Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Communication and Interaction Tools in Second Life

It's almost Christmas Eve and we have just finished our cooperative activity based on
'Communication and Interaction' tools in Second Life.

The activity involved was to collect a number of Educational tools that could be useful for teachers in Second LIfe to help their teaching where Communication and Interaction is involved.

It's been a very rewarding task. We have conformed a great group with Viki, Nergiz and Marga. The tasks were naturally divided and we found that we could complement each other perfectly well.

It's been not easy to meet in-world. The End of the year was near and all of us were
busy in our normal Real Life activities.But going back to our complementation as a group, the task could be fulfilled thanks to the cooperation of all the members. We had the luck to have Viki in our group, who is an expert in building and displaying our great BOOK where we are displaying a sample of the long list of Educational tools to develop communication in Second Life.

After deliberating we decided that a 'book' was going to be a good tool to show Educators our job, where they can take it with them and read it 'in-world' or use it as a HUD.

As I mentioned, Viki built the place where our book is displayed. YOu can see the picture here

Once you enter the place there is a 'Merry Go round' in the middle of the area where the books hung from the place giving the idea of 'movement and interaction', exactly what we will be looking for the moment you'll be experiencing the book. Image below:

Then, on both sides you have nice dispñays where the books are on show so about 6 educators can be reading the book at the same time without disturbing or waiting for others to finish.

Pages can be easily turned by touching on them. Fonts have been carefully chosen to be able to be read easily. Once reading the tool you have chosen from the 'content' page, a picture and a description of the tool on how to use it in your classes is written on the book, so you can choose and know how to make future use of it.

This Communication and Interaction book is also furnished with a notecard holding the same explanations as the book has plus the additional landmark where you can find the tool. We basically tried to include free tools in this sample, but you can find a further list on Muvenation wiki, which we will soon post.

The book can be rezzed and placed it in your favourite area to read it comfortably

or wear it as a HUD

and keep it with you while being teletransported from one sim to another to find the tools we have carefully recommended for you.

Viki,Daffodil,Paz and me, Wonderalica, hope you can find this book useful for your future development.

I take the chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2009. My warmest regards to Muvenation participants and all Educators who can find our job useful for their Educational lives inside Second Life!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Muvenation: Communication and Interaction tools in SL

The last activity of the year for Muvenation course was working in groups for the collection of educational tools. Among the educational tools that you can collect you can apply them for different purposes: communication and interaction, assessment and feedback, reflection, creationg of content, delivery learning material, etc.

As individuals we had to choose a purpose, and my choice was : communication and interaction. For that activity you had to create inside your group a hud, tour guide or book to show Educators about Educational tools you've chosen.

I found this proposed activity very challenging, since I immediately got enthusiastic. It was a chance to gather useful information for other educators about Educational tools that we can either know or discover and put them on show.

We are about to finish our project and in a few days I'll be able to post the work we've done in collaboration with other educators that participate in the same course.

(Wonderalica Alturas)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Weekly educational meetings

Every Friday at 11 am SLT we meet a group of educators who share views, experiences,etc. about teaching Languages in Second Life.

It's an international group that initially was formed by Nergiz Kern , Maru del Campo and me, Alicia Barbitta. We started with it in April 2008,and since then, we have consistently joined every Friday. Nergiz has built up a Wiki and we started sharing activities. Then I proposed opening it to other groups of Educators and now there are more than 40 who have joined us to collaborate in the wiki.

The number of Educators to the meetings have increased and now we are never alone.

Below you can see a collection of pictures taken by Steve, one of the participants.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Easy Photo Sharing

Monday, December 1, 2008

Curating our digital selves

Curating our digital selves - Activity 9 for Experienced users of Second Life in Muvenation course.

I did really have fun doing this activity. Playing with avatars gives you a special feeling. It makes you reflect on the influence your image can cause on others. I got several comments out of some
avatars I came across in SL when being someone else.

A colleague was surprised to see me as an animal...they never thought I could be that way. Another one told me ' If my daughter sees you, she'd definitely love your avatar'.

It was supposed to play with one avatar only, but I really got so enthusiastic that I wanted to know what I could feel in different situations. If I had to choose one of them, I would definitely choose to be a Triceropudos. It's really funny, friendly and gives a real sweet image despite its size!

Hope you enjoy the snapshots made in Muvenation platform where participants show their final production for this task.

The professional Avatar

The Professional Avatar

As an advanced participant of MUVEnation distance course the activity to be done for this week relates about reflecting on Professional Avatars.

We had to visit ISTE Island and stop at the station that deals with these Avatars. Here is what they show:
Reflecting on these pictures I guess it has been little biased. Texts are not focused on a 'style' but pictures are. They are really telling you that to be a professional you have to look that way, even in SL where it seems there is far more freedom to the way you look and be than in RL.

Reading the SLED posts you find a variety of opinions about professional looks in SL regarding teachers. Some people think you must be professional in the way you look while others mention that they can even find animal avatars as teachers.
From my point of view I think that what SL offers you is the ability to adapt to the teaching situation you are representing. I guess that in my Business English area I'd rather look similar to what I look in RL, though if I wanted to introduce free activities I'd really choose an avatar that would represent what we were dealing in the topic.
Regarding the fact that if there would be any appearance I would never use in Second Life, I guess I would never try to call my students' attention wearing provocative clothes in my Business English class.

I do consider myself rather conservative in the way I look in SL and I almost try to appear quite similar in the way I dress in RL . Nevertheless I do not take that much attention to changing my clothes as I daily do in my RL. There is so much to learn and investigate in SL that changing clothes is not my first aim.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alicia Barbitta - TV interview - Second Life

Second Life in an Uruguayan TV Channel

As mentioned, this Tuesday 25th I was interviewed in an Uruguayan TV channel about Second Life.

You can see the interview here. Hope Spanish Speakers enjoy it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

All about my avatar

All about my avatar

Wonderalica is 2 years old, though she looks like a 'grown up' woman.
Before being as I look now I think I've g
one through two or three stages, no more. The fact of the changes were due to not having experience in dealing with changing clothes and managing body changes. I did not even know about freebies, so at the beginning I tried building clothes myself. The look was not that of what I expected, but if I think seriously, I did not realize I could even be much better than I then looked.

(me on green clothes)

Then some day I came across a woman avatar who might have seen I could look better and took me shopping to 'freebies'. Sh
e first introduced me to some different 'hairstyles'. There she suggested changing my hair colour and style and I guess is what I am still wearing now. I was really happy and comfortable with that change.

(Me with blonde hair. I still did not know how to take pics of myself from the front! )

Little by little I understood where to go to get the clothes I wanted and I also learnt how to unpack those marvellous free boxes 'full' of different clothing styles.
So then I started trying them out to see me looking more like I really look or wear in RL.

My avatar tries to reflect what I really do in RL. I love swimming so, my first purchase after 2 years in second life was a swimming hud. I did really feel 'happy' wearing it since I got it in a special moment of my RL, where 2 months ago I was operated and had to stop swimming for 15 days in RL. That swimming hud was a 'perfect' complement, to see me practicing my be-loving sport inside SL.

The aim of my avatar is discovering the best ways to teach languages, so whenever I am in-world is to meet colleagues to brainstorm ideas about language learning, as well as to understand the usage of tools to help learning be more enjoyable and memorable.

Therefore the image I think my avatar reflects is similar to what I look like or would like to look like in RL. The major difference is in the colour of my hair, but once in RL I had my hair dyed blonde, so, it's not strange for me to see me that way.

I have to admit that what my avatar does not do is to change clothes very much, I found myself very comfortable in what I am wearing now - (guess I have not changed clothes for over 6 months now! )For sure this is something that really differs ' a lot' from my RL activity.
I guess that I am not that concern on impressing avatars on changing clothes but on remembering me for my way of being, curiosity and will to improve myself for the benefit of my students in SL.

Wonderalica Alturas

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Uruguayan TV Channel : Teledoce - recording my presence in SL


Yesterday, Teledoce, a Uruguayan TV channel came in Real Life to record about my presence in Second Life.
The purpose was to show Second Life as a innovative way for distance Education.
They arrived just for our usual Second Life weekly meeting with a group of Educators that is held every Friday at 11 SLT / 5pm Uruguayan time.

They could record through the laptop screen some tools that we had 'on show' to use in the classes. Also my colleagues introduced themselves to them and said where they were from and what they did.

Here are some snapshots from the moment that the TV was recording our meeting:

1) Alphabet game built by 'Calisto'

2) Our next stop at the front of my house in Second Life

3) Wonderalica (me) trying out the game

4) More snapshots taken by 'Steve' from the meeting and tour, including a board game I displayed. Pls click on the link: http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/503379

5)Then my launchroom at
' Virtlantis' :

My launchroom is where people can contact me for in-world classes. We walked around and showed them how I could also fly inside Second Life.

Next Tuesday November 25th I will be interviewed on TV and it will be broadcasted 'live'. I'll try to show about:
a)the benefits of Second Life, b) who is present in Second Life and c) how all this started for me.

I'll also tell them about informal and formal ways of learning to use Technology for classes.

You can follow a short interviewed in Spanish in the written press :http://www.observa.com.uy/Osecciones/ciencia/nota.aspx?id=118819:

I hope I will be able to include next Tuesday's live recording in this blog.

alicia (Wonderalica Alturas)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Micro-learning induction activity

Communicating : CHAT

After reading the four GKCx, Level 1 Modules 1-4, I've chosen the Communicating Chat mission to develop into an engaging task.

I would set this assignment for participants who will take part in a group class.


Chat is an essential tool to manage in-world to communicate with others, express feelings, post questions, etc. Chat will always be the rpimarily use for residents to communicate with peers since it si the toll they are used to managing when they communicate using other resources outside SL.

Activity: Managing IMs

Common chat is easy to handle once in SL. Personal IMs is a skill that needs to be developed.

Purpose of IMs in class

To communicate privately with your teacher or peers.
To avoid interfering when doing group work or pair activities and to be able to share their views without distracting other's attention.

Introductiory task : Show participants how to manage personal IMs

*Ask participants to open their 'Contact list'

*Tell them to touch the name of the person they would like to chat in private. (Once touched it will highlight with a blue colour)

* Ask them to press : IM/Call button (located at the top right column of the button list)

Next step should appear :

So, now ready to start chatting privately with your : partner /peer / group in class!

Engaging / playful task

The task should be called : 'What are they talking about?'

Separate pairs or groups to different areas previously determined. The areas should have at least 3 different topics for them to develop. Ask the pairs or groups to choose one of these topics and ask them to exchange ideas about what they see regarding: what for / where / to who / when / how often / how much, etc. (1)

When participants finish, they must come back with ideas but they should not share them with the rest of the groups.

Now it's time for the groups to 'guess' what topic they have been describing.

In turns groups should start asking 'Yes/No' questions, so as to guess which topic was exactly chosen to describe.
They should be clever enough to spot non common items inside the topic described so as to guess it the soonest. Would be suitable to assign a specific time for the task to add challenge to the activity.

Once guessed the pair who chose the topic should then describe in 'full' including all the elements they were asked to (1)

This activity is made by all the pairs or groups in turns.


*Managing personal IMs

*Describing objects and its use

*Managing 'Yes/No' questions

* Ability to summarize what discussed in groups

Optional: managing notecards to write down their reports.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

SL - Coming into land

In this occassion my comments will be about two orientation island for SL newbies.

The first one is NMC Orientation, a good tip to find it is :

Once in Second LIfe, click on : Map, and in 'search' write : NMC Orientation. The map will show you the place, and then just click 0n 'teleport.

Organization process is good, though rather long for true beginners. My suggestion is to do it step by step and then enter this orientation island as many times as you need to start learning different skills to manage in-world.

Support : You have visual aids in the format of panels

Activities to be done: Not specific ones. It is supposed that you will try out what they guide you to do through the panels

People: Unfortunately I found no one around to ask their opinions about.

Tedious: Could be the large number of panels to read.

Second Orientation island is : Orientation Station ( same suggestion as before, go to Map, write the name of the SIM and then click on 'teleport'.)

Organization process: Excellent. Very practical for real beginners. Easy to follow and comfortable to work with. Each skill you can try is separate in a close area, like a hut. This makes you focus on that only activity until you can master it as you wish. It's a very good idea that was developed. The only disadvantage I see is that there are still few skills to be managed. Hope they will add more!

Support : Through notecards that are given to you when touched the Second LIfe Logo inside each hut.

Activities: To be done by each avatar inside the hut.

People found : no - one around to ask how they felt.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My first steps in Second Life

A narrative about your first steps in Second Life:

My first steps in Second Life were exactly 2 years ago, which means October 30th 2006. Just remember clearly when I read the post in Webheads list about the usage of Second Life in Education.
I entered the web, downloaded the programme and the first thing I thought was : this is 'crazy', I can't really understand why people might need this.
Truly speaking, it took me some time to settle and understand the purpose. I can say that now I envision virtual worlds as the 'future for Online Educational programmes'

My first avatar was like small and without any personality inside. I did not know about 'Freebies' and I tried making clothes myself. I am not a good designer, so fortunately little by little I was changing it until what I look now.
I think I first visited Educational places that were recommended. Then I started to make my own way and try to see how everything worked. I can say that I do not remember there was an orientation island so, I had to learn on my own how to move and use different tools. Also the help of other visitors and colleagues who were always willing to share, were essential for me to improve my feeling confident inside Second Life.

I really found helpful people in SL and fortunately I never experienced any bad attitude against myself.
Summarizing I can say:

*Reading articles about Second Life is essential
*Being a member of SLED list
*Internal motivation to progress inside this virtual world.
*To be curious', and curiosity brings your need to explore the best for your students regarding online tools.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Self diagnostic exercise

Self Diagnostic exercise

A. I am your friend. I don’t work in education. You are talking to me about the idea that we all learn from each other, in all kinds of contexts, and that this can often be richer than more formal classroom based learning. I am sceptical. Tell me about an informal learning experience you have had online in which collaboration was involved, show me a concrete example to help me to see what you mean.

I have been taking part in Educational groups for over 8 years now. Thanks to the exchange of information and interaction that is promoted I have learnt of a large number of different tools that are used in education to help students improve their learning.

I was able to introduce some of them into my daily teaching and see the positive results as well as the engagement in the activity.

This involvement has not only enriched my students but me from the point of view of of my personal growth inside language teaching understanding the usefulness of developing networks to empower the knowledge we possess.

B. We all explore new technologies, some grab our attention more than others, some seem revolutionary, others simply bore us. Tell us about that new tool, or set of tools, you have just discovered that really excites you, talk about the potential it has to change your work. What do you want to do with it?

The tool that really excites me at the moment is ' Second Life'. I have been experimenting this virtual world for 2 years by now.
Regarding the potential it has, I can say that I envision virtual worlds as the tool that will involve the rest to deliver Online Courses. I believe that virtual worlds will be able to develop or connect all the online tools to complement the excelent requirements for Online learning.

I am using Second Life to deliver Language Courses. Nowadays the disadvantages that I find are : a) voice, since depending the environment you are in, voice is not as stable as you expect and b) PC requirements as well as firewall problems inside companies that do not allow Second Life to be installed.

C. Do you see yourself as a pioneer? Do you think you are more innovative than others in your organisation? Do you think your organisation is lagging behind? Tell us how you feel about this?

I definitely think so. I consider myself a pioneer researching and trying new tools to develop educational courses in my country.Our educational system is still evolving and technology is still not fully considered in some areas.

Regarding my organization is not a problem since I am the head, therefore I am the one who promotes among teachers to include technology in the education.

I was recently interviewed by the media about my presence inside Second Life and its Educational purpose. I had the chance to motivate Uruguayans to try Second Life and experiment on their own the benefits of virtual worlds.

Therefore I feel great to have an intrinsic motivation towards technology and to be able to continue evolving in it.