New SL viewer opens new possibilities

Yesterday, I tested the new SL viewer with some SL colleagues. I have to say I really like what I have seen so far. Of course, it will mean that we have to relearn some things. But so far it has been relatively easy to find what I was looking for and Linden Lap has already provided short video tutorials showing the new features.

The main novelty and something many SL educators have long been waiting for is the “web on prim” feature. And this is really brilliantly solved now. Not only do we not need any parcel media settings anymore to show websites or stream audio and video, websites are completely interactive: links can be clicked, websites synchronously browsed, pages can be scrolled, one can even log in to Ning, Twitter, etc, and update once status… Collaborative writing tasks on Etherpad are possible. And all of this is set up very easily. It is even possible to play online flash games or use other flash-based tools for more serious work. I also like the fact that we can now not only watch youtube videos directly without any conversions but also many other video types. I have my own videos on vimeo and can show these in SL now!

This will not only make educators lives much easier but will make many tools like clunky whiteboards and slide presenters redundant. Uploading of slides will also not be necessary anymore, except if one wants to use the textures for building. This will make it much easier to assign tasks like having learners do presentations or talk about pictures/snapshots. So far, it cost money to upload their slides and meant they had to learn how to do this or send their slides to the teacher who then had to upload them —  a waste of time and money.

(Click the icon on the left of the word “vimeo” to watch it fullscreen.)

I am sure once we have gotten used to the new viewer, we will come up with many other activities that can be done more easily now or that were not possible at all in the past. This will, however, only be possible when everybody in a class uses the new viewer.

Having said that, just because we can browse the web in SL and do all that cool stuff does not mean we have to. I often use no tools at all in my classes as SL has to offer a lot on its own. However, I do occasionally miss a good writing tool. So, being able to do that now with Etherpad, is one of my favourite new functions of this new viewer.

I believe that the new viewer is indeed easier to learn to use for new users. This will make it easier to bring learners into SL without having to spend too much time explaining the User Interface.

I am sure there are still some things that need to be sorted out (e.g. with the old active speakers list it was faster to mute several people), but this is the beta version and we have the chance to provide feedback before the final version is released.

Anyway, these are my first impressions. Have you tried the new version yet? Seeing what you can do now, can you think of how to use these for language teaching/learning activities? Will these change the way you have taught or do you use the Second Life environment without any such tools anyway and it won’t make any difference?

7 thoughts on “New SL viewer opens new possibilities

  1. Carried on trying the new viewer last night. Managed to put Adobe Connect on a prim and everything worked just fine. I was able to screenshare my SL viewer back into SL which was interesting but not particularly useful. I was also able to play a video off my computer onto a prim – the quality was good; there were problems with the sound though, as it seemed to get lost on the way to second life. I need to ponder what I need to do to fix that.

    Pete

  2. I just read your article(Jan 31, 2011). Since it was written, SL has done away with discounts for educatiors and removed the Teen Island (or whatever it was called).

    This is a 9-12 classroom. I teach Business Law, Business Information Management, Touch Systems Data Processing, and Global Business.

    I am new to SL and I can see the possibilities. My goals include creating a virtual classroom with students as part of a course and having my students create their own avatars.

    My district restricts SL at this time as purely a social network (as I understand it). So I am looking for help with alternative ways to do this. I do not want play avatars but ones we can create that are like SLs.

    The other area I am trying to work in is using SKYPE. So far I have not found an appropriate age group or institution to interact with.

    Could you suggest anything? I am getting frustrated. The amount of time and effort expended so far have not reaped the benifits I know is possible.

    Thank you,
    Larry Willis
    willisl@lisd.net
    Marcus High School, Flower Mound, Texas

  3. Hi Larry

    Thanks for dropping by!

    I can understand your frustration. It’s how I felt when I was news in SL and alone, and this is why I help other language teachers. Here’s what I would suggest you do:

    1. Know exactly what is possible in SL and why you would like to use SL with your students. In other words, what’s the added value of SL for your classes?
    2. Learn the basics of SL and find out what other teachers who teach the same or similar subjects are doing.
    3. Best way to do #2 is to join teacher communities like ISTE or and to attend a conference (see below).

    The biggest conference in and about virtual worlds will take place soon. I strongly recommend you attend some sessions of interest to you and start networking. Also check out their archives. Some sessions were recorded and you might find contact information of educators.

    ISTE website: iste.org/connect/communities/second-life.aspx
    DEN teacher community: blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/category/second-life/
    VWBPE website: http://www.vwbpe.org/

    I hope this helps.

  4. i wonder..who needs a Second Life, aren’t busy enough living this One already? i’m not a fan of this game, but i’m sure that if i’ll start playing it, i’ll get over my head into it. so, i rather refrain myself.:)

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