Archive for the ‘2015 Class summaries’ Category

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Class 2: Getting to know Second Life

October 8, 2015

Participants in the module this semester are engaging very well with Second Life and were able to make their way to the Media Centre without difficulty. We started the class with a quick review to ensure that everyone is comfortable in the environment. John got links to all your blogs which will be posted to the module blog this week. Well done on getting the blogs set up and making the first post. Don’t forget to complete the ‘About’ section by giving a little bit of information about yourself (if you prefer to keep personal details private and don’t want to reveal anything about yourself invent a life for your avatar!)

John paired up the participants who were in class and spoke a little about the group project. Normally the class is made up of students from different programmes but because you are all Interior and Furniture Design students this semester we decided to base the project on your discipline. You will explore SL to find an interesting building and make a presentation describing it, discuss how successful it is at fulfilling its purpose, introduce the designer, builder or owner if you can find them, and explain why you find the building interesting. A more detailed brief will be posted shortly.

We also began to explore some of the options for getting around SL by having our avatars fly around the Media Centre. It takes a little bit of time and practice to control your avatar so John advised spending some time in SL before the next class, practising. The activities to be completed for next week will encourage you in this regard. Each of you was given L$300 (roughly about US$1) to explore the consumer economy in SL.

Everyone joined the DIT Module group which allows you to set the Media Centre as your ‘Home’. That means you can set SL to login directly to the Media Centre. It also allows us to participate in private Instant Messaging (IM) among the group. John reminded everyone that SL is a ‘real’ place in the sense that anybody can join. Therefore – just as In Real Life (IRL) it is important to be careful about where you travel and to whom you speak – give some consideration to your online exploration, whether in SL or anywhere else. If you find your self in an uncomfortable situation in SL do not hesitate to QUIT immediately.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: Get to know your class partner and explore SL together. You are to visit at least 3 new locations. Find them in search, or by flying or walking around, ask other residents for recommendations or select them at random.
  2. Write the second post : on your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Explain how and why you chose them and what was particularly interesting about them.
  3. Read: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Personal Branding by Yohana Desta at Mashable or Personal Branding Basics by Chris Brogan, expert in online community, social media, and related technologies or The first Step to Building Your Personal Brand from Forbes to prepare for the discussion in next week’s class.
  4. Other interesting reading about SL and virtual worlds:
    in Virtual Worlds Magazine, Virtual Anthropology and the Prometheus myth
    An article about Rod Humble, former CEO of Linden Labs, owner of Second Life Shared created spaces
    Your Second Life is Ready – Popular Science’s take on SL in 2006.
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Class 1: First meeting

October 6, 2015

Congratulations to the participants who made it into Second Life for the first class yesterday! You all managed very well indeed. For those who are still having difficulty logging into SL please talk to your colleagues and see if they can offer advice and help.

After meeting outside the DIT Aungier Street building in Dublin Virtually Live we teleported to the Media Lab for an introduction to the course with John and Locks. The regular class meeting time will be Thursday (starting this week, 8th October) at 8.00 pm and finishing between 9.00 and 9.30 pm. We will meet at the Media Lab and all participants saved the location so you will be able to return there whenever you log into SL.

We also added each other to our ‘friends’ list. This enables you to see when participants login to SL and you can send an instant message (IM) to each other when you are in different locations – very handy if someone gets lost in SL.

John explained that class will be interactive and discursive. Each week we will look at a different topic, introduced by a set text that participants are asked to read before the class so as to inform the debate. It is important that all participate fully and engage to get the full benefit from attending. You will also need to visit SL between class times to complete activities that will be set to encourage exploration. Specific activities will be set for the first few classes to get you started.

You were all asked to create a new blog for the duration of the course. You will be expected to write a weekly post describing your experience of the class and the discussions and activities in which you engage. If you keep this habit and post weekly you will avoid the burden of having to write a complete paper at the end of the module. John also explained that you will be paired off next week to work on a project which will be presented at the final class of the semester. You are encouraged to read through the pages listed in the right hand column of this website to get full details of the project, see examples of previous student blogs and get an idea of what to expect in the rest of the course.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Set up your blog: using bloggerwordpresstumblr or any other blog site. Complete the ‘About Me’ page (read some of those pages on other blogs first) and remember it is different from the first post on your blog. Write from the perspective of your avatar: the persona you will be using to explore in this module. 
  2. Write the first post: to your blog about your expectations for this module – what you hope to get out of it, what you think you might contribute, etc. Address the relevance of  module objectives from your perspective, ie, justify why you think they are important to you.
  3. Look at: John O’Connor’s blog and Dreamscape Diary bearing in mind what you learned today compare your own blog writing to this.
  4. Visit the following: Dolce Merda, Brain PickingsIllustration Friday, Chris BroganStyle Pantry Think about how you would identify these blog authors…what impression do you get of the person behind the blog?
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Class 9: Consumers to Produsers

March 28, 2015

This week is Spring Break for Akron students so the class was in the DIT seminar room in Dublin for a change of scene. For the first half we discussed progress on the group project and re-emphasised the importance of reflecting on what is not working in the collaboration in addition to what is working. It is important that participants are writing about this in their blogs from now to the end of the semester.

The second part of the class consisted of a discussion based around Prof Axel Bruns’ lecture that students had read over the week. At the beginning many professed confusion about what Bruns was proposing but as the discussion progressed it became clear that most understood it better than they realised. It may be that as emerging ‘produsers’ themselves the concept is so familiar that it is almost invisible to them.

The concept of wikipedia not being about the creation of finished products but the ongoing revision of information – constantly amended and updated by people who may have originally come to it as consumers but have become content creators – was clearly understood. The development of the distribution system for news from the formality of traditional newspapers that are controlled by editors and publishers to the openness of blogs, Facebook and such systems that have eliminated the gatekeeper was considered – with particular consideration of the pros and cons. The issue of reliability was surfaced, leading to a reminder of the importance of reputation – and brand. As users become the producers of content: people who care enough to participate – as opposed to those who merely want to consume – personal brand becomes increasingly important.

DIT students are reminded that their blogs were due for the second assessment (after week 8) but this has been postponed to this week giving you a chance to catch up if necessary. The importance of proofreading posts before publishing was emphasised.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT WEEK:

  1. Read: about the girl who resigned her position as uk police youth commissioner due to previous tweets (accessed 02/13/15).
  2. Read: about another example of a person losing her job over a tweet (accessed 02/13/15).
  3. Read: why Dr Phil removed a tweet from his TV show (accessed 02/13/15).
  4. Write the ninth post: to your blog reflecting on the benefits and difficulties of collaborating online across time zones.
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Class 8: Is the medium the message?

March 22, 2015

Last week students were asked to watch a lecture by Prof Axel Bruns but the link was faulty – while the slides accompanying the talk were visible the lecture itself was missing. So, the correct link will  be posted this week and we will discuss the idea of ‘Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content’ in another class.

This week in class we discussed Marshall McLuhan’s proposal that the ‘medium is the message’. Use of the smart phone emerged as the dominant theme, particularly the way in which it appears to have replaced face-to-face encounters for many people today.

marshall-mcluhan-quote-the-medium-is-the-message-this-is-merely-to.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  • Watch and listen: to the lecture ‘From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation‘ by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation.
  • Write the eighth post to your blog explaining how Marshall McLuhan’s theories inform the thinking behind this class.
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Class 7: Communication?

March 15, 2015

Class this week proved to be a lesson in communication – or lack of it! Summer time began in the US the previous Sunday but doesn’t begin in Ireland until the end the month resulting in a three week period where the usual time difference between us is increased. We knew about this but, the difficulties associated with adjusting schedules and communicating across continents defeated us this semester. For DIT the 9.30 pm finish time is quite late and moving it on to 10.30 pm is not possible. For Akron students the class takes place in the afternoon and most students have other classes directly after it so changing their schedule is not feasible. In addition, it is reading week for a number of DIT students and they were not expecting class this week. In the end, about six students attended a rather small class gathering – demonstrating in a practical way how difficult online collaboration and communication can be across time zones.

We used the opportunity to discuss project progress with those in attendance and, unsurprisingly, similar difficulties were revealed by the students in relation to their communication within groups. One particular issue that may be a cause of concern to some is the selection of the cause or charity for the project. John and Locks advised students not to become overly concerned about this, reminding that the project is a vehicle for participants to experience working collaboratively online and discover not only what works well but also what doesn’t. It is the process of working together that students are expected to explore and the detail of the project itself is of lesser importance. Group members might also do well to review Sitearm Madonna’s talk, in the second class, about the roles of group members

This conversation continued as the student blogs were discussed. The importance of reflecting critically on the process of working with colleagues in an online environment across different time zones was emphasised. Please read what was posted to the blog around this time last year which outlines what students need to consider in their own blog writing.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  • Lecture: watch ‘From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation‘ by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation.
  • Write the seventh post: to your blog describing the process in which your group engage to select the subject for your project. Include a critical review of how successful (or otherwise) you think the process was and what you would change if you were approaching this task again.
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Class 6: Review of projects

March 6, 2015

At the start of class we had some more elevator pitches followed by a discussion on the visit last week to Virtual Ability Island. Most students were impressed by what they saw and the visit gave you a sense of how important virtual worlds can be to those who are housebound for one reason or another.

Then the students divided into their groups and found quiet parts of Akron Island in which to work on their projects while John, Dudley and Locks met with each group to discuss progress. We seem to have missed one or two groups so please let us know next week and we can meet you then.

Most groups appear to be making good progress and have decided on the general direction of the project. Each groups seems to have met synchronously and asynchronously and have agreed their communication methodology. While many are finding Facebook useful because they check it regularly already some have opted for email, google documents or Second Life as the key space for collaboration.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read this: interesting blog post about understanding Marshall McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’ (accessed on 12/02/15).
  2. Read: some of Reinventing Ourselves: Contemporary Concepts of Identity in Virtual Worlds, Eds Anna Peachy and Mark Childs, published by Springer 2011 (accessed on 12/02/15).
  3. Write the sixth post: to your blog describing your contribution to the development of the group project.
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Class 5: Virtual Ability Island

February 27, 2015

We had a brief discussion of how to establish community in the virtual realm. There are many approaches, and we listed a few ways to begin: Facebook, blog (as you are doing), Twitter (with appropriate hashtags) and follow others, and LinkedIn. But it takes time and effort, as we are learning in this module.

Then we wanted to make sure we had time to learn about Virtual Ability Island (VAI), so we took a field trip. Students can return to VAI and explore some of the other areas by using the landmarks on the notecard: ‘Landmarks for Virtual Ability,’ and if you did not get one, contact Dudley Dreamscape for one.

Gentle Heron and her friends greeted us. Gentle gave us a brief overview of the history and activities of VAI in both voice and text. They communicate in varied modes so that everyone, even those who are not able to see or hear or read or comprehend English can participate in ‘real time.’

VAI_001

Welcome to Virtual Ability Island.

An overview of VAI from Gentle Heron:

(1) Who is the Virtual Ability community?

We are a cross-disability peer support community of nearly 1,000 members from 6 continents. That means our members who have disabilities may have a physical disability, a mental or emotional or developmental disability, or a sensory disability (deafness or blindness). About ¼ of our members do not (yet!) have disabilities. They may be a parent, spouse, child, or friend of a person with a disability; caregiver; researcher; medical professional; or an educator.

Our community has been in Second Life for over 7 years, and we won the first Linden Prize for a project that has “a tangible impact on the real world.”

We are supported by an RL nonprofit, Virtual Ability, Inc. Our community assists people with all kinds of disabilities to enter and thrive in virtual worlds like Second Life. As a community, we offer our members a variety of educational and entertainment activities daily, but also encourage members to explore all the incredible things to do and places to explore within Second Life.

(2) Why are we considered a community?

Some definitions of ‘community’ include a geographic proximity, and obviously since we are on every continent except Antarctica, we don’t embody that aspect. Nor do we have cultural similarity. In fact, we embrace diversity! The population of persons with disabilities is the largest minority, and the most varied.

However other aspects of community we do certainly exhibit:

  • Both close and informal relationships
  • Mutual support among members
  • Common values and beliefs (in our case about emphasis on Ability, not DISability)
  • Organized interactions and activities
  • A strong sense of belonging to the community

On Healthinfo Island, we are focusing not on disabilities and impairments, but rather on health and wellness. You will find landmarks to exhibits, displays, a pavilion listing research opportunities, and the Path of Support. The Path of Support lists information about the more than 120 peer support communities we have identified so far in Second Life for disabling conditions and chronic health issues.

Our community has 2 residential islands, with private properties around the edges, but public land in the central area. On Cape Able, there is an art gallery on the public land; on Cape Serenity, there is a library. In both the art gallery and the library, we offer only works that are created by persons with disabilities. That goes along with our emphasis on the abilities of people with disabilities.

You can learn more about the VAI community at their website: www.virtualability.org

Then we had a lively Q&A session.

The Q&A session covered a lot. Only a few are summarized below. Answers were provided by Gentle Heron and some of the members of the VAI community: Ruby Vandyke, Winter Wardhani, Stepin, ÎsaЪeĻ, Lukey Woodget, James Heartsong, Suellen Heartsong , levi Ewing, oɹɐubǝ dןɐuǝɹ, and Vandala.

QUESTION: How did the community begin?

  • A: We wanted to participate in a community but were too disabled to do so, and we came to a virtual world so we could socialize.

QUESTION: how do you get people from RL into this community in SL? How do you get the word out?

  • A: I found this community by seeing one of their Events listed in the Events search
  • We often invite people in other online types of communities, like chat rooms for people with specific disabilities.
  • I found an article in MS Magazine, mentioning support in SL. I came here, was lost for a bit, but then was guided here by a kind person who knew of VAI.
VAI_002

Overview of the island.

QUESTION: Are people more accepting in SL than RL?

  • A: yes, I find that they are
  • not always people are accepting as in real life that is also the case:)
  • that kind of depends on the disability that is being responded to. Some people are very rude to people with disabilities that make them type slowly or if they type in ASL grammar (which makes them sound nonintelligent).
  • I find that SL is sort of a ‘great equalizer’. Disabilities are not as obvious here, so we feel more confident in our interactions with other.

QUESTION: what benefits have you and the members found from joining this group

  • A: personally for myself I have open up more about my disability with Virtual Ability which actually they have helped me deal with it as well much more in real life
  • We have done several research projects on benefits to people with disabilities of being in a virtual world. It offers several! including improved socialization and self esteem.
  • understanding your not on your own and understanding about the outlook and thinking of other disabled people

QUESTION: Does the improved self-esteem translate to RL?

  • A: yes, being at SL has made me more confident in RL, such as doing public speaking, being able to strike up a conversation with people

One last benefit to SL. I get to meet folks from around the world, without ever leaving my desk. 🙂

  • world wide friends
  • I got to meet so many people from so many place that I wouldn’t have otherwise
  • me too, being retired helps..but would never be able to physically travel to other countries

We thank the VAI folks for participating and to Suellen for voicing.

NEXT WEEK:

Groups will work together and the instructors will visit each group to get an up date on your progress and provide some help.

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