We can learn social skills

I gave the annual lecture on virtual worlds in E-Learning for my Master's seminar this morning. As usual, I have to download new versions of browsers and such, check that my Second Life avatar looks presentable and position her in a useful location, see if I can still find the things I want to show, and then see if I can scare up some living being for a chat.

I did manage to find a vampire last night that let me know that he was from Oregon and that he was here to find new friends. He asked how the weather was where I am, I said that we had snow. He replied that snow was not his thing, and he needed to go get some blood. Whatever.

This morning we got lucky as well, there was an entire group in one of the welcome areas I like to visit because it is not full of advertising. There were a bunch of guys doing their morning exercises, they didn't answer me. But a girl in a bridal dress did answer me and tell me she was from Turkey. It was a bit odd, as she stood with her back to my avatar, and she didn't really understand any of the other questions I asked. Whatever.

I found a film in the Internet archives about the Onlive Traveller virtual world, a very early one that is no longer alive. I had only played the first few minutes of it and decided to show it in class today. I forwarded it a bit past the text stuff, and let it play. I immediately had to giggle. There was this very, very "edgy" rabbit talking with another creature, perhaps a unicorn. They were talking about why this was such a cool thing.

I usually have myself under control when teaching, but this just cracked me up. The rabbit was going on and on about why learning in virtual worlds is great. About 6:30 the rabbit says "We're here to see our friends... the training here in social skills alone is a valuable tool", and I lost it. I started laughing so hard, I had to turn to the wall to try and compose myself. It continues "... we swap recipes ... some people got married here ...." and I stopped  the video. This rabbit - eyes blinking, mouth moving - was just too funny.

At the end of the session the students were all of my opinion - why on earth would anyone want to use an environment like this for teaching and learning? As one student noted, at least in World of Warcraft the graphics are better.

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