Last week at our annual Fall Conference, people came up to me at the Access to Technology booth with inquiries. It reminded me of how my professional journey started... with so many questions.
If you didn’t know already, I’m a college student working at PATINS. Saying that my situation in PATINS is new would be inaccurate. Many of you who have been following the PATINS Project for years know that a few college students have come and gone (and stayed) through the PATINS roster.
Characters change and positions are shuffled and a new face is always surprising but not necessarily something new. Second Life isn’t new either.
Second Life has been a part of the Grant since 2009 under the supervision of Daniel McNulty back when he was still a regional specialist, and it has been a part of our Grant ever since. Years later, in 2016, it was in my hands as Virtual Space Manager and I found it a little overwhelming.
I had heard of Second Life a few years before but had never gotten into the world since it was not my preferred creative outlet (I enjoyed the Sims!). Now three-dimensional building had to be more than a pastime, and I wasn’t sure where to start. At first, I didn’t want to change any of it. Daniel had put in so many hours just to make the island what it was. There were some things that needed fixing, and others needed updating, but everything still worked. But how was that different from what we had been doing on the island for the past few years? It was mine now, and no Admin. Asst. title before me had ever gotten this kind of opportunity. How could I make it special for a bunch of people who know so much more about education than me?
I treated this like any other learning opportunity and starting asking a lot of questions. I asked Daniel questions, I asked Julie questions, I asked Sandi questions, and I even bothered Jim. When they answered what they could, I asked the Second Life Community questions about everything else. I traveled to different worlds, discovered different kinds of buildings, and participated in the different actions around the Second Life worlds. I sought out answers and sometimes left with more questions.
If I was a PATINS Specialist in Virtual Space, I would have a finished degree and years of experience. But thankfully I’m not. I am the Manager and a college student. I don’t have all the answers about Second Life and three-dimensional thinking. I have all of the same questions that every learner has, and I’ve made and keep up a space that makes me question how it could change a classroom or a teacher every day.
So how should you use Second Life? I don’t have every answer for that. As Second Life’s community has proven over and over again, there are limitless possibilities for the user looking for entertainment and for the user looking for Education. There are schools devoted to learning more about the virtual environment and there are schools that help with specific subjects. The worlds you visit are built by real people who had the same questions and these are their answers.
To quote what Linden Labs has told me to do a thousand times since I joined Second Life, “EXPLORE”. Explore the world, explore the opportunities that other users have provided, and explore your own creativity. And always... ask so many questions.