Reflections on Week 5.1 – Rationale for VW Issues, and Gaining Control over Learning Assets

The work on IDEL11 in virtual worlds, Second Life and on avatar and personal identity suited me in this last two weeks, as I have been using the Second Life, OpenSim and other virtual worlds platforms for some time. It was good to interact with others who have experience, and some who have never been in a virtual world before and hear their comments. This is very relevant to my research as we support totally new users in making serious use of such platforms, and we know how awkward the technology can be to use initially for such new users, who just want to get on with some exercise or collaborative meeting.

One of the IDEL11 course readings (Warburton, 2009) on the uses of Second Life for education resonated directly with our own experience, and it was useful to see some of the academic thinking behind what we come across as issues in real use. Warburton’s analysis of the rich and multiple means to communicate and maintain presence and status awareness was also directly relatable to a “Cognitive Work Analysis” (CWA) which we use as a guide to our support to a distributed collaboration community we work with in the USA. I can take the readings and citations in such papers directly into our productive use of these environments.

My competitive side came out in the IDEL11 Second Life Treasure Hunt. I found the location pretty quickly… but wanted to do an “arty” image of my avatar in a “cell of life” next to the target garden… which was apparently treated as not on target by one of the tutors! Quite right too. So I snapped another rather boring image of me sat in the garden… but it preyed on my mind as I liked the original cell image. So I went back and composed another image looking through the cell to the garden beyond. All snaps are in the Holyrood Park Blog.

Similarly on the Digital Cultures course… I completed the “Digital Artifact” – an exercise I entitled “AI – Avatar Identity” last weekend… but just had to go back over it and add a short machinima… now on YouTube. Another 2 hours gone.. but enjoyably so. See for the artifact and YouTube video.

The first half of the first semester of the MSC in e-Learning seems to have shot by. It is taking all the hours there are available. But I am enjoying it. The IDEL11 and Digital Cultures format and exercises have suited my style of working. I like collaborating and interacting. This opportunity brings out the thwarted (but not very capable) artist in me. I always feel I have more ideas than I can translate to graphical results I feel capture what I want to communicate. The courses offers a platform to release some of this.

The number of images put into blogs and posted on my web site has been growing… and I normally have an organised structure for larger projects… so I did some reorganisation into the normal project folders we would use. This means some image URLs have altered… I think I caught all the references in the Holyrood Park blog and I hope the various discussion forums that have used them… but its possible I missed some indirect references in postings. If you come across any unserved images in my postings please let me know so I can correct then. The mapping is ->

But I have not just been learning on IDEL11 and Digital Cultures… on ULOE11 this week I started my “learning challenge” which is to learn to be a junior hairdresser and how to blow dry in particular. This has also been fun… and a great talking point with others… who must think I am going mad. See progress at

But things are mushrooming, with ethnographic studies starting in Digital Cultures, more reading than ever in ULOE11, and much to come on all the modules. I also spoke with Hamish MacLeod this week on a number of distance education and research related matters as well as touching base on my choice of modules for Semester 2.

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