Class 1b: Blogging

February 14, 2022

Since the last class John / Tae consulted with the technical support team in the university to ensure Second Life would be available to students on campus. After running tests over a few days it was finally agreed that the required network ports would be opened each week fifteen minutes before the start of class until fifteen minutes after the finish time. Participants need to use their own laptops (SL cannot be downloaded to university computers at this time) and log on using Eduroam. This will allow full access to SL, including voice. Work will continue to identify the appropriate ports so that SL can be accessed on the network at other times.

This all worked well: as the class started the participants‘ avatars began to appear and all were able to hear John and also speak themselves. After last week’s experience of silence it was a relief to be able to hear one other.

Following a recap of last week’s activities John asked everyone to open the module in the Brightsapce VLE and he explained how each unit corresponded to a class meeting. Reviewing the subject for today he led the class through the sections, noting that the same format applied to each class unit. It is important that participants review the appropriate unit a few days before class: complete the reading/viewing material; consider the topics that will guide the class discussion; take the quiz; and be prepared to contribute when we meet in SL.

He went on to explain how the module will be assessed and advised all participants to review the Assessment unit in detail so the requirements are fully understood. The Website Blogs should be started immediately and each student was asked to send a working link to John by email before the next class. It is important to write to the blog each week so that the workload is distributed evenly across the semester. This accounts for 50% of the marks, with the other 50% going to the Team Project, which will be introduced in week 3.

The discursive nature of the classes was reiterated by John. It would make for a very boring module if participants were expected to sit still and listen to long lectures each week. It is far more interesting and engaging if everyone takes part in a lively discussion. To ensure the contributions are relevant and coherent it is necessary to have read and/or viewed the material provided in advance. This means the discussion is informed and grounded therefore it is important that participants engage outside of the formal class times.

It was a great relief to have voice working in Second Life for this week’s class, although attendance remains slightly disappointing.

The first assignment for this week is to visit three different locations around Second Life. John suggested that participants should meet in pairs or small groups for this. We looked at the map of SL just to get a sense of scale and understand how much there is to explore. Interesting places, whether cities, waterfronts, parks or countryside, can be found in the Search panel, or it is possible to wander in expectation of a serendipitous discovery. It is important to note that regions are rated G for general, M for mature and A for adult so do to keep an eye out for corresponding activity. John reminded the class that if anyone felt uncomfortable in a place due to the activity of other avatars it is important to QUIT immediately: do not expose yourselves to unpalatable or unacceptable behaviour.

The second assignment for this week is to write about the locations visited in your blog. Remember that blog are informal pieces of writing but you should adhere to the basic principles of academic writing: be coherent, write to the topic and use all forms of writing (narrative, descriptive, reflective and critical); source your information with discrimination; caption and credit the images you include; and cite sources in support of your arguments (using those given in the reading list).

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