[iDC] Howard Rheingold on Education in SL

david mcconville id at elumenati.com
Tue Mar 6 10:15:10 EST 2007


Beyond the rudimentary rendering of SL, your statement "being in a model of
the space isn't the same as being *in* the space" sounds like a broader
critique of virtual worlds that are limited by the interface through which
they are experienced. The sense of spatial immersion of SL (or most other
online virtual worlds) is often limited by rectangular monitors, and are
subject to the same critique as any rectilinear interface to spatial
information (including canvases, blueprints, etc). Of course the design and
educational advantages of virtual environments comes with the ability to
manipulate the 3D models to understand it from multiple perspectives, though
these perspectives remain limited by our generally small, flat windows onto
the world. Char Davies has commented extensively on the ideological baggage
that accompanies these interfaces, though it seems rarely addressed in
discussions of the educational utility of virtual worlds (beyond the field
of presense research, anyway).

If your colloquium is addressing virtual environments in the context of
architecture, I assume you'll be discussing other ways in which they can be
displayed to efficiently convey compelling visuospatial representations
beyond just the quality of the rendering? The next Educause conference
focused on immersive learning environments (http://www.educause.edu/eli072)
- I'll be curious to see the extent to which they'll be addressing
"immersion" from both the psychological and sensory perspectives.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net]
>On Behalf Of molly wright steenson
>Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 5:31 PM
>To: IDC list
>Subject: Re: [iDC] Howard Rheingold on Education in SL
>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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