemed childish. I moved on and got the hang of it and watched many tutorials about second life, my mind changed. Second life can take a 6th grade classroom into Rome and show them what they are looking it. It is one thing to read about it, but to be there and interact with it will leave a lasting impression. Kids these days need interaction; if not, they become bored! I believe that seond life should not be used in the professional world. I think there are better tools out there. I look forward to more second life action but I can't see myself getting addicted to it.

jennifer said...

Oh how I loved class in Second Life! That was such a great experience. Hope all is well, Dr. Kapp!

Patrick said...

Monday's session in Second Life was an eye opening experience into the world of 3D learning. I feel that Second Life will work well for most learners, but extremely well for learners who have learned to appreciate such things as movies, video games and fiction that engulfs the viewer/reader into a new world. Basically, I believe Second Life will work very well for those with a vivid imagination who sees him or herself in a new place instead of staring at a computer application.

In the past, I have spent many summer days playing video games such as those that contain immense story lines and locations. I also consider myself an avid reader and movie watcher. It's very easy for me to escape the real world and dive into a good book or relax with a movie. I think I can add Second Life to this list of escape tools.

I also think with some more development, Second Life will be an excellent learning tool for those with vivid imaginations such as myself. I'm excited to see how Second Life will progress in the next few years.

Unknown said...

I have always wondered what Second Life (SL) would be like but never had a great urge to try it out. I spent a few hours on Monday before class to test it out.

When I first entered SL I wanted to change what my avatar looked like because many other users had unique looking avatar. It was difficult to get my avatar to look the way that I had wanted. I started searching the internet to find free SL sites with skins, hair, and clothing. By visiting new areas and changing my avatar it became easy to navigate SL.

I believe from my experience with video gaming SL was also easier to navigate. The only thing that was especially hard to get used to was flying (I found out the page up and page down buttons are best to use for me).

I believe that someone would be able to create a great teaching environment for SL if environment were more guided/restricted because SL allows the user so much freedom and can lead to distraction.

I was in a group who explored National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA's SL and found it to be very informative except that there is a lot to view and interact with however some people may hurry through their environment or be over stimulated by it.

Posted by: Melissa M.

Rachel Upadhyay said...

I was in the same boat as the other students above. Although I have previously spent a little time in Second Life before our class, there didn't seem to be much to the environment to keep me wanting to go back there. When I started visiting some of the simulations, museums, and other places within the world, I soon found different. There were two that really stood out to me. These were the Virtual Hallucinations tour and the Medical Simulation. The Virtual Hallucinations tour was very disturbing to go through, but I came out of there with a much clearer understanding of what schizophrenia can do to its sufferers. Though not as unsettling as the hallucinations tour, the Medical Simulation allowed me (via my avatar) to work as a nurse within a hospital and take on a patient case. It was great to be able to learn so much about so many different topics without having to read it out of a book. I enjoyed the involvement and interactivity of education in Second Life.

jquinn95 said...

My first encounter with Second Life was a few years back in a session at PETE&C - it freaked me out then and I have to say, it's still pretty freakish to me now. There is something very eerie and surreal about it. I literally have awoken in the night with visions of avatars in my head just since our brief encounter Monday. I also spent an hour in Second Life today (which I have to admit 'flew' by!), so I'm hoping to sleep soundly tonight. I have to agree with someone's comment from class the other night about it seeming like a ghost town - I can't decide it that adds to its 'freakish'ness or if it would be even weirder if there were strangers at every turn...

That being said, once one gets past how wild it is, there are certainly ample opportunities for educational use - I would be interested in learning more about Teen Second Life because I think this kind of 'field tripping' would definitely appeal to pre-adolescent and adolescent students. On the other hand, many students in that age group already use quite advanced virtual world games, so perhaps they would actually be impatient with Second Life - instead of in awe, like I am!

Unknown said...

In undergrad I heard about Second Life, but had no clue what is was or its purpose. I finally got to see what it was when one of my former classmates had the program open, unfortunately when saw it I thought it was a pretty useless program. I really didn't understand the purpose of it, I essentially just thought it was more for gamers.

But after getting to know and understand a bit more about it during RFP and class this Monday, it started making more sense. I do, however, think this program is built more for the younger crowd, unless you're a true tech savvy person...otherwise it would just seem pointless to others and/or be an unnecessary frustration.

I also feel that there are certain fields that would benefit from such a program. Our field of instructional design is one of them. I also think if ID experts find a way to truly turn this program around it would appeal to more and become more successful! I feel there's too many confusing points that not too many would stand for. People don't have much patience these days, but once you get the gist of things, the program has a lot to offer!

Unknown said...

The first time I heard anything about virtual worlds like Second Life was in CSI and it was a pretty creepy episode, so since then I have been a little weary of virtual worlds. I think that it is a cool concept, just not something that I was ever interested in exploring.

When I first got into the class I was a little overwhelmed because I wasn't sure how to change my outfit and navigating/flying wasn't easy for me...I kept running into things!

As the class went on I felt a little more comfortable, but the whole environment still seemed like a foreign concept to me.
I think that if utilized properly, Second Life could be a great environment for learning. This being said, I still worry about safety and security if younger children would be using this to learn. I think that the more I learn about Second Life the more I will like it and begin to see it's potential and place in education.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Some people hate virtual worlds, some people love them. I fall in between that spectrum. I have used virtual worlds, specifically Second life moderately for a project I did last semester in RFP and I really saw the benefits its offers.

I believe that SL and virtual worlds have very powerful potential in the business and educational sectors. But, with that said, businesses and schools are not utilizing it correctly. People such as me and other instructional designers need to pin point exactly how to use these virtual worlds and make them become a valuable experience. Once that happens I believe virtual worlds will be massively beneficial for people using them to gain knowledge or skills.

But enough about that, I thought class was really fun, and was surprised how organized it seemed to be. I thought it would be caos, but it was actually really fun. The 3 hours went by so fast, I look forward to more time in SL.

Josh Rumpff said...

Despite having played a wide variety of online video games, I had never ventured into Second Life. What I knew of Second Life I knew via others talking about it in the online communities I interacted with and from a small section in the MTV series, True Life. I honestly did not know what to expect coming into Second Life but knew it would be special.

I think the best way to summarize my experience was overwhelmed. With online video games their is a sort of familiarity with them all, some sort of common factor in their design that lets you have a good idea of what is going on even when you start a new one. Second Life didn't have anything familiar to me other than using the W,A,S,D keys to move. The character customization in itself was something so in-depth that it made my head spin and left me frustrated after a very short time.

The interactive museums and other areas I found to be pretty interesting. Being able to tour the LHC was quite interesting as was seeing the in-world models of the NASA shuttles. I believe my personal highlight of the night though was finding some free scuba gear. Finding and equipping this scuba gear was the first real sense of accomplishment I had in the game.

Unfortunately due to technical difficulties my evening was cut short in Second Life. I must say though that I do see potential in utilizing interactive worlds such as Second Life for training and many other purposes. For me personally it may not be as much entertainment as a video game but it is interesting and I look forward to see where it goes.

Karl Kapp said...

Judging from the comments, this is the first time many have been in a virtual 3D world. The worlds do have a lot of potential but there is also some technical and user issues that need to be addressed, hopefully, looking at a variety of 3D worlds will bring some insight into actions and education that can be accomplished by the intelligent application of learning strategies to virtual 3D environments

Unknown said...

My experience in Second Life was quite unsettling. I have serious doubts as to whether such an open world would really work well for instruction outside of a graduate setting. Perhaps some of the other virtual worlds we are going to visit would be more accommodating to a structured class.

Marina Miranda said...

I really liked our class last week, it was very inspiring and unique. That was my first time using a virtual world and I am very excited about it. The class was great and I think everybody was very comfortable with the environment and with the avatars.

You really need a little bit of practice with virtual worlds because there are so many new things that you can do on this world inside the computer that you have no idea where to start.

During class, I really liked the ability to change outfits and change the environment, because it is very realistic and you feel like you are there physically participating in class with the other students. It is different from having class, for example in Centra, where, even though I also like to have classes there, I cannot see anyone or anything and this makes the people and the environment boring; you do not have any interaction.

I liked the musics from the different ambiances and the note cards that can carry a lot of important informations.

This was a great experience for me and I am looking forward to the next class!

Cory Wright said...

I wasn't at the event but I've been searching for a college that offers credit baring classes in second life. More specifically in web development, designing in 3d, programming, etc... Any help finding would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Cory

Teressa said...

When I first found out that I would be taking a class about Second Life I really didn't know what to expect. When being introduced to it on our first class I realized it was a lot harder, but a lot more interesting than I thought. I mean I for one thought it was awesome on how personal of a level it got on. You get to create this character of your own and allow it to develop its own personality in a sense by adding specific attributes to it. Along with this, you get to interact with your entire class as you learn the class together.
Honestly, for me getting my character to actually MOVE the way I wanted it to was one of the harder things to accomplish. Whether it was to go right or left, sit down on a chair, jump over into the water or actually fly in the air - each attempt took multiple tries. It was even had to transport myself to another land when the button was right in front of me!
I think that this class will not only be informative, but fun as well. I look forward to learning more... and progressively getting more comfortable with the program as a whole.