Identity in a foreign place

I’m trying to turn over a new leaf – I’m trying to make Fridays the day I catch up on my blog writing 🙂 Today I thought I would write about an experience I had this week, teaching students new to learning in 3D environments.

Please note that I am not promoting any particular 3D environment, I’m just talking about the one we used. There are plenty of universities using 3D environments now and we need to consider how and when to use them. Part of the process of learning about how and when to use 3D environments is going in and using them.

I was very kindly asked to take a group of students into Second Life for a Media and Cultural Studies module, MECS1008.

photograph of students at the meeting place

Students in SL

The students are exploring the concept of identity, and Second Life (SL) is one of the tools which will help them in their efforts.

We all had a great time although we had a few hiccoughs at the beginning which I will explain about further on.

I’ve been in SL since 2007 and I’ve taken other groups of students in and shown them around so I was happy that I had prepared for the session as well as I could. Of course when performing with animals, children or technology one should never take anything for granted.

A slide giving students information about what they will be doing in the session

What we are doing today

The students were given their learning outcomes for the session.  By the end of the session the students were also required to complete their Profile for the avatar they had created.  These activities provided them with plenty of opportunities and triggers to start questioning identity issues.  The second session I will be doing with the students is about identity and will draw on some of their experiences in SL.

As I said we had some hiccoughs the first of which was the changes that have been made to the registration and login process! I had gone through the information provided by SL in the Community and in their blogs and wikis so I thought everything would be ok – Duh! Although it is clear that everyone is called Resident now it is not made clear that this has to be added to the name the account user chooses when they log in! This gave us all a some difficulty but luckily two of the female students found something on a blog (which was actually incorrect) which pointed them to the solution. Many grateful thanks to those two 🙂

After the session I produced this Word document to help out others in the future. I did this very quickly so it needs a little more work done on it but at least it is a start.

Once the students had sent me the names of their avatars I quickly joined them to the Worcester group and they then made the Island their home. Now, if they want, they can go straight to the Island when they login and can quickly escape situations they don’t like just by clicking on Teleport Home in the World menu.

The other problem we had is more annoying but not insurmountable. The UW IP address has reached its limit for avatars. I’m trying to contact them to have the cap taken off but it takes ages. Students (and others) can join from home but they just can’t do it from UW at the moment. I’ll let everyone know once I get it sorted – at least people can use the Word document as guidance to get started. To join just go to

Right now I’m going to go to my other blog and write a bit about this. The focus is slightly different there, more about research – I publish the machinima (videos of SL) from the Research Seminars we hold each month so people can catch up if they miss one. You can observe my learning process 🙂 as the machinima improve with each month. I’m hoping I’ll get it completely right this month 🙂


About timjohnson
I came through a tortuous path to the role of Adviser in Digital Literacy in the Information and Learning Services Department. In the past I was a: Senior Lecturer in Health Informatics, Senior Lectuer in Midwifery, Midwifery Sister, Staff Midwife, Nurse, Secretary, Bars Manager. I would have liked to be a jeweller and silver smith but of course there is always retirement for that :)

One Response to Identity in a foreign place

  1. Pingback: Learning about identity | Digital Literacy

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