Calling all Second Lifers! …that also work in Education…

In a few weeks I am presenting at the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association’s State Conference on the use of Second Life for Professional Development. I have plenty to say, but I thought that it might prove useful to how more perspective than just mine.

Would you mine contributing a short video (1 min?) answering the following questions:

  1. Why do you like using Second Life as a vehicle for PD?
  2. Where are your favorite places to go in Second Life?

If you’d like to contribute, would you mind sending me an Eyejot perhaps? Posting a shortie to Youtube? Email a video from your cell phone? Whatever is EASIEST for you. Be sure to include your real life name, where you are from, and what your Second Life name is. I will be posting these on my blog as it’s own page, so be prepared for fame and emotional fortune.

Please think about contributing! I think many teachers out there are hesitant to join SL in fear of bumping into “strangers”. It will make them feel much better about giving it a try knowing that real teachers with awesome inspiration and ideas think SL is worth the time.

Please help me out!

Professional Development in Second Life is Fantastic!

Lynn Alderton (That's Me!)

I love professional development online! I just attended a workshop about Ipads/Ipods in the classroom right from my couch in frigid Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Moments like this cause me to lean back in my chair and satisfyingly say, “Dang, that’s so coooool.” Second Life allows users to travel to unique places and meet other like-minded people to learn new subjects and engage in meaningful discussion. For me, it also gives me a constant reminder that exploration and learning is fun.

A few years ago I met Laurel and Lori, two docents on ISTE Island in Second Life. I joined Second Life after having attended ISTE in Washington DC two years ago. At the time I joined because I had 10 minutes free in between sessions. Little did I know just how fulfilling this type of networking would be. As the years went on we chatted a bit on ISTE Island. Ironically, I learned that Laurel grew up in southern Wisconsin, so we had something in common, although she made a wise choice and moved to sunny Florida. I visited with both ladies on and off for a few years until I eventually met both at  the international ISTE conference in Denver the summer of 2010. Both women are members of their district’s technology team in Escambia County in Florida. In order to further help their teachers gain more experience with technology and virtual learning, they decided to create their own island in Second Life — Second Life Educators of Escambia County. I joined the group a very long time ago, but was not active.

Laurel and Lori

Recently, I received an email from their team inviting me to a four series workshop in Second Life on Ipods/Ipads in Education. With everything that has transpired in my life the last four months, being “in-world” has been way at the bottom of my priorities, but I wanted to make a commitment to attend their presentations. They are a fantastic group of educators committed to helping their staff gain more experience learning new technologies — all while being in Second Life. Really, they have a great idea. Not only will the visitor learn something new, they will do it all as an avatar in a virtual world. I am jealous. I wish I knew of one district in Wisconsin that is trying something like this.

So at 9pm I dropped onto the SLEEC island and shortly thereafter I looked at my map for other guests. I saw plenty of dots on the map, so I walked in their direction. Upon arrival I heard the guest speaker talking and just like in real life, I quietly found an open seat and started listening. While I was listening, I was taking notes and tweeting links to other Ipod/Ipad users. Actually, one of my Twitter followers responded and dropped onto the island too.

Chris Pointing Out Resources on His Slides

Chris O’Neal, the guest speaker, is a “a nationally renowned educational consultant and featured speaker, as well as a former elementary and middle school teacher and tech director” (Second Life Educators of Escambia County). He talked about their roll-out efforts to equip their schools with entire Ipod stations. He described the process, struggles, and successes. I was engaged and asked questions (via chat) and O’Neal presented links, slides, and shared information in a seamless manner. As you can see in the photo he discussed how Discovery, The History Channel, et cetera can be played on Ipod/Ipad devices. Because Second Life has a built in viewer, he could use the same slides he might use in a face to face presentation. It moved smoothly, as if we were all there face to face. Here are four sites he shared: iPod WikiResearch on Mobile Learning, Learning in Hand, iPod Educator Ning. By going to this session I was reminded of some great things I could do with my own Ipad. Previously, I was just caught up in downloading every free application possible. While that is great, O’Neal pointed out that I could be tapping into websites that are compatible with the Ipod/Ipad.

The Audience

I plan on going back for the other sessions to learn even more about their large Ipod roll out. I am fortunate to have access to a resource like Second Life. Not only do I enjoy the mode of learning, but I absorb plenty of information.

Take a peek at their calendar of events, but be sure to note the time zone difference. You can find useful links here. If you would like to attend, their estate in Second Life is open on the day of events. If you would like to actually join the group and be able to visit their place anytime, please contact Laural McCallen or Lori Galli in Second Life.

Trust me, it will be worth your time if you give it an honest effort. I have really benefited from the global connections I have made through Second Life. Plus, engagements like these give me a new way to look at education and gaming. Over the past couple of months I have been exploring what student-safe virtual worlds I could use with kids. There are several options out there, but it takes money, time, and innovation of the part of the creator. After experiences like tonight, I feel ready.

Leaving for ISTE in a few Hours

Well the time is near. I’m traveling to ISTE10 soon. This marks my 2nd trip to ISTE. This year is marked by a few milestones for me — traveling alone and presenting at a national conference.

I did fly out to ISTE09, but I was in a group of 13 or so. I just followed their lead. This time I have to go all the way to Denver alone. I’m packing very light so I can avoid checking my bag. That’s one less hurdle for me to trip over.

In all honesty, I’m like one of 500 people presenting and my slot is 30 minutes long. Big deal. But it’s a start for me and I think I have something worthwhile to share.

Enjoying Time with Friends in Second Life

I just wanted to share a few nice photographs a friend took in Second Life. I’ve been really interested in photography in Second Life, not to mention in the friendships I’ve gain there.

Lynn1_007Here I am on the left and Christopher Wiles is on the right (better known in SL as Topher Varthader). What great photos! Topher is a great guy — one of my favorite Second Life friends. Notice that I used to word friend a few times. Can we make “friends” on Second Life? Absolutely. Distance doesn’t matter in Second Life. If you get to know someone well enough, you can most certainly develop a friendship and camaraderie with other people. The teachers I have met in Second Life are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Nearly every time I drop in, I learn something new or have a great time. In the photo below I’m doing the Madagascar dance with the folks on Edtech retreat for Mo Hax’s birthday. Most of these people I know fairly well and enjoy spending time with them.


As an educator, I’m digging Second Life. Sure it’s stress relief , but I’ve also learned something about teaching, reaching kids, and even myself as a learner. Without these people, I would not have had these experiences. Can you have friends in Second Life? Absolutely.

My Photography Class in Second Life

Altered Sun Shot
Altered Sun Shot
Here I go with another Second Life rant. I have been working on broadening my horizons in Second Life beyond a traveler. I am very eager to learn new skills in Second Life and my recent adventure involved photography. A few months ago I saw some photos of a SL friend, Julie Sugarplum, and I wondered how they turned out so creative. My first photos looked super lame. So when Julie mentioned that IzzyLander Karu would be offering a photography class on Edtech retreat, I jumped at the chance.
I have met Izzy before at Edtech Retreat – he’s a very nice fellow. Izzy showed the class all sorts of controls for environment manipulation. I never would have found them on my own. Immediately I started adjusting every control possible to see what the reprocussions would be.
What a fun experience!
So my first shot is at one of the Eduislands. I just wanted something interesting in the background. While a creative background and atmosphere is important, it is also essential to think about what to do with your avatar. At some point in my Second Life travels I picked up 40 model poses. I started playing with those to get my head to tilt. This first shot tilts my head down just a bit. I am usually going for that dark serious look, I guess.
My second shot is from the ground (a worm’s eye view?). I really liked this shot until I noticed the green pine tree twigs sticking out behind my head. Now I dislike the photo, but I’m sharing it anyway to show a unique angle. Again I used a model pose to get my head to turn to the right.

A Change in Perspective A Change in Perspective
The third shot is at ISTE island. I’m on a roof top perhaps. My head is turned down to the left. I like the dark tint to everything. Again, a very serious pose for Lynn, I guess.
Next time I want to keep trying more vibrant colors in my photography. So far I’ve kept the backgrounds dark, but maybe next time I’ll go somewhere snowy. I wonder if it’s possible to take an action shot. There are thousands of places to go in Second Life, so there are all sorts of ideas spinning through my mind. I’ll have to upload some photographs to Second Life to show Izzy what he’s taught me. And I can now because another friend of mine, Topher Varthader, was kind enough to lend me Linden Money. He claims I helped him earn it, but he clearly won the dance contest! 🙂  
Me on ISTE Island
Me on ISTE Island
I never thought that photography could be a hobby in Second Life, but it surely can be. I’ve gained yet another new appreciation for learning in virtual reality.
Second Life also reminds me to have fun when learning. I really wish I had a few hours to myself to explore Second Life at once. Lately I have only been able to play for an hour at the most — just long enough to get my toes wet. I sure hope my ability to play while learning can transend to my teaching. I want kids to learn material, but still play. I miss that about school.