We had a great session today in Second Life – the third in our series of eight workshops for educators. In keeping with our plan, this was a “tour” day (Thursday are “building” days), and so we set off to visit three places of interest in SL.
Our first stop was to Yifeng Hu’s virtual classroom at The College of New Jersey’s SL island. Dr. Hu (SL name: Yolanda Zimmer) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications Studies at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Shewelcomed us to her classroom space and led us through a PowerPoint presentation of her experience taking communication students into SL. You can read about the way Dr. Hu’s students use the virtual world to test the communication theories they’re learning about in class in this recent article, from TCNJ magazine. We wish we’d had more time with Dr Hu – I know that everyone had questions for her – but her time was limited. I’m also beginning to realize that three “tour sites” in one hour is just too rushed. We may need to limit it to just two in order to give everyone adequate time to explore and ask questions.
Next on our list was Genome Island. Our group studied the map and then split off in different directions to explore what interested them (our plan was to regroup at the landing point after 10 minutes). Some went to try the test crosses in the Abbey garden, some tried doing genetic crosses in the cattery or the bunny hatch, some entered and floated within a model of an animal cell, while still other climbed the tower of molecular biology, taking the various tutorials along the way. There is much to see and explore on Genome Island, and I’m sure the SL Educators will come back. One thing that I like about this build is the amount of interactivity built into the exhibits. There are hundreds of interactive objects on Genome Island. This is not a “click and watch” kind of place, there are intriguing things to do and discover in every corner.
Our final stop was a return to the island of Chiapas (part of the Visit Mexico Island) where Chimera knew there were some horses available to ride. She led the way and everyone learned how to take a horse into their inventory and then “wear it”, in order to ride. Off we galloped – onto the beach, up a hill, over to Campeche, and right into the cathedral in the town square (modeled after the real life, Cathedral of Campeche, which dates to 1540). Chimera hoped that the horses didn’t include animations that might, ahem, leave deposits inside the lovely cathedral building.
There were plenty of opportunties along the way to hone our skills on camera controls, taking snapshots, navigating, teleporting, and managing our inventories. You can see a larger collection of photos from our adventures in the Koin-up group SL Educators. Our group is getting quite proficient and much more relaxed about trying things. It’s great to see everyone having fun.