As a part of my class assignment for my Graphic Design course, I had to create and avatar and learn to write a script in Second Life, an online 3D animated virtual world. The following is the reflection I wrote on my initial experiences in the new world.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Second Life this week. It allowed me to learn alot about myself, others, and the way I interact with others. I was hesitant to approach strangers which is much like myself in real life, but my drive to learn and gather knowledge was what motivated me to make friends and interact with them. It forced me to break out of my shell and because I enjoy communicating in written form, it allowed me an opportunity to not only learn from others but in turn, help others as well.
I can see how this medium would allow students with diverse learning styles to learn in a way that fits them best. I found that some of my fellow students really got into creating things and manipulating them. Possibly they are kinethestic learners? I enjoyed communicating in the chat windows and meeting and talking to people. I am more of a visual learner. Some wanted and needed to have the sound and verbal directions for writing the script. Possibly they were auditory learners.
In my opinion digital animation has something to offer for every learner and would enable them to find learning methods that meet their individual styles. Isn't this basically what we are trying to do by integrating technology into the classroom? We are trying to learn to communicate in a way that students learn today and to prepare them to live and work in a 21st century "real" world.
I also learned from reading the lecture about gaming that we have a basic instinct for seeking. There was never a point that I felt that I was playing a game this week in Second Life. Although the seeking instinct was definitely a part of the experience. I was seeking to find clothes to wear and ways to move my avatar and to create objects. I think that once you have mastered these steps, you would probably move on to additional seeking "levels" in the experience by shopping, buying land, building, and even holding a job.
Also, I thought about how Second Life could be used to enable students with physical disabilities to have more opportunities for social interaction. This week I took a wild ride in a jeep, rode in an inner tube, learned to dance, all things I don't usually have the opportunity to do.
Also, the ability to create something, even in a digital world, helps a person develop a greater sense of self-esteem. Classmates were saying "Look it works!" and we were giving each other verbal "Attaboys!" These are all things that any student could benefit from.
It's a shame that so many tools like Second Life that are really good and beneficial and valuable seem to be eclipsed by the fact that some have decided to use it in a negative manner. Hey, it wasn't that long ago, (maybe 15 yrs?) that I was afraid to use the internet because of all the negative things I had heard about it. Now I depend on it daily."