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LearnEnglish Second Life - Basic Training Course – Day One
Developed by Graham Stanley, email@example.com January 2012
About the course
Welcome to the LearnEnglish Second Life initial training course. This 2-day (12-hour) short course has been designed as a primer for British Council staff interested in starting to use the 3D virtual world Second Life for teaching English or organising events on the British Council Isles. This course assumes no prior knowledge of Second Life.
By the end of the Day 1, participants will have:-
become familiar with what the virtual world of Second Life (SL) is and how to move and
communicate inworld. understood how to make use of SL's social networking and communication tools to use with events participants and students. seen the cause of the most common problems in SL and how to solve them. become familiar with how Voice works in SL and how to help people with this. seen many of the different spaces on the BritishCouncil Isle and understand how they can be used for events / classes. started to understand the potential that exists on the British Council Isles for teaching and/or running events. begun to know how to set up and manage a class/event in SL and how to announce it and promote it.
Day 1 9.00 Session 1.1: SL Basic Skills Getting Started / Creating an Account / Installing the software / Logging into SL Avatar Basics: Walk / Zoom / Chat / Sit / Fly Finding the British Council Isle
10.00 Session 1.2: SL Advanced Skills Orientation in Second Life (World map / Mini-map / Place profile / landmarks) Orientation stations (Chat / IMs / Voice / Fly / Clothing / Appearance / Look around / Stream media / Manage inventory / Use objects) Social networking in SL (Profile / Adding friends / Groups) 11.00 Coffee 11.30 Session 1.3: Sound Headphones and microphones / Sound-checks / Managing people speaking / Locationspecific / Group call 12.30 Lunch 13.30 Session 1.4: SL Troubleshooting System requirements / Lag / Performance / Other applications 14.30 Session 1.5: SL Events in SL - basic principles Considerations / Spaces for events / Types of Events / Supporting those new to SL / Announcing and promoting events 15.15 Session 1.6: SL Guided tours Walking tour of the BritishCouncil Isle 16.00 Finish
Second Life (http://www.secondlife.com) is a 3D virtual world where you can meet people in real time. Partly a social network, it resembles computer games like the Sims, but unlike the Sims, however, people can do anything they want in Second Life. Because it has been designed for people to meet each other in real time, and features sophisticated voice and text chat, it has appealed to educational organisations looking to offer an interesting alternative aspect to their distance learning. The British Council has been a pioneer in Second Life since 2006, being one of the first language teaching organisations to develop a presence in this virtual world. Originally targeting an audience of teenagers, the project was designed as a 3D self-access centre in the Second Life Teen Grid (closed at the end of 2010) and devised the idea of using language learning quests to appeal to 13-17 year-olds from all over the world. Between 2008-10, the British Council was also a partner in a European Union funded project called AVALON (Access to Virtual Language Learning Online – http://avalon-project.ning.com) which developed and piloted language teaching and teacher training courses in Second Life, including a Business English course, conversation classes, a debating course, a First Certificate Speaking Skills course. The British Council currently has an island in Second Life (see map left) which you can visit and where learners can practise English with other learners and teachers can meet other teachers. The BritishCouncil Isle comprises 3 regions in Second Life that are now being used for a general adult audience of English learners and teachers. Apart from a variety of different spaces, the isles are full of interactive language learning quests (Merlin Quest, Robin Hood Quest, Shakespeare Quest) and have a number of other interactive spaces and features (the London Eye, Mobile Phone shop, Loch Ness Monster guided tour, Finn McCool caves, Olympic sports stadium, Future UK, etc). 3
Some things you can do do on the British Council Isle in Second Life
Meet other people and practise English together
Go on a tour of the island
Explore the island and discover interesting places
Language learning quests
Take a class or attend an event on our island
Ride on the London Eye
Come and join us today http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/second-life 4
SL Basic Skills
A. Getting started
Do you have a computer that can run the software?* Before you start, you should check to see if your computer can run the software. You will need: High speed (ADSL or cable) Internet connection A computer that is less than 3 years old A good graphics card in your computer You can check the requirements here: http://secondlife.com/support/system-requirements
* Please note, although the software has been approved when it is felt to be business critical, Second Life will not usually run on British Council GTI2 machines.
B. Creating an account
Do this before downloading the software. Once you have checked your computer can run Second Life, then you can create an account. Follow these steps to do so. 1) Join Click on the Join Now button at http://www.secondlife.com
2) Choose an avatar Select an avatar to represent you in Second Life. Don't worry about clothes – you can change everything later
3) Choose a username
Select a username you will use to log into Second Life
4) Add information about you Answer a few questions about yourself
When you've finished, click the button 'Create Account' 5) Choose the free account option Second Life is completely free, unless you want to earn money and own a home of your own. You don't need this to learn English in Second Life.
6) Your account is now activated
C. Installing the software
If you click on the orange button after creating your account, the software will be installed automatically.
Alternatively, you can download the software later from the website here: http://secondlife.com/support/downloads
D. Logging in to Second Life
In the bottom right-hand corner, enter your username and password and click the ' Log in' button (above)
The first time you enter Second Life, you have to agree to the Terms of Service (above). Click the box and press 'continue'. Well done! You're now in Second Life.
E) Avatar basics
The first place you will find yourself is at the Second Life Welcome Island
Follow the instructions and spend some time learning how to move your avatar and how to use the Second Life interface. You will learn how to: Walk Zoom Chat Sit Fly
You will need from 30 minutes up to an hour for this. When you are finished, then you can leave and find the BritishCouncil Isle.
E. Finding the British Council Isle
There are two ways you can find the BritishCouncil Isle i) Finding a place inside Second Life You can use the search function (top right) to find a place to visit. Type in BritishCouncil Isle and you'll see this:-
Click on the 'Teleport' button and you'll be transported directly to our island. ii) Logging in You can also go directly to a place when you log into Second Life. In the bottom right-hand corner, after you enter your username and password, change the information in the last box ('Start at:') Choose <type region name> and enter the following: BritishCouncil Isle *
* Please note, there is no space between the words British and Council
SL Advanced Skills
The next part of the training course takes place at the Orientation Station on the British Council Isle. You can get to this by following the signs at the Arrivals Area which say 'Are you new here? Walk this way'. Alternatively, you can teleport directly there by clicking on this link: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/BritishCouncil%20Isle2/17/125/39
A. Orientation in Second Life
The link above is a SLURL (Second Life URL) and is an automatically generated webpage link you can use to help people find places in Second Life. You can create a SLURL for any place in SL here: http://slurl.com. Alternatively, opening up the World map (World->World Map) gives you the option of creating a SLURL of the place where you are currently located (Copy SLURL). You can see where the region is in location to other regions by zooming out on the World Map. You can also see if there are people there and where they are by looking for the green dots.
The other map that is very useful is the Mini-map (see left), which can be activated from World->Mini-map. This map allows you to see which direction you are facing/travelling (N/S/E/W) and will also let you see if there are any people nearby (the green dots). You can change the area the mini-map covers by right clicking on it and choosing one of the following: Zoom close / Zoom Medium Zoom Far / Zoom Default Knowing where you are and how to get to places is as important in Second Life as it is in Real Life. You can tell where you are at any time by looking at the Place Profile at the top of the SL Interface (see right). By clicking on the Information (i) symbol, you can find out more about where you are and what you are allowed to do there (more about this later). As you can see, we are now on the BritishCouncil Isle 2. What other information can you find out from browsing the Place Profile? You can also save your current location as a landmark in Second Life (World->Landmark this place), which creates a link to a particular place in Second Life. You can find this link later in your inventory. Clicking on it teleports you directly to the place. Because, teleporting is one of the easiest ways to travel around in Second Life, you should regularly landmark any places you want to return to.
B. Orientation Stations
By now you should be familiar with most basic skills in Second Life. Before we move on, make sure you can do the following: TASK SL skill chat Send an instant message (IM) I can... Use voice Jump and fly Change my clothing Change my appearance Look around Stream Media Manage inventory Use objects If you can't do all of these or need practise with any of them, spend some time now in the specific Orientation Area of the British Council Isle2 until you feel confident you about them.
C. Social Networking in Second Life
One way of viewing Second Life is as a 3D social network, and it has many tools common with other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, etc. We have already looked at how you can chat and send IMs inworld. Now let's look at other useful features: Your Profile Just as in other social networks, your profile tells other people who you are and what you are interested in. You can add a photo and other information (see right) by going to Me->Profile. To see another person's profile, right click on their avatar and select 'View Profile' Adding Friends One of the easiest ways of keeping track of people is by adding them as friends. When you do this, you can more easily send IMs and know when they are online, etc. To add someone as a friend, right-click on their avatar and select 'Add Friend' This menu also allows you to contact the person in different ways and to do a number of other things (make a private voice call, invite them to join a group, block or report them, transfer money, etc). 14
The People menu (see below: Communicate->My friends) lets you see which of your friends are online; you can make a private call to one of them, share objects with them or invite them to teleport and join you wherever you are. The latter is one of the most useful ways of helping someone who becomes lost (during a tour, a class, etc.)
Add all of the others as friends and practise sending a few IMs to each other.
One of the most useful features in SL for educators is Groups. Anyone can create a group, although it costs L$100 (L$250 = 1$ US) and requires at least two members for it to be active. As we will see later, creating a group for a particular class or event means you can better manage information, objects, communication, etc. Finding interest groups in Second Life also means you can contact a wide range of people interested in similar things as you. The Group chat and group call funtions mean that you can easily communicate with a number of people at the same time.
Search for the 'British Council Conversation' group and join it. Once you have done this, we will look at some other things you can do with groups.
For language teaching and events, one of the most important features of Second Life to manage is Sound. Apart from streaming media (audio & video), which we looked at briefly earlier, this means managing the use of Voice by students in a class or participants at an event. Headphones and microphones For Voice to be effective, all participants should have a headset (i.e. headphones with a microphone built in) or at least a pair of headphones and a microphone. Speakers are not very effective for voice communiction because they can cause echo and feedback when people are talking. Unfortunately, you will find people turn up to class / events without headphones on their computers and so you need to be able to manage this situation. Sound-checks One of the first things you should do if you are teaching a class or running an event where people are going to use voice in SL is to have everyone individually check their sound. The best way you can do this is to address each person in turn and ask them to speak (in class, using a typcial warmer at the beginning of the class is a good way of doing this) If anyone's sound is not working, is low or of not good quality, then you can ask them to check their settings at Me>Preferences->Sound&Media->Input Output Devices (see right). If this does not work, then asking them to close SL and to check their sound settings on their PC can often help. If this fails, then ask them to restart their PC and try again. You can tell when someone is speaking when there's a green radar above their head. If the radar turns red (see right), then their sound is too high or they are speaking too close to their mic. Managing people speaking If you have a large group of people and/or some people with sound problems (heavy breathing/background noises/speakers/etc) then the best thing to do is to ask everyone to 16
turn off the 'Speak' button when they are not talking. You should insist on this from the very beginning or you run the risk of wasting a lot of time during the class / event because people cannot understand what is being said because of echo/feedback/noise. Asking people to mute themselves (i.e. turn off the Speak buttons) and then taking turns to speak should give you a good idea of whose microphones work well. If you are not sure who is speaking, or if you think someone has not muted themselves, then you can check by opening the Nearby tab on the People menu (Communicate>Nearby Chat). This menu will then give you information about the people who are nearby and speaking (the radar will show green or red next to their name when they speak). Location-specific voice Voice in Second Life is location-specific. This means that the nearer you are to an avatar, the louder they will be. If you or another person cannot hear someone, or if somone is too loud, then you can select them from the Nearby menu and raise/lower their voice accordingly (see below).
An alternative to the location-specific open voice is to use the group call function (see below). This feature is useful if you want to keep what you say private. You can also use group chat too. It is particularly useful if you are visiting a place where there are other people and you don't want them to hear you or hear them, or if you are in geographically different places. For it to work, one person has to initiate the call and everyone else has to accept it. It doesn't work so well for classes were people turn up late and would be impossible for events where people are not all members of the same group.
Check the difference between using open voice and directly calling a friend. First of all try to have a private conversation with a partner. Try muting the other people so that their conversation does not interfere with yours. Now directly call your friend after unmuting everyone. Which of the two worked best? Which did you prefer? Why? → Now Let's try a group call and group chat
System requirements Some users will complain that they cannot get the software to work. This is usually because their computer does not have the minimum requirements to run Second Life (see http://secondlife.com/support/system-requirements/). Unfortunately, there is little that we can do if this is the case. Lag Another common problem is often referred to as 'lag'. This is the colloquial name for slow reaction time when using Second Life (see http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Lag). It can be caused by a number of different things. Performance Performance can also often be improved by changing the settings that Second Life uses. This can be done here: Me->Preferences->Graphics. Lowering the quality of the graphics (see below) can often make Second Life run much better.
Other applications Because Second Life is demanding on your computer, it is better if the user limits the other programmes that are running at the same time. If a user is experiencing problems of lag, or if Second Life is crashing frequently, then they should try to close the other applications and run just Second Life on its own to see if this helps.
Events in SL - basic principles
For this part of the course, we are going to go to the roof of the Information centre on the BritishCouncil Isle. This is where the MENA conversation course was held.
There are a number of things that need to be kept in mind when organising events or classes / courses in Second Life. These include: Not everyone can use Second Life. Apart from the system requirements, before someone can attend an event in Second Life, they need to be familiar with the basics of the software. Each region of Second Life can hold a maximum of 50 people. The more avatars there are, the more lag there is. Choosing a space for an event The space you choose for an event will obviously depend on what kind of event it is and how many people you invite / expect to attend. The map below shows the spaces available at the moment on the BritishCouncil Isle.
Places on the BritishCouncil Isles for events
There are a number of different areas that can be used for events, including:-
Arrivals Area. By default, visitors arrive here when they search for the BritishCouncil
Isle, so it makes a good greeting place. The Information Centre, Teaching Centre and the London Eye are also nearby. Events Area. This area is an open space that has currently been set up with picture boards. Shakespeare's House is near. Student Suburbs. This is the largest relatively empty area of the island. The buildings you see there now are all temporary. There are also specific areas set up for pairwork and groupwork. The Village. There are several shops here that can be used for roleplays. The contents can be changed quite easily. Future UK. An imagined future of the UK that mixes ecologically sound inventions with high tech (working robots and flying cars) 1960's Carnaby Street / Contemporary High Street. There are lots of shops that move from the past to the present. Nearby is a cinema, a restaurant, a mobile shop, fashion show (complete with catwalk), nightclub and an Underground station as well as a double decker bus and a working taxi. Mystery Mansion. A creepy house with hidden spaces and other strange effects.
Types of events
SL events, like RL (Real Life) events can be varied, but there are broadly two types: Second-Life-Only events − Island open day (with SL orientation, tours, etc) − Sports tournament (at the stadium) − Treasure Hunt (around one part of the island) − SL photography competition and exhibition − Conversation club Mixed Reality events
− − − −
RL RL RL RL
conference with some participation in SL art exhibition advertised/promoted in SL talk by writer retransmitted in SL anniversary of British Council commemorated in SL too
Working with a partner, choose one of the events above, and an area in which to hold it. Go to the area and decide what you would need to do before holding the event. You can also decide on the audience (how many people and who?) Make notes below
Supporting those new to Second Life
One of the decisions you have to make when holding events is how much support you want to give to those who are new to Second Life. There are two schools of thought, althoug you can decide to do something that falls inbetween the two.:-
Maximum support. You contact each of the participants beforehand and conduct a
check-in, giving them help when setting up their SL account and meeting them individually to test their sound and make sure they know the basics before the event / class starts. Advantages: You know that the people who turn up already have used SL and sound problems will have been minimised. They will feel supported and all or most of those who have been checked in should turn up. This was the procedure used for the AVALON project classes. Disadvantages: It is very time-consuming and labour-intensive.
Minimal support. You decide to advertise the event / class and ask people to create an
account in Second Life, download the software and find there own way to the event. This was the way it was handled for the free MENA conversation course in SL in November/December 2010. Advantages: Those who arrive will already have some knowledge of how SL works and have shown they are keen to attend the class/event. Disadvantages: Some people will not make it and will be frustrated. Some of the people who turn up will get lost and others will arrive with sound problems, which you will have to solve.
Announcing and promoting events
How you announce events, and using what channels will obviously depend on the audience you are trying to reach. Let's take as an example, the MENA conversation course run in SL in November/December 2010:
Aimed at English learners who like the Go4English Facebook page, an announcement was
made on the Facebook page asking people to say if they were interested in a converation class. The announcement linked to a document on the Web advertising the course outline using http://issuu.com. World times were given using http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedform.html Those interested were asked to complete a questionnaire (set up using a Google form) detailing their level of English and availability, etc. Support was given in the form of basic instructions (similar to the instructions found at the beginning of this guide) on how to sign up for Second Life - given to those who were interested using http://www.scribd.com. Once the questionnaire results had been obtained, those who were upper intermediate level were contacted and invited to join the course. Class attendance was recorded on a Google spreadsheet.
If you were advertising a different kind of event, how would you do it? Work with the same partner and decide how you would announce and promote the event you started to plan earlier. Make notes below.
SL Guided tours
Tours need to be planned Because of its size, you can only hope to give vistors a flavour of the the BritishCouncil Isle and suggest they continue exploring on their own. Alternatively, a number of different tours can be offered depending on the group. Walking Tour of BritishCouncil Isle Here is a typical itinerary for a basic guided walking tour of the first island (BritishCouncil Isle) that would last anything from 45 minutes to an hour: Arrivals Area – meeting point and introduction to the BritishCouncil Isle Information Centre – about the British Council and Second Life. Show the map. Teaching Centre – more about language learning quests. Mentioned but not entered. Village – leaving the Arrivals Area and walkign across the bridge to the west Nessie – take people to the pier and suggest they go for a ride on the back of Nessie. You can wait until they return and talk to those who miss the tour. Nessie circles around the smaller island in the north-west King Arthur's Rock – this is where the Merlin Quest starts, to the south of Nessie. You can fly or walk here and show people the sword in the stone and start them off on the Merlin Quest. Merlin Quest first clue – Under the water, where you can talk about the hidden aspects of the Isle.
Because everything is in walking distance, you are less likely to lose people. If you decide to fly between Nessie and King Arthur's Rock, then some people may get lost. When you begin to do the Merlin quest, it is possible that some people will start to get separated from the group, but this is towards the end of the tour. Ending the tour here also makes sense as you can let those who want to continue exploring on their own decide to finish the Merlin Quest if they want to.
Choose a different part of the BritishCouncil Isle and working with a partner, decide on an itinerary for a tour. Write notes below.
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