I have lost my voice, thanks to the generosity of my students in sharing their grubby germs. They lurch into your office croaking for notes so they can catch up when clearly they should be quarantined somewhere.
The upshot of this is that I have been languishing in bed and had to get my PhD student to intrepidly take one of my Second Life labs this week. Who knows what happened? I shall find out soon enough, I expect.
The first lab of the week was interesting though. The undergrads tried their hands at building in SL, which caused much amusement to all. My Flexible Learning pal came along to award a tube of smarties to the coolest creation by the end of the hour. It went to someone who had (literally) been building a castle in the sky. If there had been a second prize it would have been for the giant lollipop. Maybe I should give our virtual lollipops instead of real smarties next time.
I gave the students a photocopy of a textbook chapter on building, plus a list of topics and the task that they should build a snow man. I told them they could experiment by themselves, but I wanted them to learn the skills in the chapter. Only a couple of people made the snowman, and only a couple followed the text book. Most of them preferred to learn by messing around which is actually a reasonable way to do it, assuming you come across all the interesting effects through experimentation or watching other people. Some said they would read the book later.
A couple of times I notied students taking advantage of serendipty e.g. one student noticed an object which he had applied the twist operator to looked like a slide so he then decided to build a ladder to the top to turn it into a flume. Another told me about some ideas he had for his portfolio objects (a frisby + dog set and a skittles set), both of which are about the right level of difficulty.
This was all quite satisying because I spent the class in the morning telling the students about the creative process and how exploring the software, and building up some expertise was a really good place to start on a creative project like this. Plus, it's just good fun to watch the island grow all these crazy colourful objects. I expect I will have running battles with the students about tidying up the island once in a while. But happily I have the power to automatically return everyone's stuff to their inventory. Wouldn't that be a useful power in real life?