Last summer I took a class with the NorthTIER consortium on Virtual Worlds and Games in Education, taught by Laura Briggs. My initial goal was to learn to use Second Life to attend VSTE meetings and professional development sessions online. I learned so much more–my professional and personal worlds have been expanded exponentially.
When I started using Second Life (SL), I had a steep learning cliff to conquer. It took me a week to learn how to move my avatar around effectively, and a month before I learned how to change my clothes. I persisted because the people I met there were so helpful and welcoming that I wanted to participate in the communities that I found.
As you know, my job as a solo school librarian is extremely isolating. I am a team of one, in a building of 800+ people. My district is kind enough to let me run SL in school, making it possible to attend inworld meetings during the day, and to network with people on my few occasions for downtime. I am able, from my computer here, to have meaningful professional interchanges with people all over the world.
Currently I am a member of 18 different educational groups in Second Life. I attend Virtual Pioneers meetings on Sunday nights; VSTE meetings on Monday nights; ISTE office hours on Tuesday nights; ISTE meetings and socials, plus VSTE planning meetings, on Wednesday nights; VWER meetings on Thursdays after school; and BIO-SE and Nonprofit Commons meetings on Fridays during school. Because the latter two are conducted in chat rather than voice, I can follow along even when I have classes coming in to check out books. I consider myself a liaison between all of the groups, and I do lots of cross-postings of meeting notifications among all of them. I like being able to connect people together, and help create community. I’ve been enriched so much–it’s a virtual world, but the people are real.