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!



Clare Lane said...

A dilemma to be sure. My question is what did he do to be suspended, and would he (and his education) be better served by having him continue to participate? Could his participation be a way for him to "make amends" and be engaged instead of robbing liquor stores (or whatever)? Is lack of engagement or social irresponsibility part of the problem? If so, SL is the place where he should be to work through those issues. Just my 2c worth.

Anonymous said...

In a situation like this, you always have to think about the precedent you're setting. Even if this suspended student isn't the type to wreak havoc, the next one might be, and you'll have set the precedent that suspended students are not removed.

If you're OK with that, then it isn't a big deal. But if you think you'll have other students you might want to treat differently, it could be an issue.

C.D. said...

And a part of my dilemna, Clare. His actions were definitely on the immature side of life. I can see SL as a way to work though issues, but unfortunately, that's not the way the sims are set up yet. At the moment we are the only group in our consortium of schools and my students are charged with getting it ready for others to use. Next year they will be mentors for other students and teachers coming inworld. They've been given a great deal of responsibility and I need to know they can handle that and not make immature decisions.

I do like your comment about "making amends" though. Definitely an angle to consider.

Digitalkatie said...

We had a student who was suspended from school during our Global Science class with Global Kids. He continued to log in while at home which I thought was great! Unfortunately he missed out on the skype / spoken part of the lesson. I think it is great for a pupil to be able to continue with the work and shows a great commitment on the pupil's part if they do continue to patricipate. The possibility of malicious behaviour never occured to me before reading your post.

C.D. said...

I prefer to give kids the benefit of the doubt. I've found over the years that if you treat them with respect, they give respect back. So I rarely have trouble with a student being malicious in my classroom.

But I also know this particular student is very immature compared to the rest of my class and that he's already caused a bit of trouble for the other students. And that's why I'm on the fence -- although these pickets are starting to hurt and I know I need to make a decision soon... :(

Anonymous said...

Prhaps it's time for a closer look at the practices of restorative justice in a school environment. Taking the student out of the very environment that might help to repair the community relationship seems bad risk management.

Time to start healing our communities rather than punishing.