Monday, January 28, 2008

SL Student Center

A number of folks have attended the Lessons in Second Life meeting that Jeremy Hunsinger hosts on Mondays from 1-2:30pm at the _blacklibrary on hyperborea.

Last Monday a conversation started about the potential for a common "student center" and the benefit of that. One of the places that was discussed for this was the NMC Orientation Island, since many new students were coming in through there anyway.

Larry Pixel was contacted and was very receptive to the idea of adding a Student Center. He showed me an area where he thought it might work out well. I took some pictures and brought those back to the group today. I've posted those pictures below with some comments.

There was a great discussion at today's Lessons in Second Life meeting and I took it on myself to post this blog and to ask folks at the meeting to add comments, ideas, concerns, thoughts, etc... I felt that having a central repository would be good so that everyone can see what is being discussed and can chime in.

My plan is to direct the students in my Writing class to the blog and to ask them to comment on what would make a Student Center interesting and attractive to them.

What I am asking of you is to add your comments, and, if you are teaching in SL or have access to students (via a group or list), ask them to visit this blog and comment as well. The more student input we get the better this will turn out, should it move forward.

For full disclosure - I originally posted a very short entry here, just to get the blog up so people could start commenting. Once I got home and had the chance, I rewrote the entry. I've keep the original posting below, in italics.

A bunch of wonderful folks are talking about a main student center on the NMC Orientation Island. NMC is open to the idea, so, what is it we'd like to see, or to chat with NMC about

Please provide input in the COMMENTS area below

This is a look at the two telehub areas. Those who sign up for their account using the NMC web page, when they first log in they appear in the courtyard that is further off in the picture. When you return to the island, you are dropped off in the courtyard that is closest in the picture.

This is a picture of the same area but but from a different angle. The area to the left of the picture, which is currently a cafe, is where it was suggested this project might fit well if it were on the NMC Orientation island.

This is a picture of the existing cafe.

This is a view of the entire area

This is a second access way from the main "orientation" street.

Oh - btw - if you are a student reading this, PLEASE leave a comment. It is really important to hear from you. Also, don't be shy about commenting and letting us know in the comment that you are a student. Ultimately, if this comes together, its your space, so you should have a say in what goes there. Here's a chance to get your voice heard.


Birdie said...

A student center ought to include a sandbox, where they can actually start learning what SL is about -- building and trying things.

Also, opportunities to DJ, or dance, or converse in small groups. Students mainly want to see other students, so the settings have to be various -- and fun. Don't forget the fun.

Birdie said...

I have deeded a parcel on Belle Isle for students, specifically for teens who have been "aged-out" of the Teen Grid. The Isle also has a Dance Pavilion (join the DJ list).

Sheila Webber said...

A few thoughts

Making it essentially student run, preferably right from the start - like a students union or association

A SL Group associated with the centre that has students as owners

Noticeboard type functions in the centre to make it easy to post ideas for meetings/ events or whatever

Things to set up votes on matters for decision

Ways of linking with the social software they are already using e.g. Facebook

Not spending a lot of money on the build - something students can build themselves and/or can be changed around a lot if they want

nick said...

I feel this would be a great addition to SL. This common area would be a great way to meet up with other students and members and gives the members a chance to come back to a spot designated to meet up and gather. Looks very interesting! I will be looking forward to it!

DrMiki said...

I think this could be a wonderful opportunity to attract those who did not sign up for SL for educative purposes to be exposed to that side. Done well, this could be a really great service to many!

HQ said...

I personally do not have SL experience, but would love to expore that. I like the idea of creating a SL Student Center. It will be really nice if we could even divide it into different interest groups or age groups. in short, I am all for it.

Birdie said...

Area looks way too small and overbuilt. What about a big open skybox, with lots of space to build -- and some tutorials for getting along in SL?

AJ said...

Birdie, thats an interesting idea. I'm not sure they have much more space in that area, and we'd want the initial presence to be in that area (since that is where students will be coming in if they go through the NMC Orientation). But what about a small presence there and then a teleport to a much larger, open, skyparcel.

EllieBrewster said...

I'm sorry I missed this conversation earlier - I'm totally bogged down in teaching.

I think Sheila's idea of involving students is wonderful. If we can get this going, I can try to get one or two of my students interested in doing it as a project.

On Minerva we're trying to build a Women's Studies library that showcases student projects and connects to other libraries in SL. Maybe there's a way of connecting this project with a student center? Links to references? Links to educational sites in?

What a great idea, A.J. count me in for helping with this.

Blogasaurus said...

Thank you AJ for pursuing this, and prompting us to comment. I agree with Birdie and Sheila that a Student Center should be student run. I would go further and leave a large area for the students to build as they wish. After all this is the paradigm shift that is occurring in education--student supplied content. Linking options to the plentiful resources such as libraries, and other resources would make sense, but maybe only as a kiosk portal. I have this fantasy of a virtual youth UN, consisting of areas, eventually islands, of the various nations and groups represented. A place where students can begin to envision the future that they wish to create, well aware of the mistakes we have left them. Challenging them and giving them the resources to create a future, which we cannot imagine for them, would be a formidable task, but one well worth while. With such a 'student center' or the Center of Youth, they would be in an excellent position to have their collective say on policy decisions that will greatly effect their future.
So I applaud your initiative and take Birdie's act of giving some continuity from TSL very seriously. I imagine there are very few students with the resources to have 'their own' island or archipelago and this would be a tremendous gift. If each college left aside a deeded area for a "Student Union" this would be a step in the right direction--but we are still obsessed with control and lording knowledge in the old paradigm. So count on my support, I'd gladly deed a chunk of an island if the students made a case for it.

Nick Noakes said...

Given what people are saying, I'd suggest using Boracay (2 sims south of NMC Orientation) as a possible alternative student center venue. It was built around the notion of self-directed learning groups and would fit with the suggestion from Sheila of students taking charge. There may be too many buildings on that though. There is already a skyplatform for building (sandbox) which can be turned into a disco or an ice skating rink, etc at the click of a button. There is a students union building with games that are rez-on-demand. There is a cinema, an outdoor stage with seating that can be changed for live music performances and an exhibition area for rez-on-demand exhibits including student projects. There are sports all over the island (parachuting, hang gliding, surfing, windsurfing, jetskiing, skiing, snowboarding). If people would like a personal tour/tours of this, let me know and we can organize something (or you can take one of the programmed tour vehicles (balloon, hang glider). Only people in Boracay group can rez, create and script but adding people to the group is easy.

Jane Wilde said...

I love the student center idea. Food, dancing, student art, revolving featured landmarks of the week (I am an sl tour guide as well as sl teacher), dumpster diving for of free stuff, maybe student/mentors available from time to time. Esme Qunhua / Jane Wilde

Veritas Variscan said...

Corwin's space sounds nice. I agree with the ideas voiced, that there must be a sandbox, a message/idea board, a dance place, etc. I agree that the NMC area is already built up, and that more choice needs to be given to students. Perhaps a series of student zones on different sims can be created, with NMC as the Main Quad, with a TPs set up to link to multiple sites around the MG, each set up as a different type of activity center, all linked to each other, so that the most land can be designated for the student experience...we all know that a whole sim would be best! Students who join the Group associated with these parcel(s) do not have to be Owners though. I think that land management has to be left to the party responsible for the maintenance and safety of the parcel(s), i.e., the person who is paying for the sim. However, students who become Members can be assigned varying degrees of ability within the Group if they become very involved in the project, which will further draw them in to the process...

AJ said...

Oh yes - an entire sim would be WONDERFUL! (hint hint). But I think the proof of concept with a smaller space would be needed. Lets prove that the students will come and use the space before trying something on the scale of an entire sim.

I'm not sure that having distributed areas would be a good idea. IMHO, the space needs to be all in one place, so students won't have to wonder where to go - they can go to a central hub and then wander from there.

Perhaps if this can take off on a small scale, such as what NMC is so graciously offering (not just the land, but to also build), they may see the success of this and agree to a larger space.

As an aside, I'm thrilled at the engagement here. Please, email a link to this blog to everyone on your "in education and in SL" list - lets keep the great ideas flowing.

Emma said...

Sheila said;
Making it essentially student run, preferably right from the start - like a students union or association
I'd fully support that - but also think that it's important to ensure that not too many students come from the same institution - given that we are from all over the world (OK, predominantly the English speaking world at the moment), I think that it's important to have a good international dimension, so that ideas can take in the full range of needs/ interests; and also those differences in language that arise between different versions of English!

Lotan KarahanA said...

I think that SL student center should have a game room, in which there is a pool table, knock hockey table, and a field outdoors in which participants can play soccer. That would be really cool if there is an actual soccer field outside the student center. I also believe that there should be in the second floor a club where members over the age of 18 years of age can dance and be served alcoholic beverages. On the third floor, there should be some people such as in Info Island who can help people with SL, after all I have received much help from the people in Info Island.

amanda said...

First off, I think having a student center on SL is a great idea. As a student myself at Montclair State University, I feel as though the majority of the student population does spend alot of their free time in the sdtudent center here on campus. If that is the case, shouldn't their be somewhere just like that on second life, seeings how second life is a mirrored imitation of real life only with the ability to do, say, and go wherever you want. I agree with many of the people before me. It should have some place to dance, maybe a karoke bar, and you can hold events like a talent show and stuff like that and make a notecard visible to the public ( kind of like how there are the dances in the Abe Lincoln museum). I also think it would be realistic to have food and drinks there, as well as places to sit, etc. Oh, and one idea I really like, I feel as though the student center should have information readily availabe like on a board in the SC, which has information for collage students as well as anyone that wishes to use it, that may be embarassing to ask. Such information can be about STDS, SIDS, condoms, drugs, alcoholism, birth control, etc. Oh yeah, one more thing, and this is really the last one because I have to go to class :) but maybe have some type of thing set up where greek life can come to SL. Greek life or sororities and fraternities are always in the student center with their tables, and pledging processes. I think it would be a really good idea to make some table with nationally known frat and form a type of "group". That way, people all over the world can come together and talk about their experiences, and connect nationwide
I really like the idea for the SC AJ, let me know if there is any other way I can help

Maria De Sousa said...

A student center will be great to learn the basics and the more advances of SL. Montclair students could form different groups and ask questions, post comments and start a forum about anything. I liked what Sheila Webber and Blogasarus suggested. Once a student has gone through NMC Orientation, all MSU students would be automatically TP to this spot as home base.
Thank you.

Alan said...

AJ - Thanks for taking a lead on this, and we are excited at NMC to try out this ideas. Before we start making grand giant plans, and making assumptions about students want, as you suggest, we ought to start small and just make sure there is a place to go. Luckily its not like building a $3 million real student center, we can pick it up and move at any time!

AJ said...

Alan, thanks - and great point! I hope you'll be able to join us tomorrow and bring all your wisdom to the initial planning of the project.

Buridan said...

hmm, so this seems to have died?

AJ said...

Not died so much as in stasis. The initial thoughts for this area are with the folks at NMC but the summer had taken control over all of us.

I spoke to Alan in Princeton and they are very interested in this idea and once SLCC is over I hope we can start this up again.