The second day turned out to be equally as absorbing as day one. It began with a panel debate. The panellists, Edward Castronova, Roo Reynolds, Bill Thompson and Claudia L’Amoreaux were fielded questions by Chair, Ren Reynolds .
This is a quick summary of the debate:
Roo suggests in order to convince education authorities that Web 2.0 tools are practical and indispensable, educators should keep referring to research. Other ideas were to work closely with the curriculum agencies that work with the authorities. This won’t be an issue as school children become teachers themselves. Ted urged people, especially the sceptics, to play to see what virtual worlds are like. Claudia stressed the need for good communication.
Like the WWW it will take us a while to realise what virtual worlds can do for us. Another issue is that of teachers’ skills – we need more training for teachers as well as getting IT departments to deliver the technology. Ted claims virtual worlds will eventually change how humans can interact.
“That was a wonderful, foresightful conference, but man! We didn’t see that
Roo reminded us that computers and the web exceeded our expectations.
Answering a question of what the biggest risk is to stopping the fun of virtual worlds, Ted thought regulatory authorities and Bill asked who said (real) life should be fun?! There is a need to be careful about the words we use; we have to lose the ‘fun’ vocabulary.
On the question of virtual worlds reaching mainstream education, Claudia said that it was already happening in some places in the USA. But warned that unless the media stops its current war on virtual worlds, then there won’t be a shift.
Regarding sensory and haptic tools and interfaces, Roo felt we don’t feel comfortable with some of it and that’s why they haven’t taken off; Bill thinks other sensory modes of engagement give us a sense of immersion and emotional and educational depth; Ted envisages a tread mill merged with a punch bag and the ability to virtually/physically kill orcs!
Has the economic downturn impacted on virtual worlds? Ted’s answer was that virtual world use is strongly counter-cyclical: when the economy is bad, more people go in-world. The Chair queried if Second Life becomes less attractive as it mirrors real word too much, whereas the more fantastical worlds become more attractive.
What social divides are there in Second Life?
Newbies -v- older residents (Bill concurred, saying that the first into any territory gets to define the rules and norms. This kind of behaviour reflects the human psyche.)
Language divides: English -v- the rest.
Landowners -v- everyone else.
Higher Education -v- K-12 (US) – for technical kit and access reasons.
Hierarchies actually enhance the fun, according to Ted, and inequality is healthy! Bill had something to say about that!
Where are virtual worlds heading over the next 3/5/10 years?
Claudia preferred to look back 10 years. Things are happening today that she was unable to imagine 10 years ago. Ted thinks Artificial Intelligence is the future.
Uses for virtual worlds that we are missing:
How we can learn, controlled experiments, policy delivery, qualitative research (see Jane McGonigal)
What should be highlighted in this blog?
Bill: everything! Can’t have too much data!
Ted: tell them to play!
Claudia: that virtual worlds aren’t new and there is a well established community of practice. The abundance of incredible ways people are using virtual worlds today.