For those of us just experimenting with Second Life, this is great news! The Second Life Leadership Council is hosting the first-ever Discovery DEN Event at the world famous DEN Headquarters in Second Life on August 15 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM SLT. They promise games, demos, dancing, and door prizes (but you must be "present" to win). You can find them on EduIsland II. I plan to be there!
In a related topic, I received an update from Innovate, an e-learning journal free with registration, about a new study published on the impact of multi-player games online. The full title is, "Leveraging Identity to Make Learning Fun: Possible Selves and Experiential Learning in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)." Whew!
Anyway, the article tracked 14 high school students in a summer enrichment program. Part of their assignments included interacting in Second Life and another virtual site called There. The catch was they had to change genders. The students experienced this world in a completely different way with boys logged in as girls and vice-versa. Not only did they have to act differently, but they were actually treated differently by other gamers they met online.
Second Life is off-limits for me at the moment because my kids are a little young for the "powers that be" to grant them access. But what a learning tool this could be! I know some kids are doing this already when they play such games. Heavier kids find avatars that are muscular and lean, short kids find those that are taller, they change skin color, hairstyles, and may even grow beards. Kids are already changing things about them online when they interact with others on MySpace and other social sites. But….and this is the educational but….are we asking them to reflect on how those changes make them feel about themselves, about their interactions, and about how they feel when they are no longer online?
Hey, I’m pumped about the SL Leadership Council and some of the really cool stuff I’ve seen at SL. It is a terrific opportunity for kids to experience learning in a whole new way. But, it may be an educators dream to get them talking and writing and acting out in plays or music what the experience is actually doing for them and to them.
So, let’s do a little experiment. Go to the SL DEN Event. Then come back here and comment on your experience. It’s okay to comment on things you learned and demos you saw. But try to reflect on what went on socially. Did you find yourself talking mostly to avatars of your own gender? Did you try to find those who were from your state? Did you mostly stick to yourself and not "talk" much with others? Did you stand on the edges and just watch? Did you act differently in SL or the same? What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
Man, you can tell school is about to start. I’m beginning to blog like a teacher again!