Saturday, October 4, 2008

In praise of Second Life


I entered my flat through the front door and went upstairs, pausing to straighten the photo over the settee in the hall. I crossed to the main sitting room, gazed out of the window, and was amazed to see an unknown woman standing in the smaller sitting room staring straight ahead.

"Hi!", I called, suppressing questions like: "What the hell are you doing here? Who are you?".

But all was well. We were both in Second Life and Nellie had just come to check out the place before a meeting began there two hours later.

She and I are part of a small group of people, 70 registered on the wiki but on average about 6 turn up for the weekly meeting, called into being by Nergiz (Daffodil) Kern, along with Alicia and Maru, and we meet once a week in Second Life, on Friday evenings, to discuss aspects of teaching languages in Second Life. When we can, we demonstrate tools we have found and show the others how to use them. The group's activities are administered through a wiki

and there is a linked Google discussion group. (Note Google, not Yahoo.)

Anyone who is interested is welcome to join. The easiest way is probably to write to Nergiz.

nergizkern at (Reverse com and gmail)

tagging you message: slexperiments.

Last week we decided to meet at my place, and there were a number of potential topics for discussion. In the event we concentrated mainly on a demonstration by Nergiz on how to build an object that could pass out information when touched.

The simple pyramid I built under Negriz's tutelage. When clicked on, the pyramid provides you with a copy of a pre-written text.

This is often used to let members of the group know where we are when we move from an initial starting place and they arrive later. It could also be used, though, for automatising the passing out of texts or SLURLs (a SL URL) in a teaching context.

What struck me last night, though, sitting on chairs on my verandah, with the trees blowing in the breeze and the light turned to "midday", with a view of Serov's 'Girl with Peaches' visible through the windows was what an ideal learning situation we were in - this really was tasked-based learning and we needed language to ask for help, for confirmation, to request another demonstration or to get help when something had gone wrong. The fairly simple process we were attempting, did not have to be described with words alone, it could be demonstrated and a third party could look at one's own attempt and make suggestions if things were going wrong.

Of course lanugage learning is not about making objects, though building an object can be exploited for language learning purposes, but I remain convinced that a resourceful, creative language teacher who has mastered the way Second Life works could easily come up with exciting way of language learning. A few have already done so, Kip Yellowjacket and the folk at LanguageLab, to mention a few.

And although two people last night could not get their microphones working, three of us at least were using our own voices to communicate. (I'm very pro-voice in SL. It seems a pity to lapse into typing when voice is possible).

A newcomer exclaimed excitedly how real it all felt and what a warm, friendly atmosphere could be created.

Relaxing at the end of the evening with my feet through the table


Nergiz Kern said...

Hi Dennis,

What an account of our meetings! If I wasn't already a member, I would join it right away ;)

Thanks for all the praise, which I share with the group members (almost 70 by now on the wiki), who make this possible.

Language teachers who would like to join us can either contact me or request access through the wiki. Alicia and Maru, the co-founders of the group, or I will then add you as a writer to the wiki.

Hope to see you next Friday, Dennis.

Nergiz Kern
(aka Daffodil Fargis)

Maru del Campo said...

Hi Dennis!

A very creative way of sharing our meetings and great pictures.
What you mention is very true, SL allows you to use language easily in a comfortable, natural way.

I hope your blog draws more members to the wiki and to the meetings. Your description is certainly appealing.

Hear you next Friday dear.

Dr. Nellie Deutsch said...

Hi Dennis,
Love the blog. I have added the RSS to my special blog list. I apologize for dropping by 2 hours ahead of time. I do that in real life, too. I highly recommend joining the Friday meetings. SL provides incredible learning experiences for those who join. However, how do we encourage those who don't know what they are missing to join???

Warm wishes,
Nellie Deutsch (aka Nellie Homewood)

Dennis said...


The LAST thing you need to do is apologise. I just found it interesting that I reacted initially as if it were in real life.

Dennis said...

With three followers I'll try to make sure if I blog more about our Friday meetings I'll do it in this blog, and not start another!

Dennis said...

If you enjoyed this blog (Thanks for the formulation, Amazon) you might also enjoy: