Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Access denied...Access denied..Cyn Linden to the rescue! It seems we have worked out the access issues and anyone who is a member of the group, Ramapo Volunteers, has access to the islands. One of the problems we are now facing is that very often the wonderful creative geniuses in SL who have donated free copies of their work to such illustrious areas as "Yadni's Junkyard" etc., (or any freebie hub) have profiles that are slightly, umm, shall we say, interesting? Although profiles are supposed to be kept "PG" many have included pics and links to mature content. This is a potential problem for us once the kids are in. Although they will not be able to TP or venture in any way off the three islands - they still can do some right click education that may fall into the "unacceptable for middle school" category. Anyone know a fix for this? Anyway to block designer profile in the edit object? Anyway to transfer the item and lose the original creator info?
I will be on as often as possible in the next three weeks however Big Ben and the fairies of Tralee may kidnap my senses till August 15th!

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Favorite SOAPBOX :-)

Monday AM, and I realize I have until Thursday to make some real progress on these islands. Then I leave for Europe until August 15, and athough I will be in London for the first five days and will probably have connection, after that it is off to Kerry, and a rather remote cottage outside of Tralee! I have posted a classified ad in SL asking for donations of time and resources (please come and build!!) and I am hoping that the hearts and minds of those who believe in Real Life Education in Second Life will be swayed to lend a hand! I have the general plan figured out but I am certainly not locked into anything so if you have a dream that you've always wanted to build, and you feel it is something that would be inspirational for 8th grade students - please contact me and we'll go from there! I am touting this not only as a great opportunity for all of you designers to "stretch" but also as a contribution to the future! ( *fully launched on favorite soapbox *) Think about your time as a student in 8th grade - do you really want to condemn yet another generation to the "what I did on my summer vacation report" mentality of education? Help me to take the leap - one small step for SL, one giant leap for education! *exhales*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

SL Closed for Maintenance...Again...

After taking a bit of a respite from the Ramapo Islands project and putting in a few miles in the Relay for Life in the Chats region Saturday night, I logged in bright and early Sunday AM (8:00 a.m. EST) to find that the world is undergoing yet another makeover (updates -).... bah! Maybe LL is fixing my Estate access settings hehehe...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

This is Me in both my lives!

Proposal Passed & Islands are Up!

Cutting to the chase here, after developing my proposal, and presenting it to the administration of my district, I am proud to say that they had the foresight, and the courage to go ahead and give me the "all clear" on three private islands. As soon as I am back in my office I will post the actual presentation that I gave, which cited the reasons for moving in this direction, as well as the details of the expenses involved and the curriculum which would be addressed.
In English, what I did was a bit of pedagogical explanation - drew rationale from constructivist learning, and reiterated the whole digital native thing - explaining that education can and must teach the students using the tools they know and relate to - (their brains are different!).

I then drew connections to the existing curriculum giving examples of content that would be enhanced by using the technology present in the virtual platform. (see previous post for some of that). Once I was given the OK I contacted Pathfinder Linden who heads the educational division of Linden Labs and together we generated a quote for three private islands; Ramapo, Suffern and Rockland.
I should mention here that one concern my administration voiced was the inevitable "safety" of students online in an "uncontrolled" environment. This was why we decided that rather than establish our teens on the teen grid, we would have to, at least for now, keep out islands private. This means that once the students enter in the fall, the islands will be "no on-no off". My students will only be able to travel our three islands, and no one other than my students and teachers will have access to the islands unless it is granted and set up by the governess, (Your's Truly!)
Although I don't consider this the most beneficial experience for my kids, I will take what I can get for now! The potential of the cultural exchange available through open interaction on the teen grid is something I will work toward.

So, after some weeks of emails and stalls, I was informed yesterday that the islands are now up on the main grid, and I have access to them through my account - there they are under My Land. Ramapo, Suffern, and Rockland....OH MY!

I eagerly teleported over and let me tell you I felt much like I imagine Columbus did when he landed -- only I was TOTALLY alone- no natives, no trees, no NOTHING! I faced a large expanse (larger than I could have imagined) of dull green land. Each island has a mound type thing toward one end - that I suppose might end up being cool - but I walked/flew around totally overwhelmed. NOW WHAT!?!?!

I have a rather rich life in SL - and have made many friends and networked with many educators - but I realized that what I need now is builders! I need a team to help me create my vision. AND I AM OUT OF MONEY!! Chatting with some folks about this - I realized that I needed to start with a plan - something that I could at least direct volunteers to in order for them to understand where I wanted to go with this project.

My basic vision is this: Island # 1, SUFFERN

  • Suffern Island will be where the kids first enter SL. This island needs to accomplish a few things. It must serve as orientation for the kids (an abridged version of the orientation island we all went through when joining SL is what I envision-the kids will grasp it in a heartbeat!)
  • Suffern is also where the kids can practice some basic building/scripting and just get comfortable with the tools and the environment. As facilitator, I can pass on my (limited) knowledge, but my experience has always been that the kids will zoom right past my skills in a nano second and start to amaze me! This will only be the case though, if they are challenged and motivated which brings me to the second requirement for Suffern Island;
  • IT MUST BE AMAZING! The kids need to be stimulated and intrigued by what they initially see when they enter SL or they will just lose interest! This is where my prefab buildings will just not cut it, and that is why I am desperately seeking volunteers to come in and make this place amazing! I am hoping that al of the creative talents in SL will see this as an opportunity to stretch and design/build that idea that has been waiting for an opportunity! All this AND contributing to the future of education---what more could you ask???
  • Ramapo will be where the students go to "demonstrate knowledge" or simply put - to do their projects. For example - if I work with a teacher who is working on a unit studying the Holocaust, this is where the students can go to build a museum or to create works of art reflecting their responses to a particular subject, or design and build an ancient Greek temple - you catch my drift? I will work with the teachers to "build a better book report." Act it out, build it, write it and publish it here - the potential is limitless!
  • So what do I envision on Ramapo - maybe a few basic structures; a library where the kids can publish, perhaps a gallery, but mostly I will leave this island to the students to design and evolve.
The third island, Rockland, is for commerce and recreation.
  • The kids will not have immediate access to Rockland but will have to "earn" it by completing a project successfully either with a group or individually.
  • I am even imaginging and "Ellis Island" experience to gain access to Rockland.
  • Rockland should have all the games, skateboards, powerboats, malls, clubs, etc. Now, some of it has to be there already - but there should also be room for the kids to develop entrepreneurial projects, and their own creations!
THat is the basic vision I have to date. I am TOTALLY open to suggestions and again, I am in desperate need of benefactors of talent, resources. I am stumbling along in the dark here - but I have faith that the SL community will extend their hands to "RAISE THAT SCHOOLHOUSE".

Please contact Maggie Marat in world and also join the group I have established: Ramapo Volunteers.

Thanks in advance -

A Little Background on this Proposal

Please see for the background on my vision for this proposal. THanks!