Monday, November 8, 2010

What To Do (or Not) When You Talk To Admins & Colleagues

Location: VWER meeting

Image credit: Olivia Hotshot

I was impressed by the turnout last week for the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. I'd blogged my ideas last week before we met, but what follows arose during the meeting. I think we reached consensus on most points.

I'm still working on the transcript, but here are a few highlights. Slap me with one of my own Lovecraftian tentacles if this all seems too obvious:
  • Dress and look serious. We may enjoy our unique appearances on-screen, but that will not sway wary colleagues. Olivia and I were making a little point in our appearances :)
  • Choose your venues. Several educationally appropriate choices appeared in the text, such as the WW I Poetry Archive, Virtual Harlem, and Spaceport Alpha. If possible (nice tip from Sheila Yoshikawa) pick a region or simulation that connects to the interests of your audience.
  • Choose language carefully. "Game" is not going to win too many friends, so alternatives might be "multi user virtual environment, " "immersive education," or (Olivia's idea) "visual web conferencing software." My favorite is "simulations builder" but the best answer was "trick them."
  • Use machinima first. You know that the Windows Media or Apple Quicktime Players won't crash on you as readily as will a virtual-world client. A canned video can show the potential of the environment. Just be sure to pre-test it on the equipment and in the room where the demo takes place!
  • Avoid "next big thing" discourse. Instead, consider practical applications of the technology, and for Second Life, be aware that except for Mitch Wagner, many well known tech journalists, who possess great ethos with I.T. admins, think SL is a dying product.
  • Know your culture. You may not wish to discuss the adult content in Second Life unless it comes up in your talk. But have a reasonable answer. Several folks noted that students on their campuses can download pornography without restrictions. That may be true, but naughty .jpgs do not talk back, I reminded them.
We never reached closure on this point, and perhaps we need not do so. I'll have the transcript ready in a day or two, so readers can review the wisdom of our group of educators, technologists, and instructional designers.

No comments: