Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I am lucky enough to teach in a district that has a very forward-thinking gentleman in charge of our IT department. He's often pushing us as educators to not accept the status quo...to keep abreast of the newest technological innovations. The kids are fast outpacing their teachers in this field and he knows it.

I call myself one of his thorns...because I'm always pushing just a little bit further than most. While I can't embrace all the new technologies (who has the time?), I certainly like to find the edges of the box...then color outside the lines. To that end, I've proposed a course entitled "Virtual Worlds" that will be taught starting in September 2008 in which the students (and I) will not only hold thoughtful discussions on the future of these worlds, but (eventually) enter the Teen Grid of Second Life and start realtime explorations into the very real educational possibilites of this virtual world.

I'm no stranger to SL. I've had an avatar on the adult grid since October 2006, so am quite familiar with the incredibly steep learning curve. But as I've told everyone, it might be steep, but is well worth the climb. Someone once said, "if you're going to be on the leading edge, you should expect a few scrapes, cuts and bruises." Lags, crashes and downtimes are all taken in stride.

So I've taken the first steps toward making this course a reality. First up...creating an avatar that can move from SL proper to the Teen Grid: Thespis Thespian. Saw the surname and couldn't resist the first. Who better than the very first recorded actor? And in that vein, I made my avi a male rather than a female (in RL I am a woman). I've several reasons for that, but that's a blog post in and of itself. I've been traveling around and picking up freebies that I know I'll want on hand when I transfer over, although that means scouring through the offerings and dumping anything not PG in nature.

Second step...the background check. Since I know this process can take several months, I registered at Ascertain today in hopes that I can actually get moved over by early to mid-October. We'll be using islands created by our local BOCES district for our forays at this point.

I've also done a bunch of research ("bunch"...I think that's the official term for the number of hours I've spent reading blogs and research reports) and downloaded a ton of data ("ton"...another of those official terms) to support both my reasons for taking the kids in-world and for the discussions the kids and I need to have prior to their entering the Teen Grid. Soon I'll start on actual lesson plans, although there's so much exploration I want THEM to do, I hesitate to structure the classes too much.

So perhaps it is good we can't get in-world right away in September. Gives us time to talk, to plan, to research, to think. Then maybe when they get to the point of developing their own avatars, they will be happy with who they are.

See you in-world (in the fall)!
C. Duprey (Thespis Thespian)

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