Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Risking the Red Pill: What Questions to Ask Educators in Second Life

Location: Jokaydia Grid, Looking Backward

Shortly after Linden Lab announced the price-hike for educational sims, I polled my readers and also educators who do not normally follow this blog.

The results of what was admittedly an imperfectly worded survey appear here. I was gratified to get even 35 replies but I hope that a better designed survey will get more.

Now I'm wondering how to structure a new survey to give after January 1, the first month when those contracts for server-space (let's get over the illusion of calling it "owning land") end in SL. Educational sim-renters will then face the choice of renewing at higher rates, cutting back their holdings, moving to a mainland parcel, or not renewing at all. My Matrix reference is hardly a forced one: if we get representative answers to well designed questions, we may, like Neo, see a reality far different from the often-comforting one of our daily lives and work in virtual worlds.

As an Open-Source sort of person, whose creations in OpenSim will be given to those who are interested, I think designing a survey using the wisdom of crowds might be wise.

Here are responses I'm considering. Statistical mavens, have at it. I want to avoid bias (and I am biased about, if no longer enraged by, Linden Lab's decision) as much as possible. NOTE: this is not the survey. You'll get to reply to that later. I just want feedback on my questions at this point.

When your contract with Linden Lab comes up for renewal (or if it already has for the next year or years), your institution will:
  • Acquire more land for classes and programs in SL
  • Acquire more land for classes and programs in SL and set up programs on another grid
  • Continue classes and programs at current level in SL
  • Continue classes and programs at current level in SL and set up programs on another grid
  • Reduce land holdings (explain in comments) and continue classes & programs in SL
  • Reduce land holding (explain in comments) and set up programs on another grid
  • Cease renting land from Linden Lab & continue courses / programs in SL
  • Cease renting land from Linden Lab & move to another grid
  • Cease institutional work in any virtual world
  • Have not decided.
Readers, share critiques and revisions in comments. I'll then prepare the final survey to administer in 2011.


Anonymous said...

At this point, we're planning on maintaining our current land/server space in SL, and developing it more. We will also check out the alternatives.
Subject to change. :)

Iggy O said...

cronbin, do the questions as stated provide latitude enough to fit your situation?

Farzaneh Eel said...

Depends I suppose on how you plan to analyze/interpret survey results, and whether you want to use the results for research. Also depends on how you plan to administer your survey and whether software you use will support the type of question construction and granularity you want (e.g. multiple choice format could be a good option for getting at want you want to know). You might want to avoid asking more than 1 question per item as this can cause confusion or muddy results if a survey taker does not read question thoroughly. Example: "Reduce land holdings (explain in comments) AND continue classes & programs in SL" becomes:

IF you currently rent or own land in SL for educational classes/programs, which 1 of the following etc etc:
a) increase SL land...
b) keep SL land at present level..
c) reduce SL land...
d) I do not own/rent SL land for educational...
e) Other (please explain) [text box follows]

Suggest adding (d) as there are educators/academics in SL (such as myself) who fall into this category yet also are impacted and potentially displaced by rate hikes - volunteers, librarians, non-profits, etc. You may also wish to add a few questions asking about classes (how many, what type), about land (how much), etc.
Hope this is helpful - best wishes for your survey!