Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Art & Design Pilot - Days 1 & 2

I'm knackered.
Day 1 - Morning.
The network in the whole building was down. A switch had blown over the bank holiday weekend and no-one had noticed. We didn't care because we were using OpenSim standalone.

Day 1 - Afternoon.
The OpenSim standalone stuff was great. Each student had their own lag-free, empty, private island to take their first steps on. The students found it easy, and I felt like I had some useful influence over the class. They took a photo of themselves like it was the first day of school, all in their Ruth uniforms. They built a tower. Graham did a great building demo, impressing everyone without saying a word. They built a gallery and put their own work on the walls. They doubled up on one computer and built a den and hid in it. I kept emphasising the core stuff like the camera move and snap to grid and all that, but really, I hardly said anything much. I didn't need to. They were all clever enough to discover it all for themselves. After a couple of stress free hours, they were all pretty confident builders. Faced by the overwhelming heat on a very sunny day, two students built a giant ice cream cone and we all left the room to try and buy a real one. Dave W saved the receipts for our lollies.

Day 2 - All day.
The network got fixed. I lost 3 students to the Whitby trip, but they're coming in tomorrow to catch up.

After a quick recap in OpenSim, we played a name game with marker pens and a whiteboard table that I accidentally invented (details to follow) and the students read a handout about the importance of choosing the right name:
Then they signed up to Second Life.
They signed into OpenSim using their newly acquired Second Life names (you can log into OpenSim standalone with any name you want).
We linked up the OpenSims over the local network so that two avies at a time could share an island and learn how to chat and IM. That created a real buzz as the multi-user thing kicked in.
The avies played hide and seek, and cheated using the minimap.
Finally, it felt like the right time to log into Second Life proper, and the Orientation Island experience wrenched the students away from me. Although I increasingly felt like I was loosing them to another educational approach that I objected to, I was heartened by the confidence of our no longer Noobs. Within seconds of appearing on Orientation Island, one of our students was giving advice to another avatar. Our lot knew that they were ahead of the game on that island, and they showed none of the signs of anxiety that I have always witnessed in previous SL only inductions. They enjoyed themselves for a good hour and a half before gradually TPing onto some random mainland location.

After the fiddly task of giving money, making friends, joining group and teleporting everyone to the LeedsMet sim, we tested out Grahams auto e-portfolio tool sign-up prim. Each new avie clicked on the magic prim and an account was created for their avatar on our bespoke web 2.0 thing. Then they all grabbed a plot on LeedsMet and marked their territory by exercising their building skills. Then it was a quick trip the LeedsMet FAS to see Graham's recreation of our RL art school building, and then Graham chucked a bunch of landmarks at everyone and they ventured out onto the mainland. Then we had all had enough, and we went outside to enjoy the last of the glorious sunshine on the hottest day of the year.

When my brain comes back online, I might be able to work out what the significance of all this is. But for now, I'm happy with the vague but overwhelming feeling that something very significant happened yesterday and today.

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