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Kevin Jarrett (SL: KJ Hax)

Hi Kelly! Hope you will forgive this longish comment, I pasted it here based on an email I just sent to an edtech listserv. I think it will help you and your visitors!

SL can be overwhelming! The good news is that all it takes is a few good connections into the large and growing educational community in Second Life and you will be immersed in educational best practices, cool tools, and time saving tips ... you will also find a warm, generous, engaged and focused group of people who are having a ton of fun while they determine how to use SL in their classrooms (either on the tightly-controlled "teen grid" or the "main grid" for adult learners).

There are many, many educators doing research (formal and informal) in SL and/or just exploring. I personally have been in SL since about March, thanks to a generous Faculty Excellence grant from Walden University, where I teach online, part-time in the Graduate School of Education. As someone who teaches MS in Ed. classes at a distance, I was interested in how SL could richen my students' experience and create community. I have been blown away by what I have seen and the people I have met. It's all on my blog: http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com

Since by day I teach in a K-8 district, I am also interested in the Teen Grid as an educational tool. I recently had the opportunity to spend two days at one of the only (the oldest, to be sure) middle school working in SL: Suffern Middle School in Suffern, NY. I was on Spring Break and GLADLY drove 2+ hours (on two different days) to see an 8th grade language arts class begin a literature circle project. Again, I was blown away. Those posts, specifically, can be found here: http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com/?cat=29

In addition, the ISTE has entered SL in a big way, here is their page describing the initiative: http://tinyurl.com/2lss5o - as you will see, they have a beautiful HQ, events every Monday at 6pm Pacific (Show and Tell) and Thursday at 6pm Pacific (informal socials), and about 1,100 SL members. I am helping to coordinate the volunteer presence there - we don't have coverage 24/7 but we are working on it! The ISTE HQ is a GREAT place for educators to start out, it's safe, there are free resources (and cool ISTE T-Shirts!). We get thousands of visitors a month and nearly every one I've talked to that arrived in a state of confusion (or mild panic!) has left with personal connections, free stuff, and tips that have transformed their SL experience. I'm not exaggerating! It is truly validating to see people "get it" and watch the enthusiasm wash over them.

To be sure, SL is NOT perfect, and there ARE things the 2D web does better right now. Conducting a traditional class in SL is harder than in real life on the 2D web. The chat interface can get tiresome but voice will be widespread soon. And, there are "bad places" in SL - just like on the Internet - and you need to know how to avoid them.

Don't let that deter you though. There is a wealth of opportunity in SL for educators. You just need to make a few connections. Come to the ISTE sometime and see who you find!

I know at least a few people in here that I've been with in SL - Jen Wagner, step up! So I won't steal their thunder.

I'll close with two videos that I think capture the essence of SL quite nicely:

Introduction to SL: http://youtube.com/watch?v=b72CvvMuD6Q
Seriously Engaging: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9VZKTT6gZ8

This should get you going. Look me up in-world sometime! I'm not on during the day (I'm at teaching, and this project has nothing to do with my school yet) but nights and weekends are usually good!

Finally, check out the blogs listed on my site - there is a wealth of information - and best of all, a real COMMUNITY of learners here for each other!

Best, kj

kellyinkansas

Thanks, Kevin - I'll keep an eye out for you tonight. I'm going to the Gibson discussion - it looks interesting.

I appreciate your sharing all the great info here and accepting my offer of friendship in SL.

I'm so glad to finally find the "like minds" in SL and learn from everyone.

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