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Week 2: Blogging to the World

February 11, 2021

Much to our relief when we logged in to SL for class today everybody found that ‘voice’ was working. This ensured our second class was much more accessible and far easier to engage with than was our first class last week. A few more participants joined the group and once they were settled John thanked those who had sent links to their blogs and reminded everybody else to do so as soon as possible (send your link by email). He will post the links on the student blogs page here and asked you all to check out your classmates blogs, read their posts and leave comments.

You were reminded to include an ‘About me’ page in your blog (see page 1 here for an example). From the discussion is seems that many of you had read Griffin’s article ‘How to Write a Killer About Me page for your Blog‘ and understood the importance of giving your potential readers a context for your opinions. John reminded you that although your blogs are public and available to anyone to read it is unlikely that they will gain a following without promotion and advertising; nevertheless, you may use your avatar’s persona for the blog if you are uncomfortable using your Real Life (RL) identity. Simply write your bio from the perspective of your avatar as a participant on the module.

We discussed the continuing relevance of blogs on the web and many of you confirmed that you are more likely to view videos or listen to podcasts than read blogs. Indeed, there appeared to be a feeling that blogs are a somewhat dated form of publication. John suggest that it might be that the online-diary nature of blogs has changed and the level of presentation has evolved so the what was once seen as a blog is now an online magazine publication. Once a distinct format in its own right blogs have now become an integral element of many websites.

You asked about the most appropriate style of writing for a blog and whether it should be casual and informal or more academic. This module, as part of its learning methodology, uses writing as a mechanism for learning. The intention is that by the end of the semester you are confident in your own writing ability and familiar with the conventions around accountability. You will use four main forms of writing for your blogs: descriptive, narrative, reflective and critical. This can be achieved while writing in an informal tone of voice – a dry academic style is not suitable for blogging. However, you do need  to be accurate and write to the topic. It is also important to ensure your opinions are validated by referencing to your sources. In the first instance those sources will be the reading and viewing material for the module but, as you go on it is important to read around the topics and discover your own sources. Remember, it is essential that you reference the sources correctly. John referred to the links provided in the reading list to support your writing and referencing.

The practicalities of working online were discussed and you noted the difference between SL and video platforms such as Zoom, Bongo and Team. Online virtual worlds seem to be more immersive and less tiring than video meetings, despite the somewhat dated look and feel. SL can also be seen as less intrusive as you aren’t required to share video of your personal space in RL. In all online engagements, however, the lack of body language and the ‘distance’ allow for misunderstanding to arise more easily than it might in RL. Humour, particularly the more subtle form, can be lost and efforts to convey irony can come off badly. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the conventions and etiquette that are appropriate to any online group in which you are working and to provide feedback and cues that support your communication. Positive engagement is not guaranteed so be aware of the need to confirm your points of view are understood.

Finally, John introduced the assignment for next week. You are to try and meet at least three individuals in SL and engage them in conversation. He explained that this exercise is becoming increasingly difficult as residents of the virtual world are less accessible than they used to be. SL, and other virtual worlds, used to have a tradition of welcoming to the ‘newbie’ but, this seems to be less true these days. As people become more specific in their use of virtual worlds they tend to have less time for casual engagement, and may ignore you, or even be rude. John recommended that if you feel uncomfortable during any of your engagements don’t hesitate to quit SL immediately. Don’t worry about how you may be perceived – just get out if things don’t feel right. While you cannot come to any physical harm in a virtual place don’t allow yourself to be exposed to any form of aggressive or inappropriate behaviour either. Whether or not you are able to find any avatars to engage with write about your attempts and experiences in your blog post this week.

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