Got Social?

Oh, Mr. Grant!

I’ve never written a grant before. I’ve never even worked on helping to write a grant. I’m not sure why, its just never happened. I’ve always said one of the things I wanted to do was write grants to bring in money so I can do the cool things I want to do – but the right grant has never jumped out at me. I’ve offered to help the faculty writing their grants, by working on the technology portion of it – but nobody has ever taken me up on it. Several people have asked questions, but nothing beyond that. One of the big problems we’ve seen is that people write grants and then forget to include the hardware and software requirements.

Grants have always seemed so complicated to me. I’m really good at putting budgets together. Putting words on paper is not a problem either.. But the structure and formality has always been a bit daunting. I’m told that one you write your first one, it gets easier, and once you write one and get it, it gets even easier.

Do those of you who have written grants think it’s hard? What is your success rate and what do you attribute to that success?

These folks will be running the show some day

A huge thanx to Barbara Feldman for passing along this video
http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3486473n

The segment of 60 Minutes talks about Millennials in the workplace, but I think it has real relevance to the academic environment. The attitude the segment is discussing regarding students performance and integration into the work environment is very much the same as what I believe we are seeing in the classroom.

So, do we adapt the way the segment suggests business do? Is the Ivory Tower crumbling at the base? Has the day of “You have to learn this way because I learned this way.” gone the way of the 8-Track? Or is it our place to set the standard of learning style and let the students be the ones to adapt. I’m not talking about content here, since I think we’ve already seen that content can be delivered in many different ways. I’m referring specifically to deliver methodology.

What do you think? Feel free to comment whether you watch the video or not, but I’m very interested in hearing for anyone who does watch it.

SL Student Center

A number of folks have attended the Lessons in Second Life meeting that Jeremy Hunsinger hosts on Mondays from 1-2:30pm at the _blacklibrary on hyperborea.

Last Monday a conversation started about the potential for a common “student center” and the benefit of that. One of the places that was discussed for this was the NMC Orientation Island, since many new students were coming in through there anyway.

Larry Pixel was contacted and was very receptive to the idea of adding a Student Center. He showed me an area where he thought it might work out well. I took some pictures and brought those back to the group today. I’ve posted those pictures below with some comments.

There was a great discussion at today’s Lessons in Second Life meeting and I took it on myself to post this blog and to ask folks at the meeting to add comments, ideas, concerns, thoughts, etc… I felt that having a central repository would be good so that everyone can see what is being discussed and can chime in.

My plan is to direct the students in my Writing class to the blog and to ask them to comment on what would make a Student Center interesting and attractive to them.

What I am asking of you is to add your comments, and, if you are teaching in SL or have access to students (via a group or list), ask them to visit this blog and comment as well. The more student input we get the better this will turn out, should it move forward.

For full disclosure – I originally posted a very short entry here, just to get the blog up so people could start commenting. Once I got home and had the chance, I rewrote the entry. I’ve keep the original posting below, in italics.

A bunch of wonderful folks are talking about a main student center on the NMC Orientation Island. NMC is open to the idea, so, what is it we’d like to see, or to chat with NMC about

Please provide input in the COMMENTS area below

This is a look at the two telehub areas. Those who sign up for their account using the NMC web page, when they first log in they appear in the courtyard that is further off in the picture. When you return to the island, you are dropped off in the courtyard that is closest in the picture.

This is a picture of the same area but but from a different angle. The area to the left of the picture, which is currently a cafe, is where it was suggested this project might fit well if it were on the NMC Orientation island.

This is a picture of the existing cafe.

This is a view of the entire area

This is a second access way from the main “orientation” street.

Oh – btw – if you are a student reading this, PLEASE leave a comment. It is really important to hear from you. Also, don’t be shy about commenting and letting us know in the comment that you are a student. Ultimately, if this comes together, its your space, so you should have a say in what goes there. Here’s a chance to get your voice heard.

What are the benefits of social networking that have yet to be tapped?

Late last semester I saw something on a technical team a college someplace that posted a flyer on FaceBook in order to recruit student for work. I asked our student technical staff here and they thought it was a great idea.

What about using social networking to reach alumnae? How many of MSU’s graduates are on LinkedIN, FaceBook, or MySpace – or how many of them have accounts on Second Life?

I was doing some Second Life work for the class I am teaching, and I was hanging out on the CHSS Island (sitting on top of what will become the Sprague Library overlooking our new neighbors, the CEHSADP island), when someone came flying over, plopped right down next to me, and started chatting. She is a graduate student in Education and she’s been on SL for quite some time. She had no idea any organization at MSU had a presence, we thrilled, complimented me on our island, and then we spent the next 30 minutes chatting away.

Imagine if we started advertising to people that we have a presence? What if we created a FaceBook community or group, started hunting people down on LinkedIn and tried to get folks together, or sent something out to our thousands of alumnae? Is this a way for us to keep in touch with them? Is this a way to tie them together and then also to the University? Many institutions think so and are making moves in that direction.

But just propping up sites on all these places is not enough – its as bad as putting up a web page, expecting people to visit it, but then never doing anything else with it? This would have to be an ongoing and sustainable effort – not just some one off or something dropped onto the plate of someone who is already far too busy to do the zillions of other things s/he has to do. Well, the above it true only if you expect the idea to work, in my opinion. If you don’t expect it to work, or don’t want to create an environment in which it CAN work, then disregard everything I said and do it some other way.

Speaking of keeping in touch, what about having the University put together a web page listing all the blogs of their faculty, staff, and/or administrators. This would be SO easy to do. When an employee signs in to their profile page (http://www.montclair.edu/~keltona for instance), they could have an option to enter a “blog” site (and only one), with a check box – and the check box would be to en/disable the link. When it is enabled, it automatically feeds the URL onto a web page with the blogs listed. The only human intervention would be the initial set up, and then requiring the blogger to go into their profile page and enable it.

Stay tuned, more to come.

We Are Not Alone!

No – I’m not talking about little green men or thin metal scraps. I’m talking about the lonely existence the CHSS Island has led for these last 9 months.

For 9 months we’ve been way out here all by ourselves – nothing but water as far as the eye can see. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been very happy to have the peace and quite compared to the mainland, but we’ve always looked forward to the day were we’d have neighbors to play with.

That day has come. Congratulations to Gregg and Joe over in the ADP Center, part of the College of Education and Human Services. Along with Suchita, from OIT, Gregg and Joe have given birth to a bouncing baby sim. With a little assistance from me, the island has been moved along the northern shoreline of the CHSS Island.

The CEHSADP Island is so brand new that land textures and building have not even begun, but it’ll get there soon enough.

The Amphitheater will be pivoted clockwise 45 degrees and moved so it straddles both sims – this makes it a wonderful shared resource. Now, instead of being able to host 40-60 avatars, or whatever one sim can hold, because its on two sims, that number effectively doubles.

The CHSS Resource Center will come down and will be replaced with a shared Orientation Area, which will also cover both sims. The brick and wood two story building, which will soon become the home of the Sprague Library, will be moved over right along the sim line and then both entrances will be well used.

Ok – so, now its time to plan a Welcome Party!

Mac Problem with SL may have a long term solution soon

For those of you using newer MacBook Pro’s to access Second Life, you’d had to deal with freezing and then needed to hard reboot – never a good thing for a computer. There was a work around published not that long ago, but that is still only a work around and not a solution.

Well, it seems as if the Linden Gears are hard at work. This noted from todays Linden Official Blog

http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/01/23/new-windlight-viewer-77495-mac-talk/#more-1574
You’ll notice the top bug on there is NVidia 8600 Mac Book Pros are dropping to software shaders. This had effectively made WindLight unusable for a vast number of MacBook Pro users. It was no small feat as it required an entire re-factoring of how we do our shader loading, to get around some known issues with how Apple links their shaders. We got some fringe benefits with this too- better framerates on some machines, possibly some improved stability, etc. Many kudos to BigPapi Linden for his tireless work in this field. So play and have fun!

BUT

This does not solve two major issues that are known with these machines:

* VWR-1979 – Memory leak with 8600m GT on MacBook Pro
* VWR-1749: Second Life viewer client freezes on MacBook Pro

These are major issues that can cause the viewer to crash and system resources to get taken up, to the point where a system reboot may be necessary. These are bad issues. But there’s good news. Apple knows of the cause and a fix is on its way- trust us. These issues shouldn’t remain in the wild for long. So, to all of those with 8600s, play for the first time, but it may be in short spurts for now!

Need help finding Second LIfe builds

Below is a list of the social issues my students will be provided. They will have an option to choose several to write about throughout the course of the semester. I am looking for builds in Second Life that would be appropriate to send them to to “experience” some aspect of these issues.

If you can think of any builds, or have the SLURLs, or would like to add an issue, please do so in the comments.

Social Issues
Abortion, Adoption, Affirmative Action, Ageism, AIDS/HIV, Alcoholism, Alternative Energy, Animal Experimentation, Animal Rights, Assisted Suicide, Athletes, Biological Weapons, Birth Control, Censorship, Chemical Weapons, Child Abuse, Church and State, Civil Rights, Cloning, Creationism vs. Evolution, Crime, Criminal Justice, Death and Dying, Death Penalty, Discrimination, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drinking, Drug Abuse, Drug Control, Drug Legalization, Drug Trafficking, Drugs and Athletes, Drunk Driving, Eating Disorders, Education and Education Systems, Endangered Species, Environmental Policy, Environmentalism, Ethnic Relations, Euthanasia, Evolution vs Creationism, Family Relations, Gambling, Gay Marriage, Gay Rights, Genetic Engineering, Genocide, Global Warming, Gun Control, Gun Rights, Hate Crimes, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Home Ownership, Homeland Security, Homelessness, Human Rights, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Internet, Islamic Fundamentalism, Juvenile Drug Abuse, Juvenile Offenders, Legalization of Marijuana, Mafia, Media Violence, Medical Ethics, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Middle East Conflict, Nuclear Weapons, Nutrition, Oceans, Organ Donation, Outsourcing, Pollution, Population Growth, Pornography, Poverty, Prisons, Public Assistance, Race Relations, Racism, Rape, Religion, Religious Fundamentalism, Right of Privacy, Same-Sex Marriage, School Violence, Sex Education, Sexism, Sexual Behavior, Smoking, Social Security, Stem Cell Research, Suicide, Teen Pregnancy, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign Relations, Underage Drinking, Video Game Violence, Violence, War, War Crimes, War in Iraq, Water Pollution, Weightism, Welfare Reform, White Fight, Women in the Military, Working Poor, Working Women, Youth Issues

NJ SLEDucator’s Conference

Ok – three definitions first.

NJ SLEDucator – Formal: One who belongs to the Second Life in-world group New Jersey Second Life Educators. Informal: Anyone who has an interest in Second Life and Education (Higher Ed or K-12) in New Jersey

UnConference – “An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants (generally day-by-day during the course of the event) rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference

MSU – Montclair State University :-)

Now, an explanation. Last spring (07) Laura Nicosia and I talked about having a summer “thing” where we got some folks together, informally, to talk about this new “thing” we found called Second Life, which we both loved and saw the potential for.

Fast forward nearly a year. Montclair becomes the first University to have a publicly available island in Second Life. Princeton makes a huge splash by opening a number of joined sims and Seton Hall has also joined the party with a space of their own. And a little “virtual” birdie tells me that the CHSS Island may soon be joined by some MSU neighbors (but that still hush hush, keep it under your hat).

I mentioned the idea of an 2008 summer thing to Gregg Festa, who thought it was a great idea and signed up to work on it with me. It was Gregg who suggested the idea of an “unconference”. I liked the idea immediately and we were off and running.

Details will start to come together shortly, and hopefully we’ll have the wiki up soon so folks can start signing up and contributing content. Until then, we need to pick a date.

The Conference Center in University Hall, here at MSU, is a wonderful facility run expertly by Phil Cardillo. It affords amazing views of the surrounding area (for miles!), and an especially exceptional view of Manhattan. So, the first NJ SLEDucator’s UnConference will be held there (at least thats the current working name).

The May dates I originally picked were booked. I was trying for a Friday (since there are no classes at MSU on Fridays, so the parking a getting around would be easier), or one of the days between Spring Finals and the first Pre-Session. No such luck. The only three days available to us are listed in the poll to the right (5/19, 5/20, and 5/21). If you are planning on attending, thinking about attending, or even remotely interested in attending, please select one of those date or choose “Pick Another Date” and we’ll look later in the summer.

More to come.

Its been too long

Its been a while since I posted here – usual culprits: holidays, end of school, etc…

I’m just beginning to get the Second Life midterm report put together, coordinating the staffed times for our SL Lab, planning my own syllabus (doing the ENWR 105 class hyrbid), and generally being involved in all sorts of things.

What’s that you say? its much better if I post them as they come up. Agreed. I’ll see what I can do about that.