At a Loss for Word-le?!

Yesterday on Twitter I saw many messages that Wordle was down due to legal issues and its fate uncertain. I was in a bit of a panic since I use Wordle weekly for the PTChat and Edchat summaries. Thankfully, as I was writing this post, I discovered Wordle is back in business.

What do we do when we are so passionate about a technology then it vanishes?

This has been my first real scare with a tool, but I have had a similar sense of loss with places (SIMS) I have visited in Second Life. They disappear and I miss them, because the reality is that some of these tools and places do not have options that are quite the same. In Second Life, it was a record shop where it always rained. The sound of flowing water soothes me and that is why I loved visiting this place. Yesterday, the tool was Wordle. Rumors tell me that in the future, this tool could be Twitter.

Technology continually changes…

With these changes, some technologies are replaced with newer versions. Some just disappear. Recently, Jeremy Harmer posted this question in his blog,

How should I face new technology? With enthusiasm or disdain?

Jeremy was saddened by a recount from his taxi driver of how he lost his newspaper job with the advances of the print industry. Read the rest of this great post for more of the story.

Embracing Technology with Enthusiasm

If you read this blog, you know I love technology and integrating technology into my curriculum. I love that it opens my students to the world. No matter what their English level, economic background, age, or cultural background, my students have the unique opportunity to display their work to a wider audience and they are motivated by this. I have seen shy students shine through technology. I have seen challenging students find their passions through technology. I have witnessed the English levels of my students increase substantially.

I will never face new technology with disdain, because technology has been advancing since the beginning of time. Humans are continuously finding ways to make life easier. However, I think people miss technologies. It is frustrating when you learn something then you have to learn another technology. I can imagine how difficult this was for people during the Industrial Revolution. History books have you believe that people were so thankful for technologies that completely revolutionized lifestyles. How about the television, fire, the wheel, electricity, and automobiles? I bet people struggled, especially when they could not afford these technologies. I remember when books were not available for everyone and reading was only taught to the elite. In former times, social divides were even larger and many people didn’t have access to new inventions. This has only slightly improved.

I realize I am also susceptible to feeling a sense of loss. This loss is not only for the technology, but I believe it is a sense that someday I may find that the world I was born in is completely different than the one I am leaving. The world will continue to keep changing and improving without me there to see it, embrace it, or experiment with it.

Right now, I embrace technology with enthusiasm but I still love to play the records on my record player on a rainy day.

Record Shop in Rainey Town, Second Life

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Challenge:

Reflect on how you embrace technology and have your students reflect on this as well.

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Which technology would make you feel a sense of loss if it completely disappeared?

Flickr image by Tiltonlane / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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10 Second Life Resources for the Classroom by Karen Schweitzer

Some of the world’s most prestigious colleges, universities, and schools use Second Life in the classroom. This virtual world makes it easy for students to learn and collaborate online. Second Life has also been used as a distance learning tool. If you are interested in integrating Second Life into your classroom, there are many different online resources and tools that can help. Here are 10 that would work particularly well for educators.

Real Life Education in Second Life - This Second Life Group was created for educators and academics that use Second Life in the classroom. Anyone can enroll in the group to learn more about Second Life education, events, and collaboration opportunities.

Second Life in Education Wiki- The Second Life in Education Wiki provides an overview of how Second Life can be used in education. It also offers tips on getting started with Second Life and resources that can be used with virtual worlds.

Second Life Case Study- This education case study details the New Media Consortium’s experience with Second Life and demonstrates how this virtual world can impact the academic experience. The case study also offers information about best practices in Second Life.

Second Life Intro- This blog offers a comprehensive introduction to Second Life in education. The intro is great for teachers who need a little help planning initial lesson plans and classroom activities.

Sloodle- Sloodle (Simulation Linked Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is an open source tool that works with Second Life and Moodle. Sloodle enhances the Second Life user interface with a toolbar, web intercom, presentation author, and other tools.

BlogHUD- BlogHUD is a blogging tool specifically for Second Life users. It can be used to blog from Second Life and cross post to other blogs and online accounts.

Sloog- This bookmarking tool allows Second Life users to bookmark and tag their favorite places and avatars. Saved items can be accessed within Second Life or from a web browser.

Twitterbox- Twitterbox is a Twitter client for Second Life. It can be used to send and receive Twitter messages and updates from the Second Life environment.

SLBuzz- SLBuzz is a Second Life Community for users who want to browse profiles, post photos and snapshots, search for upcoming events, and network with other SLBuzz members.

Second Life Cheat Sheet- The Second Life cheat sheet is the perfect desktop companion for students and teachers who are just getting started with Second Life. The sheet covers general information, movements, communication, views, and advanced menus.

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Karen Schweitzer

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online colleges for OnlineColleges.net.

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Making Global Connections

No doubt I love Twitter for meeting new people and planning collaborative projects. However, I often run into the problem that most of the incredible people I meet on Twitter I would like to know much better.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just share a cup of coffee with them at a nice cafe or enjoy a nice chat on a swing set?

Second Life has provided me with this opportunity! Through Second Life I have been able to establish relationships! This stage is what I call the next step in developing a strong Professional Learning Network (PLN) by establishing relationships. A mentor of mine when I was a child used to say, “Involvement equals stick-ability.” If you do not want to lose touch of your PLN then you need to involve yourself in their projects, discussions, and build relationships.

Second Life and your PLN

I think educators underestimate the value of Second Life for making real connections and for professional development. You get to really know a person’s humor, personality, and idiosyncrasies while traveling to new worlds and interacting with the sims. I have met some adventurous educators who are not afraid to have fun and are extremely dedicated to their jobs. I am frequently amazed by what I learn about what incredible feats they have mastered in their classrooms and the incredible skills they have developed. For example, a majority of my Second Life companions speak at least two if not more languages. Moreover, several are bloggers, have explored various countries in real life, and have been published in magazines and journals. They teach beyond walls and are extremely dedicated to their families.

If you are ready to establish relationships, then you may consider joining the SLife is Life Ning. We continuously educate teachers on the use of Second Life for educational purposes. Twice a month, Aniya (the English Teacher) and I will host a free Newbie Teacher Second Life Field Trip for those who want a guide into the strange virtual world! Join our Ning to keep updated with events! As you can tell in the picture above we visit several educational sites and attend professional development classes and seminars. Additionally, we have a lot of fun afterward and socialize. The socializing part is optional. Our next huge event will be Aniya’s birthday bash on Second Life on Saturday, August 29th!


Visit Second Life’s Life

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out these global projects I have been a part of since Twitter:

Challenge:

Make goals to connect with someone from a different continent or school.

Would you like to let us know about your global connections? Please contact me!


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Developing Strong Relationships with Your PLN

Dear Reader,

You may be sick of hearing me talk about the merits of a Personal Learning Network (PLN)! However, if this is the one piece of advice I can leave you with this summer, then I feel I have significantly contributed to your professional development. Recently, one of my connections led to being a guest blogger for Burcu Akyol‘s Spread Your Knowledge Series! Burcu has entered the realm of friendship even though she lives in Turkey and I live in Germany. How is this possible? The answer is not 42 in this case, but social networking and collaboration on several projects.

Although, Burcu and I have only known each other for three months we have accomplished quite a bit in the education arena. I would venture to say that many would agree that we have added significantly to their projects. The reason is due to our dedication to put our intelligence and energy together to incite change. Burcu has jumped in wholeheartedly in ventures I support or have initiated and I believe I have done the same with projects she has supported and initiated.

How did I meet Burcu? Several of my closest connections started on Twitter and this is what my guest post on her blog this week is about! Please click here to read and comment on the blog post. I met Burcu through Twitter but our relationship stems from participation in Karenne Sylvester‘s BELTFree Ning, the One Comment a Day Ning, and the SLife is Life Ning. Burcu has also joined me in several Second Life field trips like in our picture below! Second Life has really given us the opportunity to get to know each other. You know a person by their willingness to travel to interesting places or what they decide to do at these places. I have observed that Burcu is adventurous and courageous. She is willing to explore new ideas and has a great sense of humor. Many might think that her continuous dedication to her teaching, blogging, moderating student blogs, presenting, and interviewing for magazines would have her stressed. However, I have yet to see her less than enthused and happy. This is the kind of  relationship you want to establish with members of your PLN. Are you ready to take the next step and collaborate for change?

English Teacher, Me, & Burcu in Second Life at the upside down house
Aniya, Me, & Burcu in Second Life at the upside down house

If you are ready to establish relationships, then you may consider joining the SLife is Life Ning. We continuously educate teachers on the use of Second Life for educational purposes. Every week, Aniya (the English Teacher) and I host a free Newbie Teacher Second Life Field Trip for those who want a guide into the strange virtual world! Join our Ning to keep updated with events!


Visit Second Life’s Life

Challenge:

Involve yourself in one of the projects on a Ning group you belong to or come to one of our weekly Second Life teacher orientations.

Would you like to share your collaboration anecdote? Please contact me to be a guest blogger on Teacher Reboot Camp or if you are interested in having a Second Life mentor!


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Second Life Newby Field Trip


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Have you wanted to attend the several Second Life teacher events but were too afraid you would do something embarrassing? Two years ago I set up my Second Life account hoping to explore the world and discover its use for my students. Unfortunately, my computer could not handle the program. Recently, I tried giving Second Life another chance after seeing several educators on my TwitterStream using the program to attend teacher workshops, discussions, and conferences. A great friend on Twitter helped me navigate and find free clothing shops. You can see my new look below! We had such a wonderful experience that we decided to have a field trip this Saturday, 5 p.m. German time. If you are new to Second Life and would like to attend please send your Second Life name to my Twitter account, @shellterrell.

Shelly's SecondLife Image

The Agenda

One of the most difficult problems is learning how to navigate and interact with objects. Also several teachers have reported having wardrobe malfunctions and not having a proper look for teacher events. Therefore, we will accomplish the following on this adventure:

  • We will go shopping at free Second Life stores.
  • Learn how to change and store outfits for different events.
  • Learn of different landmarks to meet educators.
  • Learn to interact with objects.

Your boot camp challenge for this week:

Join us on our Second Life field trip.

Which Second Life tips do you have to share? Please, contact me and share this with our readers!

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