Monday, December 04, 2006

Suffern Middle School in Second Life

Suffern Middle School in Second Life -

Hello! Please forgive the great lapse in my communcation, but to say life has been busy is the understatement of the century! Allow me to fast-forward to today and then if I cn I will backtrack to the steps leading up.
The kids entered Ramapo late November. We had a number of delays due to technical problems that were all ironed out with gracious efficiency by Claudia Linden and Gus Plisskin! Thanks to you both and to all the LL Staff behind the scenes.
I brought about 2 dozen students in before the rest of the classes in order to acclimate them as Peer Mentors. THen we brought Mr. Rice's classes in twenty five or so at a time. The kids were asked to go through our orientation, adjust their appearance and explore for a bit. Then we gave them their first task. The instructions were available to them in world, on the calendar which is posted on a billboard in two locations (to reduce potential lag) Clicking on the assignemnt for the day, a notecard revealed step by step instructions. First, they had to find and exchange friendship with me, (Chaser Brody on Ramapo) and once they did I paid them 10L$. I was sure to move about the islands n order to promote the kids' use of the map tool and the search tool. Then they were asked to take a snapshot of their avatar and upload it to their profile (hence the 10L$) The kids were great - and after a bit of encouagement, most communication went on in world. The Peer Mentors worked really hard at helping the others and I highly recommend this approach. (As incentive they are given a 100L$ stipend and they are in a group with the title Peer Mentor so that is visible to others). Next we gave an assignment to create a notecard and to write about their initial experience in SL. When the notecard was saved and renamed they either could drop it into their teacher's (TheRussellRice Resistance is his avatar's name) inventory OR they could complete the bonus project and create a book that would give the notecard when clicked. In thismanner they were using creation tools, texture, floating text script and notecard giver scripts. About half of them opted to do this. The books are now on shelves in the library. Also we asked them to comment on how they felt the virtual platform could enhance their studies. Here are some quotes from the notes they wrote:
--" I learned so many new things this week. I learned that the second life is a new way to experience a virtual world that is just like the real world. I also learned that we are ahead the country in tecknology. I also learned that there are computer languages that can help with controling things we make in second life. scripting the language that controls the things we build, scipting is very had to master it takes hours of concentration. second life can lead us to carreers in the future. there are people on second life that are famous people who do concerts and more. "
--"Using Second Life has opened me to a new generation of interacting with my freinds and other kids in my grade. "
--" As far as second life goes I thihnk it's great! I feal completely comfotable in this world. I am getting the hang of things here but I cannot take all the credit I had some help from my friends. Because I had not been here on monday and tuesday you would think i would be struggling to adapt well you are wrong!"

--" In second life I would like to learn a new way to, well, learn. I would like to learn in a more fun way, and I belive second life will help me learn in a fun way. It would be cool if in this world we could have a regular class! I mean if that were true if you are sick and don't come to school you would not miss social studies because all you would have to do is go on your compu at home and the only way you could miss class is if your computer shut down."

--" I would like to see more objects that can be used by everyone. Also, an opportunity to build a large scale building. I still think the islands are great. I am hoping to learn about social studies while still having fun and exploring. I think that the second life world is a great way for us to learn"

--"In the virtual world you can do things that kids can only dream about doing. For example, you can fly and use jet packs. One of the coolest things is that it is in real time to to make it more realistic. I think that second life is a great tool for us to use."

--"what will be better in tthe vitural world will be doing projects because there's alot of possibilitys to base your projects on. Lastly what would be better in real life would be doing everything for school in second life. Also real life is just as fun as second life too. I wonder what we will be doing tomorrow and can't wait to find out! "

--" I think that a virtual world will have some good things like you can express your feelings without anyone making fun of anyone. I think that some things will be better in real life. In real life you can hang with friends too but don't always have to use the computer. "

--"Second life is more than a video game. Its a world. I think it is very cool that you can do what ever you want. If you want spikey hair you get spikey hair. The world is endless. It stops when you run out of imagination. To me second life is cool and it will definitly help with learning and for fun. "

--"My avatar Yakal Hillburn has a yacht, a plane and a jetpack. In real life I could never get things like that but in second life you can. I am getting used to the controls and all the proper ediquit. My apearance looks nothing like me but that is cool. "

--" These worlds are very cool. I also think it is very nice that no one else can get into these islands. It keeps us safe from people that may be a danger to us . I am very happy that we are one of the first schools to try this new and exciting learning experience. I am looking foward to finding out new places on here, and new things to try and experiment with.
Second Life is an exciting thrill compared to just plain work in classrooms. I am very excited to learn, and i dont say that alot. "

This is just a few from one class- NO ONE has contributed any negative feedback except for a few who griped about the speed being too slow here as opposed to their computer at home. I have included some photos from the islands for your enjoyment! More to follow!


Greg said...

Hi, I'm Greg Malkov, a SHS student, and I have been in SL for a while, along with a friend of mine. Recently, We saw the 3 new islands with surprisingly familiar names, and eventually, after some researching, found this site. We were pleasantly surprised that the middle school is establishing a presence on the grid. In fact, we were thinking about proposing something of this nature to the high school. We would be glad to help out with this project in any way. We are relatively proficient at building and scripting.
Feel free to contact either myself(Jimmy Schmidt in-world, or my friend(Ownage Shmidt in-world in world or by email.

Anonymous said...

I have just started using second life here at SMS and am already loving it! This has been a very educational experience for me and would highly encourage other schools to try this program with ither students. Second Life allows you to really interact with other people and feel what it's like to own a business and have responsibilities like you would in the real world!