Monday, October 4, 2010

Does Concurrency Matter to Educators?

Location: Reaction Grid Core Region

No. In fact, I'd argue that it only matters when we need students or colleagues present for an event.

I've been thinking about a popular criticism by non-educators that campus spaces in SL, and all spaces in OpenSim, tend to be "ghost towns." Well, compared to some popular social spaces in SL, I suppose they are. But then so is my real life campus when classes are in session. Except for a few students sipping coffee on the library patio, we look deserted. You'd think our student body came to about 100 souls.

Educators tend to come in-world for a purpose, often during our regular working hours. We don't tend to "chill" as much with our friends or students. In fact, when we do, it's rare enough to merit a blog post.

That's why the concurrency of THREE seen in the image above from Reactiongrid does not bother me all that much. My House of Usher build in Second Life is also empty 99% of the time. During the other 1% we are giving tours or, in character as Poe's characters, running a simulation for students.

So educators need to take a lesson away from this for assessment. The Writing Center I direct does not use number of visits as an indicator of success, but looks to repeat visits by writers, performance on rubrics related to written communication, and feedback from visitors.

Likewise, educators using virtual worlds will need to provide comparative scores to those not using simulations but completing similar work, gather narratives from users, and more. We might measure peak concurrency and report that, when we hold meetings, classes, and other events.

We should not, however, be counting heads when we count beans for assessment. And to non-educator SLers who don't understand, I say "Sorry no one was around. We didn't build these spaces for you guys, even though you are more than welcome to visit. We built them for learning, and that does not need constantly high concurrency to happen."


iliveisl said...

there is also a critical point regarding concurrency and virtual worlds. my empty sims in OpenSim are far less expensive than my empty sims in Second Life!

our SimHost deal has us paying about half of what one SL sim cost and we have 16! granted, i'd feel more on par saying 4+ OpenSim regions

once we open up Iggy, you'll have to come visit. our performance with SimHost is easily double that from what we had in Reaction Grid

i can't get over how well OpenSim runs for us, it rivals Second Life imo

great post and even greater point you made! =)

Iggy O said...

I'll bring the booze and snacks, iliveisl, when I visit.

I think this will push me to get a grant to go to classes so I can run our own OpenSim server and get students to train to assist me with management. Failing that, I'll find a good host for our next project.