Sunday, 17 October 2010

SLanguages 2010

 SLanguages 2010 is over, I have had a few hours sleep and cleaned the house so in a good place to be :-) I have uploaded my conference photos to Flickr and decided that I can at least start to write before family arrive, though I may not finish it this morning.

It was a very enjoyable conference and even though I am not a part of the language teaching world many sessions about teaching in-world are pertinent to my role so there is lots of useful stuff to listen to, particularly the endless debates about if /whether / why teaching in a virtual world is good, bad or just plain ugly. There is lots of interesting discussion between people who have tried it in various ways and have differing opinions whereas often instigating such a conversation outside of such a conference will meet utter disbelief and often non-interest.

 Particularly impressive were the couple of sessions that I saw that focused on real teaching in SL. One, about making machinima so that students practiced the target language repetitively whilst writing and refining, the practicing and filming a script looked hugely successful but Anna Begonia and Gizmo Latte also highlighted problems of non-attendance, people joining and dropping out frequently and un-developed relationships. It was clearly not all plain sailing.

I loved Baal, the Brecht play performed by German Students, it was quite brilliant and clearly showed how the focus brought the dispersed group of language students together working toward a common purpose and created an impetus which kept them going. I just wonder, now, if the anticlimax could work against the learning experience. It will be interesting to follow up. I wish I had understood it a bit more, but everyone knows that I struggle with English never mind German but I got the gist I think :-) 

My favourite tour was the Macbeth visit. I have been there lots of times alone and had a good look around most of it but the explanation from someone who knows the layout made it very much better. Thanks go to Barbara Sakamoto or avi Lynn Carlucci for the tour. I have been in the blood room, or red room or whatever they call it loads of times, but never wearing the hud before. This time when I arrived with the tour I was fighting ghosts – great scripting! I must visit the wiki and read more about it and visit again trying to work out the maze for myself this time  I have been stuck there so many times before and teleported out thus missing the last room where one loses their head! An interesting thing now though, is that every time I visit the Mega Temple I am missing my head! Something there triggers the script that must be in my cache!

As usual I did a short sound workshop. I really enjoyed it and the people managed to achieve far more than I expected in the hour. I think I must have dramatically improved my teaching technique in Second Life since I did my first one a couple of years ago. I can imagine a whole host of avis saying 'Well thank goodness for that.' :-)

Fun Moments

The holodecks that were built by Randall Salder avi Randall Renoir, the forest scene and Mega Temple were lovely, but on one rather momentous occasion in the opening plenary just as we had about 80 people on the sim with all of the stresses and strain that puts on the server, someone from the floor asked if we could all hear and an audience avatar replied in text “loud and clear,” clear being the operational word to end the holodeck simulation so we were all thrown out of our seats as the temple disappeared. Usually rezzing it again is a few seconds task, but with the crowd it was a few very hopeful minutes :-)

Everyone involved will know that Gavin Dudeney started the SLanguages conference but it is a huge task and the workload rather too much for one or two people so this year a committee was formed to take it forward and run it in the future.  Gavin was the founder, so in the style of that wonderful British institution The Proms – where a bust of the founder Henry Wood is honoured each year with a laurel wreath – well you can see where this is going…

Heike Philps  avi Gwen Gwasi  decided that a bust should be presented to Gavin so the search for a good, sculpty bust-maker started. We toured classical sims with IMs “Come and see this one”… poor sim owners must have wondered what on earth was going on as stray avatars flew in examined their architecture for busts then moved out never to be seen again, but the search paid off and a maker was found. Gwen e-mailed me saying send any photos of Dudeney, Gavin’s avatar, and another search began.  I went through years of SL photos to find his little avatar, they all seemed to be stuck on or in a beanbag,  hidden by leaves, other people, instant messages, text chat and more. Between us Heike and myself gathered what we had but the artist needed more.  Gwen decided a video board needed moving so I said “Okay I will come and do that” but was met with a “Don’t you dare! I will ask Gavin if he will come in world and do it so that we can get photographs.” So dozens of photos were taken from every angle, the bust was created and a presentation was made. The instant guffaw from Gavin as he saw it said far more than words ever could have done and he was very nearly speechless, though of course that is never going to happen! Good fun!

Slanguages is the only virtual conference where I do actually stay the course and do the 24 hours, often I can’t be bothered and choose just a few sessions so missing out on the whole conference-like immersion which is a pity because that is the magic of a conference wherever it is.

Many thanks from me to the organizing committee – I think I may be on it, but never did anything (sorry folks) they did an amazing job, Heike, Gary (Motteram), Graham (Stanley), Randall and many more totaling 43 people apparently, thanks to their planning it ran very smoothly and worked brilliantly. I was quite pleased to be involved in the last four days though – think I have won a new title – PA to Gwen Gwasi – an SL job - yay!!

For photographs of the event visit these links and I will add more as I spot them:
My Flickr SLanguages set
Graham Stanley’s Flickr SLanguages set
The post event party

I am sure that later today there will be an address where we can all see any sessions that we missed on video, as soon as I know that I will add it here.

SLang10 - The Summary


Graham Stanley said...

Great summary, Carol! You've inspired me to write one too, which I'll try and do tonight. I missed out on Gavin's bust,etc, so this was great to read about and an excellent idea. A great way to commemorate his contribution to both SLanguages and Edunation, and to the contribution he's made to the SL language learning community in general.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference too - I have to say that in the end I wasn't really involved much in the planning as I got sucked into other things that are going on in my life, so all credit to Gary, yourself, Heike, and the rest of the many who did so much to make sure it all went to plan!

Anne Hodgson said...

Wow, what a bust - fabulous. Guffaws here, too. SL is still great fun. I jjust don't use it for teaching, my students don't like it.

Carolrb said...

Thanks Graham and sorry I did not respond earlier - life is a bit hectic at the moment :-)I am beginning to work my way through all of the sessions I did not see on video now - fantastic :-)

That was a funny few minutes Anne, I still keep thinking about it with a giggle. What a pity your students don't enjoy it, mine seem to once they realise the benefits of not having to travel, get baby sitters etc. and that they can stay in the warm with a glass of wine ;-)