Learnt Lessons from a basically well done Presentation

The presentation on May 2, 2013, of the project team’s work on “Future of Education” as a final completion of the virtual study at Dublin Institute of Technology in between social media and virtual worlds with the title “Is One Life Enough?” has now been done – and well done. All foreseeable technical and other challenges had been taken care of prior to the final presentation and luckily the system and all server sided capabilities worked blameless this night, including the voicing, so that good communication could be carried out.

Round table talk connected to the presentation on "Future of Education"

Round table talk connected to the presentation on “Future of Education”

Nevertheless there also were some lessons to learn from a project show taking place in a virtual world:

  • There could have been the try to promote the event even more intensively, maybe by involving some selected persons personally at an earlier stage of the preparation of the presentation to ensure a wider audience.
  • Bill and me could have designed the presentation form more interactively, maybe by doing parts of it as a role play with interviewing and questions and answers leading to our core thoughts to make better use of the options a virtual worlds holds and to ensure a more lively experience for our guests.
  • We had a lot of topics on the agenda for the short time the presentation could take and some of them we had to skip, such as the hands-on activities, which had been prepared with huge amounts of time. Also the use of supporting music for the event felt unsuitable in our chosen setting of presenting mainly oral and by the slideshow.

With this said, we are pretty satisfied with the presentation as it turned out. It has fostered a fine discussion of the topic of contemporary web 2.0 tools and soon to come hardware inventions entering the traditional scene of education and turning around the requirements for, what the education of the future has to face, e.g. by implementing new roles for both teachers and students in learning processes, that include the use of social media and virtual worlds to a higher extend.

Discussion of the "Marriage" of Social Media and Virtual Worlds

Discussion of the “Marriage” of Social Media and Virtual Worlds

A very interesting discussion was about the question, whether we would see a more advanced “fusion”, a “marriage”, of the use of social media and virtual worlds.

In our project team we had used integrated social media in the virtual environment from the beginning of the study and in our preparing work, so that it also was natural, that the presentation platform at BABEL Language School contained several boards and screens of our content with the ability to be used actively by the use of the “shared media” feature of Second Life, which now also is available on Firestorm and Singularity viewers. For the hands-on activities 6 boards were prepared with documents on Google drive, to offer the option to combine social media examples, which our audience would estimate, would make their way in the future, as well as to add comments on the necessary evolvement of educational practices for inspiration of all and to bring the discussion of the topic further. In the same way, we had our material from Youtube and Flickr on screens and we initially also planned to view our slideshow directly from Google drive. This showed closer to the presentation day sometimes to give transmission delays, so that we changed the slide viewer to be static on SL-premises by the use of forwarded images on the scripted viewer board.

As a good completion of the presentation, and after our collegue Eliza’s presentation was done too, we also got time for a relaxing dance to world music and music of Pink Floyd. Thanks to Elfay for moderating the evening and our lecturers for their constructive comments, as well to our guests, who all, in pirate outfit or not, gave us their attention and contributed to a splendid atmosphere.

Standing ovations to Eliza's presentation at the  presentation platform at BABEL Language School prior to the informal and relaxing dancing time :)

Standing ovations to Eliza’s presentation at the presentation platform at BABEL Language School prior to the informal and relaxing dancing time 🙂


Preparing the Workshop “Education for the Future in the Light of Multiculturalism & Web 2.0 Tools” on May 2, 12:00 AM SL-Time

Dudley and Inish were the ones to put us on task in this 7th class of the “Is One Life Enough?” module – accompanied by Locks, who had been around our blogging.

- Dudley Dreamscape's lecture about the expected elements in a typical IOLE project presentation, such as the need to keep the message in focus and to use media, so it aids understanding of the topic

– Dudley Dreamscape’s lecture about the expected elements in a typical IOLE project presentation, such as the need to keep the message in focus and to use media, so it aids understanding of the topic

Now the final project show is to be prepared for May 2, 12:00 AM sl-time and luckily Bill and me had carried out a lot of thinking and content construction already. Dudley focussed on the huge range of possibilities to take advantage of in the web 2.0 universe and made it clear, that we have to ensure, that our message is in center and that the essence of the use of social media and the presenting web tools is to support the message and to help understanding for the attending audience.

Inish made us see clearly, that there would be work to do to gather visitors for the presentation event e.g. by using and linking to the sl location from our facebook and twitter accounts and through the use of messaging in groups, which we are members of in sl.

From last week Bill and me had been creating bricks for hands on activities for our audience on the green grass of BABEL Language School in sl and we agreed on to shape a scene, so the activities would be centered on it naturally and so we had a clearly landmarked space for the promotion of the event. Thinking of the shape, I decided to use a huge hollowed sphere with an opening to get onto the presentation floor, as this would illustrate the circular connections the used social media would be expected to have. Inside the sphere and all around the platform I placed four rounded video and web viewing screens with the ability to be used interactively, all pointing to the center of the platform, where the hands on activities would take place. Later I found it more suitable and focussing even better on our desired message, to let the outside surface of the sphere carry a world map, which would give the impression, that we move into the globe for our activities, interviews and talks.

The first step to promote the event will be by moving around in the virtual world of sl wearing a sign, which will give out a landmark and probably later also a description of the event and we completed the sign just after class, Bill and me.

Also the group, “BABEL One World Forum”, which already has about 10 members, will be used for spreading the news. This group has the following description:

“As BABEL is proud to act in the center of cultural diversity with our language activities and others to come, we would like to offer our friends, students and personnel this forum for intercultural exchanges. When we say “One World”, we mean it, and we appreciate all these valuable inputs from our students, our staff and other contacts, we always get. The ‘BABEL One World Forum’ is dedicated to all those many, who want to explore the treasure of multicultural contacts and who wish to explore humanity and understanding.”


Insignia of the Group to promote the Event on "Education for the Future in the Light of Multiculturalism & Web 2.0 Tools" as of May 3, 12:00 SL- time

Insignia of the Group to promote the Event on “Education for the Future in the Light of Multiculturalism & Web 2.0 Tools” as of May 2, 12:00 SL- time

We would like to encourage our friends to join this group already now for further information for the workshop to come. Membership is free and the group is easily found by search in sl or by following the attached link. Looking forward to meet many of you and to share your valuable input with you.


The March of Content

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”.

Creative Common's page for  Licenses of online or offline content

Creative Common’s page for Licenses of online or offline 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.

Wall with Language Learning Units and an example of a Media Board to the left with all material for the study included

Wall with Language Learning Units and an Example of a Media Board to the left with all Material for the Study included

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.

The content of the Unit Box Deutsch 1.2.1 - A notecard and the Media Board inside

The Content of the Unit Box Deutsch 1.2.1 – A Notecard and the Media Board inside

Going to the “Content” tab there are check boxes and the modify, copy and transfer options for any included content in the Media Board.

Permission Window for any Kind of Content in Second Life's Objects

Permission Window for any Kind of Content in Second Life’s Objects

Furthermore the permissions of the object can be seen by the customer in the “Buy” window before sale:

Deutsch 1.2.1 Unit - Buy Window

The Window when right clicked on the Box for buying shows the Permissions in the Content to purchase to the Costumer.

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/



Synchronous Collaboration in the Cloud

Here to click to make the presentation show, when it has opened from the link below

Here to click to make the presentation show, when it has opened from the link below

Do you still use your usb flash drive? You can put it away …   All you need is to be internet connected and aren’t you that already?

Our project team decided to use Google Docs & Drive as our collaborative tool, and we let our presentation show why.

The “Present” button will have to be pressed to make it run … 🙂


Lessons at BABEL Language School at SL

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.

Babylon and BABEL Language School

In the ancient and multicultural Babylon, people of huge diversity and from numberless nations, all lived together. Opposite to this way of life in the classical ancient world 5 ½ thousand years ago, the Christian/Old Testament tradition tells us about God’s punishment of the human arrogance, which denied any longer to follow the natural language that the creator had spoken by developing this, our world.

Genesis 11:7-9(King James Version):

7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

From here we get the heritage of a myth with seven themes about Babel, containing Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylon system, City of Sin, Semiramis, the Tower, Apocalypse and linguistic confusion. All used not to tell the historical truth concerning Babylon but the truth about a civilization that needs the Babel myth in order to understand itself.

What has all this to do with language learning e. g. in Second Life (sl) anno 2009?

At BABEL Language School, the attempt is done, to bridge the gap between the cultural identities through the use of visual material both in classrooms and through the use of archetypal impacts in the environment such as our animals, but also through a new and open architecture which leads the thoughts forward to new possibilities in an enlightened world.

On one side: The creation of new virtual worlds (vws) is time expensive and object to a particular critic of giving up too many former ways of human communication, arguments similar to the day when the TV appeared. Some enter the caveat that vws push to the megalomania of putting our real world’s rules and laws out of order.

On the other hand: The use of virtual worlds has the likeable aspect of being democratically and geographically reachable. In sl for our avatar it’s also possible to achieve new horizons of personal existence, to get a new range of socializing competencies, which is build on the picture of the avatar in the corresponding part, a kind of alternative and supplemental identity; in a way “homo virtualis”.

On one side: We are bound to national and cultural vanes and, as stated in one society, we as good citizens are expected to make contributions to our society. We can’t carry out and maybe not even capture multiple ways of living as they are found on our planet. So, language borders prevent us from taking too much irrelevant information into account, which would weaken our mental health.

On the other side: The world of art has inspired to follow up the myth of Babel in numerous paintings and sculptures; the world of music has prompted pictures of people with their joy and sorrow, photographically documented world wide; and the world of music and opera have always given us common references and motivation to explore the other and to get together again. Virtual Worlds can help us to achieve that end result with language learning being one of the ways how we can explore these possibilities.