We are exploring virtual words with my year 9 students and it is a rich and varied experience, well, that is the plan at least. The worlds are textiverse (a custom MUD for them to edit), a browserverse (terraMOO, a hybrid world) and an Opensim (full 3d world called terraceLIFE).
Today we ventured into terraceLIFE and explored the notion of “avatar” – the brief for the first half of the lesson was simple enough – get your avatar to look like you.
After some initial explanation, they took to creating a virtual presence fairly well – it is interesting to talk to them about how they see themselves – shorter than they really are, heavier than they really are, bigger nose etc. I guess it is a tall ask to do body-image stuff with year 9 boys, given the hormone storm they are currently weathering but, you know, they handled it pretty well.
Very happy with the performance of the opensim also – 30 kids at once, all doing wonderfully interesting things, worked a charm. Next session we will explore building techniques with a simple construction project, then we will get complex and go for a collaborative building project (there will be tears before bedtime there I suspect).
I have a chunk of terrain for them to play on, will let them mark their territory and see how it goes – the only real rule here is “don’t be a dick” – it will be interesting to see how they cope.