Nov 17

MUVEnation – Ideas for newbie orientation

Micro learning activities

After having looked at and compared different orientation islands and stations, we have to devise our own activities for one module based on the Global Kids Curriculum. I have chosen the Level 1 module Taking a Closer Look. By the end of this module, they should have learned (mission’s powers):

  • Using the computer keyboard to focus, zoom and pan
  • Using the camera control feature to focus, zoom and pan

The activity should

  • Allows the development of the mission’s powers (see above)
  • Is engaging, playful
  • Complies with the list of principles for an effective design of an orientation session.

I have decided to create activities for this module because I have seen in several tutorials that camera controls are one of the most important and most-used features of Second Life. I can only agree with this from my own experience and that of my students. As some MUVEnation participants have pointed out when comparing orientation stations, this should even be one of the very first skills that are taught because seeing the screens and pictureboards used to explain SL features require this skills the way the are set up.

I have come up with some ideas to practise zooming and panning. Due to time constraints, I will not be able to fully develop all the steps and create picture boards with the necessary instructions. I will also abstain from describing the instructions I would give.

My ideas

First of all, flying would not be allowed for any of the following activities.

After looking at a pictureboard with instructions on how to zoom to get a closer look, they have to stand on the hot spot and zoom in on an object, picture or board with a text and either read or describe it.
MUVEnation week 1 act 7/5

How long does it take until a newbie learns how to see their own face? Here, they will be instructed on how to do that and then have to practise it and take a portait snapshot of themselves.
Daffodil at home

To practise zooming in on a moving object or avatar, they will be instructed to ALT+click on that object or an avatar and follow where it is going and describe what they are seeing or take snapshots and post to flickr. This is best done in an area where there are walls or hills to prevent seeing the moving avatar directly.
MUVEnation week 1 act 7/4

The hot spot marks the area where a box is hidden underground. Avatars would be told that there is a box. Using camera controls or keyboard shortcuts (which would be shown and explained first on a board) the avatar has to pan to find the box and retrieve its content as proof of completion. If they already have the skills to take snapshots, they will be asked to wear the item they have found as proof and take a snapshot of themselves and post it to Flickr.
MUVEnation week 1 act 7/1

Now, they would be instructed to pan upwards until they find the box in the air. Find what is on top of the box and, depending on the skills they already have, either take a copy of the item and wear it, take a snapshot or both.
MUVEnation week 1 act 7/3

Happy to hear your thoughts.

If any of the MUVEnation newbies wants to test these ideas, let me know.

Update 18 November 2008

Two other question we were asked to addres are:

How was the work with the GKCx?

The GKCx is very comprehensive but I had to read through the modules carefully several times to understand the steps. It was too detailed for me. It’s a lot of text.

What challenges do you foresee?

These activities are very easy to set up and even mobile. Where ever we have the right to rez objects, we can quickly set up the hot spot, boxes and pictureboards. Teachers with minimum experience in building can set it up easly. There is no need for scripting knowledge. For newbies: hand coordination? Mixing up and forgetting when to use which shortcut. But learning and practisng this is the whole purpose of the activity.


Nov 13

MUVEnation – Evalutation of Orientation Stations in Second Life

muvenation logo
Most orientation stations in Second Life are “traditional” – picture boards with screenshots and text explanations. They might look time-efficient but they don’t offer any interactivity so that new users can immediately try out what they are reading. I believe in learning by doing in order for new information to really become practical knowledge. This is why I have looked at two orientation stations that have a different more interactive and playful approach.

Orientation Station Campus

This is a very small orientation station set in a forest. On arrival, the avatar has to click on the sign attached to a tree to receive a notecard with instructions and some initial tips. Avatars can practise the most basic skills like camera and movement control, flying, manipulationg objects, using the pie menu, offering friendship, using IM, teleporting and buying. In order to learn these skills, avatars have to complete small tasks like “count the fish in the pond by using camera controls” “use build tools to move pieces in place (to build a totem), “teleport to a location, buy a freebie, come back and unpack it”.

The skills that are practised are essential and well-chosen and the tasks are fun, especially when done with a partner or a small team. I did some of the tasks with a colleague of mine who still considers herself a newbie. We laughed a lot while doing some of the tasks but she was often confused and didn’t understand the instructions. Even I was confused at times what we were supposed to.

We both concluded that it is not so much an orientation station but rather a further pracice station where students can be sent to after having learned the basics at an orientation station station. It is not appropriate for complete newbies because it doesn’t explain or show “how to” do things but rather “what to do”. So, students are either expected to find out “how to” by trial and error, which can be a good learning experience, especially if done in a team, but also frustrating if there is nobody to help when students get stuck. I assume that originally there was someone to guide students in doing these tasks.


Orientation Center Virtual Ability

This is a very friendly-looking Orientation Centre build for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses to help them learn SL skills. It offers comprehensive step-by-step tutorials which are presented in a very clear way, with additional tips in a different colour. The path is highlighted by large blue arrows drawn on the ground. No way you can get lost here.

At the beginning, the information is presented on signs like on most other islands but very friendly looking signs.

Then, the stations become more interactive and task-based. Avatars read how to do something and can immediately practise it by doing fun tasks:

Practise buying and item: T-shirts and other freebies that can be bought for free

Practise using camera controls: Finding, zooming in and clicking on butterflies. Visual and auditory confirmation.

Practise buying clothes and changing appearance: a house full of freebies for a good start into an avatar’s new Second Life

At the end of the tour, you can click on a mail box to receive a feedback form. This shows they want to keep in touch, serve the community and improve things. Having said that, it seems to be outdated.

There is a Mentor Park, where you can touch a bell to request assistance:

You are making a call to ask for assistance from the SecondAbility Mentors. These are experienced residents here to help new SL residents. Do you want to call a SecondAbility mentor? (call/cancel)

There is a separate area for advanced tutorials.

Some extra points:
– Congratulations and a shower of stars when managed flying
– Mac specific notes (first O. island that I see this).
– A balloon tour of the island

Besides offering clear instructions and congratulating one now and then, it is such a lovely place that I was happy to stay there and try out everything even though my intention wasn’t learning anymore. And as we know, a good atmosphere and nice surroundings can lower the affective filter which is very important for learning to take place.

In general

Both places I have visited were empty except for one friend who I had asked to come along and another MUVEnation participant, doing her homework. Therefore, it is a good idea to go with at least one other person to the Orientation Islands. Besides being more fun, students can immediately practise skills like sending IMs or invitations to teleport.