Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
My negative comments on Second Life in my July 2nd post inspired several replies which rightly chastised me for being too one sided. Given that readers of the e-mail version of this newsletter don't automatically get the comments, I am reproducing them here. -GW


Re: Proving the Potential of Virtual Worlds
Alan Levine, July 2, 2008

The experiences you describe of "boring" replication are not a function of the potential of Second Life, but what people so far have used it for, much the same way people can blame powerpoint software for bad presentations. Its like blaming the technology of the circuitry in my television for the crappy shows on the screen.

Its easy to take potshots at Second Life -- the post by Matt Rose is based on a lot of data? supposition like "I think..."

Our organization has run 4 conferences in Second Life (ones people paid to attend) where the sessions were most certainly not sitting and screen watching, but where we had role play, active learning, content creation, 3D demonstrations, even out of control mashup dancing.

People are behind it all.


Re: Proving the Potential of Virtual Worlds
Anymouse, July 3, 2008

I completely agree with Alan and you can reference the conversation on the SLED list re "horseless carriage syndrome" too. SL is a platform for creativity in education, including giving students the lead if you so choose. If you want to recreate page-turning, well, that's possible too.

And, dear me, we're supposed to get excited about RocketOn in closed alpha. What about weblins, ExitReality, YooWalk, etc? My excitement quota is running low already. Sheesh.


Re: Proving the Potential of Virtual Worlds
Anymouse, July 3, 2008

So, let me see - you attend a panel where they choose to replicate something from real life and that constitutes a fault with the platform?

Have you visited, for example, Dante's Inferno in Second Life. I'd love to see you replicate the travel, the lakes of boiling blood, the burning sands and the like in a real life classroom. Does it work to teach the class? Absolutely, it empowers students to see the parallels between Inferno and Linden Hills in very strong terms.

I'm guessing since you've got an .ca domain you don't have a plethora of old abbeys, castles and the like, perhaps you should try visiting Tintern Abbey in SL - far cheaper for you than heading over to the real one.

If science is more your thing, perhaps a visit to Second Nature to see molecules big enough to climb on, or Drexel where you can see the molecules reforming as the reaction progresses, you can do this on a huge scale and co-operatively - things you can do IRL if you have a lot of time, money and specialist software or you can do in SL with a bit of co-operation between two professors who might never have met without Second Life to facilitate it.

If you'd rather life sciences, go visit Genome. Parts of it function rather like a museum, but the pooping llamas leave an impression, as does the giant cell, and the ability to rapidly replicate years of Mendel's work in a way that is far more engaging than any web-based simulation I've ever seen are all strong positives for the platform.

Second Life can replicate real life if you don't have the imagination to use it in other ways. It can do a million other things too, many of them things that time, money, travel, health and safety and other issues will just stop you doing in any real life classroom.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Apr 13, 2021 1:07 p.m.