Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Module 4: Second Life

Back in 2007, I remember watching a CSI episode that involved a murder that crossed over into an online meta-world, Second Life.  I had never heard of Second Life before but was rather intrigued by the idea of an online virtual world, but never gave it much thought until recently.  Fast forward five years and I am reading about Second Life references in books, watching a music video produced in Second Life at an ISTE conference, critiquing a fellow student’s technology presentation done in Second Life, and seeing that a Walden professor holds office hours in Second Life.    After doing more exploration of Second Life, I discovered it started emerging into 2002 with beta users and was publicly available in 2003 ("Wired travel guide," 2006).  Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, do not publish statistics for the public, but after doing some investigating it seems that there are about 49,600 residents online with a total of 31,281,835 residents ( ).  Resident is the term for a Second Life user.  The drastic difference between the two numbers could be indicative of the number of people who have had an account but no longer actively use Second Life.

Joining and creating an account is free for a basic membership.  However, you do have to pay monthly for a premium account.  With the premium account you receive a stipend where you are able to purchase different things including genitalia.  When you join you choose an avatar that you are later able to customize along with a name ("Wired travel guide," 2006).  You basically have the ability to invent yourself.  The Destination Guide featured on Second Life shows a wide range of categories from adults only to education to a wide variety on special interest groups.  It seems that there is a destination guide for you regardless of how common or obscure your interest is.

Second Life is a perfect example of a disruptive technology.  Disruptive technologies have been defined as technology that is brand new and is not a product of an already existing evolving technology (Laureate, 2009).  People have used chat rooms to interact and communicate online for the same purposes that people use Second Life; however the chat rooms were limited by text only.  Through Second Life users have the ability to interact with each other in a more dynamic way and use voice and/or text to communicate with each other.  People who use Second Life invest a significant amount of time in the virtual world with an average of forty hours a month ("Wired travel guide," 2006).

The social benefits of using Second Life can vary depending on the person.  Based off a study conducted at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Dell talks about her own experience with the findings that self-perception affects behavior.  She discovered that when she first entered the virtual world of Second Life she chose a “plain-Jane” avatar and ran away with the slightest prompting of social interaction.  Later on, with more confidence she changed her avatar to be more attractive and began to exert herself more in Second Life.  Dell experienced how her exerted self-confidence in Second Life transferred over to her feeling more confident in the real world (Dell, 2008).  People have the opportunity to explore different sides of themselves and their personalities through Second Life.  This virtual world also brings people together in a completely different way to interact and even collaborate.  It has even been proposed that Second Life could be used as a form of Student Management System and called “Sloodle” – a combination of Second Life and Moodle.


Dell, K. (2008). How second life affects real life. Time, Retrieved from      

Laureate (Producer). (2009). In Emerging and future technology [Audio podcast].
Retrieved from

Wired travel guide: Second life. (2006, October). Wired,14(10), Retrieved from

Friday, October 5, 2012

Module 3: Rhymes of History: The Evolution of Stories

Whether one is a young child or an older adult, few people can resist a good story.  Stories have been around seemingly since the beginning of time. There is evidence of stories being shared as early as 15000 B.C. (Lockett, 2007).  In the Pyrenees Mountains, children found drawings in the Lascaux Caves. More than 2,000 figures that were painted in a narrative fashion of animals and other creatures.  Scientists who carbon dated the place believes that these narrative paintings were created around 1500 to 1300 B.C. (Lockett, 2007).  All over the world and throughout history, stories have been used to entertain and to explain.  Through the sharing of stories, people were able to “pass on wisdom, knowledge, and culture through the generations” (Lockett, 2007, p. 2). 

The concept of recording stories has been around as long as they have been shared.  Paintings on rocks, cuneiform found on tablets, hieroglyphics on papyrus (Lockett, 2007), written word on paper and now text on eReaders and other handheld devices (Barnard, 1999).  Since the first mechanically printed book first emerged around 1452 (Barnard, 1999), the technology of printing books has evolved drastically.  In 1999 Barnard accurately predicted that we will be reading books in handheld electronic book readers.  He described the quality of the screen as well as the ability to navigate through the stories, search, and use the device similar to a printed book (Barndard, 1999). 

The popularity of eReaders has begun to emerge into classrooms. Fourth grade teacher, Julie Kaplan, writes grants for Kindles through Donors Choose so individuals and companies can fund her project.  She has been quite successful and has received nine Kindle eReaders for her classroom with the desire for more.  Her students enjoy reading stories using the Kindle eReader.  She also helps assist her students in purchasing their own Kindles.  Kaplan is a huge fan of the Kindle and enjoys spending her leisure time reading books through this device.   

After a recent move, I downsized my book collection of over 200 plus books in exchange for an iPod Touch that has different apps for books.  I enjoy having the easy access to my books day or night.  Back in 2007, Brewster Kahle spoke about his desire to have a free digital library available to everyone that included every single book ever published.  Mobile devices are making it even easier for people to access books.  Easier access can lead to more reading.  Wouldn't it be nice if more people used their phone to read a book instead of catch up with Facebook or play Angry Birds?