A Seacoast in Bohemia

Passing Notes and Spare Avatars
September 8, 2007, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Class Notes

Genome Island is an evolving project, and I’ve tried various ways for students to record and report on their experiences there.   All data goes into the Chat Record.  Where does it go from there?  I’ve tried several things:

  • Record the data on a notecard and drag or send it to me in world (via give inventory).
  • Record the data on a notecard and drag it into a student file in my Tower Office.
  • Record the data on a notecard and drag into into an analytical object like the Chi Square notebook. 
  • Copy and paste the data into an Excel File for summary and analysis.
  • Copy and paste the data into MS Word for reporting. 
  • Data summaries from Excel can also be copied into Word. 

After the students had used these various methods, we discussed the process and decided that we didn’t need to use all of them.  Since other course materials and student grades are kept on the WebCT, we decided that the simplest and least confusing method of reporting would be just to put the data directly into Excel and Word, and to upload the final Word reports to the WebCT Assignments section. 

ds_jr.jpgSince Second Life is at its most powerful for self-paced learning, I can post a Second Life Assignment to the WebCT, and the students can then complete it at their convenience, working either in splended isolation or it small groups.  If their reports come back to the same place, it closes the loop nicely, and I can then read and return comments on their work to the same place.  Then I can do followup discussions in class for any areas that emerge as tricky. 

I like moving back and forth between my university environment and the Second Life metaverse.  One of the things that Second Life does is to allow me to construct a representation of my own mental landscape, and invite students to come in and walk around there too.   

The second week  was not without technical difficulties.  One student was suddenly and inexplicably deprived of Chat.  She could write messages, which the other students and I could see, but she couldn’t see ours.  She also wasn’t getting the object chat that provides the data record, nor was she getting IMs.   The Second Life Help staff suggested some possible solutions, but the problem hadn’t been solved by the end of the week.  It was actually something they hadn’t encountered before, so I guess we’re ALL learning about this new environment. 

Fortunately, there was a spare avatar she could use.  I had created a new avatar to run through the orientation process with the students, and he was available.  I gave her his password and the use of him for as long as she needs him.   When her own avatar is working again, she can send him any inventory he has accumulated.  


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