Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Take a Tour of Second Life-A Literary Tour That Is!

The final quest in our 3D Game Lab module (excluding the extra challenges) asked us to create a notecard tour of Second Life. Notecards allow users to compose informational cards about points of interest in SL. Could be an info update for visitors in a new location, an advertisement for attractions in the area, or anything the creator wants it to be. The great thing about Second Life is that everyone has the capabilities to create! Our assignment asked us to choose a topic (I chose literature, and by extension, literature libraries), do a "Places" search in SL for that topic, explore different destinations that adequately represent our topic, find the 10 that we feel suite our topic best, and landmark each of them. We then had to create a notecard labeling our 10 destinations, describing how they tie in with and represent our topic, and provide a landmark link in the notecard so readers could easily navigate to all the locations. My topic search came up with a diverse variety of places I could visit, and I tried to choose areas that represented either specific literary periods, authors, or those that provided me with a lot of links to books out on the web. That is why I decided to do literature and libraries, because my overall emphasis was to show SLers taking my tour how much content is out there for students and teachers to access.

aaalisonnn's Second Life Literature and Libraries Tour

The SL Globe Theatre
Where better to begin our tour of literature and libraries than with the Bard himself?! This is probably the most historically accurate rendition of Shakespeare's Globe theater that is located in SL, and the Internet in general. The Globe provides SL users with a fantastic way to experience Shakespeare's world without needing a time machine. The theatre is actually a working venue, accomodating Live Shakespearean plays, and other dramatic theatrical performances by the Metaverse Shakespeare Company, as well as other artists. Along with this great way of learning about Shakespearean literature first hand (or Second Life!), this destination provides users with an experience of Elizabethan England, including replica's of Queen Elizabeth I's summer home of Hatfield house (which also provides a discussion forum for SL'ers to talk about the thetrics they've witnessed recently. Truly a grand destination to visit, for those interested in literature!

Pathway to World Literature
This particular destination is a feature of the Cybrary City II's Community Virtual Library, a virtual "cybrary" included in SL for users interested in accessing library privaleges in the SL environment. Inside Cybrary City II, you will find many features that are remeniscent of a college or university campus. Pathway to World Literature provides TONS of different panels including various types of literature from around the world. Just click on the panel, and you're given an option screen to take you to any number of places on the web with links to additional literature resources. Walk around Cybrary City and you might stumble upon the reference desk, a relaxing reading area, or even theCollege of New Rochelle's Mother Irene Gill Library, which includes a walking tour of world art! There are pathways not only to literature here, but also to other literature resources provided by colleges all over the US and Canada.

Principality of Amalfi-1750
Interested in the literature from the Enlightenment? Mezmorized by baroque music? Fascinated by Italian architecture? The Principality of Amalfi is a community designed to emulate the baroque architecture and culture of 18th century Southern Italy. During this age, not only in Italy but in much of Europe, art, music and literature were highly valued. The Enlightenment period was still affecting major cultural centers, Italy included. There was much experimentation and new ideas were being born. Visit the art museum in the palace, or explore the many magnificent houses. There is even a Catholic chapel on the hill! This destination is important on our tour because it depicts one of the most prolific periods of time in which literature was written.

The name of this destination might remind you of a familiar Lewis Carroll character, and it should. Alice is a sort of garden of literature! Rather than being filled with scary Red queens and rabbits running late, Alice provides SLers with a great place to read different pieces of literature, from books, to lectures, to poetry. Walk into the enclosed garden grove and look on the walls: you'll see a variety of books, the pages of which you can turn and read right there! And there are all kinds of genres. There are even pieces by other SLers! I might also mention that there is a playground, and a theatre area. This area is meant to bring out the child and reader in all of us, and the literature on display changes from time to time. A very interesting destination if you're a Carroll fan, and if you're looking to learn more about writing and sharing in SL.

The Origin of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Who doesn't enjoy The Wizard of Oz? Few people know that the novel's author, Frank L. Baum, wrote it sort of as a commentary on capitolism.Yet others have suggested that Baum had religous intention with his novel. This destination focuses on a different interpretation of the novel, which is more philosophically/theologically based. Author Michel Rubatino wrote the book "The Origin of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz" examining Baum's claim that he discovered, rather than originally created, the maps that inspired the land of Oz. A fascinating new way to look at a piece of literature, Rubatino's exploration is provided to SLers, in a fantastically constructed Wizard of Oz inspired landmark. Enter through the passageway to the Emerald City, and view the animated model of "god's Garden of Thought," Perhaps you'll see Oz differently from now on.

Renaissance Island 
This is a great destination for students to learn about the Renaissance time period, and also about literature that came from that time period. In addition to this, if you click the period character (peasant man) you see when you first teleport here, he will provide you with a list of options for the area. One of these is oportunities for students. Teachers can use these resources to come up with assignments or challenges for their students, some of which may include choosing a piece of literature from the Renaissance and building a story in Second Life. This place is a colorful and fascinating model of the Renaissance, and a great place to start thinking about what it would have been like to live and read in the time period! Also, go over to the map and find the Parish music library, a great place to visit to learn about the music of the time. Music is literature, comprehensible by all, no matter the language!


Sci-Fi Expo-Sci-Fi Island Library
Science fiction is a favorite genre of literature for many people. This destination offers a nearly out-of-this-world experience for the sci-fi fan, or anyone interested in learning more about the genre. Click any of the books on the book shelves for links to sci-fi classics, such as works by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others. Included in the library are also many other classics, not necessarily science fiction, so it's a great place to find other book links too. The Sci-Fi Expo also features rooms linking to sci-fi roleplaying locations in SL, as well as a room dislaying all kinds of space ships and time machines. A Trekki's paradise, Sci-Fi Expo celebrates a great genre that is often overlooked in literature studies.

Cybrary City II Public Library
At the Cybrary City II Public Library, SL visitors will find a wide variety of literature genres and books of  interesting subjects. There are free and purchasable books here. On the walls of the building, the Community Virtual Library (also mentioned when you visited the Pathway to World Literature) provides Internet Subject Guides. You can click and be guided to a page where many links and resources are all gathered together in one place!  If you click the laptop near the reference area, you can get a free Info NoteBook from SquirrelTech, so you may have your very own laptop! Walk directly across the way from Cybrary City II PL and visit the State Library of Kansas virtual branch, featuring just as many free book links, Internet Subject Guides, study tables, lounge areas for reading, and information on literature projects happening in Kansas, such as the Kansas Letters to Literature project. This location includes a double-dip for libraries, and lots of resources for SLers!

The Librarium
As soon as one arrives in this destination, one may see just what kind of library this is. The Librarium may seem small, but it contains a great depth and breadth of literature, from Old English manuscripts (which are displayed near the front doors) to a History of Gardening in England (1896). This library also allows SLers to volunteer their time and services to help maintain and run the place. All the books on the shelves are free, and available to take as a copy, and attach to your avatar. You could carry around A Midsummer Night's Dream, or Frankenstein, whatever you choose (and the library has), can be held by you! There is a lovely fountain, and a nice reading area too. Prefer to be out among nature while you're reading? There is a lovely orchard, or grove of trees, out back of the library. The Librarium is affiliated with the Alexandrian Free Libraries. You can find out more about free libraries in SL here, by clicking the display in the orchard, next to the side of the library.

The R.F. Burton Memorial Library
The R.F. Burton Memorial Library of New Babbage is another member of The Alexandrian Free Library. Step inside the green dorrs, past the gargoyles out front, and you'll be met by a blazing fire in the fireplace, a vast pendulum art display,  and shelves upon shelves of books. Click on a book and receive a direct link to that book on the Internet. Walk through to the back corner of the library and read under the giant tree growing indoors! This is a very classic library, and readers can make their bookworm avatars sit in front of the fire and pick up a good read. Across from the library is a lovely botanical garden. This library is a very extensive resource, for readers, or students interested in expanding their reading repertoire!

In creating this tour, I learned more about Second Life than I ever have before this point. It was essentially similar to a research assignment: I had to choose a topic I was interested in, find sources (in my case, places) that supported the topic, and synthesize a type of report of my findings. My tour card became my piece of writing, because I had to tie each location on the tour into the broad topic I had chosen. I tried to explain to users how each one of the destinations I picked could help people come to understand an aspect of literature more deeply, or give them library resources to further their research. Anyone could navigate through this tour, if they knew the basics of Second Life. I could imagine assigning something like this to my English students, to help them become more familiar with a piece of literature, its setting, or characters. If there is not a credible location in Second Life for students to visit, I could even challenge them to plan their own SL rendition of a novel's setting. If they had the SL skills, and were ambitious enough (and we had enough TIME), they could even work as a class (with my help) to create a virtual version of say, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. The Yorkshire moors could come to life, in Second Life!

The greatest thing I have observed in my experience of Second Life is the unlimited potential for creativity. Creativity is one of the most valuable things that students can access, in and out of the classroom. Placing students in a SL environment, and giving them the opportunity to create their own character, explore new places, and contribute to their surroundings could be very powerful in terms of motivation. Of course, if I were going to design an English unit using Second Life, I would use it as an enrichment tool, or grounds for projects, rather than holding class there all the time, because I do think students need to have real face-to-face instruction in order for them to stay on task. The key is planning and structure, and teachers must work ahead of time to ensure that they have created a safe, direct, and user-friendly environment in which students can participate. I would use a 3D Game Lab quest type of assignment system for my students, in conjunction with Second Life, so students would have a clear objective, time frame, and video instruction/support. Using mixed media, combined with in-class activities, could provide a great experience for students who might not have had a very good experience in English courses before. Second Life is fun, but mostly, it's fascinating. I have had a great experience with the module,and I hope to continue investigating and learning!

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!!
    This is an incredible tour of Second Life Literary resources. I like your comparison to a research project. This sort of depth will provide the opportunity to be introspective about the process and potential of working in SL.

    You have indeed raised the bar.