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Archive for April, 2007

It’s About the Kids Stupid!

I won’t go into great detail here as I’m sure KJ and Victoria will blog about it as well, but Maggie Marat (Peggy Sheehy in RL) gave a SRO presentation last night at the ISTE Skypark about Ramapo Islands on the teen grid. The event filled the sim -literally, and was well worth the time spent. Peggy’s wonderful slide show and narrative brought the Suffern Middle School experience to light in ways that I had not previously seen. I was at Ramapo (virtually) on the first day of the current literature project, and that alone was an amazing experience -seeing the kids interacting in-world. But last night Peggy shared aspects that Kevin and I were not familiar with previously. We were able to see the “Castle” learning space and some of the other wonderful builds, as well as learning how hard it was to build from scratch -I can only imagine how Peggy felt standing on a completely empty sim. I will end by simply stating the reason we are in SL to begin with: It’s the kids stupid! 🙂

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ISTE HQ and String Theory?

String Theory   Last night KJ filled-in doing Victoria‘s docenting duties while she’s away completing the residency for her doctorate. I expected to be helping for the duration, but didn’t make it until near the end of the first hour. Working on the video portion for my Google Teachers Academy application took a big chunk of my Sunday -but that’s another story.

 The ISTE office was uncharacteristically quiet for a Sunday, lending credence to Vic’s assertion that it’s usually busy Sundays because she is there. However we did have a few visitors, so while KJ held down the fort I escorted a curious newbie (sorry the name escapes me) to see the Skypark.

 Part way through my explanation of Show and Tell, Thursday socials, etc., my entire screen showed everything looking like a framework of string. It was creepy to say the least! KJ didn’t understand why I “freaked out” until I sent him a couple of postcards -which he will no doubt post on his blog! I thought that if I TP’d back to the ISTE office my view would go back to normal, but no such luck. I had to log out and back in for everything to appear properly. There’s a first time for everything, but if anyone else has experienced this, I’d sure like to know about it.

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ISTE Thursday Night Social and Puppy Feet

What a HUGE improvement over previous attempts to socialize in this virtual environment! Previous efforts (every Thursday at 6:00pm SLT) have been fraught with peril, as conversations split into multiple threads, all of which everyone could read –not a problem except more than two at a time are all but impossible to follow. Total chaos! There is always the IM option, but keeping up one or more IM convos going while trying to maintain your place in the main discussion, is bloody difficult! Kitty and KJ did a great job adding seating in a way that made sense –I still would like to see a campfire near an ocean or river and everyone sitting around at one level. However, until I am able to help Kitty put socials together as she requested, I will not complain! This week was the best social I think I’ve been to yet, and I expect them to continue improving.

The Story behind “Puppy Feet”

At this point, I suppose I need to explain my sorry keyboarding skills, because that is one of the reasons the multiple discussion threads are so difficult for me. First, I am picky about mistakes -I don’t like to make them if I can avoid it, so that slows me down a bit. However, the main issue has to do with playing the piano from the age of 8 (or maybe that’s just an excuse?). By the time I was 14 or 15, I was a pretty good pianist. Then, after my sophomore year in high school, my mother FORCED me into a summer typing class -How I hated that! My hands always felt like they were shackled because they had to remain on those blasted keys, when I was used to flying them all over the piano! I did reasonably well in the class, and then didn’t type again until I was in my 30’s and in graduate school for my teaching credential. Still with me? I never had to type at USC because I was a performing arts major. Then, in 2004 I had my entry into ed tech. UH OH!!! uhhh type? hmmmm…

So here we are and my skills are, to say the least, “sucky” as my students would say. This is where “puppy feet” come in. I will start a trend I’m sure of it, because I can’t be the only person out there that spends as much time on a computer as I do, who doesn’t also have rotten keyboarding skills! When I was born into SL, on Jan.30, 2007, I did quite a bit of exploring. I began using the search function and found out what was going on in SL, then popped around to see if any of it interested me. On one occasion, I found a group chat around a campfire of a fairly large bunch discussing relationship issues in SL. I remember thinking how odd that was at the time –and then later of course I started to experience it myself. But, I digress!

At one point in this chat, a particular person typed a string of nonsense that left the group wondering what on earth was going on, and when she got control of her keyboard again, she said, “Sorry, puppy feet.” It turns out that she had just rescued a puppy from a busy freeway, and he was clambering for attention –on her keyboard! So, now when I make a bunch of errors (often) I type: ppy ft! I think it’s very important for all of you to know that, so that you realize it’s not some random letters, or stupidity on my part. Also, it might save me some embarrassment –like Thursday night for instance; I commented about ISTE and inadvertently typed ISTW when FrenchHorn Pinion AKA Kurt Steinhaus –President of ISTE, asked what ISTW was? YIKES! Did I feel like an idiot? You betcha! I apologized for the mistake, but boy was I embarrassed! So, the next time you make some typing errors in an SL chat, simply type: ppy ft, and we’ll all understand the trouble, and I will have some company in the “sorry typer’s guild.”

Clare

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Welcome to the world of Clare Lane!

So, what is Second Life Linguine? Is it some strange new virtual food that must be consumed by denizens of Second Life? Well, yes and no. Actually, a national restaurant chain recently sent an email out, requesting original recipes for a contest. One of the stipulations was that the dish have a unique and creative name. Since I was then, and am now spending so much time in my “Second Life,” that I barely have time to eat, the name “Second Life Linguine” seemed most appropriate. If and/or when I win this contest the prize for which is a $500.00 gift certificate to the restaurant, then I will invite all of my Second Life friends for a sumptuous feast. Until then, alas, food for thought is all I can offer.

This blog is in fact, long overdue, and I have finally succumbed to the urging and gentle nudges of my mentor and friend, Kevin Jarrett, known in SL as KJ Hax. Kevin was the instructor for the last two courses in my Walden University MS program, Integrating Technology in the Curriculum, and easily the finest instructor I had over the 18-month stint as full time student and teacher. Little did I know that an innocent, “I’d like to help with your research …” would have me so consumed by SL. I put the masters degree off for many years, as I had no intention of entering a program unless I was passionate about the subject matter. Enter, educational technology training in the form of an EETT grant. WHOA! “Wait, where are you?” “What did she do?” Where did she go?” “How did we get there?” “I’M LOST!” Those were my standard battle cries for most of my first year in the grant. However, somewhere along the way, my perspective began to change, as it continues to do daily.

These are heady times for anyone involved with ed. tech, or anyone desiring to be involved, however inexperienced. There are so many possibilities being opened up by Web 2.0, Second Life, and the plethora of other tools available, it’s a wonder our heads don’t explode from the sheer volume! I for one, am sticking with SL; the merits of SL’s effective use in education have been, and will continue to be hotly debated, but my mind is made up. I have never seen a tool so empowering, available to anyone who chooses to explore its parameters. There have already been multiple postings about the mental and emotional toll that SL relationships can have on an individual, and I can tell you from first hand experience, they can be unbelievably powerful and devastating.

The one thing to be reiterated, is that the educators who communicate with each other in-world are not cartoon characters or people play acting, they are absolutely real, and they are there for much the same reasonsas we –to improve learning for our students. Enter the C.A.V.E. (The Center for Advanced Virtual Education) I am a member of this illustrious group, OMG! If I can help Kathy Schrock, Will Richardson, David Warlick, Annette Lamb, and others of their ilk, in any way , shape, or form, I’m all over that! I will be happy to sponge every bit of knowledge from all of the present and future CAVE people that they will allow me.

To conclude this first post, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Kevin Jarrett resoundingly, for his mentoring and friendship. He has shown me wisdom, patience, kindness, and support at every turn. I fervently hope to continue this professional association, and friendship for many years to come.

Secondly, I must also thank Victoria Gloucester for her friendship, and all that she has taught me about SL in such a short time –not to mention being a great shopping partner and guru!

And last, but far from least, I must thank my husband Steve for not divorcing me as I became so immersed in SL, that at times, I virtually (no pun itended) didn’t hear him or know he was in the room. I hope he will forgive me my obsession, and continue to help me balance my existence in both of my lives.

Now, if YOU dear reader managed to get through all of this, I promise that future posts will be less lengthy, and ask for your thoughts and opinions on all things Second Life. See you all at the ISTE office and Skypark 🙂

Clare

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