Friday, February 27, 2009

Moving right along...and a problem

Inworld we're still working on The Drop In but several sections are nearing completion. The hub group has only a few posters to design and put up yet, the vocabulary and communications group has the rooms finished and is now decorating, the movement group needs to check in with me and the appearance group has finished their room layout. We still hold to a finish date of mid-March and we're right on schedule.

This despite losing a member of the class to school suspension. The student's actions certainly warrented suspension from school, but it does raise some troubling questions about a suspended student's participation in a virtual world. I put the student on "read only" for the two class wiki's he's involved in, but have not yet removed him from our islands on Second Life's Teen Grid. I'm dragging my heels even though I know the suspension will probably be for the rest of the school year.

Why have I not moved faster on this? While I have to admit the possibility of his going inworld and wreaking as much havoc as he can, the reality is, I don't think he's the kind of kid who would. His hearing isn't until today and even though I've been told he will not be back, the process of getting a student inworld is so long and arduous I don't want to toss a perfectly good avatar until I know for sure.

And then there is the student to think of. All the work he's done inworld (which mostly was testing stuff to see if it could be broken) will be lost. Because I know all their passwords, I did go in and make sure permissions were set for each of the items he made so they could be tranferred to other members of his group. But I did not delete anything he "owns". And of course, that brings up another issue: does he, in fact, "own" anything?

Because these are closed sims, his avatar cannot ever exist anywhere else BUT on our islands. Once the avatar is deleted, he ceases to exist and all his inventory disappears. So I think I'm right in saying he does not truly have ownership over anything on the islands. Its not as if he can take it with him to another island somewhere.

The only issue I don't have the answer to is if our teen avatars migrate to the adult grid once the student turns 18. I know they do on the regular, open sims of the TG. But what about avatars created specifically for specific closed sims? I'll have the answer soon enough. Our oldest student turns 18 in another 6 weeks and we'll watch closely to see what happens next.

But in the I delete the student's account entirely? Do I allow the student to continue working with the class (although at a different location)? What role does a RL suspension play in a virtual world class? I'm open for ideas -- feel free to comment!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Downtime is still productive time

Today SL's logins are being fussy (two students were able to log in, the rest can't). Since we're still in my room and limited to five computers, that was going to mean an entire class of downtime, something we've not had to deal with since we got into SL back in December.

But there are tasks that need to be done out of SL and I put the other groups to creating the posters that need to go into their respective areas. The group in charge of The Drop Off (the landing point) is also the group in charge of THE RULES (school isn't complete without a set of rules to govern behavior). I am very impressed with the seven they came up with...and with their phrasing. Without any input from me, they came up with their draft. While they were working, I heard one of them tell the others, "We have to make this PBIS language." When they turned to me and asked if they really had to do that, I reminded them that no one likes a list of don'ts. Keeping the rules positive would set a better tone. That was my sole input (well, except for fixing the spelling of "you're" to "your") -- they came up with the list.

But here's where I realized how stuck I am in old technologies. I suppose in the very olden days the students would have hand-written the list and then written it by hand on the board for the others to see and comment on. In a more advanced class, perhaps they would have used carbon paper and the room's typewriter to make several copies kids could share. Today, they attached it as an email and sent it to me so I could put it up via the projector and they could see the list on the screen to suggest changes. Another alternative would have been to have the small group brainstorm and put the rules right onto the wiki and let others read and make suggestions when they had the time. I still haven't quite incorporated that technology fully into my teaching. Something for me to work toward :) .

I'm proud of the work the kids are doing. There have been some frustrations, but those are good and they're learning. The group I have that's trying to break what's currently there have found several problems and are working to get them fixed. The communication group has come up with a cool design for their section and the appearance group, after a frustrating start, is now coming along quite well. The movement "group" consists of only one person at the moment as his partner has been absent. In spite of that he's come up with some great ideas and is moving right along. We're aiming for a finish date sometime in mid-March.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Been a while since I posted...lots happening and keeping us busy.

We're still working with only 5 computers for 14 kids. Not easy, but we're limping along. Each student has now completed a task list I created consisting of 25 skills they have to master in order to continue with our main goal in SL: that of creating a space for other classes to use. I paid the students 10L for every skill they mastered -- they'll be using that money for textures for their next projects.

Before break for exams we brainstormed ideas for an orientation spot and came up with a web concept. The center will be a single space with doors off to the other sections. The thought is that each new avatar can control which section he/she wants to visit first, but all the skills they need will be taught there. The areas that they can visit are: Appearance, Movement, and Communication.

Lynn Roder (waving to Kelli!) came to visit us in RL yesterday and the kids shared with her their ideas for an orientation spot for all newbies coming into our islands. We're working on the assumption that these newbies have never been in any virtual world ever. Those that have can run through the tasks quickly...those who haven't can take their time and everything will be explained. She enjoyed the kids and even threw in her vote for the name of this orientation spot: The Drop In.

The class has now broken into four groups with each group responsible for an area of The Drop In. They're in the process of creating wiki pages that they'll use to keep their notes on. Each group is creating a mission statement and a list of tasks they need to do (including coming up with a theme for their area). They're expected to prioritize the list and assign the tasks so each person knows exactly what they're doing (and so will I!).

So we're off and...walking. Still attempting to get a lab for the kids so I can have more than one group inworld at a time. Otherwise this is going to take forever when each group can only do actual work once a week...and spends the other days just twiddling their thumbs. Makes it hard to keep the momentum going. But we're moving along!