This past March I turned 50 years old. What was my first half century like? Let's see ... grew up in the northwoods of Minnesota ... learned how to program in the mid 70's at an Ivy League school, while holding down a job as a teamster truck driver for Coca Cola ... decided that my fellow mathematicians at Dartmouth were too nerdy and escaped to the real world! However, RCA decided a person with an economics MBA and a strong programming knowledge should come back into the technical world. Thus my nickname ... "The Northstar Nerd"
Perhaps I should have labeled this post: Learning in Second Life. Obviously this would have been a double entendre. I'm starting out my next 50 years, and I realize I need to learn about the virtual social phenomenon / reality, Second Life. In short, I need to grok this. In the past few months Second Life has increasingly made its way into my conscious thoughts.
Here are some recent articles I've read which made me sit up and take notice:
- IBM Opens Second Life Research and Development Center
- NPR: Real Money in a Virtual World
- Screencast - John Udell of Infoworld attends IBM virtual block party
- Second Life Virtual Travel Agency
- Thomson NETg Opens Second Life Training Center
One's first step should be gaining a basic understanding of Second Life and virtual reality. Not to surprisingly Wikipedia has a good overview ... along with some information about "firsts" happenings in their world (concerts, Fortune 100 companies, store front openings, TV reality theme shows, and much more). However, if Wikipedia is not your "cup of tea", perhaps you would prefer to watch a 20 minute screencast / tutorial on Second Life from Harvard? This tutorial / screencast will give you a basic understanding of Second Life, and how it works.
Now ... there was a reason Harvard developed this tutorial. It is the first lecture from a course which is available for open free enrollment, not just Harvard students! The class focuses on the Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, social networking, etc.), and how they are used in learning. Here is the basic information:
Here are the primary course resources:
Now ... what about my post title, "Blogs, Wikis, and Bears ... Oh My!" While Dorothy and her friends were scared of the enchanted forest ... we should not let Web 2.0 scare us! Thus, if you wish to gain a better understanding of the changes taking place in the online world, I recommend the Harvard course. You can even attend in real life, or via the Harvard campus in Second Life!
In summation, why worry about this stuff? Isn't it just a bunch of nerds who want to brink the Star Trek Holodeck into real life? It would be a mistake to dismiss virtual reality as it relates to the world of learning. Corporate education departments have used simulations for years (market based simulation games). Thus here are a few links to help you further ponder this domain ... I'll be working my way through the Harvard course:
- A Second Education - A blog dedicated to education in a Second Life
- Educational Opportunities of Second Life - Educause
- How Not to Teach in Second Life - An interview with the Second Life founder
- You Tube - Second Life Construction Tutorial
Remember, if you see me in real life, my name is Rich Hoeg. In Second Life, I'm Ole Northmead!