Friday, March 15, 2013

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Should SL Educators Selected to Get a Sim Discount Take It?

SL education discount

SL educator Joe Essid has a compelling post in response to the news that Linden Lab is quietly reaching out to selected schools and nonprofits who lost their 50% sim discount. Should they take it? He argues this is not a good idea for several reasons, including one related to this picture of a pixie, which now graces the Second Life homepage. Since Linden Lab has only been pursuing online social game consumers in the last few years, Essid argues, "[I]t would elicit laughs in the classroom and worse in the IT conference rooms where purchasing decisions get made. It illustrates how far the Linden Lab strategy has shifted, and I don't think a granting agency or IT department would look at today's SL and say 'here is your $150 per month, prof. Go play with Victoria's Secret pixies.'" Essid offers another reason that's even more compelling -- Second Life is a platform out of touch with how Millennials generally communicate and use technology:

"I polled my current section of 16 first-year students. Not one brought a desktop computer to campus, and only three own one at their home... They use mobile technology for everything: laptops for making content and phones plus, increasingly, tablets for communication. SL does not play well on many laptops with wireless and not at all on phones and tablets, barring a third-party viewing with limited functionality. The platform is wedded to the desktop computer that remains popular with the sorts of users who can swap out a video card on a weekend. Students can't do that with laptops, and our labs, where desktops remain available, are not set up for that sort of on-the-fly upgrades."

Read much more here. While these are all solid points, I still think some schools could benefit from the discount -- names, those whose students do use desktop computers. I.E. students in the arts, architecture, and other programs that require heavy computing power and 3D graphics. Beyond that, there's non-profit uses where Second Life is still the best platform -- specifically, as an immersive, open-ended social platform for the disabled.

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Wolf Baginski

There are several diffierent questions here, ranging from the public image of SL, through the hardware issues, what educators might want to use a virtual world for, and the value of wide-open access. It's that last which is a huge part of the advantage for the disabled, which an in-hourse virtual world cannot provide.

I like the phrase "Victoria's Secret Pixies". As a furry in-world I try to be a respectable well-mannered bear, but I can appreciate that my presence might disconcert a certain sort of bureaucrat.

Go in-house, with OpenSim, and you bypass a lot of the problems there might be with a service such as SL. I don't see any reason why you couldn't do a deal with an SL content creator, and pay a fee for a package of clothing options. Linden Labs cannot lock away the elements that have to be created outside SL. Prim builds are tricky, but textures, sculpts, and mesh have to exist on the creator's own computer.

Disabled users, and others who have limited opportunities for RL socialising, are a whole different thing. They need a public-access service, of which SL is the largest around.

I am a little wearied by one sort of academic user: the teacher who says "go and do a survey" and dumps unprepared students into SL. I know a little of such things as survey design and the ethical issues, and those students are one of those things that can provoke me into bad words.

I have the suspicion that some of those teachers don't realise that we are real people behind the masks. Do the students? They might know better, from their own use of social media, but on what I have seen, they need better guidance.


Vaki

While I agree with the criticism about SL's public perception (and SL only harms itself with its constant high ranking of pornographic ads any time you try to search for anything on Marketplace or in-world), I have no idea what Essid is talking about regarding laptops. What laptop is he using? A laptop has been my sole means of accessing SL since 2010, and I'm perfectly capable of running it on ultra settings with shadows.

Additionally, yes, mobile computing is on the rise, but Second Life isn't trying to appeal to the kids grabbing the latest app. It's a virtual environment more likely to appeal to gamers. And most gamers have machines capable of running games.

elizabeth (16)

hamlet--"students in the arts, architecture, and other programs that require heavy computing power and 3D graphics"

that^^ maybe

if EDU looking for something to use in social studies classroom then SL is not it. for all the reasons that Joe says. and why study online social spaces where the students aren't. ok is academic reason to do this if got the time to fit in the curriculum. but given the cost compared to other spaces then need to have a lot of time and money to justify including SL as part of the course

+

can even make a case that SL is not all that good for art/architecture as well. bc there are other better tools available to teach the rudiments of this

is only the collaborative aspect that SL has going for it. and even then it not make much sense in many classroom situations

bc the students typically are in the same classroom space physically anyways. so they collab that way. same like when they making a video together or a artwork. or class engineering project

+

if was me and I own SL and I wanted to get serious about bringing academic into SL with the view that will be some benefit from the students getting some awareness of my product?

then I give them for free. like total non-commercial. cant rent. cant sell stuff off your school sim. but can teach skills

can also encourage students to take their skills out to the wider SL. like make stuff and shops and participate in the SL economy

Pienaar

I don't understand the fuss about the picture. Every second poster for advertising is more explicit than this picture. Can't you wear H&M clothes on American campusses because you see half naked women on their ads? Bizarre thinking.

elizabeth (16)

ps (:

I also make a Campus continent. similar to a mainland. have to go on there

also encourage them to take inworld builder/teachery people onto their inworld faculty

no inworld adverts either for anything. other than your RL name. but can use MOAP to point at your offworld website. so that people canknow that you are legit

+

continent style makes a limit. is finite total space available. is fix cost for me this. which i can absorb more easy

is use it or lose it as well. if not build any inworld community then see you later. and i give the space on the continent to another school/university

Iggy

@Vaki, The weirdo named Essid (that's me) uses a three-year old MacBook Pro just fine for SL, often on wireless. My students, however, cannot even be bothered to use an AC adapter, which really does perk up processor speeds.

Both my PC and Mac users practice awful computing habits: they clutter their desktops with shortcuts, they couldn't optimize a client if the hounds of Hell were after them, etc.

SL fares worse than any other application they run, however: Google and Blackboard and Facebook nearly always work. For my work in recent years, I just optimized a few desktops in a lab and we did our one or two SL or OpenSim-related projects there.

@Pienaar, I actually love the picture. In my blog post I call it both whimsical and sexy; Strawberry has a great sense of style. That said, the sort of folks who look at applications to put on desktop images for a campus lab, or give a grant, would fall out of their chairs laughing at it.

Dan Holt

@elisabeth, not all of our students collaborate in f2f classrooms. Many of us work with students in online classes where our meetings in SL are the only real time interactions that they have with each other and with their profs. Now we could do so in opensims. But for those of us who use the wider virtual world communities, SL is still the best choice. For example, my creative writing students are able to participate in the vibrant writing/storytelling events that take place regularly in SL. And my composition students are able to attend social issue events in world, such as Virtually Speaking.

So yes, everyone, Victoria Secret pixies can be found in SL. And lots of sex if one looks for it. But guess what. There's a strip club two blocks from my campus. We don't visit it for class any more than we visit sex sims in SL.

Some day there will be something as immersive and rich community-wise as SL that educators can use/participate in with their classes. But not today.

elizabeth (16)

@Dan. yes is true that is many schools like yours. is lots more tho which aren't

i suppose the real question for your school is are you a linden target or are they targeting only b&m big name universities and tech colleges in this new programme

i still think tho that i would give you for free. if was up to me (:

Iggy

FWIW, and it's worth a lot, Dan does excellent work with his writing students in SL. Given their distance-learning setting and Dan's pedagogy of having them explore a virtual community (without the annoying survey avatars, I believe!) SL makes great sense.

For academics like him, if LL offers a discount...yes, he should take their money while SL is still around. I consider it returning the favor since the shafting of edu and non-profits in 2010.

Arcadia Codesmith

It's not a virtual WORLD without the full range of activities from the deadly serious to the utterly frivolous. It's just a virtual environment, and likely a deadly boring one.

That Second Life needs educators (and students) is something I regard as blindingly self-evident. That educators and students need Second Life is a much more difficult case to make.

"We've had our epiphany, please come home" is not enough. In many cases, nothing is going to be enough -- if you offered them free sims for life, they wouldn't come back. But for targeted groups and individuals, "free" should be on the table. Community doesn't aggregate around platforms or technology, it aggregates around people. You need to identify and woo those aggregators.

James OReilly

SL educator Joe Essid is usual belated Groupthink victim of his own Exclusion policies. Education Exclusion has been outlawed international treaties since years...

What is Groupthink
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

UNESCO Education Inclusion Policy Guidelines
http://ht.ly/j1zHk

Buyer-side Interest Levels for SL, Opensim, Virtual Worlds etc., as represented in Google Trends, need a significant Turnaround anyway...
http://ht.ly/j7BHY
http://ow.ly/dHUXX

It's a Buyer's market, not a Seller's market.

Ciaran Laval

I got an email this week on a mailing list, pointing me in the direction of JOLT to read use cases of virtual worlds in education, none of them mentioned Victoria's Secret pixies though.

If the picture were of a virtual classroom, people would complain that Second Life is not all about virtual classrooms.

rjs

"Should SL Educators Selected to Get a Sim Discount Take It?"

Educators... cough, hack, and laugh my rump off (Just love the whole "educator" sector bullgarbage") should use software they can afford. Just like the rest of us. We couldn't afford SL then, we certainly cannot afford it now. So... who want's to teach? Might start off with an introduction to common sense.

--rjs

Ken Hudson

Just an update: Received renewal invoices for our estates in SL (Loyalist College/Loyalist College Exploration), which we paid in advance for for two years to avoid rate hike, while we developed our own Unity solution. The fees on the invoices are the old EDU rate, with no explanation. Formal cancelation letters sent.

Sensuous Maximus "Sen"

I've been reading this quietly from a distance, not knowing whether to speak up or not, but since it's died down a bit, I'll brave it out with my personal thoughts.

First of all, I do applaud the offer, even with all the negatives that have been brought up (which I also agree with), anything coming from LL to help education thrive in SL is a positive try at least in my book.

BUT... what concerns me about this offer from LL, is it's unfairness to those non-profits and educational organizations, who have stuck it out, those who did not (or could not) leave because so many depend on them. Some have had to pull from their own lint-filled pockets (not having any RL funding) year after year, in order to continue the much needed classes and resources.

Please bear with me, as I am perhaps selfishly pondering on this to let off steam, so smack me. But is it fair to not offer a discount as a reward to those non-profits/educational institutions who stayed the course (so-to-speak)? I'm just sort of saddened about it at the same time, because LL seems to be rewarding those who bailed out on them, but not reward those who have struggled to remain. Not that I blame those who had to leave, mind you. But some of those remaining educational sim owners continue to struggle to pay full tier, in order to keep the classes going, because the needs of the community AND SL were/are so great. They had no choice in the matter, they had to stay..., yeah, I know... but they really felt they didn't have any choice...

So these remaining organizations have had to work even harder then ever to keep the education going and all the while not knowing if they will make it to next tier. But they stick it out best they can year after year, because the needs of the many, outweighed the needs of the few (if you will forgive my Trekkie reference).

So has LL ever approached the educational sims who did not bail on them? I think not.

It would be nice if the heavens opened up, to see LL rewarding those who have painfully stuck it out, keeping the learning alive, all the while benefiting SL in the end. Sadly, they will be forgotten in all this me thinks.

Just sayin'.....

Hugs you all for the great input.
"Sen"

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