Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Island Update

It's finals week for most of our Oregon Community Colleges, and as we get ready to break away for a breather, I've produced a brief Island update for the OCCDLA. Though we haven't been blogging much, a lot has been happening with the project. (As a side note, we at PCC are also migrating our learning management system from Blackboard to Desire2Learn... busy times!)

Remember- if you are a faculty, staff or student in the Oregon Community Colleges system and would like to use virtual worlds in your curriculum, for an event, or maybe even for student group meetings, let us know- we're happy to help you! Our Monday 2PM meeting at the OR CC Isle camp fire is a great place to drop in and share your ideas.

Where we were:
  • Summer 2007- OCCDLA Emergent Tech Workgroup Formed, Team ID’d.
  • April 2008 - Purchase of Island in Second Life
  • 2008-2009 - Development of Island & Basic Resources (Blog, main Website, Calendar, Island Council meetings, etc.)
  • 2009-2010 - Pilots, Ongoing Development of Island resources (Library, Public Events)

Where we are:
  • 2010-2011- In third year of three year exploration pilot
  • Establishing Student Services
  • Exploring HS Completion & Student Success & Retention
    • Supporting HS students using Second Life in their current curriculum migrating from the Teen Grid as it is being shut down in early January 2011.
  • Training Instructors to use Virtual Worlds and how to integrate Second Life into their course events, and how to assess the outcomes of those events.
  • Developing instruction for students- Virtual Worlds Skills (Spring 11)
  • Exploring Clinical Simulations and Virtual Worlds for OCNE
  • Ongoing course events throughout the year
    • BI 202- Botany- Indigenous Flora- Students of BI 202 help populate Oregon Community Colleges Isle with greenery by collecting images of native plants in the field
    • ED 206- Students in the Library Assistant program are introduced to Second Life and how this technology fits into the greater Ed. Tech. toolkit
    • PHL 201- The Philosophy Garden- Our most advanced/immersive use of Second Life. From a launch point on Oregon Community Colleges Isle, students are teleported to Plato’s cave, where they begin their journey from the darkness of ignorance to the light of the Philosophy Garden. Once there, a walk through the garden introduces them to seven historical western philosophers
  • Arts Events available to an international audience
    • ArtBeat 2010
    • 2010 Student Kickoff Party featuring Chervona, a Portland folk band

Where we’re going:
  • Oregon Immersive Education Initiative
    • Multi-Institutional partnership within Oregon Ed. System (K-20 proposed), including Oregon Center for Advanced Technology in Education (U of O) Teaching Across the Curriculum (OSU), OCCDLA
    • Coordinated program development statewide
    • Programs designed to support students throughout their academic careers in an effort to encourage college enrollment
  • Next 3 years- Second Life/OpenSim Duality
    • OpenSim not yet mature enough to directly migrate, but rapidly developing
    • EDU groups mass migrating to the OpenSim Hypergrid, which allows for an interconnection between independent virtual worlds, making communication and inventory sharing possible.
    • Second Life ending EDU discounts in 2 years. (prompted mass migration)
    • Offering uninterrupted service for courses currently using or developing course events/public programs/high school completion etc. events that use virtual worlds
  • Exporting Content out of Second Life to Open Standards
  • Eventual Migration to all open content/open standards/open tools by default.
    • Blender and SketchUp for Content Development
    • OpenSim Platform
    • All Content registered .CC Creative Commons- Non-Commercial (Attribution) and cataloged/shared via

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oregon Immersive Ed Days

Just returning to campus from Oregon Immersive Ed Days, the inaugural meetup of statewide educators and affiliated groups working in virtual spaces. We're all working toward greater collaboration, and this meetup was a great kick off to those efforts.

Though Oregon focused in name, truly we're an open group and had participants from out of state in attendance enriching our tribe. We're working in tandem with many other groups at the moment all the way to the international level looking at the future of immersive education. If you are interested in joining our group, we would love to add your input and energy to the collective- just email jonathonrichter at gmail dot com, and he will add you to our listserv. Also, check out the wiki- I've just posted notes from Saturday's planning session at

My notes from the individual presentation sessions if you'd like to check them out can be found at .

Getting a chance to link up with others around the region who understand these technologies for teaching and learning and dreaming about how together we can take greater leaps forward than alone was truly a treat. Though avatars are a great for when you can't get together, there's nothing like bantering possibilities over a pint and slice of pizza to get to the heart of a groups challenges.

To the future: here it is, now! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chervona Party- Happening NOW!

Come join us on OR CC Isle til 8PM Tonight- Russian folk rock band Chervona is rockin' it streaming NOW!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kick off the school year with Chervona!

Come join us Sunday, October 10th from 5:30-8:00 for a bit of FREE social R&R as we welcome PDX's very own Balkan party band 'Chervona' for their first performance in the Metaverse! We'll be streaming a live show recording that Chervona has made available to us specially for this event.

"Mixing together taste and passion of the best Gypsy, Russian, Ukrainian, klezmer and Balkan musical traditions, Chervona brings the fire of Eastern European carnivals to the land of America. With their authenticity and genuine fire Chervona has stolen many hearts."

We're honored and delighted to have the band playing for us at our kick off party for students, faculty and friends of Oregon Community Colleges Isle. If you've never enjoyed the sounds of Chervona, head on over to to get excited about hearing them get their Gypsy jam on! Also see if you want to know more about this fabulous band.

We'll be partying in the Sandbox Cafe:

Want to join us and don't yet have a Second Life account? Get a free one at, and then check the island calendar for drop-in help times available throughout the week- you can find it here:

See your pixels on the 10th!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Philosophy Garden Tour and Ethics of Virtual Worlds Discussion

On Wednesday May 26th at 3:00 PM Oregon Community Colleges in Second Life will be presenting a tour of the Philosophy Garden with instructor Bill Noonan of Columbia Gorge Community College followed immediately by a group discussion in the garden amphitheater on the Ethics of Virtual Worlds led by Philosophy Instructor Matthew Stockton of Portland Community College.

Please encourage your philosophy minded colleagues from any interested academic discipline to attend. Philosophy instructors who teach the history of western philosophy (PHL 201) will be especially interested in exploring the Philosophy Garden as a shared resource that can be used to easily introduce an immersive learning experience into their courses. If you would like to see a preview of the Philosophy garden and hear a few words from instructors and students who have participated so far, click here.

If you have a Second Life account , the Second Life URL (SLurl) link where this tour and discussion will begin is here:

You can also get a free account for yourself at Instructor Mike Russell from MHCC has written a brief guide to get you started available on our main project website by clicking here.

Assistants will be available 1 hour early at 2PM at the starting point on Oregon Community Colleges Isle to help you prepare to participate. Please feel welcome in dropping by during this time to ask any questions to help you improve your avatar skills.

Note: This event will be enhanced with live transcription to to make it accessible to all participants.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live events on OR CC Isle

Yesterday we presented our very first live video streaming event on OR CC Isle, Tango Pacifico, a wonderful musical group who gave a beautiful performance. While I can't say the event went off without a hitch, I was happy to say that those of us on Mac computers experienced a good event. The majority using PC machines however couldn't see the stream within Second Life. With flexibility, this isn't a problem, as it is possible to see the stream out in a web browser. (We're also streaming it to the Art Beat page on PCC's website at . )

Today we'll be streaming Tears of Joy puppet theater and their live performance of Stella Luna. We're streaming this into the outdoor amphitheater which you can get to by having a Second Life account and clicking on this link: I'm very excited for this event today, I'm a huge fan of puppets! Hope you can join us in Second Life to share it.

..and a HUGE note of thanks must go out to the Media Services and Production staff at Portland Community College- with a specific nod to Michael Annus and Marc Cole. We've used this event to help us figure out the technical aspects of what our equipment and facilities are capable of re: live streaming. We're all in the middle of an incredibly busy term, so the team and their willingness to always go the extra mile in service to our institution is admirable and inspiring. Mahalo nui loa!!

Note: If you don't have a Second Life account but would like to enjoy this event anyway, you can see it on the Art Beat website at 1PM.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oregon Information Literacy Summit

This Saturday, island librarian KevinW. Huckleberry (Kevin Moore of Portland Community College) and I will be going to the Oregon Information Literacy Summit at Linn-Benton Community College. We'll be available at a poster table to answer any questions librarians and information specialists from across the state may have about the Oregon isle library, and library services in Second Life in general.

So far, the island library pilot has included Kevin establishing the space and creating a link to each of our 17 community college's library catalogs. The library also includes an area for small groups to review and discuss media, as well as a link to a 24 hour reference desk. We both think it's a good first start, this presentation of content.

We're both also looking forward to having an open conversation with those who are thinking deeply about information literacy regarding what the next steps for the library and services on Oregon Community Colleges isle might be. After all, we're working in an environment exploring a new kind of literacy-avatar literacy.

I grew up on an island, and the local library was my bloodline to information from the outside world. Having earned my master's degree online, I reflect back to see now how similar the mental isolation of these two experiences were. Maybe if the librarians at the library helped my imagination flourish as a kid, I wonder, could it help distance learners in their sense of isolation to have access to a librarian? Would some of those learners prefer to do it through an avatar?

I hope to find a way to bring a couple key roles to the island for 2010-2011 to help us answer some of these questions, and Kevin as our librarian is one of them. Student services is another. So far, our work has been focused more from the perspective of finding out if faculty are interested in using virtual worlds as a tool for presenting learning experiences. Now that we have a core team of instructors who know how to use the environment and value it's pedagogical strengths, I'm excited to delve more deeply into helping Kevin help our students become more info-literate avatars.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Avatars United - A "Facebook" site for Second Life?


In late January Linden Labs announced their acquisition of Avatars United (, a Facebook-esque social media site designed specifically for the avatar. Avatars United had been designed for avatars of virtually any genre (Second Life, World of Warcraft, etc.) to come together and share exploits, pictures, and more.

I joined Avatars United earlier in 2009 as my avatar (Regulus Darkstone), but there had been virtually no activity until the announcement from Linden Labs... now, with the force of Second Life behind it, Avatars United is exploding. Indeed, at the time of this writing (February 4, 2010), their main "Recent Activity" page says "Limited Activity Feed" due to "increased load on their site". I would concur: Regulus has been receiving a plethora of friendship requests over the last week, and he has (somewhat enviously) noticed other avatar profiles with friends numbering in the hundreds... *smiles*

Anyway, I encourage you to explore Avatars United... and if you create a profile, be sure to request the friendship of Regulus Darkstone! :)

Peace, -- Michael Russell (Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, Oregon)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thank you Gearsawe Stonecutter!

I want to take a moment this afternoon to send a shout out of thanks to Gearsawe Stonecutter, the developer of a tool in Second Life called U-Poser that we use to create poses for our avatars. I love it because it's a very simple visual tool that works directly in Second Life. I also love that its creator bothered to stop and take the time to help me this afternoon, making me feel both connected to this technology, and incredibly well supported in my tool selection.

I ran into a frustrating road block by my own error- when you create a pose in U-Poser, you export the data to chat and then copy and paste the data back into a notecard in the HUD to save it for later retrieval. There are two types of data that prints in your chat window, and I by Murphy's law and trying to do too much with too little time grabbed the wrong format. It's the one with plusses, not decimals, if you're ever in the same situation.

Gearsawe patiently came by OR CC Isle and helped me walk through what could be wrong. twenty minutes later, I feel a bit foolish when he points out to me my error, but also grateful beyond imagination that he reinforced my feeling of belonging to a true community by his assistance.

If you are in the market for a pose creation tool, I can't say enough good about U-Poser or it's creator.