Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thing 15: Online Games and Libraries

I have been hearing about Second Life for a while. I'll get information every so often that a couple of my favorite authors (Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) are appearing in Second Life. But I have never had any desire to be part of it.

First was the technology issue. Did I have a computer with the right stuff? Did I have a fast enough internet connection speed?

Second was the purpose issue. Why be involved in Second Life? What's in it for me? I've never been a fan of role-playing games. I would watch my elementary students play games during "free choice" days in the computer lab and watch in amazement as they explored dark castles or engaged in other quests. My speed is Bejeweled or Tetris. I started in computers even before Number Munchers.

Today I took the plunge by joining Second Life. I already had a brief conversation with someone from London, England as we were both trying to find our way around Orientation Island. I'm sure this will be interesting if I can ever get off Orientation Island. I seem to be hung up on the Map. I can see me and see other green dots but somehow I keep having to redo that section of orientation. I have created and customized an avatar, learned to chat, learned to search, and learned to move (rather like an uncoordinated, 3-legged cow at the moment).

I look forward to visiting some of the library created areas. I'll be doing my exploring from home.

I do see some problems with doing this at school. First the technical requirements are pretty high. I'm not sure our computers can handle them. Second, they require a download which our tech department frowns on. Third, it requires a fast connection which we have much of our bandwidth would we suck up if we had many students doing this at once? This would also have to be limited to 9th grade and above based on the age limit for Second Life (13+) and how would we keep younger kids from trying to join?

Once I can move around with more confidence I'll be exploring both the libraries and the educational opportunities that are available.

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