Thursday, August 07, 2008

[TIPS] Second Life - Why it's not for me

Everywhere I go, it seems, folks are telling me that I should get into second life, or that there are so many good uses for it in education, etc, etc. I don't buy it.

First, for those of you who may not know what second life is, try these two links: (a cbs news segment - after the 30 second commercial), and (some videos from the secondlife site itself)

From my perspective, yes, I know that there are some wonderful virtual sites in there ( but there is a lot of smut in there, as well. ( But, we're talking about an institution that is still blocking delicious, and flickr, and all blogs, and all wikis, for crying out loud. Second life will NEVER fly in public schools. You won't find a tech director anywhere who will want to devote bandwidth to second life, even if we DID somehow manage to get past the smut part. It just won't happen.I know of schools who won't allow Google Earth because of the bandwidth We think they're going to allow SecondLife? Not in THIS life, they won't.

So, while there may be some fun stuff to do in there, I'll continue to focus on things that I think WILL get into schools. Sorry, guys.


Hill said...

hmm...seems that someone missed your bullet point?

Or did you forget something called "Google Search"?

Or perhaps another question- In your view do Universities tend to follow the lead of grade schools?

Schools/Universities in Second Life:

Aarhus Business College
Audiocourses Music Production School
Australian Film TV and Radio School
Ball State University
Beach College
Bradley University
Bromley College of Further and Higher Education
Buena Vista University
Central Piedmont Community College
Columbia College Chicago
University of Houston - College of Architecture
Harvard University
Indiana University
INSEAD - The Business School for the World
University of Toulon, Ingemedia institut
Ithaca College - Roy H Park School of Communication
Leeds College of Art and Design
Lehigh Carbon Community College
Loyalist College
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Mohawk College
Monroe College
Montana State University
Murray State University
Nanyang Polytechnic
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
New York University - McGhee Division
Northern Illinois University
Ohio University
Otis College of Art and Design
Pellissippi State Technical Community College
Pennsylvania State University
San Diego State University
Savannah College of Art & Design
Stanford University
Texas State University - San Marcos
Towson University
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Aveiro
University of Cincinnati
University of Hawaii
University of Minnesota
University of Oregon
University of Paisley
University of Portsmouth
University of Southern California
University of Southern Queensland
University of Southern Denmark
University of Surrey
University of Texas at Dallas
Vassar College
University of Milan
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
RMIT University
University of Hertfordshire
Sprott-Shaw Community College
Abo Akademi University
Brown University
Nova Southeastern University
University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Rotterdam University
McMaster University Library
University of Minnesota - Duluth
Woodbury University
University College - Dublin
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
University of the District of Columbia - Criminal Justice Program
London College of Communication
College of New Jersey
South Central College

Hill said...

Does this support your Second Life views? :

Jim Gates said...

Well, now, it seems I struck a nerve. First of all, I VERY MUCH appreciate you taking the time to comment. And I DO understand that there are many colleges, and indeed, even the Dept of Homeland Security in second life. But, so what?

My point, that I still believe, is that it'll NEVER (in MY lifetime) be approved for use in public schools. The culture in public schools is to block anything that even MIGHT contain 'tasteless' material. The law says they have to block 'obscene' material, but schools, in an effort to avoid legal conflicts, have taken to blocking anything that is even a bit tasteless. I was teaching a class one time with adults, and we went to or (I forget which) and the image on the home page was that of a woman dressed in what amounted to a bathing suit, but the suit was trimmed in fur. Because of that image, one lady in the group insisted that she didn't want to work on that site. ::sigh::

So, yes secondlife has some interesting places to visit. And yes, secondlife offers experiences that some folks in THIS life cannot get otherwise, perhaps due to physical or emotional handicaps - or as in the autism article you pointed to. But, when our schools block delicious - a bookmarking site - we don't have a PRAYER that they'll allow secondlife. And it's for that reason that I've chosen NOT to invest my time into looking around in there.

That, and the fact that I know myself, and I know if I got REAL comfortable with navigation, etc, that I would want to spend more time in there - time I don't have.

Thanks again for reading - and commenting.

Hill said...

Yes Jim- you do have some valid observations and perhaps concerns in my opinion. Thanks for posting my comment. But now that you have decided to engage the subject (as it has obviously attracted your attention and time- otherwise you would not have bothered going public with this subject of your choice to begin with?) let's take a little closer look at "reality" and "Second Life":

I have to say my initial search was very cursory and I did not bother to really examine the notion of how public schools were actually approaching SL. So again our amazing cyber friends at Google provided these links pertaining to your interest:

and to top off this very incomplete list-

Nevertheless your concerns (are they concerns or just observations?- it's not quite clear from your limited statements) I think have some merit. A Republican senator seems
to give a good example of a parallel though more expressive

But if we just take a moment to really t h i n k about what we are talking about we might at some point choose to simplify (or complicate?) the discussion by considering the technology that SL uses. Is SL the only platform for online social virtual reality?

Care to Google that for me? I am not sure I really want to do all the work here...I don't really want to embarrass you (or even suggest that is possible exactly) so you might prefer to resolve your understanding of the
contemporary "reality" of "virtual reality" through your own type and click efforts.

There is always Wikipedia if you have issues with Google.

But let's say you did some sort of search with a viable search engine and were to discover that indeed there is virtually a whole universe of debate, work, accomplishments, anger, love, discovery, offense, salvation (there are churches and even marriages in SL btw) and indeed learning in SL and other online VR platforms. You still might say with real (or unreal?) concern:


hmmm...yeah- good question- so what?

Well, for you and/or those who can not imagine what good virtual reality might possibly provide it may well never in fact dawn on you that the first time a human being created a written alphabet and formed the first written words he(she?) was attempting to communicate an otherwise invisible idea to another human being using
the first "virtual" means to do so.

Language itself is a means to communicate ideas through a virtual (by proxy) medium between minds.

alright here is another favor-

hmmm..."So what?"

Well now Jim...the fact that you can discuss this topic at all- and any other- seems valuable to me. Had humanity continually proclaimed "So What?!" without answer when encountering the origin of technology itself (remember that code- HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, MEL, PERL, JAVA, in fact using "letters")we might still be eating poisonous plants and killing off potential loved ones because no one could answer the very valid question "So what" with a word like "Good", "Bad" or "Please" and "Thank you" or "Go there" or "Stay here".

So, concerning VR and online social media...what?

The very first websites were coined as "Virtual Communities" Jim.

Banning our evolving means of communication may harm you- and others in the long run.

That's what.

But keep critiquing. I got mugged
once in SL. It was a real drag and disturbing and led to an investigation. Happened right after I met George Lucas at the official Jedi Temple/SL intersect. I was writing a report as a research student in SL about that meeting in a public area that banned violence. The perp was tracked down and banned. A very strange but fascinating experience. (I was not physically hurt)(virtual remember).

btw your Blog post was sent to me by "Google Alerts" regarding the subject of Second Life. (I get all sorts of data from that service- you might want to sign up for it?)

You might want to also consider that if there is much success banning platforms like Second Life
there may eventually be more success in banning books (like "Catcher in the Rye"?)

Banning books is virtually a hop and skip away from burning them.

Not sure Public Schools will enjoy that notion in the long term.

A rather big "So what?".

Hill said...


Illinois Republican Mark Kirk is a Congressman not a Senator ehe.

My bad- and my apologies.

JohnBr said...

This past year, the Chester County Intermediate Unit conducted a pilot study in Second Life. We leased some land and built a Virtual Educational Service Center. We used the site to conduct professional development activities and hosted an Open House where Chris Dede, from Harvard, and Shawna Rosenzweig, from Global Kids spoke.

During the pilot we conducted a three-hour workshop at one of our school districts as part of our Countywide Inservice Day. The workshop was well attended and the superintendent and technology director had no qualms about opening the firewall, although I am certain that it was closed immediately following our presentation.

We also provided a morning, hands-on workshop for superintendents from Chester and three surrounding counties. The response was remarkably positive. In fact, one of the superintendents scheduled a follow-up workshop for his entire administrative cabinet.

All of that being said, there is no debating that Second Life will not and should not be used as an instructional environment for children. Children under 17 are not even supposed to access to it.

There is a Teen Grid, however, and some interesting educational programs seems to be going on there. Global Kids has a wonderful project on Darfur and
I attended a great presentation by Peggy Sheehy at NECC. Peggy described how her high school in New York has used the Teen Grid effectively to teach literature and other subjects.

When we launched our pilot, we decided to use Second Life simply because it was so developed and had quite a few good educational areas. We viewed it as a lab. The purpose of our study was not to explore the use of Second Life for education, but rather to explore the use of Multi-user Virtual Environments (MUVEs). What we learned was promising. I believe that the issue that we should be discussing is the use of MUVEs, not one particular platform. Second Life was not developed for education. It was educators who saw the potential and began "using it" for education.

There are several studies involving MUVEs with K-12 students. One particularly interesting one is called "The River City Project" and was developed by Chris Dede and others at Harvard. Students work within a virtual environment, "River City," to solve a health epidemic. The project is well-structured and intended to teach students the scientific method and shared problem-solving.

The project provides professional development for teachers. It is all monitored and access is very carefully controlled.

Sorry for the long post.