Second Life: Academic Libraries on the MUVE (Cyber Zed Shed)

Rhonda Trueman from Johnson & Wales University spoke about her involvement with the Alliance Second Life Library. Rhonda gave an overview of multi-user virtual environments. She discussed Info Island and what some individual academic libraries are doing in Second Life. She talked about answering reference questions and professional development opportunities in Second Life. I had expected her to do a live demo. She used screen shots on slides instead. Probably a wise choice. PALINET has not yet posted an interview with Rhonda.
 
I haven't gotten to excited about Second Life. I created a free account awhile back. I picked one of the pre-made avatars and was looking forward to customizing my appearance and exploring this virtual world. However, I can't do anything because I am on the "have not" side of this specific digital divide.
 
I have the bandwidth at home, but my desktop and laptop are not up to spec. My work computer is only a year old, but our campus firewall prevents me from connecting. I don't feel like battling with campus IT at the moment. So, I will continue to lead my First Life for now.
 
I also don't know what to make of some posts about Second Life by librarians. These come across to me as being alarmist or at the very least over zealous. How many of our students really have the bandwidth and the hardware to make a connection to these virtual worlds? Are you in Second Life? Is your library? Maybe we're just the anomaly in southeast Ohio…but I doubt that's true.
 
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3 thoughts on “Second Life: Academic Libraries on the MUVE (Cyber Zed Shed)”

  1. Hi Andrew. You raise good points about being on the ‘have not’ side of the digital divide in regards to Second Life. I agree that it’s doubtful that southeast Ohio is an anomaly in regards to having the bandwidth necessary to run Second Life. I can also understand not wanting to ‘battle with campus IT at the moment.’ One resource where there are frequent discussions among educators like yourself working with Second Life and having system requirement issues is the SL Educators listserv: https://lists.secondlife.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/educators. If you’re not already a ‘member’ on the list, you will probably find that you are definitely not alone in regards to the requirement issues. It’s a very real issue of course and not one that can be dismissed if we’re trying to push it out into our schools and libraries.

    This leads me into responding to the last part of your post about librarians being ‘alarmist or at the very least overzealous’. While I do understand that if bandwidth is an issue, and it still is in some regards-even in my public library system where I work with Second Life-I still stand by my post that ‘Libraries cannot afford to ignore virtual worlds.’ Virtual worlds are a lot larger than Second Life as we all know, and perhaps my posts don’t reflect that as much as they could, as I’m very involved in SL. What I mean by ‘cannot afford to ignore’ is that as an interface-whether it be through World of Warcraft, There, the Sims Online, IMVU, or even Second Life-it is where many of our users are already interacting. I believe that we as educators have tremendous opportunities and I would even add responsibility to help shape these environments to bring ’21st century literacy skills’ to the forefront by knowing how to navigate in some of these environments, what is going on in these environments, and how can we unleash the social aspects and learning that is possible through these mediums. Perhaps starting with another environment that your bandwidth does support and creating interest and a demand for moving on with other virtual environments will be a more natural progression. Keep IT and staff informed of what you’re doing.
    Hope this helps. thanks for posting.

  2. Greetings. Second Life is not for everyone. The group we have working on it is very enthusiastic and excited because
    many of us think we are looking at the new internet. Only time will tell and who knows what the platform will be? We
    have over 500 self identified librarians in second life and in our google group. That is an exciting number when you
    think of a new project, but small when you consider how many librarians are out there. Many are not in Second Life;
    you are not the anomaly in southeast Ohio. Unfortunately there is a digital divide in terms of bandwidth and compu-
    ting power. This is true of most technologies though. Anyone is welcome to be involved, but it is not for
    everyone.

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