Friday, October 19, 2007

So Many Avatars--So Little Time...

I really do try to resist those corny titles in this blog but they seem to just slip right off my fingertips ...perhaps this may seem a poor excuse for neglecting to keep up here - but it is none-the-less true. At this point we have about 800 active student accounts and about thirty teacher accounts working on Ramapo Islands (not simultaneously --but I feel the ultimate band-with test may be right around the corner!) So, rather than sending readers back a year to the archives all the time - this second year anniversary may be a good time to try to encapsulate the history of this project - You see, I receive inquiries bout the inception of Ramapo Islands almost daily as educators begin their journey and seek advice and answers. I read on the SLED list this morning (To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit ) that a FAQ concerning Education in Second Life is emerging on the SimTeach WIKI ( ) and we are looking to include a portion specific to the Teen Grid - as that hurdle seems to be the ultimate "catch 22" for educators ( they want to explore Teen Grid- but can't get on Teen Grid ----want to Teach on teen Grid - can't explore Teen Grid -- want to promote work on Teen Grid - can't access Teen Grid to demo )

While we are waiting for that resource to develop - though - let me provide a brief time-line entry to sum up our history:

1. August 7, 2005: After being bugged incessantly by daughter, Meghan Deanna who was then a Linden Lab liaison, Peggy Sheehy creates Main Grid account; Maggie Marat--- yes, I succumbed to almost her full year of "Mom- you have got to see this!"

October 8&9,2005:Peggy Sheehy attended the 1st Annual Second Life Community Convention which took place on October 8th and 9th in 2005, happening in tandem with the State of Play III conference at the New York Law School in New York City. Over 150 residents, Linden Lab employees and other industry professionals attended the conference, packing the room. Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale gave the keynote address dressed as his Second Life avatar.

2. November 2005: First of many drafts of my proposal to Ramapo Central School District for purchase of 3 islands on Teen Grid is developed and submitted to James Yap (head of instructional technology and data management for the district) who proved to be an incredibly knowledgeable and patient mentor!

3. May, 2006: Proposal presented to Dr. MacNaughton and explanations and investigations ensue. Safety issues are paramount as well as demonstration of educational validity.

4. June, 2006: Proposal is passed, Ramapo Islands are purchased and named Ramapo, Suffern, and Rockland.

5. August 2006: SLCC moved to the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, home of Linden Lab: the creators of Second Life. The event was held on August 18th, 19th and 20th and sold out with 500 residents, Linden Lab employees and other industry professionals.
At this convention, Peggy Sheehy shamelessly begged all avatars to help "raise this schoolhouse" The amazing thing is that not only did the persons she approached agree to contribute their time and energy, but others who heard about the project all stepped up and offered their assistance. The demonstration of good will, vision. and the overwhelming sense of community was astounding.

6. August - October 2006: Islands are moved from Main Grid over to Teen Grid with the invaluable assistance of FireSabre Consulting and some tireless Linden Lab folks!

7. September 2006: Enter the Peer Mentor group and training begins effortlessly - the excitement bubbles through the school - Live accounts are numbered at about 35. they are building and scripting in no time!
8. October 15th - first classes at Suffern Middle School enter Second Life. Social Studies, Math and Family and Consumer Science are first content areas to enter and work.

the rest is history ...