[iDC] Howard Rheingold on Education in SL

molly wright steenson molly at girlwonder.com
Mon Mar 5 17:31:05 EST 2007

I have to wonder what the use would be, from an architectural  
perspective. Sure, it might be spiffy to hold class in a rendering,  
but it doesn't provide a sense of space in the way that models and  
sophisticated renderings do. Just being in a model of the space isn't  
the same as being *in* the space. So ultimately, I agree with  
Howard's prior point: that I'm not sure what the advantage would be.

We're taking on SL and World of Warcraft  in a month in "Critical  
Imaginaries," the colloquium we organized at the Yale School of  
Architecture. Ralitza Petit (née Boteva) will be talking about  
perception within the MMPOG experience (her dissertation at Harvard  
was on this topic) will be talking about it. I'll report back on the  
feedback we receive.


On Mar 5, 2007, at 9:55 PM, Trebor Scholz wrote:

> http://many.corante.com/archives/2006/12/12/ 
> second_life_what_are_the_real_numbers.php#172111
> "I've lectured in Second Life, complete with slides, and remarked  
> that I didn't really see the advantage of doing it in SL. Members  
> of the audience pointed out that it enabled people from
> all over the world to participate and to chat with each other while  
> listening to my voice and watching my slides; again, you don't need  
> an immersive graphical simulation world to do that.
> I think the real proof of SL as an educational medium with unique  
> affordances would come into play if an architecture class was able  
> to hold sessions within scale models of the buildings
> they are studying, if a biochemistry class could manipulate  
> realistic scale-model simulations of protein molecules, or if any  
> kind of lesson involving 3D objects or environments could
> effectively simulate the behaviors of those objects or the visual- 
> auditory experience of navigating those environments. Just as the  
> techniques of teleoperation that emerged from the first
> days of VR ended up as valuable components of laparascopic surgery,  
> we might see some surprise spinoffs in the educational arena. A  
> problem there, of course, is that education systems
> suffer from a great deal more than a lack of immersive  
> environments. I'm not ready to write off the educational potential  
> of SL, although, as noted, the importance of that potential
> should be seen in context. In this regard, we're still in the early  
> days of the medium, similar to cinema in the days when filmmakers  
> nailed a camera tripod to a stage and filmed a play;
> SL needs D.W. Griffiths to come along and invent the equivalent of  
> close-ups, montage, etc.
> The one difficult to surmount obstacle is the learning curve. One  
> figure I'd like to see is the number of people who create objects  
> and environments in SL. That population is where the
> innovations are likely to emerge.
> I think the SL hype deserves debunking, but let's not set that  
> debunking up as an eternal straw man. Who, exactly, is predicting  
> that any percentage of the population will really live in
> SL? (Someone who has lost a loved one to WOW?) To me, the point has  
> long since ceased to be whether or not this is going to be as  
> popular as solitaire, but whether some truly useful
> innovation is going to emerge."
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