Library on Schomebase
19 December 2006
I’m working with Peter Twining to get the new Second Life island ‘Schomebase’ up and running. I believe it has been agreed that the library will be represented in some way shape or form. I agreed with Peter that I would touch base with you to see if I could get something in place before you arrive on Schomebase, giving you something to work with, and also allowing us to continue with the excellent progress we’ve been making on shaping up the island.
If you have any ideas please let me know. You’ll still be able to change things in the future, but it will simply help us ‘layout’ the island asap if we have some idea of what you had planned.
04 January 2007
I like the idea of representing the library as a large hollow tree, rather than a building. I don't know if that is difficult to achieve? I will have to get back to you later with more ideas about the content, as the colleagues I've been discussing this with are away until Monday.
12 January 2007
An update on developments on Schomebase. Firstly creating a large hollow tree is certainly not beyond possibility in Second Life. It is however not the easiest of tasks.
[Aside: Whilst pondering the potential of the tree design I was asking myself what purpose the tree metaphor served, and to what extent it created the most appropriate user experience for the library content it was housing. Please feel free to forward your thoughts on these issues.]
Consequently, given that a) we were looking for some level of library presence as part of the NAGTY pilot and b) we had other things needing a home, a multi-purpose building was devised and can be seen below (thumbnail can be clicked on for larger image):
Before I built this I had it sketched out in such a way that it did infact parallel many aspects of a tree, but it was actually far too impractical to build as I had designed it on paper, so what you see is something more conventional (but that still took a lot of time to build, that’s the way SL is!).
The building has essentially three purposes:
The central portion of the ground floor will act as a hub for general support/help/information. In the image on the right-hand side of the previous link you can see that some online presence indicators have been added so visitors can see which members of the time are online to provide support. Things like noticeboards and the like will also be added.
The ‘perimeter’ of the ground floor will be our “co-op” a kind of free shop where we will be putting out lots of items that visitors can take and use. Kieron has been working on this content and it will be transported into the space shortly.
Finally, and of greatest importance to yourselves, the 1st floor can be used for the library presence. What we would like to know are the details of what is going to be in here.
In terms of area there is plenty of space, the building is comprised of 12 x10m sides, with the walls (of each floor) being 8m high. So if you presented ‘stuff’ around the perimeter of the first floor you have a very substantial surface area to fill.
Hopefully there will be lots of benefits to this arrangement (the multi-purpose nature of the space should increase visitor numbers, and as such provide much more traffic to the library area than if it sat alone), and the semi-transparent nature helps to invite people in and retain the fairly “open” aesthetic to the island. However it doesn’t in any way prevent us revisiting things at a later stage.
Comments are welcome, and we are especially keen to hear what kind of content is envisaged for the space.
January 25, 2007
The idea behind the tree is that it is a common metaphor for knowledge, but perhaps I'm still thinking too much like a librarian.
As for the library content it is housing, I've been talking to a couple of my colleagues about what we can put in there without violating any licence agreements, and they feel that there's no point in trying to select content without knowing who the audience is. So, what I wanted to ask you is, who will be the main users of Schomebase, and what sort of subjects are they likely to be interested in? Peter, you were saying that the island will be restricted to NAGTY users, so are we aiming resources primarily at kids?
We are thinking of taking a more skills-based approach, rather than providing resources - using Safari http://ltssolweb1.open.ac.uk/safari/signpostframe.htm and other library toolkits which are already being developed for Open Learn and partnership projects. The advantages of this approach are that it would help people find free stuff on Google and it would give people activities to do, rather than just a collection of links to resources that will take them back out to a browser window. Could we put Safari on a noticeboard so that it can be used in-world?
We can provide links to resources like SCRAN, www.scran.ac.uk, which offers some free resources as well as some we have to pay for. However, most people approach libraries looking for something specific, and any free resources we provide are going to be things they could find through Google anyway.
We may not be able to use our own 'chat to a librarian' tool unless the island is restricted to OU users, because we don't have the resource to answer enquires from members of the public. The UK version is here: http://www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk/enquire/index.html and the US version is here: http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/
There are other OU resources we could link to, such as open2.net and the OUW sales page.
Let me know what you think of these ideas.
25 January 2007
We need to distinguish between SchomeBase and Schome Park.
SchomeBase - Main Grid - 18 year olds and above - open to anybody. Though of course our main focus is on issues to do with the future of education - so would be great if we could provide access to stuff relevant to that.
Schome Park - Teen Grid - 13 to 17 year olds - initially limited to students from National Association for Gifted and Talented Youth. With focus on four groups - ethics & philosophy; archeology; physics; and the widening participation group (who are not clearly linked with any particular discipline area).
I generally like the idea of providing support for locating free stuff (on the web) - the big limitation at the moment is that you cannot dynamically display web pages within Second Life - you have to go out to your browser to do that (which kind of kills off the Second Lifeness of it). However, this is likely to be one of the first things that changes now that the SL client has gone open source - so expect that web browsing from inworld will become a reality 'soon'.
Could we provide access to 'ask a librarian' within Schome Park (cos only a limited group of folk all of who are involved in an OU project?
25 January 2007
Above is Peter's response to my questions about what he expects/wants from the library. So, can we put together some free resources for Schome Park on the subjects mentions, or is that going to be hugely time-consuming?
26 January 2007
I'm still struggling with the concept of what exactly to put on Second Life, must be my age and lack of experience of MMOGs!
I've not got any free resources in those subject areas that I've found for OpenLearn or other partners yet, and they'd need to be a different age level too. That isn't to say we couldn't find some but this would just be a list of web links which doesn't seem to fit with the Second Life concepts.
We could wrap some of this type of links into Jo's information skills guides that they've prepared for OpenLearn, although they might need reversioning for 13-17 year olds as well. I'm aware that we haven't bought Jo into this discussion as yet, but having read up a little on what other libraries are planning or doing in Second Life the focus does seem to be on library instruction and ask a librarian services.
One advantage of putting any resources we have found into information guides would be the added value - if we give a list of links it isn't anything more than our pick of what they'd find on Google and would involve them opening a new browser window each time. The only thing I'm not sure of is how we'd be able to present the information guide information? Does it open as a document they read in Second Life, as a word document, or would it be a presentation like Powerpoint? It might influence what we do and also the time and resources needed. It'd be great to have a recorded Avatar doing the instruction, or FAQs, but I realise we haven't got any time for that sort of thing.
You'd mentioned getting Safari on to it somehow so that links with the instruction ideas.
I'm not sure I'm being much help, but that's my thoughts so far. Perhaps we need to involve Jo here too?