Friday, February 1, 2008

Happy Rez Day!

My guess is that many of you out there are starring at the screen wondering what on earth a rez day is and why you should care about it.

Well, for most of you, the answer to that last question will probably be, you shouldn’t. For those of you in Second Life, your rez day is the day you signed up for your account. You can find your rez day (or birthday) by looking at the upper left hand side of the profile. You can see anyone’s rez day from his or her profile.

I just celebrated my 1-year Rez Day. I find it so hard to believe that so much has happened in only one year. I’ve presented countless times, built an island, taught classes, helped others teach classes, help another academic unit here come in-world, and most amazingly been highlighted in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and been published on the subject. All this in less than a year. It’s been a wild ride.

Seeing the importance of marking important dates in SL as well as RL, I hope to note, from time to time, the Rez Dates of some of my friends. To start this off, I’m going to go through some I missed in January.

AnthonyFontana Chevalier (January 1st) – 1 year
Elmont Carver (January 7th) – signed up
Irwin Nitely (January 7th) – signed up
Hugo VanSant (January 16th) – 1 year - (Hugo is the first person I met on Orientation Island. It turns out that not only is he from Brasil, he lives in the next town over from the one I usually visit. Guess even the virtual world is a small world.
Rixhawz Milestone (January 16th) – 1 year
Me, AJ Brooks (January 16th) – 1 year
Bret Rydell (January 17th) – 1 year
Theresa Hawks (January 17th) – 1 year
EdTek Zeno (January 19th) – 1 year
LauraMaria Onomatopoeia (January 23rd) – 1 year
KenBain Brooks (January 25th) – 1 Year
Larry Pixel (January 26th) – 2 years

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oh, Mr. Grant!

I’ve never written a grant before. I’ve never even worked on helping to write a grant. I’m not sure why, its just never happened. I’ve always said one of the things I wanted to do was write grants to bring in money so I can do the cool things I want to do – but the right grant has never jumped out at me. I’ve offered to help the faculty writing their grants, by working on the technology portion of it – but nobody has ever taken me up on it. Several people have asked questions, but nothing beyond that. One of the big problems we’ve seen is that people write grants and then forget to include the hardware and software requirements.

Grants have always seemed so complicated to me. I’m really good at putting budgets together. Putting words on paper is not a problem either.. But the structure and formality has always been a bit daunting. I’m told that one you write your first one, it gets easier, and once you write one and get it, it gets even easier.

Do those of you who have written grants think it’s hard? What is your success rate and what do you attribute to that success?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

These folks will be running the show some day

A huge thanx to Barbara Feldman for passing along this video

The segment of 60 Minutes talks about Millennials in the workplace, but I think it has real relevance to the academic environment. The attitude the segment is discussing regarding students performance and integration into the work environment is very much the same as what I believe we are seeing in the classroom.

So, do we adapt the way the segment suggests business do? Is the Ivory Tower crumbling at the base? Has the day of "You have to learn this way because I learned this way." gone the way of the 8-Track? Or is it our place to set the standard of learning style and let the students be the ones to adapt. I'm not talking about content here, since I think we've already seen that content can be delivered in many different ways. I'm referring specifically to deliver methodology.

What do you think? Feel free to comment whether you watch the video or not, but I'm very interested in hearing for anyone who does watch it.

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.

What are the benefits of social networking that have yet to be tapped?

Late last semester I saw something on a technical team a college someplace that posted a flyer on FaceBook in order to recruit student for work. I asked our student technical staff here and they thought it was a great idea.

What about using social networking to reach alumnae? How many of MSU’s graduates are on LinkedIN, FaceBook, or MySpace – or how many of them have accounts on Second Life?

I was doing some Second Life work for the class I am teaching, and I was hanging out on the CHSS Island (sitting on top of what will become the Sprague Library overlooking our new neighbors, the CEHSADP island), when someone came flying over, plopped right down next to me, and started chatting. She is a graduate student in Education and she’s been on SL for quite some time. She had no idea any organization at MSU had a presence, we thrilled, complimented me on our island, and then we spent the next 30 minutes chatting away.

Imagine if we started advertising to people that we have a presence? What if we created a FaceBook community or group, started hunting people down on LinkedIn and tried to get folks together, or sent something out to our thousands of alumnae? Is this a way for us to keep in touch with them? Is this a way to tie them together and then also to the University? Many institutions think so and are making moves in that direction.

But just propping up sites on all these places is not enough – its as bad as putting up a web page, expecting people to visit it, but then never doing anything else with it? This would have to be an ongoing and sustainable effort – not just some one off or something dropped onto the plate of someone who is already far too busy to do the zillions of other things s/he has to do. Well, the above it true only if you expect the idea to work, in my opinion. If you don’t expect it to work, or don’t want to create an environment in which it CAN work, then disregard everything I said and do it some other way.

Speaking of keeping in touch, what about having the University put together a web page listing all the blogs of their faculty, staff, and/or administrators. This would be SO easy to do. When an employee signs in to their profile page ( for instance), they could have an option to enter a “blog” site (and only one), with a check box – and the check box would be to en/disable the link. When it is enabled, it automatically feeds the URL onto a web page with the blogs listed. The only human intervention would be the initial set up, and then requiring the blogger to go into their profile page and enable it.

Stay tuned, more to come.