Thoughts on blogging

I am hugely enlivened by all the grouchy postings, I felt that I was alone in feeling like a blog luddite. Actually I’m not against using them at all, I really do think they have a place in education, at least for the present, but I found posting myself very difficult to do and found I had little motivation to do so without a specific teaching purpose.

One reason I’ve been a bit sluggish is that I knew I was leaving my school so I got ahead of myself and started my students blogging at a number of levels, AS A2 and Year 10, and because I’ve left, that remains in the air as unfinished business. I know I want to set up a blogging system at my new school, but again that is work not yet in progress. As it stood I struggled to find much to say on my blog without a subject, concrete information that needed to be delivered, a syllabus and student responses.

I’ve been reading Andrew Burn and thinking about theories of deep learning, I’m not in a posiition to know whether the blogging journeys I sent my students on resulted in deeper engagement than the standard issue note taking progress through a set text. The early signs were good, particularly as this was a ‘first’ at our school for many of them, and they responded in the best cases with a raft of contextualising materials as well as a lively and open response to the novel.

The Moodle system at my school allowed me to create highly visual contextualising schemes of work, I found this enormously satisfying. One of the tasks we were set on an earlier MA module was to create a visual image, or images, to express a theory, and this started me off on an attempt to create highly visual contextualising and analytical materials. Having done this seemed to leave me with less reason to blog. I know from discussion with other MA students that their Moodle system was very dull and unfriendly looking, and this had fuelled her desire to create a good looking blog.

And finally…I will be creating a bog for my new school, I want it to look flashy and be very interactive. I think it will probably be most useful for As and A2 students. I want to emulate the way Long Road use their blog, to this end the department are filling in a questionnaire for me, which I hope will help me with practical issues, and idealogical reasoning. 

 So not a blog luddite, but a bit of a refusnik on a personal level, I find it hard to believe that anyone really wants to read or cares about my personal musings. When I’ve got a serious educational purpose, I propose to go to town, meanwhile I’m going to copy this onto my blog…


‘For the hyper confident to assert their importance’

My latest posts show that this is the area I have been playing around with, the idea that people want to be heard, (and seen,) and that they sometimes at least have little of interest to say, but they want to say it instantly.

I’ve also become fascinated by the idea of what is revealed and what is hidden. A lot of Social Networking sites are carefully crafted representations of our lives, nothing the matter with that  – particularly for teenagers who are struggling with all kinds of identity issues. But I have tended to see them as a way of bolstering your own self image. Second Life provides pople with another way of representing themselves, this time by creating an avatar, sometimes a more glamorised version of the self, and in the case of some disabled participants, a freer version of the self, which doesn’t invite attention to the disabilities suffered.

I feel that as far as education is concerned there is a great deal of double think going on, educators are now being encouraged to free up the national curriculum at Key Stage 3, Head Teachers are jumping onto that band wagon, and we as teachers are being asked to teach creatively, to teach creativity, and to use new technology. I am entirely in favour of teaching differently, learning in new ways, but I am fearful of the hotch potch which may emerge from everyone leaping onto Web 2.0 without knowing why they are doing it, or what it can deliver effectively.




Digital narcissism


Big Question 1, I lifted it from another blog, and have been using it with my students:

Web2:0 youtube, blogs, are all about digital narcissism, not creativity… discuss

I’ve added some articles here that I’ve had on my school’s VLE, and blogs and wikipedia ‘information’. What do you think?

Question 2 Is Second Life a social network or a game?

Mark Sweney


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Germans rule Second Life

May 4, 2007 12:36 PM

Also: YouTube to pay most popular uploaders | Google and Copiepresse make up (sort of)

An analysis of Second Life’s users has revealed that only one in five users of the virtual world are from North America.

It transpires, says a report from web analytics company ComScore, that 61% of the active residents of Second Life are in fact European.

Germans are the biggest fans accounting for just over 16% of total residents, France second with 8% and the UK with 6%.

Second Life users in the USA – the HQ of Philip Rosedale’s operation – account for 16% of active residents.

The research also shows that in March around 1.3m people used their virtual avatars in Second Life – an increase of 46% over January this year.

Second Life has always received a ridiculously disproportionate amount of media coverage compared to its user base size – and questions have been asked over growth drawbacks the website has – so the surge in use is good news.

61% of users are male.



 Philip Rosedale

Today Second Life, tomorrow the world

The founder of the virtual world Second Life believes that his company, Linden Lab, is at the forefront of the internet’s next big revolution – the 3D web

About this article

This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday May 17 2007 on p5 of the Technology news & features section.

Technology Guardian: So what was the motivation behind Second Life?

Philip Rosedale: My background is physics, a lot of math and computer programming and I am really interested in chaos, chaos systems, non-linearity and emergent behaviour. SL is one of those weird kind of phenomena where every new piece of content makes it marginally more appealing. People think that our growth has been aperiodic and discontinuous but if you look at the growth, it has been a perfect curve and it is organic and exponential because it is a network effect business. But it all has to be co-visible because if that were not true you wouldn’t have the network effects. So what we don’t want is little silos of marketing – nobody is interested in that.

TG: But brands and broadcasters want to control the environment that their content or brand is in.

PR: I know, but it has never worked like that in the internet. What I think will happen is that a few advertisers and media companies will embrace this uncontrolled environment and they will have success and then everyone will jump in. It’s another one of those discontinuous phenomena. You get a couple of people with a slight economic advantage and then everyone jumps in.

TG: What you are doing with SL is such a different kind of experience. Most media has been passive, delivered to people as a finished product.

PR: Because that is all that the technology has allowed. But look at gaming. Those are non-passive experiences and they are much more engaging. And then look at video responses to YouTube videos; these are signs that people want to create. Perhaps a more nuanced point is that most of us are not creative because the world doesn’t make it easy for us to be creative. In this next phase of the web we are going to use technology to make creativity easier and I think we are going to see everybody wanting to be creative. This means that people better rethink the nature of media.

TG: In SL, through the avatar that you create, you can walk, fly, dance. You can buy real estate, open a store, make love. Can you commit suicide?

PR: Yeah. You can kill off an account. In fact I think someone is going to write a great dramatic book about that some day.

TG: Talk about the technology. SL doesn’t work with Vista …

PR: Something is broken on Vista and we’ll figure it out. The real technology challenge we have is rendering a world in 3D because historically only games have used 3D. What we are saying is SL is the next worldwide web and so every computer has to do 3D perfectly and we are not there yet. We are probably one PC development cycle – so 18 months – away from where every machine with Vista or Mac OS X should be able to run SL. I think we started a little bit early with SL but the sheer enthusiasm that people have had about co-creating the world has sustained it. What is amazing is that we are not even there yet. This is only the beginning of the 3D web and SL.

TG: So what is the next big step for SL?

PR: I think the voice technology we are developing is very powerful and transformative. The big problem is that it takes a long time to figure out how to do things in SL. Once you get over that, I think SL is a smoother road than the web itself, so taking that average of the four hours it takes now for people to understand SL down to 40 minutes will move us from 10% retention of users to more than 50% and then the 3D web will rapidly be the dominant thing and everyone will have an avatar. Are we the company that can do it? I think we are but in all fairness I think we are creating what is the tip of a whole new category of experience and I think we can be the leaders of that.

TG: How big an idea is SL? You say it is the next world wide web.

PR: If we recognise that SL is really a big idea, that means that there could be different orientation paths into it. Today there is only the one we provide, but we aren’t going to do that long term. What I really want to see is companies developing branded-orientation experiences that are better then ours.

TG: What does something like that do to your business plan? Right now the way you make money is selling the land in SL – in effect, a land tax. Basically it is a real estate play in cyberspace.

PR: It is a virtual real estate business but it is a little less abstract than a lot of people suggest. What we are really selling you is computation. We are selling you CPU core. If you buy a 16-acre piece of land, which is about four city blocks, what you are renting is one processor.

TG: Since 2004 you have allowed people who have made money in SL, called Linden dollars, to convert it to real money. You have an exchange rate with real money and SL has even produced its first millionaire. How do the virtual and real worlds start to collide?

PR: The gross domestic product (GDP) of SL is now about $500m (£250m) but it is growing rapidly. Having our own currency makes sense because it allows people to make micro-transactions.

TG: Did you envision this? I mean SL is like running an independent country.

PR: We have learned a lot about monetary policy! I love it. We recognise that the GDP in SL is growing at a rate that is staggeringly fast, relative to real world economies. I call it light central bank functions. We would love to find a great economist to come and join us!

TG: You are running a real economy but it is essentially a dictatorship, one headed by you, Philip Linden – as you are known in SL – the dictator.

PR: Yes, but it is a subtle question. If a country establishes a record of repossessing land for no real reason, then that colours the extent to which it’s a dictatorship. We haven’t done that. Could we shut the servers down if we get pissed off with somebody? Yes, we could do that but we haven’t and I think it is very unlikely that we will because it would so risk everything we have built.

TG: You have had to step up your policing in SL. There have been disruptions at some corporate events, so you are not completely hands-off.

PR: We do a bit of central policing in cases like fraud and extreme harassment or in cases where there has been the disclosure of somebody’s real-life information. We don’t allow that.

TG: I understand that porn is the biggest part of the economy.

PR: I don’t think it’s the biggest, but it’s hard to tell. Some of the transactions are person to person and some are transactions from vending machines. Sometimes the transactions have some text that allows us to tell what it is but people are so inventive that we don’t always know. From what we can tell it’s clothing, jewellery and furniture that are the biggest part of SL’s economy.

TG: How about money-laundering?

PR: This is not my expertise, but real money-laundering involves the passing of real paper bills so the big problem is real currency.

TG: What do you think about the idea that an avatar built in SL could move off Second Life and wander the web?

PR: We are building the backend to support that. We believe the concept of identity through your avatar will span the web. We are going to seek to enable that. Technology-wise, it’s only about 18 months away. I do think we will see some interconnected virtual worlds and I think we can lead by being as open as possible. If you are open and you are dominant, you win, forever.

· The full text of this interview will appear on the Technology blog:

Child pornography claims: Linden Lab investigates

German police are investigating allegations that Second Lifers trade images of child porn in the online world. The allegations came to light when Linden Lab was contacted by ARD, a German TV network, whose reporter had been invited to meetings in Second Life where virtual and real child pornography was allegedly shown.

Second Life responded on its blog: “Linden Lab has absolutely zero tolerance for depictions of child pornography within Second Life. We were outraged to see the images that ARD showed us, and will cooperate fully with any legal authorities. It goes without saying that anyone engaged in this activity will be permanently banned and subject to legal consequences.”

ARD’s reporter, Nick Schader, said that he had been invited to pay 500 Linden dollars (about £1.50) to attend the meetings. The users had also offered to put him in touch with people who trade in real child pornography, he said.

Linden Lab is working on a voluntary age verification procedure. Although under-18s are not allowed to register, in practice it is almost impossible to prevent them.



Second Life

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from Web3D Chat)



Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world launched in 2003, developed by Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab), which came to international attention via mainstream news media in late 2006 and early 2007.[4][5] A downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called “Residents“, to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade items (virtual property) and services with one another.

Second Life is one of several virtual worlds that have been inspired by the cyberpunk literary movement, and particularly by Neal Stephenson‘s novel Snow Crash. The stated goal of Linden Lab is to create a world like the Metaverse described by Stephenson, a user-defined world in which people can interact, play, do business, and otherwise communicate.[6] Second Life‘s virtual currency is the Linden Dollar (Linden, or L$) and is exchangeable for real world currencies in a resident to resident marketplace facilitated by Linden Lab.[7] There is no fee for registering an account or participating in Second Life, however registration of “payment information” (i.e. a credit card) is mandatory in order to participate in some functions, such as owning land or islands, as well as to access certain support features such as Second Life’s support portal and online forums.

While Second Life is sometimes referred to as a game, this description does not fit the standard definition. It does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. However, there are a variety of games which have been created within the Second Life environment.

At the end of March 2008, approximately 13 million accounts were registered, although a large percentage of these are inactive, some Residents have multiple accounts, and there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage. In January 2008, residents spent 28,274,505 hours there, so on average about 38,000 residents were logged on at any particular moment.[8]. Despite its prominence, Second Life has notable competitors, including IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, and the erotic-oriented Red Light Center.

In 2008 Second Life was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the development of online sites with user generated content. Philip Rosedale, President of Linden Lab, accepted the award.


Second Life Open University

EXPERIMENTAL WAYS of teaching teenagers are being tested in an online virtual world.The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and the Open University have teamed up to create an educational island within Second Life, a cult internet programme in which a 3D virtual world is built and owned entirely by its residents.
The virtual world contains an area specifically for teenagers, which adults are unable to visit without clearance. It is here that Schome Park has been created, an island where 147 teenagers have signed up to take part in physics, archaeology and philosophy lessons.
The island is named after the Open University’s “schome” project, which looks at alternatives to school or home education.
Lessons at Schome Park are not constrained by distance, time or expense in the same way as those in the real world. So pupils can explore a recreated section of Hadrian’s Wall and examine a giant gravity well, a type of curved funnel used to study the effects of gravity, designed by the San Francisco Exploratorium.

Keiron Sheehy, a senior lecturer in developmental psychology at the Open University, said: “It would be difficult to build a life-size model of Hadrian’s Wall in the real world, but in Second Life the teenagers can dress up as a Roman and walk around it.”

Crucially, the students have some control over running their island and its amenities, which include a library and a shop. They have also created a classroom 250m above the island called SkyBase@250.

Dr Sheehy said: “There are some real debates over the method of governance and appropriate behaviour. What is the fairest and best way to set rules?

“We are encouraging the students to have a democratic approach.”

The teenagers’ real identities are kept anonymous. “Trixxie” has been helping to set up a library as well as lessons on physics and philosophy at Schome Park.

“Some of the things I’ve done – organising meetings and making so many new friends – I would find harder in real life,” she said. “Doing it virtually, where people seem to judge you less, has given me the confidence to think that I could do it in real life too.”

Some 85 of the 147 students have been unable to visit the island because of practical problems such as incompatible school computers. A spokeswoman for the gifted youth academy said that one reason for the pilot scheme was to resolve such problems.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do people look like their avatars ? Some links:

Whether they are slaying monsters, chatting up attractive strangers or simply accumulating vast sums of (real life) cash, online gamers have an incredible world to explore. ‘Alter Ego: Avatars and their creators’ (Boot Books, £20), a book by the photojournalist Robbie Cooper has collected together images of both the gamers and their avatars – the online characters they play – to explore the gap between fantasy and reality.

Real name Jason Rowe Crosby, Texas
Avatar name Rurouni Kenshin, marksman in Star Wars Galaxies

The difference between me and my online character is pretty obvious. l have a lot of physical disabilities but in Star Wars Galaxies I can ride an imperial speeder bike, fight monsters, or just hang out with friends at a bar. I can’t press the keys on a regular keyboard so I use an on-screen keyboard called ‘soft type’. The computer screen is my window to the world. In the real world, people can be uncomfortable around me before they get to know me and realise that, apart from my outer appearance, I’m just like them.





Year 10 blogs

Year 10 students in my English GCSE class have been creating blogs to record their work on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. They have been asked to research background  material to contextualise the novel and the author. The were given choices relating to their general and academic interests. These were relating to music – Billie Holliday Strange Fruit – the Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King’s I have A Dream speech – heroes of the movement – KKK – maps of Alabama, the author, and any other directions their interest led them.

They were also asked to keep copies of their work, such as their first impressions, the town as shown through the eyes of the child narrator, and the family relationships.

All 30 of the class have set up blogs, they have all posted downloads from youtube and images of the south, and the author. They are varied, reflect their interests, and have a revealingly personal tone absent from much GCSE essay writing. So far this has been a success I think. I want to see how these develop, it will be a bit complicated as I am leaving so my time with them is limited, unless I can persuade them to keep them up, after I have left.

Follow the links to visit their blogs


 ‘Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee,’ by Charles J. Shields

Good Scout



Published: June 11, 2006
Here is a book about a woman who knew when to get off the train. A tomboy from Monroeville, Ala., editor of her college humor magazine, The Rammer Jammer, and law school dropout, she took it on the lam to New York, got a job, made friends and managed to write a novel that hit the best-seller lists and stayed there, won a Pulitzer, got made into a major movie and became a staple of high school English along with “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Great Gatsby.” Total sales are somewhere around 30 million, and it continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year. As her father, A. C. Lee, said, “it’s very rare indeed when a thing like this happens to a country girl going to New York.”

Skip to next paragraph

Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Harper Lee in the courthouse in Monroeville, Ala., May 1961.


A Portrait of Harper Lee.

By Charles J. Shields.

Illustrated. 337 pp. Henry Holt & Company. $25.

Readers’ Opinions

Forum: Book News and Reviews


She worked for years on a second novel, and then, in the mid-1980’s, on a book of nonfiction about a serial murder in Alabama, neither of which worked out to her satisfaction and so she squashed them. She made her peace with being a one-book author. Unlike her friend Truman Capote, she didn’t enjoy the limelight. So she backed away from celebrity, declined to be interviewed or be honorifically degreed and simply lived her life, sometimes in Manhattan, riding city buses, visiting museums and bookstores in her running suit and sneakers, seeing old friends, and most of the time in Monroeville, in a ranch house with her older sister Alice, a house full of books. Built-in bookshelves, floor to ceiling.

Every summer, Monroeville draws crowds of tourists to see a staged version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the old county courthouse that was the model for the one in which Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch strode before the all-white jury to argue for Tom Robinson’s acquittal, as little Scout and her brother Jem and friend Dill looked on from the gallery. Everyone would surely love it if Miss Lee would consent to walk out on stage and wave and take a bow, or even say a few words, but she will not do it. She has been known to show up at the high school and speak to English classes, but this is rare.

She is 80 years old and wears a hearing aid and eats out at the diner or the country club and to strangers who seek her out, she can be frosty. A reporter and photographer from Birmingham banged on her door 10 years ago and Miss Lee opened it and said, “What is it?” They asked her to autograph a copy of her book. She wasn’t happy about it but she fetched a pen. “I hope you’re more polite to other people,” she said. She signed it: “Best wishes, Harper Lee.” She said, “Next time try to be more thoughtful.” They thanked her. She gave them a big warm smile and said, “You’re quite welcome.”

Charles Shields is a former English teacher who taught Harper Lee’s book, and a scrupulous journalist who respects the lady’s privacy even as he opens up her life. This biography will not disappoint those who loved the novel and the feisty, independent, fiercely loyal Scout, in whom Harper Lee put so much of herself.



New school new take on education

I’ve been busy getting a job at The Bishops Stortford High School, it’s a boys’ schol, with some girls in the 6th form. I’ve taught all girls before but this will be a new take. the lesson I taught used a Film Education scheme of work on Beowulf. The Year 7 students’ take on the tag lines they could choose from was ‘Face Your Demons’, and they took it personally. Very interesting.

Follow the link to find out more:


Do you social network?

Social networks

Do you use bebo, flickr, myspace, bliptv, digg face book? If you do you’re a networker.

Fill in the questionnaire please.

Which social networks do you belong to?

How often do you access these accounts?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Once in a while

Who do you talk to?

  • Friends
  • Family
  • People living overseas
  • Others (please specify)

Do you have a blog?

What do you use your blog for?

How often do you visit your blog?