Saturday, March 28, 2009
Teaching Etiquette in a Virtual World
Location: Texas State Technical College virtual campus
Chris Gibson has a job that includes something I'd enjoy: teaching students how to behave at dinner. Well, I'd like the eating part. And Gibson uses Second Life to avoid the disasters that might occur were he to begin at a restaurant with real silverware, food, and dress codes.
I have heard horror stories of job applicants showing up for interviews or professional meals in inappropriate clothing, then not knowing which fork one uses for salad or what to do with new foods. A friend at such a dinner heard a participant say "I ain't never had no beans that didn't come out of a can."
Yes, I would hire that person.
I suppose Chris' students are better at flesh-and-blood events, but he takes no chances. Avatars must dress formally and act appropriately or their course-grade drops. He's worked with SL clothing designers to provide free formal wear to the class.
The dining room itself reminds me of a formal space I use, once per year, for a presentation to our MBA students. The grand ballroom at the Hotel Jefferson features similar decor and, when one dines there, a full spread of silverware and plates.
Second Life will gain more respectability if it can be used for down-to-earth work such as reducing embarrassment as students prepare for lunch during job interviews. It's prosaic when compared to the cutting-edge interactive artwork of Burning Life or the depth of design in certain roleplaying sims.
Both of those examples do not, however, teach good dining etiquette. And that sort of learning goal, easily supported by assessment data and evaluations, will sell campuses on SL.