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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

Setting up a Second Life

March 25th, 2009

Katie Marville in the Second Life Educational Informatics villageAs part of the Educational Informatics module I’m taking this semester we’re exploring the educational possibilities of Second Life. One of the lecturers within the department, Sheila Webber, has extensive experience in using Second Life for education – as documented in Sheila Yoshikawa’s SL blog and so she’s been showing us around. The picture on the right is Katie Marville, my alter ego, standing in my house in the village set up for the module.

I actually signed up for Second Life independently sometime around the end of last year; I’d heard a reasonable amount about librarians using it and wanted to have a try. The picture on the left shows my somewhat blockier original appearance. My background is very much as a Second Life cynic. I play a lot of computer games and so am very aware that the look and feel of the basic features Second Life offers are rather past their sell by date, and as someone with a background in usability I’m pretty appalled by its interface. I’ve always held that putting an island into Second Life, while potentially an excellent marketing technique, is unlikely to get you anywhere.

Early picture of me on the Sheffield University iSchool IslandHowever, this course has changed my mind a little. I still find the interface frustrating and the world a little glitchy. I’m beginning to find clothing and adjusting my avatar more and more compelling, though, and now I’m working out where things are (through blogs and in-world groups) I don’t feel quite as disoriented. Furthermore, I can see how educators find the ability to create and manipulate the world so useful; it’s genuinely possible to build educational and attractive environments. The gamer in me still wishes someone would create a second Second Life, though, and it’s worth considering that I grew up in the 8 bit era – I hate to think what young gaming literate audiences will make of it in a couple of years.

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