Sunday, 21 September 2008

Pruning my previous ideas, and planting a big new one.

I recently helped the Police get their Freshers' safety message across by installing a poster on one of our islands:
The V.C. mentions it here in his daily reflection,
and here's a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post

On Tuesday, the Faculty is hosting a special Freshers' welcome day, where the Police will be promoting their Safety message and, hopefully, pointing Second Life savvy first years to our island. It has suddenly stuck me that this might provide an ideal opportunity to recruit the sort of experienced avatars to our study that we need. One of the findings from the evaluation of the first pilot was the limitations associated with getting noobs up to speed before we could tackle some of the more focussed activities around collaboration. I'm estimating that there will be around a thousand freshers at the event on Tuesday, so there is a good chance that there will be several SL experts in the audience. The faculty runs a broad range of programmes, including art & design, building & construction, cultural studies, social sciences, film and television, architecture and tourism. If we could bring together students from across these disciplines, we would stand a much better chance of getting some meaningful collaboration going.
One issue might be the potential conflict between the students' involvement with a weird virtual worlds project, and their chosen programme of study. I can imagine some of my colleagues in other parts of the Faculty perhaps taking exception to me interfering with their students learning. One solution to this that I've thought of is to support the University's strong commitment to volunteering. If the focus of collaboration between Faculty students in Second Life had a worthy aim, then not only would we sit comfortably outside the constraints of curriculum, but we could do something good for the world. There are several charity events exist already in Second Life. Relay for Life is in July, so this doesn't fit into out timeframe for the project. We're cutting it a bit fine for Burning Life, which starts on 27th September, but this event could provide a timely focus for socialisation activities, and to get the idea across about what we might do.

The other idea I had was to gather together the SL expert freshers next week and make them Leeds Met mentors, and than draft them in to assist with the previous plan that I blogged about recently. This would be a good way to test out the mentoring opportunity identified in the evaluation of the first pilot.

I think that if we could bring together a much bigger group of students on the fertile ground of Leeds Met's islands, then the sort of rhizomatic swellings of collaboration that Dave C talks about might just happen. If Kisa and I can act as gardeners, then we might just get something special growing out of this project.

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