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April 12, 2008


Laetizia Coronet

Excellent piece. It just hit me - we're a long way from where we need to be if educators want to stifle innovation. They should be at the very leading edge of it.

QueenKellee Kuu

Ravenelle: I lubs U!!!!

Srsly though, thank you for saying everything in my head!

I'm from the "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" mentality. Like it or not, SL is bleeding edge, which means sometimes you're going to get scratched.

One thing that really gets my goat about the NWN post is how they went screaming Chicken Little-like that the sky is falling when, in fact, it is not. They didn't take enough time to educate themselves on the facts. which is sad considering they are teachers!

Mariel Voyunicef


Daniel Livingstone

Hi Rav,

I'm sorry, I think this rant is somewhat misplaced. The original post that raised this issue was not from a University of college educator - but from a K12 educator, and AFAIK K12 is considerably more starved of cash than colleges. Stan has also been very active in using SL to bring kids together across huge distances, so even if (like most of the active education groups) his island is only used a few hours a week (compared to say the 24 hour activity on some social/Mall/club island) I don't think it deserves slamming for having nothing happening.
The basic issue of whether SL should continue to work on machines that it has worked on in the past seems fairly common sense to me, though I'd be happy if schools were given the resources they need to provide effective environments for learning.

Thats the basic pattern of most education work in SL - a dedicated area with just a small number of active hours per week. Some are busier than others, but thats about it. There are those that buy an island, pay an exhorbitant amount for professional development work then never use their space - so they get their island for 1/2 price and don't use it, but they just pumped $20,000 or more into the SL economy. The others (majority) either put in the time and build it all from the ground up themselves or work with sub-contractors.

"Did I just slam all educators in SL? No, some Universities are getting it but it's a small group."

To me it sounded like a slam to pretty much all educators in SL. Saying that a small group (how small? 10%? 1%? half of 1%? six educators?) 'get it' is pretty much slamming the whole education community, and IMHO that is undeserved.

Doug Danforth

I'd be interested in some examples of which universities "are getting it" and which ones aren't.

Cathy Arreguin

Hi Rave,
First, you are a wonderful, generous, amazing person. Period.
Second, you are rather misinformed about Stan.

"IT guy, keep current with development, don't over-promise stuff that you yourself don't understand."

Stan Trevena can out-geek anyone I know. If there were Olympic teams for such things, he'd make the All-Stars. (OK.. strange picture there...) However, after co-presenting with him at a NASA gig, I must say, the man knows his stuff and then some.

In choosing Stan as an example of a whining, uninformed and unrealistic educator, you chose the wrong guy. Like most K12 folks I know attempting really really important work in SL, he gives generously of his (unpaid) time and talents, advocates incessantly for the educational value of using MUVEs (including SL) and yes, does face ridiculous hardware constraints (old computers, etc) that mimic the well-researched general state of K12 computer labs in many parts of the U.S. It's a systemic problem, not an isolated case and certainly not one attributed to individual educator incompetency.

Are there unrealistic expectations of some educators? Sure! Absolutely! No argument there. Some unrealistically think they can master the interface, skills and cultural savvy in far too short a time. Others unrealistically think their enthusiasm and extra effort will be rewarded by administrators who really don't (and may never) see the value in this type of learning environment. And yes, some unrealistically think that SL (or other up and coming platforms) will bend over backwards to meet the constraints they face.

However, IMHO, you have taken your experience with big business and the most well-funded unis and slammed the little guy - the ones that can't afford NMC, who work alone many times on their own time and (often) dime because they believe in this crazy dream that what they're doing is important and will benefit their students. If you look at who's complaining right now, more often than not, it's the little guy ... K12 and the individual educators that are trying to make a difference - Not the heavily funded folk.

And that, speaking as a little guy, is discouraging.

Joe Clark

I have to agree with those who identify this rant as misdirected. Believe me, I know what the whiners are like, but you are lumping in the educators who are pushing it IN SPITE OF shameful underfunding of education. The Stans of the world can't just go change the budget or increase the millage.

So cut 'em a break, and maybe you'll recover a bit of credibility.

Clare Lane

What a lot of CRAP! You are slamming educators, and leaving out the vast majority that are in K-12 public schools -including Stan Trevana! You have no notion what kind of budget restraints we labor under as evidenced by the CA state budget that was just cut 10% across the board. In my district, we are facing a $14.5 Million deficit and the loss of over 100 teachers. Most school computers are purchased as basic systems with minimal RAM -512MB on those we just received. And while Linden Lab says 512 will work, 1gig is much better. Additionally, the Nividia GE Force Graphics card is $200.00 retail -schools traditionally have to pay more because of required warranty upgrades.

While you may have some valid points about what some Colleges and Universities are doing, I would strongly suggest you do more research, there are over 200 of them, so you might be awhile...

You want to see teachers and students working in SL? Try this: http://rampoislands.blogspot.com/

Westley Field

I think many of the commenters here need to watch their generalizations about education and educators. Also don't make assumptions that groups are all the same. I am sure that there are businesses that struggle with up to date technology just as there are schools (like mine) that push for upgrades every two years.

There are many great stories about what education is doing in this space and it should be remembered that you have all been educated. Some I suspect brilliantly with great resources and others without.

I agree that we should push for greater funding to educate our children, but this technology must not be slowed by any one situation. I also agree that we need to call for realism. So what is reasonable for all businesses education or other? Do businesses turn over computer technology every two years, three years or every year? My guess is that Linden has done that research and develop their product accordingly.



Laetizia Coronet

"You have no notion what kind of budget restraints we labor under."
That is not the point. For that problem please refer to the relevant politicians. I fail to see why Linden Lab should do more to help those with such systems - with a 10 year old computer, which is pre-Win98, half the Internet doesn't work.

My own computer is struggling to keep up, but am I complaining?

Thaumata Strangelove

For one, if educators were so invested in teaching in this medium, they'd be reading the blog and watching the plethora of help video available to them. In doing so, they'd surely learn that one may disable windlight in the new client and run pretty much just like they have done in the past. My baby sister runs WL on a six year old VAIO that couldn't run SL at full-blast when I gave it to her two years ago, and she is having no problems with the new client. It's not as pretty as on my two year old MBP, but it's surely not BROKEN.

I am doing a lot of work with educators in world these days and I can't tell you how many of them are on about how they are going to revolutionize education in SL... but haven't even figure out how to wear prim hair yet. They don't invest the time to learn the platform before attempting to pitch their projects to important money-types in their systems and well.. that's why they fail. And there ARE a lot of islands out there that are being TOTALLY underutilized. They could be having weekly educator events or open educator conferences and they're just not doing it. I know others that are trying and failing because the teachers in their schools are apathetic and don't bother logging in.... again, because person A is failing to do their job to evangelize this platform to people who haven't looked at it yet. They're too busy looking at Moodle or something.

You guys make it sound like there are literally hundreds of underfunded teachers on the grid who are paying out of their own pocket for a crappy 1024 somewhere that their third graders can use for a sandbox. Is this actually true? I doubt it, BUT if it IS true, they should be able to find each other pretty easily and share resources for the greater good. Teachers are generally good at this and I am quite sure that someone who DOES have an island that IS only being used 3 hours a week would happily donate some classroom space to the kindergartners who can't afford to be here. If they can't band together, that's their shortcoming, not LL. Less bloat, guys. Less bloat.

Ener Hax

very, very, very well articulated! as a former educator (college and secondary) with a master's in ed, i agree wholeheartedly with your view. too quick are educators (and corporations) to jump on the coat tails of the "latest and greatest".

the point of educators crying out that they have neither the budget or machines needed to run sl is a common call among many others as well. witness the incredible fervor with which any post on the sl blog is greeted with. it can be a post about anything at all and inevitably, peeps go @pesh!t (lol, hard to read that) about sl crashing all the time.

i have a nice machine, about $500 put together by some online shop and I never (truly, 100%) never crash due to sl. sl never misses a beat and i run full out max on all graphics and at 512 metre distance. this machine is hardly a gaming pc, but it is very clean, it has multiple drives, all with sl, but one drive is sl only, perhaps all the [email protected] that educators download in an attempt to say they experienced the "latest and greatest" is clogging up and weighing down their machines? (hmmm)

kinda hard to say you are into the latest stuff if you are not willing to be on the edge of technology and programming. sl is neat because it pushes the envelope, and as you said, it should never be hampered by, or throttled, by what most people might have.

very well put and thank you for clearly discussing and sharing your view on this. brava :)

Dreddpiratebob Streeter

I agree with a lot of what is said, though maybe a little more brutally then i would phrase it :)

Without sounding like a pitch, we recently we came to a lot of similar conclusions and have set about sorting out the various problems educators (and business users) face when taking the first steps into SL. We are offering training, non-profit land rental, maintence and general aid to new users to cut down the time it takes to do something really meaningful in Sl, and with the various confernces and talks we are doing at the moment we are seeing real interest but a lack of time to be immersed to the level a lot of folks are going to need to be competent enough to be passing on info to their students. Thus we are producing various learning aids and curriculum tools that basically run themselves to leave tutors time to attach thier prim hair right :D

We really believe we can make SL a wonderful tool and environment for learners but are all too aware of how much it takes some of our potential clients and collaborators to work an Elearning system, let alone SL. To make it work we have to see it as we would any new system of learning; the people who can help the people who can't. That way we all evolve, exand and make this world of ours better, more useful and more fun for all concerned. Feel free to IM if you think you can help, we really are trying to push this on and any help or requests for info would be gratefully recieved, this summer is our push and its all hands on deck :D

I also have to work within a budget, but when i see just how much some places are spending on poorly designed portfolio systems (£20 per student per minimum of a 1000 users) which they'll never use, SL is cheap as chips.

DreddPirateBob Streeter


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