The ingredients missing in Second Life

Fifa10: now that's what I call a game!

An article on ASTD caught my eye this morning: Ten Ingredients of Great Games.

Which of those does Second Life not have?

While SL does have "self-representation with avatars" and "three-dimensional environments", obviously, what I found missing until I vowed never to return was "narrative context" (engaging narratives, in other words and feedback — which ASTD describes as "progress bars, zooming numbers, and status gauges, all in a well-organized dashboard that lets players know how things are going, good or bad".

Maybe I've just played too much Call of Duty, but my problem is precisely that Second Life not a game as I understand it. Who was it that said "I'm excited about any technology that excites the learners"? One reason why I'm not bothering with SL is that I just don't think it will, at least not learners brought up on Fifa10 and the like.

ASTD is the American Society for Training & Development, which modestly describes itself as "the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals". Its website will be of interest if you are involved in e-learning.

EVO Sessions 2010

The 2010 edition of the excellent TESOL EVO sessions has just been announced.

Session topics include video, online games, teaching with interactive whiteboards and teaching languages in virtual worlds (including Second Life).

The six-week sessions start January 11th, are free and open to all and do not require TESOL membership. They tend to be a little over-subscribed, but are run by volunteers and are well worth attending.

Registration starts January 4th.

Virtual worlds

Here's an interesting article on Edutopia.org that shows how virtual worlds can provide "a shared online universe in which students can play to learn": Get a Life: Students Collaborate in Simulated Roles,

It mentions Whyville, "a Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students" and some of the projects that schools have done using it, as well as looking at some of the benefits and (ahem) "challenges".

Whyville isn't Second Life — it's not so sophisticated, as you can see from the avatar I was starting to create (above right) — or Teen Second Life, but it's simplicity might just appeal to kids, if you're teaching them.

Edutopia [about] (the cynic in me loves that name! .-) provides "Information and Inspiration for Innovative Teaching in K12 Schools".

CSI in Second Life

I've not been in Second Life for several weeks (and haven't missed it). In fact, I doubt if even my favourite TV show — CSI — will persuade me to head back, though there's a new CSI:NY episode featuring Second Life, though the latter is not named, which aired on CBS in the States October 24.

The episode, says New World Notes, led to "an explosion of new account sign-ups — as many as 100,000" joining Second Life, that is. It would be interesting to know how many of those would rather spend time in SL than they would watching CSI on the telly, once they've experienced SL. Not many, I would guess…

You can watch the promotional machinima on YouTube.

Elsewhere, on virtualworldsreview.com, there's are reviews of some of the (many) alternative virtual worlds, though not many of them are making as big an impact as SL, not at least in the media.

Web 2.0, Web 3.0…

The term "Web 2.0" gets bandied around a lot these days. It refers to things like blogs and wikis… For a fuller definition, this article on oreillynet.com explains What is web 2.0?

But Web 2.0 isn't in fact so cool any longer, as we now have Web 3.0 as well. PC Mag explains What is web 3.0?

Web 3.0 would include things like Second Life (a virtual world). On the Second Life Educators List, Gary Hayes had a neat explanation of it:

To me, evolution of the web order can be defined in single sentences:

1.0 the pushed, one way only web
2.0 the two-way shared web
3.0 the real time collaborative web (3D, isometric or just 2D)

3D is probably actually a better term for it. 3D might well be what the web becomes; 3.0 looks like a clever-clever way of saying "I'm even more up-to-the-minute than all those people (still) talking about Web 2.0".

Even when we get to Web 4.0, however, or Web 14.0 for that matter, don't forget that to you as the teacher what's important is not the technology, but the learning.