Using Sl And Theatron

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Presentation put together for Lisa Whistlecroft to present at RSC North Eastern on 21st April. This is an overview of the very preliminary findings from the Theatron project I've been doing. It's in a pps format not because i don't trust you (you wouldn't lift my slides without crediting me would you?) but so that none of the punchlines are spoiled.

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Using Sl And Theatron

  1. 1. Using SL and Theatron: Initial observations Mark Childs Doctoral Student, University of Warwick
  2. 2. Initial findings • Grounded approach • Preliminary categories • Small number of users at this stage – 3 case studies – 30 students • Will test more widely • Then revisit the following observations
  3. 3. Uses • Bringing people together – Discussion, performance, language learning • Exploring, inhabiting Michele Ryan at Lancaster – Spaces, resources University has identified 16 uses of Second Life (at last • Roleplay / identity tourism count). These can be read at http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/ – Being others, exploring self resources/ict/secondlife.html • Creation – Art, fashion, machinima, a new you
  4. 4. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered Barriers as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — A memo at Western Union, 1878 • “New technologies always meet resistance” Tom Boellstorff at VWBPE 09 • Additionally Second Life presents particular issues – Technological infrastructure Steve Warburton at King’s College London has identified 7 – Interface barriers to Second Life (at last – Presence creation count). These can be read at http://warburton.typepad.com – Polarises students /liquidlearning/2008/07/six- barriers-to.html
  5. 5. Technological barriers Flaws in IT services support Flaws in Second Life • Out of date hardware • Lag • Restrictive firewalls • Lag • Length of time to install • Too frequent (and badly upgrades timed) upgrades • Insufficient bandwidth • Cap on registrations • Restriction on use of IT • Lag rooms • Lag • Poorly designed IT rooms • Lag
  6. 6. Learning the interface • Approximately half of students struggled with using the interface to move and navigate – Needed one session to just get used to interface – The process was speeded up when we avoided (dis)orientation island No correlation that – No correlation with whether they we’ve detected or were gamers so not far. We’ve only – No correlation with whether they looked at small valued the numbers at the experience or not moment.
  7. 7. Presence creation • Unlike other software, virtual worlds depend on establishing the experience of virtual presence and embodiment in order to be effective • In the trials so far, all the students that reported experiencing presence found the educational activity valuable • All the students that reported not experiencing presence found the activity pointless • I.e. an exact one-to-one correlation between presence creation and educational impact
  8. 8. Polarising student base • Student reactions to Second Life appear more emotive than to other software. • Strongly negative (usually between ¼ to ⅓ ) “This is pointless.” • Strongly positive (the remainder) “I’m a flying cardboard box. It’s mint.” • Seems to play the biggest part in success (more than interface, learning design, etc.)
  9. 9. Studying student reactions • Because the emergent finding in the research is the key part played by student attitudes, this is now being built in to the study • This is a process of identifying statements, grouping these by type, testing these groups with further studies • Preliminary (we stress) findings identify three categories (at the moment)
  10. 10. Type 1 • Technically experienced • May be a gamer (see following slide on gamer hierarchies) • Focuses on the lower resolution graphics of VWs in comparison with games • Becomes especially frustrated with glitches, crashes and lag • May have a point
  11. 11. Well, I’m a Mac User and you’re all peasants. I’m a console gamer. PC games I’m a PC scare me but I Gamer. I ridicule virtual look down worlds. on consoles I’m a resident of Second Life. I know my place.
  12. 12. Type 2 • Feels particularly alienated by inability to read facial expressions • Values tactile and physical experiences particularly • Extrovert • “So strongly situated in the real world and their real body that they have a difficult time becoming involved in a virtual world” (Heeter, 1995; 200)
  13. 13. Type 3 • Views education as an activity to be engaged with seriously at all times • The superficial resemblance of VWs to games deters them • The fantasy elements (flying, teleportation) are seen as frivolous and any experience inworld is therefore seen as inauthentic • Regards the activities of others in the space (dancing, morphing) as having an undermining effect on learning activities
  14. 14. The solution • Even for those who can feel embodiment and virtual presence these take time to develop • They are strengthened by Steve Warburton has a graphic showing the changing – Building an identity identification with your avatar – Building links with community over time at http://warburton.typepad.com – Having a home /liquidlearning/2008/01/loving • The learning activities need to be appropriate to -your-ava.html the level of embodiment developed • More than becoming adept at using the interface, it’s about becoming one with the world and the avatar, and this takes time
  15. 15. Learning inworld Presence Social constructivist learning Experiential learning Or something Messing like this, we’re around Assimilative still working learning on it Time
  16. 16. So where does that leave us? • The greater the degree of presence required the more difficult it is to – justify the time required – Keep focused on the end point of the activity – Keep all of the students on-board • It may be that performance requires the highest degree of presence (and hence time), therefore may be the highest risk activity to undertake

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