Friday, December 10, 2010

Final Second Life Reflection

This semester I've had the opportunity to delve deeper into Second Life. I now feel l more confident as a builder, a scripter, and have had the opportunity to explore more educational sims. With our final project, we had the opportunity to design a an educational sim about metamorphic rocks. Since this was my second experience designing something along those lines, I feel that I have seen an improvement in the quality of work. My first sim, was about SL bascis, and my focus area was on building. All information in that sim was shown through interactive poster boards. In the second sim on Metamorphic Rocks, I continued to build upon those skills by also incorporating videos, url providers, survey givers and receivers, and lastly giving objects. After viewing some of the final projects, there are some new directions that I would like to take in Second Life. One thing I'd like to try is the video game approach that was demonstrated by the Hawaiian Mythology group.

While there are some skeptics who believe that Second Life is limited, and may fall to new and upcoming virtual worlds. I still believe that there is still great potential. I hope to continue to learn more about SL and continue to improve in my abilities to create educational sim.

Formative Evaluations

Last week we finished building our module and asked a few people to be our pilot test subjects. Two of the participants were SL users without backgrounds in Geology. Our third participant was our content expert. The participants were emailed on Friday asking for them to participate, and they were asked to complete the evaluation by Sunday evening so that our group could discuss the results prior to our presentation. From the three evaluations, the results were largely inconclusive. Each reviewer commented on different things. One focused on the visual design elements, another was mostly happy, and the other thought that there were a few good points but felt that it lacked interactivity. With such diverse backgrounds, this isn't completely surprising that there wasn't a major consensus. The only thing that they all agreed upon, was the helpfulness of the yellow arrows.

The questions is, what do you take from this? Do the three reviews cancel each other out? Meaning, although one person pointed something out, if it was something major, why didn't the other two share the same opinion? Or, perhaps since two of the reviewers weren't very familiar with Second Life, does this bias their views? At this point, I'm not too entirely sure what to take from it. Perhaps the next step would be to capture these responses, and see how the other respondents react to it. It could just be a case of not noticing everything.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final Projects

Our final project, up until the the very last day, was nearly in constant flux. Ideas that we thought we could do, didn't always necessarily pan out. We also had to adjust the focus of our project as when we put everything together, it didn't cover as much material as we originally had thought. All in all though, I think that we did a good job. I tried to put in as much hover text as possible to give students clues of what to do and how to use our module. Yellow arrows were also added to give a sense of flow and directions of where they should go.

After listening to the other group presentations, it has shown me how different and how diverse educational sims can be. While there were some like ours that relied heavily on simply conveying information, there were some that were more experiential. The Hawaiian Mythology group's sim was amazing. The amount of technical skills that went into the project, in addition to time too, was just phenomenal. With the phantom walls, holodeck, and the immersive qualities, it shows me how much room there is to still grow. Should this project have continued on, I would love to try some of these new skills and see how things could change and improve.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Group Projects

Here in the Education Department group work is highly prized and often built into our course work. Over the last year, I've been fortunate to work in several groups, but one that was particularly successful. Together we have have written conference papers, traveled, and most importantly, still able to work with one another.

For out final project in Second Life, we are working in teams developing instructional modules. In this, I've had the opportunity to work with a new teammate, and I feel that it has been a great learning experience. In every group, there's always going some differences. From this experience, as well as groups prior, I've decided to create a list of characteristics that make good groups:

- Clear and constant communication
- Everyone participates
- Spending time together outside of projects (making personal connections)
- Establishing deadlines

Any others missing?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The demands of Second Life

This semester, I've been learning how to use SL on Mac. For the most part, it hasn't been too bad. Just a couple of simple new keyboard commands to learn. On the other hand, there are some thing that have changed, that I decide is Mac related or SL viewer 2.0. One my biggest irks/annoyances has been its sensitivity headphone jacks. If I don't plug my headset in before I launch SL, I won't be able to hear anything. If I unplug, then replug in, again the audio doesn't work. Does anyone know the cause of this? I never had this problem before on a PC and SL viewer 1.0. And while only a simple inconvenience, it was a feature that I enjoyed that enabled me to take a break away from my computer for a few minutes, and still keep up with what's going on in class.

Sigh...I guess that's the way it is between different operating systems.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Collaboration in SL

As we move in to our Final Project, I'm really excited to be working on a project with a real life application. The topic of metamorphic rocks I feel really lends itself to Second Life. With it, I think that we can truly do some cool things such as creating the grand canyon or some other famous metamorphic rock, and perhaps do a simulation of some sort. A lot of this will depend on our building and scripting skills though.

Even with all of this excitement, I am concerned with what it will be like to collaborate in SL. I believe my group will be having all of our meetings in SL rather than F2F in RL. From past experience, I know that it can be tricky to build together. If you need help, time has to be spent explaining the problem, or objects/scripts have to be deeded to your group members so that everyone has editing privileges. Hopefully, all will work out, and we'll have something great to show for our work.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Building in Second Life

Building in SL is probably one of its greatest features. While building is a frustrating skill to learn, once you master the basics, almost anything is possible. This was really emphasized when we were playing primtionary in class.

Since this is my second time learning about building in SL, I'm feeling more confident about my building abilities. Enough so that I thought I should embrace building and use it to model something I'm thinking about building in real life. Something that I've been trying to design recently is cake for my sister's baby shower. On the invitations, there's a pictures of a bear and an umbrella, and I wanted to try recreate that on the cake. While there are many ways to achieve this, I had difficulty imagining it in my mind, and drawing it on paper. When I switched to building it in SL, it amazing how much clearer it is, and I can see why this would be such a powerful learning tool.

Ultimately I probably will not use this design, but check it out in the picture below:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Searching in Second Life

For our annotated list assignment, I began with reviewing some of the landmarks I created previously with hopes of finding some that would work. As I was going through them, I realized that while some of them had stayed completely the same and others had moved to another island. When you create a landmark, it's truly just a physical landmark that doesn't follow an organization when they move to a new island. I think that'd be a great feature or script that would allow this. Since everything is virtual, I wonder if this increases the likelihood for sims to move and change.

Aside from checking out new sims, and definitely some really cool ones, something I greatly appreciated was the learning how to search within Second Life. I first started with using keyword searches within SL and keyword searches in Google, and had some very poor results. The majority of the things that I found were completely unrelated or sometimes returned with no results. It was frustrating, but eventually I started using the SL Destination Guide and searching by category. I find it ironic that some of the keyword searches were the same as the categories in the SL Destination Guide and that I didn't get the same results. If perhaps SL could improve their search results, perhaps it would lead to a greater transparency and sharing of resources.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Building and Readings

In my last post, I discussed how different the layout of the SL View 2.0. I'm quite glad that the building menu remains unchanged. While I have built in SL before, I think it would have been quite painful to have to learn something else. This way, I can concentrate on improving my building skills, and perhaps actually become good at it. It is quite amazing how quickly I forgot how to do simple things like remove the color of a prim so that the texture doesn't have any color tint.

In the readings for Session 3, one of the articles focused the presence of Universities present in SL and discussed their methods of how they actually found them. Me, being the nosey person that I am, decided to put their methods to the test. I know for a fact that both UH and CSULA use SL in their courses so I checked to see whether or not they would be listed. My results were interesting. In the I found that CSULA was listed but UH was not. I also found that on the SL educator list, UH was listed and CSULA wasn't. Since neither of these sources contained both schools, it makes wonder how do you accurately find all educators? Are these lists managed by anyone? Or does it require the school to contact the owners to be added to the list? I think that these are important issues to consider for future academic work in the topic of universities in SL.

Now for some randomness, it's always great to see how much taking classes and course discussions affect your point of view. Just reading the articles, I find that I pick up things that I would have simply glossed over before. One of the articles included a piece about inter-rater reliability. This is a topic that was discussed in 606, as the article utilized qualitative methods. Either in the same article or the other, they discussed the presence of games in SL. Gaming in virtual worlds is exactly what my group was working earlier this year with our game revolved around Kimo. After reading this, it encourages me to revist Kimo and perhaps continue development.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Second Life Revisited

I first became involved with using Second Life (SL) while completing a course for my Masters in early 2009. At my peak, I was able to do some basic building, and attempted basic scripting, though I was never really good at it. When I started this class this Fall, I was quite surprised to the see that the user interface had changed quite a bit.

While all the essentially functions and abilities were maintained in the new viewer, key things like the pie menu had been taken out. While it wasn't necessarily the best tool, it was familiar to me and was something that I was accustomed to see. Something else that had changed, was the inventory. The inventory was now embedded in some menu buttons on the side of the screen. I like this change since it makes the screen less cluttered. Something I really miss, is the ability to quickly jump between the public chat and private messages. When the viewer was changed, these functions were no longer bundled together, and now exist in completely separate windows. If anyone knows shortcuts, or ways to mimic the old style, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'm glad that we had an overview of all the SL controls, since it helped me to catch up!