Educators Group in Second Life: Session 4

SL Educators Workshop: Build a Bowl

Session 4.  Our group was a little smaller today, since a few people had conflicts.  From the beginning of this workshop series, we told everyone to come as they could, no pressure. We also hit our first technical snaffu.  A few members of our group encountered a virus on our wetpaint wiki – and one got snagged by it.  Ugh.

Many hours of frustration later, she’s survived, but it was a difficult lesson learned.  Nothing like a nasty encounter with a virus to put you right off your new media adventure.  I’ve now pulled all of our workshop content off that wiki site and will use another way to get the materails to the teachers.  A bit of research with Wetpaint revealed that they indeed do have a trojan virus problem that was coming in through one of their ads.  So, beware.  And if you are an educator and you use a wikifarm to create a class wiki, request an add-free site — some of them do award these for educators.

We teleported up to our comfy skybox and started with a warm-up activity where the avatars buddied up with someone they didn’t know, and took photos of each other.  This gave them practice with the snapshot feature as well as camera controls. Then we had them upload their snapshots to koinup, where we’ve created a special SL Educator group. It seems that learning an SL skill, in the context of a task to complete, works well (besides it’s more fun that way).

Then we moved outside, to the grid-deck, for our building lesson. Chimera Cosmos (Liz Dorland) led us through a bowl-making exercise.   We decided on the bowl as it’s a good base-line shape for other items that the teachers might want to make for their own projects.

Chimera made an impressive set of hand outs (pictured here) to lead our group through the details.  She created these using Comic Life (a Mac application), by taking photos of herself in-world while she was building a bowl, and then cleverly arranging the photos in panels with call-outs.  These handouts really make things easier.  I particularly like the way you can see the building object, right along with the editing panel, and the avatar (providing context).  So much more effective then reading text directions.

The participants all did very well.  In no time at all they’d carved out a bowl, resized it, moved it, and named it. Then we moved onto textures.  As they arrived, Chimera dropped a folder on each of them full of interesting African textures from avatar, Szavanna Anatra (SLurl to her location).  As you can see in the photos, everyone made some stunningly colorful bowls by using these.  Then they learned to “select texture” and color the inside of their bowl differently to the outside.  Last, they learned how to make copies of their bowls and take them back into their inventories.

Kloza Xootfly and her bowl

As a final activity, we worked on our profiles.  Now that their camera skills are honed, we had everyone add a photo of their avatar to their profile and then flesh out the content on the other tabs.  In order to import a photo into your inventory, you must have a few lindens, and since many of our group are so new (with $0 balance), we needed to fix that.  Chimera to the rescue!  A quickly improvised quiz, where the first person to type the correct answer into local chat got 20 lindens.  Once the profiles were complete, we checked each other’s and made notes about their real life names and affiliations in the “My Notes” tab.

A very productive session – impressive to see how quickly everyone is learning and growing more comfortable.  I continue to feel odd when teaching a “class” without responses.  Not being able to see their faces and know what they are thinking or how it’s going over, is tough for me.  Chimera and I decided we’d come up with more ways to get them to type responses in local chat, which will help.  I know that one of the reasons they don’t do this, is because they’re learning, and that’s just one more thing to keep track of.  But, since the backchat is such an important part of SL culture, it’s probably a good idea to get everyone used to doing that.

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