Monday, November 11, 2013

Touring around my Second Life...

I'm finishing up the exploration of Second Life for my Emerging Instructional Technology course today and now that I've finished all seven "quests" we were sent on, I can firmly say that I do not like Second Life. I'm not saying that I don't see the purpose in it, because I do, but it's just not a section of technology that meshes well with me.

Okay, enough with the bashing. Let's talk more about my experience! Our final "quest" on Second Life was to create a tour of locations based on a theme. I chose art, because I like art and it seemed like something attainable to use. I searched around Second Life and found ten places that struck my fancy and typed up a little summary about each of theme on what's called a "Notecard", which you can visit via the links provided below! 

Second Life Art Gallery Tour
This gallery is home to real life nature photography by Seoreh Voight and Walt Ireton. The current displays exhibitions titled "C.A.L.L. Creators against Linden Tab TOS", "H20", and "Impresiones de la Gomera". 

This gallery is a pleasant labyrinth of unique and richly ambient art and furnishings. It's home to  a wide variety of artwork, from classic Greek pottery to contemporary art and photography. It is a very diverse collection of work; there's something here for everyone!

This location is much more than just an art gallery; it's an entire recreatied Californian city recreated in Second Life. Enjoy the main entertainment destinations of San Diego without even leaving your own living room.

This gallery is home to original vector and vector-based art by Zann Canto, with themes of peace, justice, and environment. It's a serene location and if you look closely, you might find a cat nursery! Another secret? The artist, in real-life, is an Education Technology Professional.

Silliest Kitty Abstract Art Gallery
This art gallery houses artwork created by the artist Bloo Ansar. The artwork is modern and fun to look at. There are six floors in this unique building, and  the top floor is a dance club! Save yourself some energy and use the Teleportation device to transport among all the artwork.

Dreamscapes Art Gallery
This gallery houses Home & Garden Designs by Carlotta Ceawlin. It's all original artwork and handcrafted furniture that you can buy and use to spice up your home! Pay attention in this location, because there's lots of little details.

Rose Theater & Art Gallery
Angel Manor uses many forms of art in this same location, including dance, music, opera, romance, theater, and artwork. It truly is a  celebration of the arts. 

The Studios on the Art Walk
This gallery is home to the work of Kelly Yap, Atlantis Jewel, Walt Ireton, and Ren Revnik. This location is simple but intriguing and nice an clean. If you make your way to the rooftop, you'll find a dance club!

Z&A Coffeehouse Art Studio
Less of a gallery, and more of an artistic hangout, this location allows you to kick back, dance, play, and enjoy artwork created in both Second Life and Real life. This place hosts DJ's every Tuesday & Friday from 7-9pm.

Arts & Culture for Peace & Healing
Also less of a gallery, and more of a hangout, is this location. Come here to enjoy aquatic sports, a Brazilian beach as well as a Peace Spa and Art Center to find your inner peace and serenity.

One really interesting thing that I encountered while conquering this quest was chatting with other people. While I was stressing out about getting my location project done, people were consistently chatting me everywhere I went. I talked to a Russian man for a few minutes (thank goodness for Google Translate!) and I had a great conversation later on with a woman named Zann Canto, who told me she was an Educational Technology Professional in real life! Crazy! The strangest part was, I ran into her at the Tierra Paz Art Gallery and underneath it, she had a small cat farm. She also mentioned that she had multiple Avatars on Second Life, each with their own identities and jobs; one is an artist, another is a cat-breeder, and the last one represents her Ed Tech background. Oh, the things you'll encounter on virtual reality. She gave me some advice about Second Life that was really helpful, and then we parted ways. It was a nice experience.

Once I finally figured out how to maneuver my way around the virtual world, I started to like it just a teensy bit more--but not by much! I had some glitches and had to restart my computer a couple of times to finish my "quest", but now that I'm done I feel pretty confident and proud of my work. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

First Experience in a Second Life

"Girl next door" Avatar
This week for my Emerging Instructional Technology class, we're exploring the idea of virtual reality. After simply playing a (very addictive) game for two weeks, this has been a tough shift for me. The only kind of virtual reality knowledge I have comes from my years of playing the Sims (I had the original one way back in Elementary School), so not a ton.

We've started using a program called Second Life and have been sent on various "quests" in order to help us understand the program and all its features. I've only done the first few and I'm still a little lost, but hopefully my confusion subsides soon. So far I can say that virtual reality is NOT my favorite technology. Although I'm not the biggest fan, I can see its purpose in the business and education world. Virtual reality eliminates all physical barriers of connecting with people. During my introduction I heard a man talk about how he was serving in the military overseas and he met up with his wife on virtual reality to "have a dance" together, which was really sweet! It's a little bit more than phone call. 
"Gladiator" Avatar

As I continued through my "quests", I learned about changing the appearance of my Avatar and how to move my Avatar around the Virtual World. I took a tour through a helpful orientation in a building on an island called "Lionheart Orientation Island" which taught me how to maneuver my way around and other important tips. I figured out (somewhat) how to change the appearance of my Avatar by changing its physical features and its clothing. I started as a normal looking girl and I learned I can have outfits saved that can completely change my whole look! For example, a girl next door by day, and a gladiator by night. Weird, right?

I have a few more "quests" to complete, so look for another blog post with a summary, complete with more of my sassy opinions on the Second Life world. I'm looking forward to meeting with my class again and discussing the realistic application of Second Life as teachers. Have you considered it before? How would it fit in to your curriculum?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sometimes we all just need a little help!

This week our assignment for my Emerging Instructional Technology course, our task was to continue playing Kingdom Rush. The catch this week was to collaborate while we did it. I just finished up about an hour of playing the game while simultaneously Facebook chatting a classmate of mine, Rob. We talked about where we were both at (levelwise) in the game and what kinds of strategies we used. Even though we only chatted for about an hour, I learned a lot! 

I've been incredibly frustrated because I've been stuck on this level called "Stormcloud Temple" which is the battle designated for having 19 out of the possible 105 stars. I've played the level about four or five times without success and I was getting very frustrated. Rob suggested that I change my distribution of upgrades! For each star you have, you have one point to use for upgrades. Some upgrades are worth more than one star. I leveled up my reinforcement as high as it could go--hoping that would help me. 

I was right! Although I still didn't pass the round, I managed to make it all the way to the very end of the level before I was defeated by some kind of troll-like creature. Even though I lost once again, I found myself less upset than before because I came so much closer to meeting the goal.

So. What's the point here? I think, metaphorically, what I learned from the collaboration experience is that we need help from our peers. Sometimes we can learn just as much from our peers as we can from our instructors! As a teacher I need to remember that some students may learn better when working with others--and I need to give them the chance to succeed!

The challenge I pose to all you readers out there is--think hard about what your students need. Give it to them. Change it up! There are more ways to differentiate without providing an entirely different assignment. Remember: fair does not necessarily mean equal.