What we create of content in virtual worlds or in social media is far from staying in our hands or under our control. And do we want to keep for us what we write in blogs and forums at all? Isn’t it what we want the creations to do: To go the long march to other sites and followers and to bloom by being taken notice of and by the likes and comments we can collect? It seems we have become a risky species by the introduction of Web 2.0. The attitude of having something alone and solely or shared with few close friends is changing towards a constant publishing of inner thoughts and personal pictures to the entire web. In the best case other’s content still is acknowledged by us as their original creation and we will cite it. With our own content we are pretty careless. When the new post looks boring we add one of our pictures, but have we considered where it could appear next time?
From the reflections in the 5th class of the “Is One Life Enough?” module it was seen, that e. g. in the Nicola Kirkbride – Tesco case, authorial, photo-graphical work had marched into other hands or uses than expected from the creator. Even though it was stated on Miss Kirkbride’s fashion blog, that all rights on her content would remain with her, her photo was picked up and used on a Tesco girl’s sweater. She was then taking on the supermarket.
According to Lastowka as a definition for content applies, that it is used “in the broadcast and entertainment industry, as a term to describe a particular form of information that can be presented to an audience” (Lastowka, 2). This term of content can be stretched to user-generated content and virtual worlds. Because of the creative process behind the content creation, it hereby is covered and protected by copyright laws.
It isn’t known, whether Miss Kirkbride in March 2012 used Creative Commons (CC), which is a set to define the online and offline uses we want others to have of our created content. The example just shows, that there might be a need for content creators, to make as clear as possible, how they want their creations treated.
CC’s form for the choice of license in between 2 dimensional media and content is easily walked through and delivers a code string to be placed on website and which will show the CC License, as it can be seen at the bottom of the side bar of this blog for this particular article here “The March of Content”.
Additional in the content creation process for social media, CC offers a search site, which holds huge amounts of diverse material from several providers. It is obvious, that a thinking, which respects fair use of other creator’s content and copyrighted material in general, should be enforced in school and education.
In the 3 dimensional virtual worlds we see a different picture. We still have to look for and to respect the authorial content in them, but we also have to encounter, that they “are appealing primarily because they are social spaces” (Lastowka, 2), which generates another kind of content by and about present users, such as patterns of their behavior, teleport histories, site, event, profile and group descriptions – all valuable information for virtual world providers. Residents in a virtual world such as Second Life (SL) also are aware of, that chat logging can be abused and some post on their profiles with the reference to the TOS in SL, that they would rapport such an abuse, when it comes to their knowledge.
To begin with, the “licensing” of created content in SL, which is carried out by the permission system of the metaverse, is pretty detailed and hereby protecting property rights. At BABEL Language School a series of Language Learning Units is sold for autodidactic use.
The units for sale are in boxes and include a notecard for the student’s information of topics, which also can be seen from the various boxdesigns, a description of the level which is worked on and the Media Board itself. Boards contain images with the main activities, often going through an example situation to act in and some helpful information to solve the task. The Boards also contain recorded audio files, so that the dialogues in question or a short article will be played for the student as often as needed in order to practice the correct pronunciation. There is a button on the Board to give out the task card for the unit, explaining the tasks to do in English. Another button gives out a study board e. g. with a grammatical overview. Finally there is a shortcut button to open an online dictionary in the student’s browser. So, the content of these units is created with huge efforts and there is naturally no interest to have them march around to people, who not want to pay for them.
The permission system can avoid that. By right clicking and chosing “edit” in the “General” tab, the name and description, the creator and owner and which permissions of the three “modify”, “copy” and “transfer” a new owner would have is shown. In this case the unit can only be transferred, so that a student, who has been through it, could give it to another, but would loose it from her/his own inventory.
Going to the “Content” tab there are check boxes and the modify, copy and transfer options for any included content in the Media Board.
Furthermore the permissions of the object can be seen by the customer in the “Buy” window before sale:
As the vitality of Second Life depends on good conditions for it’s content creators and a fair trade for the content buying residents, detailed facilities like these have been developed and implemented through the years. Also the metaverse in general is pretty safe not to have content marching out, as the discussions showed, when in 2010 several educational institutions and universities considered to leave SL cause of a new prizing policy for these groups. From half prizing for landholding before, Linden Lab had announced normal pricing for all. Many educational providers at that time considered to switch to Open Sim, only the problems to export content from SL to this other virtual world gave too many headaches (Educator’s Exodus from SL?).
Proctecting created content in virtual worlds from long marches is also what is in focus, when Winkler states: “We don’t like Creative Commons licenses for our content because a CC license does not address each right in the copyright individually.” At Winkler’s Fashion Research Institute they have instead of been working on a wider licensing as CC can offer. It should at least cover legal property issues in the United States.
Lastowka, Greg: “User-Generated Content & Virtual Worlds”. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Forthcoming. 2008, 1-22. Retrieved March 8, 2013 from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1094048
Winkler, Sheinlei: “Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds”. Fashion Research Institute. 2010.
Retrieved March 9, 2013 from: http://shenlei.com/2010/10/13/content-licensing-in-virtual-worlds/
A year ago a model was developed and published, which intended to explain, in which way efficiency in team collaboration was supported by the use of 3D virtual environments. It is also highly relevant for the understanding of our ways in virtual worlds in general.
Figure 1: Theoretical model
depicting how capabilities of 3D virtual environments affect information processing and communication processes, leading to shared understanding
van der Land et alt., 2011
When the lecturers of the “Is One Life Enough?” course in this third class asked us to sit down in the comfortable armchair lounge at the DIT classroom to head towards the topic “Personal branding”, the situation immediately felt homely and invited to share experiences, thoughts and outlooks.
A convincing setting, which constituted a high extent of immersion, i.e. that “one feels perceptually surrounded in the virtual environment rather than one’s physical surroundings” (van der Land, 2011, 4). Furthermore the expectation of interesting aspects to be turned around in this close round circle of engaged and to the topic dedicated people, opened for the wish to involve and to contribute in the best way.
At class in BABEL Language School we also use a round table to be seated at, for literally to “surround” the class topics in focus, or we chose sitting in sofas when watching a video episode from screen, for the demonstration of, that we now have to focus on a common source for our further together work.
As the voice function this time did work for all of us, and we had a setting, which easily enabled us to zoom in to the speakers with our camera and to notice and follow their lip synchronisation and facial expressions, a high extent of realism of the class meeting and the ongoing discussion was given.
Also the occasionally used written chat supported common understanding of remarks and comments, e. g. when Locks Aichi added: “someone said facebook is where you lie to your friends and twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers…they hadn’t gotten to linkedin” (On Thursday, February 21, 2013 in the “Is One Life Enough?” course’s discussion [2013/02/21 12:53]).
According to van der Land, 3D virtual environments compared to 2D representations “offer more cues and provide a higher degree of reality, which might positively affect information processing” (van der Land, 2011, 5).
Moreover, both in the IOLE module and in BABEL Language School’s methods, it is included, to explore virtual sites and spots in Second Life, to open up for the feeling of being settled in life-like situations with a representation of realistical objects to navigate through.
Even though sitting in the audience or at a roundtable doesn’t open for much interaction with 3D objects for the student, there is no doubt, that we find huge possibilities for the control of surroundings and their behavior and the constructive process in the virtual world. At BABEL Language School at least a mug of coffee and a plate of fruit is served to take from during classes. The teacher will be the most active user of tools such as whiteboards and presentation boards in class, but the Media Board with the content for repetition and for homework is provided to the student, who then interactively can proceed with it in her/his own pace.
Also the IOLE module from DIT is expecting from the project teams, in the end to present their results with the variety of media in use, which is possible in a virtual environment – including to carry out promotion for a guest audience to come and join the final project show as an event. It will at that time hopefully be easy to experience, “that users are active rather than passive in their engagement with the information” (van der Land, 5), because of the highly interactive options in a 3D virtual environment.
One of the tasks to do for class this time was to make contact with at least two people relevant to our interests. I have to admit, I like to dance. Some would say, I talk too much, while I dance. Also I am a member of a couple of communities, which frequently announce nice and funny themed dancing events.
I attended a “Best in the 70’s look” event and went there early, for not to miss anything. It was amazing to see the efforts done on the club decoration, which I now could study some better. The played music was totally in format. The Volkswagen bus was interactive and I could sit on it’s roof and meditate.The water pibe allowed smoking … But I stopped it, when the first other guests arrived. I didn’t want to send out this signal – some don’t like the smell.
An intensive local chat started, commenting on the surroundings and the tunes. As this beautiful and Woodstock alike dressed or partly undressed girl arrived, I was lost. I had to dance with her. I send her an im (which is only between the two) and complimented her fitting look and said that I felt beamed back to the 70’s by looking at her and asked, whether we should try a dance together to the next song, which already was to be announced – it was “Joe Cocker – Unchain my Heart”. She said “yes”. For the rest of the night we switched through the talks in im’s, funny remarks to the others in the local chat, and we even did some voice talk. It wasn’t easy to get my attention away from her lovely brown eyes, but I also managed to make another friend this night, who was the dj, and who I tipped eagerly and wished music from.
What made a difference this night is just what is stated theoretically in the model (van der Land, 5): “Avatar-based interaction offers a wide array of symbol sets: it is synchronous, uses text or voice interaction, and offers more cues than text-based interaction, such as gestures, avatar appearance and avatar behavior.”
I have to add, that I also ran into business related talks at the party this evening. From the presentation of my avatar, some saw, that I drive BABEL Language School. After having given out the official notecard on the school’s offers and the other one with practical informations for teachers, I both had a request for learning Spanish and a potential teacher to be trained to carry out some English classes.
In this moment I looked back to the discussion we had in the IOLE class earlier this week: We need to be in control of our virtual identity on the folio of, what we want to use it for. If we want the freedom in the virtual world or in social media use, to explore and to live independently from our real identity, or to let our entrances be as determined as possible for the particular outcome we want from our presence, we have to reflect our self-presentation pretty well, herunder which informations we expose in profile and our choice of nom en ligne (Sitearm: “Nom en ligne – online name. December 23, 2010, accessed February 23, 2013: http://sitearm.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/nom-en-ligne-online-name/ ) and whether either our profile or our nome en ligne or none of them should carry any connection to our real life identity, and if, to which degree and about what in detail.
Locks Aichi put it this way: ”If you are not paying …you are the product” (On Thursday, February 21, 2013 in the “Is One Life Enough?” course’s discussion [2013/02/21 13:01]).
It is also easy after these examples and at this point, to follow van der Land’s conclusion, that “in real life there are physical boundaries that limit one’s ability for strategic self-presentation. Online, these boundaries exist to a lesser extent. People have more freedom to present themselves the way they would like to. These opportunities for strategic self-presentation also exist in 3D virtual environments through the manipulation of avatars.” (van der Land, 6)
Anyway, this night was an experience of the better, and I love this study and to be send out for these tasks, the IOLE course has for us, to get conscious about the means and purposes we join our virtual environments with and to get better to determine the direction we want our virtual existence to move into and to bloom in, as well as to be pushed to achieve the position, to make our own agendas in virtual worlds.
Van der Land, Schouten, van den Hooff, Feldberg: “Modeling the Metaverse: A Theoretical Model of Effective Team Collaboration in 3D Virtual Environments.” Journal of Virtual Worlds Research 4 (2011) 3: 1-16. Retrieved February 11, 2013 from: http://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/index.php/jvwr/article/view/6126
At the time for class, the student and the teacher will have their tags turned on and worn above the heads, “BABEL Student” or “BABEL Teacher”, in connection to the class group, they are member of. The group notices and the group messaging facility have been used to deliver learning material, to adjust or remind of appointments or for help to do some of the homework between classes.
Various kinds of lessons are used depending on the students’ needs and preferences for their language learning process at BABEL Language School at Second Life. In hands-on-excursions some regions, in which the target language is used, are visited. In a walk through the schools locations the foreign language will be used to talk about what is seen and what is experienced.
Back in the classroom, the topic of the recent unit is visualized on boards and screens. Former tasks will be commented and deepened out and new exercises will be introduced to start up a new homework. Grammatical overviews are present in the classroom as well as touchable objects to play the sound of single idioms or expressions. Interviews, dialogues, passages of radio or TV programs are played from Media Boards. On video screens at BABEL Language School some shorter episodes from broadcasting stations or programs of actual or historical interest are presented and inspire the written and oral communication, e.g. when the history of the Berlin Wall is streamed to the parcel.
Writing down essential explanations on the grammatical or thematically topic in chat and making written proposals for sentences and answers provides a good method for many students, to collect the new content on their own note cards. Engaged home study is required at BABEL Language School, so the language learner can achieve proper results in the new language. Using the voice function gives the student the possibility to train the pronunciation and enables the teacher to give in specific corrections to improve the students’ oral skills. Listening to text audios takes place in class, so the authentically language speed and the specific usage of the target language can be reviewed and acquired.
As the classes at BABEL Language School normally are about 45 minutes two times a week, the content of the unit and supplemental material for home study is given to the student for additional practice. Sometimes larger parts of the unit are taken from existing real life language courses and books and the student therefore also is asked to buy the published work book in question.
Courses at BABEL Language School follow a fast progression towards the new level of language proficiency and communicative fluency according to the levels A1-C2 in the “Common European Framework of References”, CEFR. The school also guides the student to use the state-of the art testing system “Dialang” in order to improve own awareness about the real competencies in the new language.
BABEL Language School’s model for language instruction shows, that learners approach the school both from real life and second life and that they are working on getting new language skills both for their engagement in real life and in second life. The first thing is that learners are tested to define the starting level for the appropriate course. From the starting level, the instruction will cover all skills – reading, listening, writing and speech – towards the new aim and the reachable level, which is defined from the CEFR. Working through 4-5 units, all with connected classroom activities, will lead to the next level. The content in class is inspired from facts and circumstances in the real and the second world and it delivers competencies for both of them. The grade which the student leaves the school with, could be some passed test sections at www.dialang.org, which the school has guided the student to take.
Organisation of learning materials in Second Life
To support the students’ learning process, this school – BABEL Language School – has chosen to implement the instruction in equipped classrooms. The set up in classrooms covers actual Media Boards, Study Boards showing grammatical structures, video screens for displaying web based podcasts, like a broadcasted news program or a popular science episode from tv-stations web pages. Not all residents of Second Life have a place where they can put training material and practice. These avatars like to get back to classrooms between classes, in order to deepen what is learned.
The normal communication is written chat, which generally gives the students fairly good writing skills, but according to the teacher’s planning also talk via the built-in function “voice”, which corresponds to speak with each other through Skype, is incorperated in language courses. In all cases, the used teaching materials will also be sent out to the students’ avatars to use for homework. System limitations are so, that students will need to be in Second Life to work with the lesson material. Often they will draw their homework on the so-called “note cards” and send them to the teacher’s avatar.
Media Board, containing the material of 4-6 lesssons. In the top frame the controls for browsing through and playing the related audio content are found. Furthermore there are buttons to let the Media Board board give out a task notecard and to open a webpage with an online dictionary. At the bottom of a frame, the user goes through the pages of the chapter.