Sunday, 23 November 2008

Coming in to land - Activity 7

The objective of Activity 7 is " to raise awareness of the different options available to new users of MUVES (in this case Second Life) when learning about the environment and how to use it, and to develop an understanding of the different approaches currently available in SL."

Although I've been in and out of SL for a long time, I'm by no means an expert despite being put in Group 3 (What is an expert? I've been saying I'll go down to Group 2 since the beginning!) and so I decided to look around all four, rather than the required two :

* Orientation partly interactive, Virtual Ability (135, 124, 23)
* RL Student Orientation Area, Campus (172, 90, 24)
* NMC Orientation (107, 114, 39)
* Orientation Stations, Dore (32, 99)

Many comments have already been made about each of the four stations in the forum so, in order not to be repetitive, I'm going to give a brief overview here.

* NMC Orientation (107, 114, 39)

I particularly liked the posters with information clearly stated, the arrows on the ground and the free resources. This is a place one could come back to again and again for information.

I met nobody on the first visit but on the second visit, I met a pornographic sex queen and this is exactly what puts learners off virtual worlds. I took a lovely picture for prosperity... and then deleted it.

There are a lot of resources available on the island. However, each time I used a video, I was logged out of SL.

Camera Tutorial from NMC

I really didn't know what the train was supposed to do and hopped on and off at the other end. Did I miss something?

* Orientation Stations, Dore (32, 99)

Orientation Stations, Dore was the second to be visited.

I didn't like this very much. I found the colours of dark brown and grey rather depressing. Again I met nobody and found it rather staid to just read posters. I didn't have to be in SL for that. In one room to practise moving an object, there was no ball to move!

* RL Student Orientation Area, Campus (172, 90, 24)

I loved the colours, sounds, builds and general 'lightness' of the RL Student Orientation Island
but really don't think that a newcomer to SL would be 'happy' there. The area was very restricted and very quickly, an avatar is locked in (or out) by fences which is not a nice feeling at all. The avatar can very quickly stray into the sandbox area without knowing it. Again, there was nobody to chat with or to get help from.

* Orientation partly interactive, Virtual Ability (135, 124, 23)

This island was full of posters to read ... and read ... and read ...What I did like was the star-like confetti which fell from the sky when I landed after my flying activity.

To conclude, I would suggest that a place looking like RL Student Orientation with the learning resources of NMC would be rather exciting for a newcomer to SL :-)

Tip : Generate your slurl here

Reflection : My first hours

For the second activity, we have been asked to :

Please share here your stories about your first hours of life in Second Life. Reflect on your experience: How would you describe your first steps? What were the technical issues, if any? What did you feel about the avatar you chose? What was orientation island like? Could you find help as needed? Where did you go? Did you speak to other avatars? What would improve the experience, if anything? What previous knowledge and skills helped you?

My first steps were not steps but rather fumbling, bumbling, embarrassing moments until I discovered the 'fly' feature and I escaped! The problem was, I didn't know where I was flying to! However, it was sheer bliss to fly and put a distance between myself (yes, 'me' although I was sitting at my desk in front of a pc screen), the avatars popping up everywhere in the orientation island and the distinct feeling of not knowing what on earth I was doing.

My free spirit, or fear of bumbling along further, took me to a weird place with avatars in black leather and carrying whips! I was on skype and pinged a colleague to get me out of there! It never once occurred to me to quit the programme. So I got my first teleporting experience.

Once I was on 'safe' land again, I got tense again as a big muscled avatar ran past and bumped me. 'It' didn't talk but just stood there I really felt uncomfortable. Then 'it' chatted with me and was in fact a colleague. We met up with some others and I discovered the dance feature and just went wild with this. My colleague passed me some more music and I couldn't stop! I loved it! However, when I should have moved on with the others, I couldn't as I didn't know how to stop dancing so I looked rather dumb!

As for my appearance, I didn't really worry about it and in fact, don't now. The orientation island was confusing for me and nobody really helped me, hence my need to escape it. Having experience of working online helped me to just dive in and try as the technology didn't frighten me. The environment in itself was the strangest thing for me. In fact, it still is.

Once I got over the initial buzz of this new play area, I wondered how it could be used for and with learners. I still am.