Okay, so I gave it a try. I downloaded the software at home, made an avatar and went to Newbie Island or whatever it’s called. My internet connection is not lightning-fast, so I spent a lot of time clicking arrows, then waiting to turn. In frustration, I clicked the arrows a few times and of course turned too far. I walked into a lot of walls. So I decided to fly. I clicked fly. Turns out I was inside a building and there was nowhere to fly to. But at least there were a lot of other newbies up there, looking kind of dazed, probably trying to find the “stop flying” button.
I had procrastinated on doing the virtual worlds thing because I was shy. I mean, I don’t like going to parties by myself, even when I know people there, so going to a whole second world with millions of strangers sounded awfully intimidating. When I got there, people kept trying to talk to me, but I just ignored them. This is some extreme social media. Maybe when I get more advanced I will be able to find a nice place by the ocean to hang out.
After about a half-hour of bumping into walls (and ceilings!) and not being able to figure out what to do next, I called it a night. So my Second Life experience was inconclusive. However, a few thoughts did come to mind:
- Any educational application of virtual worlds will require education around how to get into and navigate the virtual world, or you may lose half your students off the bat.
- Based on conversations I’ve had, it seems that most people on Second Life are on there with friends they already know. So maybe my mistake was joining the party alone.
- There may be a future for virtual worlds in education, but let’s not assume that “all the kids are doing this” (see Deanne’s post on this subject).
- At the same time, I do see tremendous potential for applying this to education. I think it will need to be a little more accessible and a little more user-friendly before it’s widespread.
– Chris G aka Rich Grantly