Yesterday i, uh, my creator...
(Beeble speaking here of his biological maker, one of many (i's) eyes)
or should i say I? - Beeble has tried to distinguish himself with the lower-case first-person. This identity stuff is endless...of course playing with identity didn't start in Second Life, nor with the book, but waaay back in shamanic history, identity shift was/is a regular practice.
So, nothing shamanic or anything, but i will be Beeble, and I will be his creator.
(and perhaps this "I' should be expressed in bold italics, for emphatic embodiment - 'emphatic' deriving from 'to show' or 'to appear')
(yesterday, I attended a UR Learning 2007 teaching & technology conference, and my colleague, known as Ignatius Onomatopoeia in SL, was showing his hilarious but informative video of his SL explorations so far. I'll try to get a link to it. It's worth seeing just for the scenes of him dancing in a gorilla suit!
And so the question arises, arose during the demonstration, what's the academic value? How do we apply this in the classroom? Hmmm....how indeed! I'm sure the same questions were asked of the BOOK once too!
The keynote speaker for the mini-conference was Dr. Phil Long of MIT's Office of Educational Innovation and Technology - I like the order of those words because it places the priority on education, not technology and it leads with educators. In his talk, he inadvertently affirmed educational and design principles that were articulated by transcendentalists like Emerson and Peabody and utopians like Fourier and in more modern novels like Gilman's Herland, Skinner's Walden Two, Callenbach's Ecotopia or Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time.
Modern studies are confirming what our elders knew: learning behaviors, patterns and spaces should have some freedom to form their natural shape based on student interest and engagement. Learning should involve the body and real-world experiments. Learning should be diverse in content and approach, and face-to-face human interaction is an essential part of the process of learning.
The specific educational/intellecutal value of SL is primarily its invitation to creativity and "world building" as Iggy puts it. One thing many teachers have noticed of students is the waning of creative thinking and SL has many tools to spark this. Beyond that however is the intellectual value of critical discussion of this world as it evolves, as we are changed by it as we create it. Old forms of social interaction are morphing, mutating into something else...no doubt both good and bad.
SL can facilitate inter-cultural exchange as can be experienced with Iggy's new hillbilly friend "Pappy Enoch" known for his famous cry: Wee Doggies!
OR it can be a bit more sober like the Student Symposium work on display at the UR Tower.
Using SL in class, Teachers would be free to create any kind of classroom, demonstration, image, multimedia exhibit, tour, interactive space...whatever they wanted and could afford, but it can be used for free.
The Basic membership is free and you can play for years if you're not digitally materialistic (oxymoronic?) but with a Premium membership, for only a few dollars you can have access to tremendously powerful digital creation tools. And if your school won't support your work by buying real estate or building an island, you can always meet at public spaces with your students or tour the vastness of Second Life - more than likely there will be a group, exhibit or place that matches with your particular discipline. )
so, to boomerang full circle, beware the book!
(it ain't going anywhere, but there's no tellin' where one'll point you)