SecondLife in Bloomsburg, PA

I am from Bloomsburg, PA … I was born just down the road in Danville and spent my whole pre-college life there (except for a little while in Lewisburg, PA while my Dad was a professor at Bucknell). When I finished undergrad at WVU and after failed stint at NC State, I returned to Bloomsburg. After several months of painting houses, cutting weeds, and failing to find myself I entered the Institute for Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University. I got my masters degree there — it was the first program that brought together my two main areas of interest — technology and learning. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience.

These days there is some very interesting stuff still going on at the IIT. One of the big things happening there is revolving around Dr. Karl Kopp. I didn’t know Dr. Kopp when I was an IITer, he wasn’t there yet, but his work in the serious games for education and training space is getting some major play across the industry. He does some very insightful blogging and from what I know, he is hell of a good speaker. One his great pieces is the video linked to his latest post — it is essentially a six minute video looking at SecondLife in the learning/training space and how important immersion can be. Well done and worth a look. I am still not convinced SL is anywhere near being the end all be all, but Dr. Kopp makes some interesting points.

4 thoughts on “SecondLife in Bloomsburg, PA

  1. SL definitely isn’t the end all be all, but rather another tool we can put in the toolbox. Certain projects seem to fit very well within a SL environment, while some…just crash and burn.

    The context should dictate the media…not the other way around 🙂

  2. Cole,

    Thanks for the “shout out.” The students of the IIT do amazing work both within the program and well after they’ve graduated as evidenced by the great stuff you are doing at Penn State…impressive work.

    I agree with Bart that SL and other 3D environments are just learning tools appropriate for some types of learning and not for other types. My goal in the next year or two is to experiment with the environment to find out which is which.

    Keep up the great work and one of these days hopefully we can collaborate on a project.


  3. Wow, great stuff, and thanks for sharing, Cole. It’s always good to see what peers are doing.

    Now, having said that, I am going to throw some cold water on Second Life. Allow me to make an analogy.

    I have played baseball from the time I was 7 through college to just a year ago until my knee gave out. I was a pitcher, and my high school coach made us run this drill where we had to cover first base on a ground ball to the right side of the infield. This was because often the first baseman needed to field that grounder, leaving first base uncovered. It’s the pitcher’s job to cover first. If not, then an out becomes a hit. We would grumble about doing the drill over and over again, until one day our coach said “look, it doesn’t matter if you have a 95-mph fastball, a great curve, a nasty slider, if you don’t do the fundamentals like covering first base, one day the game is going be on the line and you will lose because you left first base open.”

    What does this have to do with Second Life? Well, they are leaving first base open during the big game. Fundamentals, folks. The experience with Second Life can be frustrating. The learning curve is big, the technology is quickly becoming old hat, and people are starting to drop off. It’s not going to be a great tool for learning if the experience is frustrating. People can talk and talk about all sorts of cool things you can do with it, but until the powers that be improve SL’s infrastructure and improve usability, it’s not going to reach full potential. Enterprise people are already jumping ship.

    This is something that often frustrates me with technology – bells and whistles before the basics, like actually working. It’s one of the reasons why some Internet companies went belly up. Cell phones used to be the worst at this (although they have improved). In 2000, I didn’t care about a camera in my phone as much as I cared about not losing calls.

    If another virtual world comes along that does the basics better, Second Life will be in trouble faster than you can say Fundamentals aren’t sexy and don’t make people in the blogosphere all starry-eyed, but they win games.

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