Friday, September 24, 2010

No Plan B? A Second Life Lesson From WordPerfect

Jokaydia 2/4
Location: About to make a return visit to Reaction Grid

Nighflower's post over at New World Notes got me thinking about academic SLers; her focus is on the balancing act social users of SL make to avoid addictive immersion.

I'm wondering if there is an academic form of that over-attachment, one that leads many SLers in education to make a terrible mistake. Blinded by the comforts of good content and close community, we may forget how fragile any software can be when it's on someone else's server.

I've long contended that too many educators I meet in SL are not learning about other developments or exploring other options.

Here the die-hards who insist on WordPerfect spring to mind. Yes, they still exist. If Corel goes under or simply shutters the project (as they did for Mac OS users a while back), will all those WP files be able to be converted?


Imagine what would happen if Linden Lab shut its doors or simply sold off the business.

I have many colleagues at the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable who say they have no time to look at other virtual worlds, and I can appreciate that point of view to a degree. With limited rewards for cutting-edge work, coupled with the huge investment of time for developing lessons or building content, why bother branching out?

My approach has been to travel occasionally to other grids to see what people are doing, how stable they operate on my system, and discover what I might do in case SL vanished. Though most of my content could never be imported, I'm always keeping an eye open for a new home, if I have to pack my virtual bags and run.

Perhaps we educators, while not sharing the motivations of social users, be that great shopping or that special virtual someone, still need SL. We need to connect to like-minded folks we don't find on our campuses. I cannot recall a single talk or brown-bag meeting, save one, in the past year that got me in person to mingle with colleagues. Yet in SL there are several classes, talks, and brown-bag lunches daily that could interest me.

If only I had time. Perhaps I should make more time for that, just as my SL-centric colleagues should, say, spend one hour per month on another grid.


Bryan Alexander said...

Do you think educators could lean on Lindens to build some kind of export capability, or is that too unlikely?

Iggy O said...

"could lean"?

Friggin' SHOULD lean. I have said it before: collectively our schools have many billions of dollars in purchasing power. We can and will choose the best applications to do our work.

I won't be taken for granted. And I don't think too many colleagues will, either.

Bryan, I will be in touch about giving you that Reaction Grid tour. I've been at the NY World's Fair Build and it's impressive work.