My First Experiences in Second Life

A while back, I posted a tweet on my Twitter after reading some posts by other educators who use Second Life. I immediately heard back from @msgregson

…I was convinced right away. I really didn’t need that much convincing anyway, but it was just the push that I needed to give it a try. I had been seeing lots of folks in my PLN talking about SL and their educational experiences with it, and it sounded really interesting to me. So, I downloaded the software, created my avatar and started exploring.

So far, every person that I have met in SL has been incredibly helpful, encouraging, and kind. I am grateful to @msgregson for encouraging me to do it, and especially grateful to @ejulez for basically being my SL mentor!

I have only been on SL for a few weeks now, and every day I am pleasantly surprised with all of the opportunities that exist there. I know there is probably even more that I do

Me in Second Life as Cosmo Lanley

n’t even know about. I am excited about the possibilities for learning!

I think the most exciting part for me is that I get to meet new people almost every day. And, most of those people are other educators from around the world. It is so wonderful to sit in the comfort of my pj’s and slippers and have great conversations about education, attend a virtual conference or presentation, or just hang out and have fun playing games, or even dancing (something I rarely do in real life)!

A while back I wrote a post about how I thought Twitter was helping me to become a more social person. Second Life has fostered that growth even more. I have to admit that I was even a little shy about interacting with folks in Second Life at first, but now I say hello to everyone I meet without hesitation. And, part of the reason that I am so comfortable with that is because of the genuine kindness of everyone that I’ve met.

My SL mentor, Julie Sugarplum has written a great post about her experiences with Second Life, and I couldn’t agree more with her. Julie sums up one of the best things about SL to me, “The networking alone is something no one should want to pass up and in my opinion is a more effective method of networking than the real world (inexpensive, less time consuming and you can do it in your jammies and fuzzy slippers).”  If you are an educator using Second Life in any way, or if you are interested in getting into it, please share your thoughts and comments! And, if you are already a SLer, please look me up!

A Student’s Thoughts on Wikipedia

wikipedia-logoWhat follows is an article a student of mine wrote in the school newspaper. This echoes my feelings on Wikipedia and how it is viewed in education.

This school is giving Wikipedia a bad name. As a small child in ninth grade, I was convinced that the online self-edit encyclopedia was a bad website for information, because my research paper teacher told us so. For two years after, I had it worked out in my head that Wikipedia was the center of all lies. As it turns out, this is not true. That’s right, every teacher’s nightmare is about to come true because the truth is about to be exposed. Go onto any Wikipedia page and look near the bottom, you may notice the links citing information. Now call me crazy, but I don’t think if people were lying they would go so far as to make up a link with more false information. The biggest discovery happened over the summer. I was with my older sister and our neighbor changing around some Wikipedia pages for fun, because there was nothing else to do. For example, the best change was my sister taking the biography from Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and pasting it into a new political beliefs section on the page for the popular television family, The Brady Bunch. After looking at the page again, the change was taken down within less than a minute. You see, the people at Wikipedia are really on top of their game, they know what they’re doing. Stop blocking that site and block stuff, as site where people can buy stuff from the computer lab.

How social media has helped me come out of my shell

I am the quiet observer type. But, I have found that using social media outlets, especially Twitter, has made it much easier for me to communicate with my colleagues, and especially people that I am just meeting for the first time. I find it easier to have meaningful discussions with new acquaintances.

Here are my personal observations. 1. I am more comfortable and confident holding conversations with colleagues & new acquaintances. 2. While holding these conversations, I feel that my thoughts are more succinct and clear. 3. I actually feel like I can communicate more effectively to my students. 4. I am no longer reserved about sharing my thoughts and comments with people who I hardly know.

I know there is a lot of talk, especially in education circles, about the use of social media by students. Some fear that using these online communication methods are somehow destroying students’ abilities to communicate effectively and properly “in the real world.”

My question would be this. Why then, have I found that my communications skills have improved? Is it simply because I previously learned proper social interaction before this whole social media thing happened? Or, has social media actually influenced the way I communicate?

I have always been a shy person, but I would no longer put myself in that category. Perhaps writing this blog has helped, too. Maybe through writing this blog and using twitter, I have realized that “putting my thoughts out there” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, maybe it’s a good thing…a really good thing. I have learned so much and had such great conversation with other educators and professionals through these social media outlets.

I don’t know that I can draw any conclusions about young people, but I know that these outlets have helped me to communicate more effectively and more comfortably. Just food for thought.