OpenSim-OpenLearning at K12Online 2009

Here is the accompanying blog post for my presentation, OpenSim-OpenLearning at the 2009 K12 Online Conference. It was a pleasure to be a part of such an awesome conference. Let me know if you have any questions by posting here or at

Here are a few resources to get you started. This surely isn’t a complete list. It should get you started though. Please comment. I would love to hear what you have to say about OpenSim. Stay tuned to this blog (or some of the resources below) for more.

Books to prime the pumps

More about generation V

Games mentioned in the presentation

Hardware mentioned in the presentation

Movies in the presentation

Moore’s Law Bits

Virtual worlds mentioned in the presentation

Relevant OpenSimulator Links

Places to go online

  • OpenSim Worlds – Rich White has created this site for people to share worlds they build with others. This is the peice I think is very important for use in learning.
  • IndieMetaverse – A new ning network for people to discuss and share using virtual worlds.
  • RezEd – RezEd (BETA) is an online hub providing practitioners using virtual worlds with access to the highest quality resources and research in the field to establish a strong network of those using virtual worlds for learning.

Where to professionally host virtual worlds

  • ReactionGrid – My recommendation for hosting when it comes to OpenSim. Great people and progressive open technologies. They have a great focus on education.
  • SimHost – Another great option for having someone do the dirty work for you.

Clients to connect to OpenSim (or Second Life)

Other resources in the presentation

A few people to pay attention to

  • Rich White (Twitter) – Of Greenbush Labs fame, a true virtual world pioneer. Check out his amazing CSI build in ReactionGrid.
  • Vikki Davis aka CoolCatTeacher (Twitter) – Powerhouse teacher from Camilla, Georgia doing great things with kids in virtual worlds.
  • Jani Pirkola (Twitter) – Blogs at Maxping which reports on open source virtual worlds, 3d web, and immersive internet.
  • Chris Hart (Twitter) – CTO for ReactionGrid.
  • Kyle G (Twitter) – CEO of ReactionGrid
  • Justin Clark-Casey (Twitter) – OpenSim core developer and independent OpenSim consultant.
  • Trevor Meister (Twitter) – Former K-12 Educator turned social media/network and Virt. Wrld Explorer. SL/Wonderland/Croquet, mostly exploring Immersive Educ. in Opensim on Reactiongrid.

I am presenting at K12 Online 2009

Alright! Just saw the list of presenters at this years K12 Online Conference and I am one of them. My presentation, OpenSim: Open Learning, will focus on the learning opportunities enabled by the fantastic open source software OpenSimulator. There are also three other Mainers presenting at the conference. Sarah Sutter is doing a session called Show & Tell : Exhibit, Reflect & Critique with blogs, which will surely be as awesome as she is. The Kelly brothers from Newport (Kern and Keith) are doing The iPod Touch in the Classroom and Skateboard respectively. Make sure you check out the rest of the great presentations planned.

Second Life has a new Adult Content Policy

If you hadn’t heard, Second Life has a new policy on adult content. In short, adult content will only be available to those who seek it. You will now have to account verify. This is a good thing. It should help the SL community move forward to a more mainstream audience. This change in policy still doesn’t allow people under 18 to participate. This isn’t what the change is about. It is to make the SL experience better for the majority of residents. According to Linden Labs, they have no plans to merge Teen SL and regular SL. If you are interested, you should read through this Community Blog Post.

I was on SEEDlings

Last night I had the honor of taking part in the SEEDlings podcast with Cheryl Oakes, Alice Barr, and Bob Sprankle. Mary O-Brien and I talked about Second Life, Black Bear Island, and a virtual worlds in general. I had a great time and thanks to everyone for listening. You can find the episode and the backchannel chat here.

Raw notes: Tuesday Afternoon Session: Ramapo Islands Year 3: No Avatar Left Behind

The last session from today. Phew. That was a lot of typing. Hope you get something out of these. Again, I will be going back through these sessions after NECC09 and reacting and adding a few things.

Ramapo Islands Year 3: No Avatar Left Behind

Peggy Sheehy, Ramapo Central SD

Session Description: Continuing the Suffern Middle School journey in Teen Second Life, this presentation demonstrates concrete examples of projects that support standards-based curriculum and NETS.

session overview

  • rationale
  • second life overview
  • curriculum connections
  • professional development

Need to have the correct lens
-”A milillion computers cannot replace a good teacher”

Think about shifts in culture and learning got her thinking about different ways to approach learning

  • challenge it to figure out what kids need to know and how to do it
  • need collaboration skills
  • mentions warlick, tapscott, jenkins, pink, gardner
  • Dan’s pink book had a big influence on finding new ways to teach

Again – “Not about technology. It changes so quickly.”

Our kids need to ask good questions.

Peggy told a great story about a pigeon that flew in the computer lab windows. She wanted to take a picture so she went to her media desk and had the clerk get a camera out of the closet. By the time she was back, kids already had cell phones out. Cell phone that they aren’t supposed to have on them. The picture she showed of the kids taking pictures of the pigeon made her point beautifully. After this comes my favorite quote of the day, “Connectivity is today’s kids birthright. We need to stop being scared and blocking it.”

Talked about what she called “The shifted learner”

  • basically explaining the progress from student in rows to real project based learning

Peggy was at some conference talking with people at nasa and they say they need employees that understand the relationship between abstract ideas and reality. She then explained a thought game.

  • You have three lightbulbs hooked to three switches. There is a wall between them. You need to see which switch turns on what light and you can only walk around the walk once. Can you answer it?
  • Highlight after here for the answer: Turn one on, wait, turn on another, walk around. One is hot, that is the first switch. The other one the cool bulb. The third is one turned off.
  • She asks, is abstract thought taught in the classroom? Isn’t that one of the best tools we can give students?

Mentions Disrupting Class as another big influence

  • disruptive innovation
  • extrinsic and intrinsic motication
  • computer based learning
  • playful
  • billions have been spent and not much changed
    • “we have taken new tools and applied them to old educational paradigms”
      • we need a true shift. truly make learning change
      • REALLY move away from sage on the stage

To make the shift

  • what will teachers let go?
  • when will admins start trusting their teachers?

Intros Second life

  • supports constructivist learning
  • participatory culture
  • conveys a sense of presence
  • harness lots of different types of technology
  • require students to participate
  • students are engaged
  • engages problem solving in context
  • Your world. You build it.

SL for educators

  • a supplement to face to face
  • extended learning
  • introduce and explore concepts
  • demonstrate mastery and create new meaning
  • “Over 13,000,000 residents. How can we ignore that?” -David Warlick

Purchasing and Island

  • 16 acres o virtual space
  • secure “intranet”space
  • or open and public
  • $700 one time + 147.50 monthly

Main Grid = Adult place – Not Xrated place. There is a difference. X rated content is on its own continent. Have to seek our x rated content, you won’t find it by accident.
Teen Second Life = 13-17

  • press got on the adult content. educators have to fight stigma of this.
  • made the point that the Teen Grid is for Teens. Adults are there as guests. IT IS FOR TEENS.

Safety and security on ramapo islands

  • private islands
  • adults have rigorous background check
  • no access to TG residents or content
  • constant adult supervision
  • have a security sript in place to allow kids onto the islands only when adults are there
    • equates it to a lunch room without supervision
    • she open it up at night and that seems to be when the most creative things happen

Teachers learned SL by getting on the Main grid and learning there

  • 45 teachers have gone through her main course to get up to speed to delivering learning and tie to curiculum

First brought a group of 9 students that were labeled as learning diabled, etc.

  • called them peer leaders
    • in hind sight this was probably the best things she could have done.
  • empowered these students in ways that they weren’t before


  • nasa contributed content to them
  • weather center
  • catastrophic events
  • ecology debates
  • nasa rockets
  • noticed it leveled the playing field

Family and Consumer Science

  • entrepeneur reseach, interviews, business proposlas,
  • kids started telling teachers ow to teach them
    • they started adding rigor themselves
    • got them engaged in improving because they wanted to run their own business


  • modeling math objects
  • add notecards describing explainations
  • then students started to increase it
    • students would include a problem with the model and if others solved it they would give them a dollar
  • math teacher wanted to go to store and have them buy things
    • gave them $100 and had to buy things and still have enough left over
      • planning, buying, saving, study % off
    • students started just buying things they wanted and out of money quickly
      • they started a back channel chat and started trading
    • great way to learn financial literacies

Social Studies

  • rebuilt ellis island
  • She then asked the kids what they could have done better
  • students told teachers that they should have role-played
  • students were completely involved and immersed
  • students developed empathy due to changing roles and understanding immigrants and officers though role-play

Health and Wellness

  • showed dove real campaign to students as a starting point
  • had students create representations of themselves
  • talked about how the media lies to us about what people look like and encouraged them to think about it
  • students did what media does and dolled up avatars
  • great conversations and deep discussions
  • changed gender roles
  • then switched back and students realize the pressure that is on them
  • Middle schooler “Maybe we should reevaluate what beuaty is.”
  • my thoughts- Peggy is really doing a fantastic job here. VERY powerful presentation. My notes do not do it justice.

Multimedia Island

  • Music studio
  • soundstage
  • wrote and sell music

Foreign Language

  • cultural investigations
  • voice immersion
  • authentic artifacts
  • shared experience

This year, student are designing the curriculum. Students designed experiences. Students were able to collaborate with their research on the planets. Had discussions on how to place planets correctly and what to include for an effective experience for other students.

When students act in the avatars identity (which it part of theirs) it allows students to participate in a safe and profound way.

Students are motivated like no time before.

Mentions What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee.

  • SL allows users to explore alternate identities withough repercussions.
  • The fact students identify under the SL avatar allows them to open up more then in face to face.

Places to go and atlantis rising campus (a Sheehy project)

LL Lab is looking to make a better way to get teachers in to sl

Ramapo Island Blog

Here are her slides:


View more documents from PeggySheehy.

Getting started in Second Life – Quick Guide

Landing in Second Life, a virtual world, has been compared to arriving in a new city. It takes awhile to get the lay of the land, to meet people, to find places you want to go and things to do. It takes even longer to learn “the ropes” – the social behaviors and customs that set new-comers apart from long-time residents. With this in mind, here are ten suggestions to help you get started on Second Life Grid:

  1. Register, create, and name your avatar. It will take some time to learn how to move and interact.
  2. Go hang out at The Shelter (or one of the resident-run spaces for new members); make some friends, learn how to dance, and get help from the friendly staff and visitors.
  3. Find and attend classes and events - you’ll find them in the Event Listing on or in-world.
  4. Subscribe and read periodicals, blogs, mailing lists, and other public information about Second Life.
  5. Visit places in Second Life and see what other residents and organizations are doing. You’ll find suggestions in Second Opinion, the Second Life newsletter.
  6. Try your hand at building in one of the public sandboxes.
  7. Buy some land and settle down – buy or build a house and furnish it.
  8. Join a group, go to meetings or events with members of the group.
  9. Talk to residents about what they’re doing in Second Life and what they like – and dislike – about it.
  10. Think about your audience in Second Life and how to engage them.

This will help get you started. I recommend spending 10-20 hours in Second Life. Once you have the lay of the land, start thinking about your educational objectives, learn from others how to create a sustained experience that engages your students and meets your objectives. For assistance, look at How Organizations Use the Second Life Grid and Resources.

2009 Spring Teacher Institute


Here is a great PD opportunity. For all the information for this online only conference head over to Download the flyer and pass it around. The more participants the better.

I am doing the first session on the docket. Rez your Teaching will walk participants through the great opportunites availible to them for teaching in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

3D Web with Google O3D

Thanks to a tweet from Rich White, I see Google is jump-starting the idea of hardware accelerated 3D graphics in the web browser. Check this video out.

What is O3D? From their website:

O3D is an open-source web API for creating rich, interactive 3D applications in the browser. This API is shared at an early stage as part of a conversation with the broader developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D graphics.

All you have to do is install the plug-in, restart your browser, and visit the samples page. There are a bunch of proof on concepts there that give a general idea of what is possible. I can’t wait to see what people start creating with this.