Conference on College Composition and Communication, 2008

Pre-conference Workshop on the Louisiana State University Campus

"Invented Worlds: Students Craft Multi-Genre, Multi-Modal Projects in Second Life & With Wikispaces"

Faculty, mentors, and students at CCCC
: For this "mixed reality" event, mentors Cynthia Barley, Dianna Defiant, and Cecil Hirvi attended, as did Iggy and Beeble, the avatars for two University of Richmond faculty members. The discussion took place in the Boatwright Tower of University of Richmond's Second Life campus. Real-life discussion took place at LSU and participants asked students and mentors questions. Cecil Hirvi, an independent filmmaker now working in Second Life, had done his first film for education.

In editing the transcript, I have removed some "noise" (system messages, mostly) and silently corrected selling and combined some remarks that began on one line and ended on another. A few replies to questions or remarks were moved to clarify matters.

Enjoy! Joe Essid / Iggy

Mikhail Albatros: Anything in particular we should pay attention to or be attentive about?

Iggy: I think your experiences AS students. . .and Cynthia's as a mentor

Cynthia Barley: mind your language or the log will be shown to the headmaster

Mikhail Albatros chuckles

Seraphine Larkham laughs

Iggy: hey I'm just glad we got the wireless working at LSU. . . thanks to their director of Communication across the Curriculum. . . .they have a great program. . .lots of video etc. in the writing classes. Just a sec...I'll brief our visitors

Amelia Keppel: so who here is from Carleton's class?

Lindsey Banks: i am

Zoe Knipper: me too!

Seraphine Larkham: Radical perspectives?

Amelia Keppel: ya its rad

Zoe Knipper: yeah, radical perspectives
A typical "demo" skin

Iggy: we are going to take some Qs from our audience. . .how do you decide on the look you want, after the basic avatar?

Dianna Defiant: get demos…try them out…before you buy

Lindsey Banks: you go to you inventory

Dianna Defiant: everything has demos usually. . .free or $1 so you can try the skin or the hair & see if u like it

Cannon Ninetails: does it wear off? what makes it a demo exactly

Dianna Defiant: you wear it but it puts ads on your body

Seraphine Larkham: sometimes things disappear in a set amount of time

Cannon Ninetails: oh gotcha

Seraphine Larkham: sometimes they have a giant sign on top of your head that says DEMO

Dianna Defiant: or a big thing over your head so you would never wear it

Mikhail Albatros: Did I bump you, Di?

Dianna Defiant: yep

Mikhail Albatros: If I did, my bad

Dianna Defiant: n[o] p[roblem] baby

Cannon Ninetails: s'cool

Seraphine Larkham: sometimes with hair or stuff it'll flicker grey like it hasn't loaded yet

Dianna Defiant: or be crazy colors

Seraphine Larkham: yeah

Seraphine Larkham: though sometimes that just looks cool

Dianna Defiant: skins usually say DEMO across your forehead ;)

Dianna Defiant: cool is in the eye of the beholder ;)

Seraphine Larkham: the demo for this hair had green streaks

Cannon Ninetails: i want one that says POOR IMPULSE CONTROL on my forehead

Seraphine Larkham: !!

Dianna Defiant: haha. . . .SNOWCRASH

Cannon Ninetails: word

Dianna Defiant: loved it

Seraphine Larkham: YES

Cynthia Barley: not only on the forehead - PXL skins demos have the word demo on every inch of the body

Mikhail Albatros laughs at all the nerdiness.

Mikhail Albatros: Nerds unite!

Alison Tereshchenko: so for those of you in Carleton's class... did he fill you in on the purpose of this congregation?

Mikhail Albatros: No clue, heh.

Amelia Keppel: nope

Zoe Knipper: no, not really.

Justine Kellman: from what i understood, we were talking about using SL as a teaching tool i think?

Alison Tereshchenko: yeah, that's what we were talking about

Zoe Knipper: yeah, I think the educational application.

Iggy: Students...Q for you all

Cannon Ninetails: shoot

Iggy: what do you think of SL at this point?

Cannon Ninetails: i think it has a lot of promise/potential

Seraphine Larkham: it's...patchy

Alison Tereshchenko: i don't like sitting in front of a computer screen. . . . but I found lots of interesting applications

Seraphine Larkham: there are some things that are really neat. . . others...*shrug*

Zoe Knipper: yeah

Allegory Addison: I think it is a program with great potential. It needs to be expanded in a number of ways however.

Amelia Keppel: its interesting, but I don't exactly see it being used as a teaching tool

Dianna Defiant: how about if you could goggle in like in Snow Crash? [note: characters in the novel enter the Metaverse with a set of 3D goggles instead of using a flat screen)

Cannon Ninetails: i think goggling in would make it a lot better -- more like virtual reality

Amelia Keppel: i feel its more of a social thing

Seraphine Larkham: yeah, if you can find the right social group

Iggy: Amelia, what keeps it from being used effectively for teaching?

Mikhail Albatros: I think the implementation has to be cleaned up a good bit, lag reduced. That's a huge detriment to its appeal

Zoe Knipper: me too.

Lindsey Banks: I like second life, but it is really difficult to move the avatars around without getting lost

Dianna Defiant: this can be used [Microsoft] live meeting i think...
Large-group meeting, EDUCAUSE conference

Justine Kellman: yea i definitely think it's meant to be social, but that some of the tools allow the different places to be educational if they want to be

Amelia Keppel: well besides the posters, what teaching applications can be used?

Dianna Defiant: you can get people together from all around the world and no one has to travel

Mikhail Albatros: To be honest, I've found it very conducive to teaching

Justine Kellman: i went somewhere last night that had e-books

Amelia Keppel: can you hold classes?

Mikhail Albatros: You can.

Zoe Knipper: yeah

Allegory Addison: Most definitely

Justine Kellman: and yea, my roommate has had a class on second life before

Mikhail Albatros: The Caledon Library [in a Victorian-era region of Second Life] holds classes regularly, I think

Seraphine Larkham: yes, and book discussions

Justine Kellman: because if your class is just discussion than there isn't as much of a need to meet in person and you could all just stay in your room

Mikhail Albatros: No, wait, discussion groups. But I know the greater overarching library association for SL holds workshops on things like building, etc

Amelia Keppel: i haven't had a lot of experience on it, it seems like a big group discussion

Lindsey Banks: I like how it is a free teaching tool, but I think inorder for it to be really useful, there needs to be an easier way to get from place to place on an actual island

Cynthia Barley: voice chat makes it possible to find language tandems so you can learn foreign languages by native speakers

Seraphine Larkham: and other sorts of discussions - a seminar on how to swear like a Mark Twain character...

Zoe Knipper: that's true, but I still feel like face to face interaction is best. . .in terms of classes

Alison Tereshchenko: I think that through certain groups, events, and discussions, there is a lot to learn... but you have to be willing to dedicate a lot of time to it as well. It took hours to learn the program before I could even find the educational parts, and there are lots of things you have to navigate around to get to the good stuff

Mikhail Albatros: But that may be a product of your own upbringing.

Dianna Defiant: face to face isn’t always possible

Amelia Keppel: i agree...its easier to talk freely than type

Zoe Knipper: upbringing?

Amelia Keppel: true

Justine Kellman: yea i would support it more as a teaching tool if it were easier to navigate

Mikhail Albatros: As in the traditional way of teaching

Alison Tereshchenko: upbringing, meaning actual life that's not online?

Mikhail Albatros: In a way. I mean being raised in a culture that values time spent away from the computer, that puts value on personal interaction and tailors teaching to that method.

Zoe Knipper: exactly

Justine Kellman: the computer screen limits what you can see

Iggy: What kind of identity issues do you see with avatar creation?
Hair is no small part of one's identity in SL

Alison Tereshchenko: I think it brings up trust issues, because someone can create an identity that's nothing like them

Allegory Addison: Well you can represent yourself however you choose, which can be a good or a bad thing.

Amelia Keppel: that’s half the fun

Zoe Knipper: it is also anonymous in a way, which is a part of an identity issues.

Lindsey Banks: it's interesting, but a little scary because you don't know who other people are. . . although that is also part of the fun, too

Dianna Defiant: well it's not like they are in your house

Seraphine Larkham: I once had a very confusing conversation in which I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be acting like myself or a character

Cannon Ninetails: as far as identity issues go it's not much different from being in a chat room

Dianna Defiant: its not. . .ha

Alison Tereshchenko: do you really feel that a computer could be a valuable replacement for personal interaction?

Dianna Defiant: :0

Amelia Keppel: i don't

Zoe Knipper: not at all.

Lindsey Banks: I dont either, i think this adds to the communication barrier people have nowadays

Cynthia Barley: Cynthia has no own identity. To me, SL is an enhanced chat platform so Cynthia just represents my 100% RL self.

Seraphine Larkham: heh, true, and you can perhaps project a little about someone from the way they choose to look...

Justine Kellman: i think it's different from a chatroom because you have to put an image with your text

Iggy: yeah, we blur who we are here

Cynthia Barley: Unless you role-play

Dianna Defiant: under certain circumstances it could be

Justine Kellman: which is a whole other aspect of identity

Seraphine Larkham: really?

Lindsey Banks: for example, this is teaching no skill to talk face to face in an interview for a job

Justine Kellman: it depends on the person

Drax Marksman: Can you really tell a lot about a person from the way they project themselves here?

Zoe Knipper: I think SL has potential, but people who spend the entire day on SL, I believe, need to figure out some priority issues.

Amelia Keppel: i second that zoe

Alison Tereshchenko: I agree zoe

Justine Kellman: in one of my classes we had to start a blackboard discussion group because some people are more comfortable writing than speaking

Allegory Addison: in some ways yes in some ways no. moderation is key of course. As well the practicality of what you are doing is important. I'm sure you could teach a CORE class with SL but not a Biochemistry course.

Alison Tereshchenko: a lot of people project their fantasies

Seraphine Larkham: it's funny, I value face to face interaction a lot, but I've made most of my close friend through extended virtual interaction because they live far away from me

Mikhail Albatros: I don't think it's meant to replace personal interaction but to enhance and supplement it, and that both are not necessarily competitive with each other

Allegory Addison: agreed

Dianna Defiant: what if someone were housebound?

Amelia Keppel: well this is a good tool for them

Lindsey Banks: I get nervous making friends through virtual interactions because you truly don’t know who they really are...

Justine Kellman: but if a class were taught in second life, wouldn't that be replacing face-to-face interaction?

Alison Tereshchenko: I think they are a bit competitive actually

Cannon Ninetails: you don't always know who a person is in RL either

Justine Kellman: and it could be difficult for the professor to remember which avatar goes with which person

Allegory Addison: You could say that of someone you meet in person though. The face to face interaction gives you the comfort of feeling like you know someone.

Alison Tereshchenko: I'm sitting next to lindsey right now and I can't talk to her because I'm trying to keep up with the typing

Dianna Defiant: I'd say SL is pretty safe though not like you’re giving them your phone number

Mikhail Albatros: Whereas I feel more at ease because I feel more nervous face-to-face, where I may slip a word. here, I can just backspace and revise.

Alison Tereshchenko: and i'm missing out on hanging out with friends right now

Zoe Knipper: yeah, same with zoe and amelia.

Cynthia Barley: Does it always matter who this person is in RL?

Iggy: I am going to give a quick tour of the island so Beeble's group and ask Qs

Alison Tereshchenko: i'm also missing a face-to-face class situation

Zoe Knipper: exactly

Dianna Defiant: well y'all have fun

Drax Marksman: Hello Cynthia, I'm one of Dr. Essid's students, I don't believe I met you before

[at this point I took the LSU visitors on a quick tour around our island and off it, to the virtual Globe Theatre, home of the Second Life Shakespeare Company]
Virtual Globe Theatre

Iggy: HEY FOLKS. . .I'm back :)

Amelia Keppel: yea i actually wasn't able to post on the blog because I was not invited but I've seen some cool stuff

Cecil Hirvi: Howdy Iggy

Cynthia Barley shouts: hide the booze, Iggy's back!

Mikhail Albatros: Hello Prof. Iggy

Mikhail Albatros slips booze into jacket pocket

Cecil Hirvi: Students...heh

Drax Marksman: Howdy Dr. Iggy

Cynthia Barley makes "OK" sign to Mikhail

Cecil Hirvi: Their attention spans must be miniscule by now

Beeble Baxter: So, what do you folks think of SL for teaching?

Mikhail Albatros: Heh, I'm actually paying more attention now than before. The Eminem's not on, for one.

Alison Tereshchenko: well... i have mixed feelings

Justine Kellman: well based on what we've been doing here, there are a lot of people talking at once

Alison Tereshchenko: i wrote pretty extensively about it on that blog

Lindsey Banks: I really like it, it is just kind of difficult to navigate.

Allegory Addison: I think it has a great number of applications...the interface needs improving though. Too much lag.

Justine Kellman: which could be hard to order into a coherent discussion

Zoe Knipper: I have mixed feelings as well. Personally, I feel that face to face interaction is best.

Amelia Keppel: i actually find this a little more difficult than face to face teaching or actual group discussion

Cannon Ninetails: if they made it so you could virtually raise your hand and be called on. . .that would probably make it run more smoothly

Lindsey Banks: i wish there was an easier way to get from place to place on the islands rather than just flying or walking

Justine Kellman: yes i agree lindsey. . . i've run into many walls

Allegory Addison: Me as well, the program isn't fast enough yet.

[in voice chat, Cecil asks who has their voice enabled]

Mikhail Albatros: I can, Cecil

Alison Tereshchenko: i think some of the events and groups could be very useful

Seraphine Larkham: as is...whoever types fastest gets to respond

Mikhail Albatros: Hey guys, do you all wanna try voicechat? Maybe that'll make it easier?

Iggy: Hi Cecil :)

Cannon Ninetails: right

Lindsey Banks: I dont know how to do that...

[instructions from several present follow]

Zoe Knipper: I think that there are many groups that are beneficial, such as the counseling and psychology groups.

Beeble Baxter: Who has voice capability?

Lindsey Banks: i do.

Cannon Ninetails: i think voice chat would make it more hectic

Seraphine Larkham: nor I, and not everyone might have a mike...

Zoe Knipper: not me.

Cynthia Barley raises her hand

Justine Kellman: i don't think i do

Beeble Baxter: Voice is a new option but still a bit laggy.

Amelia Keppel: there is definitely a lot of info. on SL but it seem slightly now with everyone talking at once

Iggy: Cecil...about making films in SL. . . what is the educational potential?

Cannon Ninetails: you can upload diagrams and stuff

Justine Kellman: there are ways to put books and Web sites and videos on SL

Zoe Knipper: well, for one you can view presentations and posters from different universities around the world.

Allegory Addison: I think there is a great potential because the interface doesn't require that you know anything but how to navigate SL.

Amelia Keppel: there is potential but it seems disorganized to me. . .and hard to keep up with the discussion

Justine Kellman: so i think there's a lot of good potential

Alison Tereshchenko: i found a group for people trying to learn foreign languages, where someone trying to learn Spanish could partner with someone trying to learn English, and they would help each other

Seraphine Larkham: there's a fantastic amount of info here, for one, but it's often hard to find without experience...

Justine Kellman: i agree seraphine

Amelia Keppel: i agree

Justine Kellman: the search engine [built into SL] wasn't all that effective

Alison Tereshchenko:

Allegory Addison: wikipedia's errors are edited in less than a second i think this is a little more error filled than wikipedia

Beeble Baxter: what do you all think about using this for presentations and sharing scholarly work:?

Zoe Knipper: I think that it is a good idea.

Justine Kellman: definitely you could make some good presentations on SL

Allegory Addison: I think that that is where the greatest potential lies in SL

Amelia Keppel: it is a good tool for sharing info.

Alison Tereshchenko: it makes sense for presentations, but i wonder if people would actually go to UR island and see it

Amelia Keppel: a lot of people are able to view it

Zoe Knipper: especially b/c you can learn from other universities besides your own.

Alison Tereshchenko: other than people who were required to for a class

Justine Kellman: i think small projects such as a group presentation are the best educational use for SL right now

Beeble Baxter: Would you guys like a tour of our island?

Justine Kellman: sure

Amelia Keppel: sure

Zoe Knipper: ok

Lindsey Banks: I think that this would be a really interesting way to show a presentation. you can show a lot of information through a virtual world that you create; very new and inovative!

Allegory Addison: yes

Alison Tereshchenko: sure

Allegory Addison: I agree Lindsey

Seraphine Larkham: I just heard my name whispered...creepy...

Cannon Ninetails: well, i unfortunately have to go take a test, so I'm making my exit

Cynthia Barley laughs

Iggy: Cecil, multitasking here but what potential problems exist for SL film-makers? [Cecil replies in voice chat--not captured here]

Beeble Baxter: OK, first we'll transport upstairs to see my Huxley hypertext.

Seraphine Larkham: oh [has spotted Lindsey nude; she accidentally clicked a "remove all clothes" option]

Lindsey Banks: oh no. . .how do i put my clothes back on

Justine Kellman: hahaha

Cynthia Barley: Lindsey

Justine Kellman: no clue

Zoe Knipper: lindsay put some clothes on.

Lindsey Banks: oh my goodness i don't know how they just came off

Cynthia Barley: go to your inventory and put on some clothes by double-clicking them

Zoe Knipper: and how do we get upstairs?

Iggy: Lindsey--this is a problem with SL :)

Cynthia Barley hands Lindsey a towel

Lindsey Banks: there we go [covers up with clothing from her inventory]

Mikhail Albatros: Zoe and Amelia, there is a teleporter somewhere here... lemme help you find it

Drax Marksman: Ok, um, let me see if I can figure out how to get it to work

Mikhail Albatros: left click on the item itself. . .If you want to go upstairs, hit "lounge". . . should be number 6

Iggy: Do the rest of you think voice will be a favored way to use SL in the future?

Seraphine Larkham: ah, interesting

Seraphine Larkham: but you assimilate...I'm not sure I'm okay with that, either

Drax Marksman: don't go toward the light

Iggy: [Cecil] you have always been interested in human-machine interfaces

Seraphine Larkham: blagh, [voice] is more trouble than it's worth. . .now I can't hear anyone any more. . . oh, hey, now I can again

Iggy: we don't have good speakers here. . .but a Q for Seraphine

Seraphine Larkham: okay

Iggy: the Wiki is the other technology in the class

Cynthia Barley: be patient with the non-english native speakers

Iggy: how has it changed your ideas about writing?

Cynthia Barley: my mouth is slower than my brain today

Ignatius Onomatopoeia has a slow brain all the time :)

Seraphine Larkham: mm, in some ways, not much

Iggy: why not?

Seraphine Larkham: I write that way to my friends

Iggy: aha

Seraphine Larkham: blogging, e-mails

Ignatius Onomatopoeia grins to see the future

Seraphine Larkham: when I get on to a subject that's relatively intellectual, anyway, as opposed to why I'm having a bad day

Seraphine Larkham grins

Seraphine Larkham: the only thing that's really new is that it's acceptable for a class

Iggy: But we have mentors like Cynthia or Cecil from all over the globe

Cynthia Barley: hehehe

Iggy: does that change students' engagement?

Cynthia Barley: or in Beeble's case - a house elf

Seraphine Larkham: sure changes mine

Iggy: house elf!

Cynthia Barley ducks for cover

Seraphine Larkham: he's much better-looking than a house-elf

Cynthia Barley: well, I have never seen him in RL so I can only judge his appearances as a tree monster or pointy-eared elf

Ignatius Onomatopoeia turns up the volume again :) [we finally hear Cecil discussing his love for voice, hatred to typing, and use of machinima in SL]

Iggy: Cecil, why did you switch to voice?

Justine Kellman: has anyone seen beeble baxter?

Iggy: Beeble fell off the island!

Seraphine Larkham laughs

Iggy: I meant why not use typing?

Justine Kellman: is that even possible?

Ignatius Onomatopoeia nods

Cynthia Barley: I became a very lazy typer since voice

Seraphine Larkham: oh so true...

Iggy: I've never heard your voice, Cynthia :)

Cynthia Barley: because my typos are so weird sometimes

Iggy: not as bad as Pappy's :) [Pappy Enoch--virtual hillbilly and class "mentor"]
Pappy (as bear) and Cynthia Barley

Justine Kellman: well a lot of the students had to go to class

Cynthia Barley turned off the mic after being heard giggling

Seraphine Larkham: ah, I was wondering about that

Iggy: okay folks we are breaking here

Iggy: I'll save and edit this transcript and post to the class wiki :)

Mikhail Albatros: Sweet.

Iggy: thanks everyone :)

Eng. 216 Syllabus
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