How interesting life is, as a mature student in DIT in Dublin, I chose the “Virtual Environment – Is One Life Enough” module to discover how education and personal interaction was being facilitated in Second Life (SL) http://www.secondlife.com. Second life (SL) is an online interface with unlimited spaces known as worlds where people interact with each other. In these worlds people can create their own avatar which is a computer generated image created by the user to represent them in the online world in SL. The user can appear how they choose in SL, the tools for creating your avatars appearance are excellent and the animation facilities to give your avatar non standard movements are only limited by your imagination (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/How_to_create_animations).
The module started online in a lecture theatre in DIT in Dublin in SL where students and lecturers attended weekly . The format was relaxed with the bulk of time and effort being spent exploring SL and creating blogs discussing internet interaction, image and multimedia in various forms. Using SL, the realisation of the potential for SL in the world of education(and many other worlds) is obvious and there is no doubt that in time we will see more and more education modules delivered in SL. As part of the module, the students were given the task of delivering a group presentation live in SL. The group agreed on the presentation being a poem suggested by Myk(student). Myk and Effa(student) recorded the poem with music and the help of Elfay. Kkav(student) became the sound engineer and with the help of Ham Rambler and Elfay Pinkdot streamed the play into the amphitheatre (location kindly provided by Ham Rambler). While the poem and music played the rest of the students danced to the music showing their newly acquired animating skills. The presentation could have been better but everybody learned a lot.
Additionally we had online lectures from a variety of SL users which proved invaluable as the students required the assistance of visiting experienced SL users to learn how to deliver their presentation with live audio and animation in an online setting.
Our first guest speaker was “Ham Rambler” the founder of Virtual Dublin in Second Life, and a well travelled pilot in real life spoke about his original inspiration: the search for the ubiquitous Irish Pub. The only city he couldn’t find one in was Brasilia, capital of Brazil. He decided SL should also have an Irish Pub so he built the Blarney Stone. It proved very popular from the start and proved to be a particular attraction to the American community. Gradually he introduced live music and other attractions and began to build a community. This led to taking a whole sim(online space in SL) and beginning to build a virtual Dublin city. At its height Dublin ranged over three sims, it is now contained in two sims and continues to be one of the most visited places in SL. Virtual Dublin’s reputation for good fun, community spirit, a range of activities along with a warm welcome has grown over the years. “Ham’s” virtual Dublin is an incredible space to visit and there is always somebody in the “Blanrney Stone”(from somewhere in the world) chatting, dancing or listening to music. The potential for the growth and use of this online Dublin is unlimited and “Ham” should be complimented for his innovation and dedication to SL and for his help to the students of this module to deliver the sound and location for the class presentation.
Our next guest skeaker was “Elfay Pinkdot” who is a well-known SL dj and hosts the weekly jazz show Coffee & Pajamas at the Sunset Jazz club live in SL. Originally from the US Elfay has travelled widely in the real world as well as SL. Her radio show has been running for over five years and platforms her formidable knowledge of jazz. Based in SL the show has built up a loyal following and a strong community of interactive listeners. “Elfay” has two shows this weekend: Saturday from 8AM-10AM PST (16:00-18:00 GMT) and Sunday from 10am to Noon PST (18:00-20:00 GMT). To listen, simply go to the Sunset Jazz Club in Second Life or launch this URL on your media player: http://126.96.36.199:4168/ . Elfay taught the students how to produce sound in SL and her experience and help was wonderful and forthcoming. Producing sound can be done with the built-in voice facility in SL but Elfay taught the students to use external software to stream(produce) voice and music sounds directly in SL which enhance the quality and reliability.
Our last guest speaker was “Sitearm Madonna”. Site (for short) is a strategist and expediter for virtual worlds projects and is manager and coordinator for Virtual Dublin in SL. Site spoke about his experience on team projects and shared his knowledge of team working tools.
In conclusion, the module was brilliant, I personally and selfishly would have liked to build something for the project but I learned a lot. At the start of the module I did not know what to expect, I had resigned myself to the fact that the career I loved was finished and that I would design and build no more. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I could design, build and create in SL to my hearts content. I had expected in this conclusion to be reflecting on the end of the module but incredibly find myself at the beginning of a new adventure in SL.