In an earlier post, I suggested that all language teachers would benefit from being in Second Life. Gavin Dudeney made a similar (albeit more articulate) argument as a guest writer on Burcu Akyol’s EFL Blog.
So, let’s say you’re convinced, and have decided to give Second Life a try (or another try). What’s next?
You’ll probably go through several growth stages in your second life, just like you did in your first. I’ll talk about each in a separate post.
Getting Some Basic (Second) Life Skills
If you create a new account in Second Life, your avatar (the virtual you) should automatically be put into some sort of new resident orientation. I recommend entering Second Life through ISTE in Second Life or New Media Consortium. Both groups provide great mentoring to help new avatars in very teacher-friendly environments.
If you’d rather figure things out on your own, you can always head over to Jokaydia’s Newbie Garden (slurl) or visit the Nik Peachey’s video tutorial booths in the Edunation II sandbox (slurl). (Just as an url will take you to a location on the web, a slurl will take you to a location in Second Life.) Nik’s videos are also on YouTube, of course. And if you still need more options, you can head over to 3-D Virtual Worlds for even more tools and tutorials.
There are more resources than the ones I’ve mentioned–these are simply the free ones I’m most familiar with. Remember, I’m not much past my newbie stage, either.
One additional resource for teachers who happen to be on Twitter is the Chateau de Tuite (ning and slurl). I hesitate to mention it in the company of these true mentoring groups because the Chateau wasn’t actually set up to do orientation or training. Caliburn Susanto is a long-time Second Life resident who embraces his second life, happens to be on Twitter, and has a soft spot for teachers and librarians. He built the Chateau de Tuite as a place for Twitter members to meet face to face. Because my Twitter friends live around the globe they’re some of best friends I’ll likely never meet, except in Second Life. I appreciate the idea of having a virtual clubhouse. As more Twitter members discover the Chateau, I’m sure there will be additional groups using the Ning and virtual Chateau to meet (a Tweet Up, in Twitter-speak).
Anyway, there’s obviously no need to create yet another group to do what existing groups already do extemely well. And there are lots of sandboxes where teachers can practice opening boxes and things like that. However, the Chateau is a lovely, safe place for Twitter members (including teachers) to meet and work on basic skills–it’s on Caliburn’s private island (so no zombies, vampires or griefers), groups tend to be small, Twitter makes it easy to coordinate meeting times, and it comes with an experienced (and knowledgeable and patient) mentor in residence. So, if you are a teacher on Twitter, and too nervous to jump into the big ocean of Second Life, or even the medium sized lake of newbie groups, then maybe the small pond of Chateau de Tuite is a good fit to start. Join the Ning and check it out. Feel free to contact me through this blog or on Twitter if you have questions. In any case, I guarantee that it won’t be long until you’re ready to take advantage of the fabulous new resident resources available beyond the Chateau’s borders. Then the Chateau can just become one of many great places to meet with friends in Second Life.
However you go about learning these basic skills, you’re going to meet other interesting people, some of whom will also be teachers. Make friends. Add them to your circle of contacts, and let them add you to theirs. As you become more comfortable in a virtual world, friends make a huge difference in how valuable and enjoyable you find Second Life.