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Steven Warburton :: Blog :: ESRC Festival Event Programme: Social Learning in Virtual Worlds (Virtual event)

March 13, 2008

Announcment: Event being held on the Emerge island: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Emerge/193/59/39

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, we at City University London are organising a virtual seminar on the topic of "Social Learning in Virtual Worlds" in Second Life!

Virtual Worlds (such as Second Life) are increasingly becoming a medium through which young people socialise, work and learn.  A community of researchers and educators are utilising these spaces for their delivery of teaching and for conducting research.

The seminar will explore and discuss the potential of the use of virtual worlds for social teaching and learning.

The virtual seminar will be an informal discussion and "getting to know each other" event, mainly as an ice breaker for the next day physical event. Everyone is welcome!!

13 March 2008 (Thursday)

7:30am - 8:30am (SL time)
3:30pm - 4:30pm (UK time)

Media: Text only

Direction to the auditorium

Very straight forward! Just follow the pink line to the auditorium. In any case, we highly recommend that you fly over and enter the building from above ?

Panayiotis Zaphiris, Chee Siang Ang *

Overview for Keywords: ESRC, event, inworld, SecondLife, SocialLearning, VirtualWorlds

Blogs with Keywords: ESRC, event, inworld, SecondLife, SocialLearning, VirtualWorlds

Posted by Steven Warburton


  1. I posted a few pics of the seminar to the Emerge Flickr pool. It was an interesting event stimulating a lot of reflection.

    On one level, for all the visual richness of SecondLife, the discussion was still simply text chat. With 30 participants that is a lot. The facilitator, Jimbbq, did a lot to keep things moving and create order, but it was hard to get into or follow an in-depth discussion.

    The form: SL text seminar has a long way to evolve.

    I was reminded of a lot of first-generation web technologies, like VLEs, that replicated "real" world forms because forms appropriate to the universal-virtual world have not yet emerged. There our avatars were, sitting in a raked auditorium with a presenter/facilitator at the front asking us to raise our hands to speak: all seemingly necessary; all very familiar; but, hardly an innovative learning form.

    One thing SL does is challenge identity. On one level "I" am conscious that "behind" each avatar is a flesh body sat at a terminal. This is how "I" relate to "my avatar". But, although conscious on one level that the same is true of all the other avatars, nevertheless "I" relate primarily to the avatar personality of the other participants. On one level it is like the etiquette of a masked ball, or what plays in Vegas stays in Vegas. Once or twice I felt myself wanting to nod or wink at the flesh body behind the avatar, but felt that would not be quite right.

    There appear to be some permutations in the conventions of avatar naming:

    • those where the avatar first name is the same or very close to the "person behind's" name
    • those where the avatar name bears no obvious relation to the "person behind"
    And for each of these, a number of possibilities revealed through the profile
    • those where the 1st life name is disclosed
    • those where the 1st life name is not disclosed

    And in this circumstance:

    • Where, though the 1st life name is not disclosed, the 1st life occupation is set out in some detail.

    Some discussion at the seminar sought to probe the question of whether the SL platform was "taken seriously" or was "just a game". I felt that trying to be taken seriously by those who thought it was just a game by conforming more closely to 1st life norms was the wrong way to go. The facilitator's avatar was identified as something like "delightfully naive". Someone expressed discomfort in a "serious" ESRC seminar being facilitated by a naive facilitator. IBM, it was said (where's the evidence?) conducts job interviews in SL. People discussed clothing and behaviour questions for such an event. We learned, for instance, to keep moving your mouse so your avatar doesn't fall asleep. I noticed several seminar participants perk up at that point. But do you buy your avatar an interview suit that apes 1st life suits?

    I hope StevenW can post links to papers presented at this seminar. 


    George RobertsGeorge Roberts on Friday, 14 March 2008, 11:09 GMT # |

  2. I would like to thank Steve for all the help with getting access to the EMERGE auditorium and for promoting the event. Without the help and attendance of the EMERGE community this event wouldn't had been as succesful as it was.

    We intentionally kept the event informal.  The seminar raised a lot of questions, some answers and an interest and a realization that a lot more needs to be done in this area :-)

    We would like to also thank ESRC for supporting this activity as part of their Festival of Social Science.



    Panayiotis ZaphirisPanayiotis Zaphiris on Friday, 14 March 2008, 19:35 GMT # |

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