Second Life Snapshot

John Kirriemuir writes:

The latest snapshot report on UK Higher and Further Education developments in Second Life is nearing completion; the report should be out in a few weeks. Here’s the responses to one particular question, from academics who have been developing and/or using SL in their work.

• Generally a gimmick, though I think a few places who innovate are trying it out.
• Hatred of any new technology by those within a decade of retirement. They hate change, they hate having to learn anything new, and they just want a quiet life until they drift off. Unfortunately, these same people hold the power within faculty.
• Generally – with caution, the value of learning using ‘serious games’ and virtual worlds in general is being questioned.
• Varies considerably from fear and rejection, to healthy scepticism to evangelical enthusiasm.
• With much interest.
• Mainly with suspicion. To many lecturers, it simply looks too much like a video game, leading to negative assumptions. I am tired with people, and I refer mainly to senior academics, who are too idle to experiment with Second Life. Instead, they prefer to reinforce their incorrect prejudice. Many, I guess, don’t like it as it represents change or something different. Which may mean more work for them in the decreasing gap between now and when they retire. Personally, I wish they would all sod off; if they aren’t going to help our Second Life activities, then at least stop hindering them.
• Mixed – some people think it is a game and not serious others recognise its potential.
• I don’t think there is much informed awareness of either its potential or its limitations and, of course, there is bound to be a fair bit of concern about the less savoury aspects. The ability to run a private grid behind a firewall in due course may allay the concerns of some, albeit at some considerable loss.
• With enthusiasm and imagination by a minority, and with doubt, fear and even derision by the rest…
• Do you know how [expletive] off I am with people who, on being told about Second Life, respond with “Maybe you should get a First Life?” Like, they’re the first person ever to think up that devastatingly witty reply. Oh, how we laugh. Ha [expletive] ha.

Some sweeping statements on both sides of the spectrum and a dash of ageism for sure. This interests me as educators in my network look to incorporate SL into their teaching. It’s amazing how varying the responses can be and how similar the responses are to the things that have come before.