Maybe this happens because NECC is a national conference, maybe it’s because they never know the audience a session may attract, but Second Lifelong Learning turned out to be an introduction to Second Life, assuming the audience really KNEW what “Second Life” is all about.

Yes, many in the audience knew about this virtual “world” of 7+ million world-wide inhabitants. Almost 34,000 people from around the world were online at 12:45 when I logged in during the session. Many attendees seemed to be members of SL, complete with their chosen avatars (character creations) of human or critter form (I happen to be a realistically proportioned fox-type animal), and many in attendance have ventured out a bit in this virtual world- but there were a few within earshot who didn’t understand the product/world being discussed.

Second Life is free, but there is a download/install involved – something not known by all in attendance. There is streaming involved, so a DSL/broadband connection is the best-case scenario. This was also presented by a university professor, and odds are good that most K-12 Districts will block Second Life from network servers.

There is a teen student “version” where teachers, once a stringent background security check is done, can “have” classes/students join the very secure and protected environment. But like myself, if this is my chosen path, I will have to create a different avatar for the teen site, as no crossing back into the adult SL world is permitted.

The positives included Dr. Sparks’ re-telling about his first experiences “dancing” in SL, the real “sense of presence” felt, the idea of being so “into” the socializing and comfort zone that time spent there (something many techies/gamers totally understand) is quickly lost. The presenter and his cohorts were pleased and amazed at this new sense of collaboration among the graduate groups – not having witnessed it in this capacity before.

The aim of this session was to show the illustration of NCREL 21st century skills:

    • visual/information literacy
    • complexity mgmt
    • curiosity, creativity and risk-taking
    • higher order thinking/reasoning
    • collaboration/adaptability
    • interpersonal skills

    If the real world can’t accomplish this, maybe Second Life will!

    Darcy White, Social Studies, Peoria Transition Center, Peoria Unified #11, Arizona