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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Open or Closed estate?

Estates (islands) in Teen Second Life (TSL) can either be purchased as "closed" or "open" estates. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Either way, teachers/educators are restricted to the island and are not able to teleport (TP) to any other island or the Mainland. Teachers are also unable to communicate with any avatar (av) on the Main Grid (MG) of SL, which is only open to those 18 years of age or older. This separation between SL and TSL serves to limit adult interactions with teens in the Teen Grid (TG).

Closed estate:

  • student avs restricted to this island
  • no other teen avs allowed to visit or participate in activities on a closed island
  • potentially safer environment, free of outside interference

Open estate:

  • student avs can interact with other teen avs
  • teen avs can visit the island and participate in activities
  • potential for other teen avs to perhaps disrupt classes or learning activities

An open estate allows for much more teen av interaction, exactly why Web 2.0 fits so nicely in with 21st Century Skills that our students should be developing. I think we may purchase an open island and have very tight controls in place, perhaps loosening them in the future.

While poking around to see what other educators are doing in TSL, I came across several resources several months ago. The first is a blog by Peggy Sheehy (Maggie Marat in SL). Ms. Sheehy comes from the Ramapo Central School District in New York (USA). She is one of the foremost TSL educators and developers today and is nationally (if not internationally) recognized for her expertise. She was one of the first educators to set -up an island in TSL and blog about it (http://ramapoislands.edublogs.org/). She does really does a good job of capturing the journey from island concept to reality on her blog.

I had the good fortune to run into her av, Maggie Marat, in SL a few days ago. She readily offered advice and assistance. This is quite common in SL and something that I am most thankful for.

Another good blog is PacificRim Exchange, run by Stan Trevena, Director of Technology for Modesto City Schools in Modesto, California (USA). PacRimX is a collaborative island in TSL where students from Modesto work and share with students from Kyoto Gakuen High School in Japan. This blog is similar to Ms. Sheehy in that it chronicles the project from the get-go. It differs in that some of the posts are very technical (good for pushing us digital immigrants!).

Lastly, there are two wikis from which we can all learn a lot: the Second Life: Educators Working with Teens wiki and the Second Life Education wiki are great resources.

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