User:Gill

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Euphloozie's SecondLife diary

19th November 07: Bringing new energy into Schome Park

Schome Park has become more and more busy with the arrival of new students from the US, and new staff members. It's been an exciting time. The new members are really acting as an energy boost for the entire project. It's true what they say about new blood. The students and staff come without preconceptions and have enabled us to see ways in which we may have become complacent. By the same token, the community and self-governance that exists in our little virtual island is pretty unusual, especially the level of control and responsibility taken by our Sparkers, and I think may take a little getting used to. Students take as active a role in running the island as do staff, and this can be quite a novel concept. Still, overall it's going well, with new activities coming online organised both by staff and students, and the time-difference resulting in activity on the island over much longer periods.

24th July 07: Geocaching in Second Life

Fox and I went Geocaching on the main grid. For those who don't know what Geocaching in real life is, checkout the official Geocaching website or the entry in wikipedia.

Anyway, several virtual geocaching groups have sprung up in main Second Life. As Geocaching is part of the major focus of my PhD, I couldn't resist joining and giving it a go. As in Real Life, I am absolutely useless at actually spotting the caches so I recruited Fox to help me out. True to form, She spotted both the two caches we were hunting for. They take the form of virtual boxes that look pretty close to the typical ammo box used to conceal traditional geocaches in real life.

I have already done a web survey to get a handle on some of the learning gains to be had from geocaching and received very good responses from members of the Geocaching community. I'm currently working through 661 responses with tons of qualitative data. I'd like to use my findings to create some kind of geocaching and learning based activity in Schome Park. Maybe the students can help create and hide the caches to provide puzzle's for others to explore. There is some sort of virtual cache template on the main grid. When you touch the cache it gives you a notecard, then you log your find on the SLgeocaching website.

Perhaps we could adapt part of the Schome website for this...

19th June 07: SPii

Gosh, has it really been two months! I guess so. Much has happened with the biggest thing being the relaunch of the island. This is a good thing as we can learn from our previous experiences. Woop has put in alot of effort making the new island much more "organic" and the effect really works. We even have our own volcano, beach, inlet and waterways for yacht racing. It's quite lovely. The only downside is the fact that all the staff have been issued with new avatars. So any stuff that belonged to the old avatar and was no transfer is now redundant. It's interesting how attached you can become to your "image". Fox really liked her little avatar, dress and dragon and I'd grown quite accustomed to being a 6ft amazon in a red dress and black/blue hair. Ah well. I've discovered a new androgenous look. I was going to try being a chap, but the Sparkers I was chatting to about this all felt this would be a bad move and preferred me to stick with a female form.

I think I'll just carry on experimenting :)

1st April 07: CAL Conference in Dublin

Was at the Computers and Learning Conf in Dublin last week. Lots of really interesting presentations including three on virtual environments such as world of warcraft and second life. One of these was by PeterT under the banner of the Schome initiative and unfortunately they put it in an opposing strand to the other on Second Life - at EXACTLY the same time. Fox and I went to the other strand as we figured we knew what Peter was likely to say. It was very interesting. The presenter had been in SL for two years, but was researching in main grid rather than teen grid so I think we've got quite an interesting edge there.

During one session I spotted Peter on SL (he was sitting about two seats to my left) so I popped online and surprised him. It was quite funny because he was so engrossed in the virtual world of SL that he'd not noticed me sitting nearby in real life :)

Toward the end, during the final keynote speeches, we were all pretty tired. Peter, Fox and I were sitting in a row feeling a bit bored. I guess some presentations are less interesting than others. Fox said that at times like this she wished we had some of the SParkers around to release bubbles or the pink pig to send out puffs of smoke. We both sat there visualising the effect of bubbles and smoking pigs in real life. It was quite fun.

Wouldn't it be good if we could blend the two; RL and SL. Maybe 3D holographic imagery?

17th March, 07: SkyHigh

Skyhigh 002.jpg

Spent an hour exploring all the changes that have happened in Schome Park. Really interesting. I loved Faz and Baso's Sky High. This rather surreal snapshot is of me floating back down to earth past all the other Sparker Builds. I felt a little like I imagine Alice in Wonderland did as she fell down the well.

15th March, 07: Constructive Chaos

Chaos 001.jpg

Well, the SParkers have well and truly arrived and it's been real fun. But utter chaos too at times. The picture just illustrates the scene the other evening with SParkers building stuff, a pink thing spurting out rather attractive pink smoke, one SParker reclining on the settee and, well, just a really stimulating environment.

We had an attack by a "griefer" today. I'd never heard the term but I can see what it must mean. I found emails from staff who seemed to be struggling with real over-build problems, but by the time I logged on to see what was going on, it was all sorted out.

14th March, 07: Euphloozie and the Dalek

Euphanddalek.jpg

I was so impressed by this dalek in the sandpit. I think I've been given one so when I get a chance, I plan to get it out of my inventory and see what it does. Since the SParkers arrived, my concerns have evaporated to a great extent. They've taken hold of the environment with both hands and seem to be moulding it to suit their interests, and they have a fair number of interests. Different SParkers seem to focus on different areas and the result is a fascinating mix of activities, builds and styles.

11th March, 07: Concerns

It's been a real pain so far this weekend, with the kids totally unable to get into the forum. Several of them have made productive use of the web forum for exchanging greetings and a bit of info about subjects studied which was interesting - I'm fairly sure they were using the asynchronous medium of the forum to hold a synchronous chat which was really innovative. I'm looking forward to meeting them in SL to see what they do with that.

I'm a bit concerned about the monitoring on the wiki and forum. We obviously need to be really careful, particularly about thinks like preserving anonymity as this is a public forum. However I wonder if we should tone it down a bit fairly soon. Obviously we still need to watch the posts to make sure people don't put personal information up, but flagging each change with "I've removed all personal details here, please read the AUP" may, I think, become a bit inhibiting. Given the inventiveness they've already demonstrated in using the wiki, I don't think they'd take long to find an alternative if they felt too closely watched. Nobody likes to think that Big Brother is watching them, and to have it flagged up in the forum for all to see that BB is not only watching them but has caught them in an infringement may not go down that well. Maybe just changing the entry and sending a personal message would do the trick.

9th March, 07: My cuboid snake

Cuboidsnake.jpg

Had flashmeeting with Peter, Dan, Olly and Rebecca this morning to go over what we should be doing during the student inductions. All seems fairly straightforward although I can imagine that it will be fairly chaotic when we first do it. I was surprised to find that the students will all start out with the same avatar. Doesn't seem right - total loss of individuality. I think the first thing to do is to help them learn how to at least select their preferred gender and how to get some different clothes out of the Scho-op.


Been wandering around Schome Park trying to remember where everything is. There's a lovely dalek in the sandbox. I hope it doesn't get cleared away before the teens arrive. I'd like one myself. Perhaps I'll try to take a copy. Maybe I could wear it and be a dalek when I feel like it.
Took my first attempt at creating an object in the sandbox. Not as impressive as the lovely dalek, but I'm pleased with it. I created a cuboid snake with a green side as you can see in the picture. That little avatar on top is me.

As cuboid snakes go, this has to be one of the best I've seen!! --Dan 14:08, 9 March 2007 (GMT)

7th March, 07: Getting ready for the arrival of the teens

Lots of final changes to the wiki. Don't envy Peter trying to co-ordinate it all, but I he seems to have surrounded himself with a capable set of people who can shoot off and get things done. Today was a case in point - the AUP was not yet in place. After a quick email consultation about trying to get something together possibly as an interim measure, I thought "Well, why not pop something in place, even if it's fairly short. At least the framework will be there". I think Peter and Rebecca has the same thought and we had an interesting few moments triple-editing the same page at the same time. Not something to be recommended, but it worked out fine. There's lots of information and examples of good educational AUPs, and SL itself has a pretty good one so we'll certainly have something ready for the kids when they start arriving.
May you live in interesting times

2nd March, 07: I've migrated to Teen Life

Euphloozie Phlox

I was online yesterday in Schome Park on the main grid. For some reason I decided to try again tonight and there I was, migrated onto Schome Park on the Teen grid. A full moon was shining and it was dark and mysterious. I was the only one there, so I wandered around a bit to check it out, took some pictures to celebrate the event, and logged off.

It felt really exciting and quite a special event.

10th February, 07: Schome Park Documentation

I've been reading the SL blikis, particularly those of Rebecca and Mark. They both seem to be really comfortable and at home in the virtual environment of SL, visiting interesting places and picking up useful scripts etc. Encountering phrases such as "prim-heavy" which I now understand, but which would have been double-dutch to me a few months ago, makes me wonder whether some sort of SL glossary might be helpful to the teens of the NAGTE pilot.

The crib-sheet is at first-draft stage. However it is starting to look like several crib sheets will be needed. One for signing up to Teen Life, another on how to choose your avatar name (emphasising that you cannot change it once you've got it) and then the all important tips and tricks for getting around and doing things in Schome Park.

If the documentation continues growing at this rate, I won't have time to hang out in Teen Park - I'll be nose to the writing grindstone :)

I think your documentation work will be critical for the success of the project, Gill! I can't help thinking though that it will be as critical to provide documentation for the staff participating as well as the students - though most of the docs will be good for both "communities". I have a sneaking suspicion - but I may be wrong - that the teenaged students will be faster off the mark then the teachers. It could be argued that the staff will have to come up to speed in the initial stages to support the pupils as learners - though I accept this raise philosophical schome like questions about the meaning of learning and the roles of teachers and students...!
A thought - are there any plans to give the students pre-induction surveys or questionnaires on their expectations, or familiarity with other virtual worlds? It would be interesting to find out what percentage of the students already have some experience of comparable virtual worlds. e.g. "Have you played an online multiplayer game before? do you own a Playstation/Wii/ etc" --Mgaved 13:30, 10 February 2007 (GMT)

1st February, 07: Migrating to Schome Park

SNP group at PhotoBooth

We had an inworld meeting in SL this week. It was fun in the sense that you got to see everybody and socialise in a virtual sense, but it was also frustrating. Sometimes I would get delayed as the system couldn't cope with all the avatars at once and I had to log out and back in three times during the hour. I think group activities will be an essential part of Schome Park, but we need to establish a realistic maximum and also ensure that we keep an eye out for bods that drop off and log back in so that we can teleport them to our location so they don't feel excluded or lost.

I've just got started on a crib-sheet for the teens who come to Schome Park. Not sure what the timescales are, but I should be able to get it reasonably finished, provided people review it for me, but the end of next week. Good thing really because I'm away for about half of half term week.

28th Jan, 07: Blikis

Began browsing around the new Schome Park bit of the wiki. It's taking shape nicely. Wandered around the blikis of the others who have been more closely involved in the SL project than I have. I think I've probably got some catching up to do.

A couple of things did spring to mind as I read. Firstly, it doesn't really take all that long to feel reasonably at home in the SL environment. I've not been online inworld as much as the others, but I do remember a distinct turning point. Going online with Rebecca and Anesa at the same time helped me get up to speed as we discovered and explored the environment together. So collaborative learning is certainly something to be encouraged here.

Second, playing in second life is probably addictive (did I mention this in the ethics page?). I suspect all virtual reality games are, whether streaming interactive like world of warcraft or second life, or second life. I think I might follow Olly's example and keep a log of when and for how long I play in second life just to keep it under control. Juliette is hosting one of the IET technology coffee mornings soon about SL and WOW. In her blog, she explains that she prefers to play in World of Warcraft rather than SL because there is a goal. She finds SL a bit pointless. I don't know anything about World of Warcraft so I'm looking forward to going along to find out more.

I too thought SL was a bit pointless until I discovered shopping (for freebies). I love shopping in real life so I was immediately in my element. I know others prefer building things but hey, it takes all sorts. I also enjoyed listening in on the conversations of the shoppers around me. They were helping each other, explaining how to open the boxes and actually access certain items.

20th Jan, 07: Seeing Double

Gill's twin personalities, Euphloozie Vostok and Euphloozie Phlox


Finally decided it was time to make an appearance here in the blikizone. My initial experiences in SL were not encouraging. I got fired at, enclosed in boxes and generally felt pretty threatened. However, loathe to give up I persevered and am starting to feel more at home in this environment.

I've signed up to go to the teen grid and created a new avatar, Euphloozie Phlox, to go there. Rebecca's avatar and mine share a surname which we think is nice. I then went shopping mad and headed for Galli to stock up on everything and anything I thought might be interesting. It could feel a little restricting being limited to Schome Park so I want things to try on or play with when I'm there.

I also think that it could be fun to be able to give wearable objects to the NAGTY teens who might drop into the island. Playing about putting wings on and off and discovering shoes that gave my avatar a rather amusing walk certainly helped me enjoy things. Also, I defy anyone not to have fun on the BMX bikes.

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