Progress Report – British Council Isles, Teen Grid Second Life

We had hoped to open Island one in July, but, what with holidays and work-in-progress on the other islands, as well as it taking longer than expected to add content and learning tasks to the builds, we decided to delay until the beginning of September. That’s now approaching, and we are planning to open unofficially before the official opening (later in the month).

Right On Pier British Council Isle

(image: a shot of the Right On Pier, on BritishCouncil Isle2 with the London Eye in the background)

Opening unofficially will hopefully let us iron out any problems, and will avoid too many people visiting us at the same time. Of course, we all know that this is just the beginning. We are looking forward to hearing from the teens when they arrive as to what works and what doesn’t. However, we are confident that our islands will be a cool place for teens to hang out.

SL History Wiki entry

As we’re about ready to open the first of our islands, I’ll become more active on this blog – I’ve just added a brief outline of our project to the SLHistory wiki
Here’s what I wrote:

British Council Isles

Owned by the the British Council, these three islands, to be opened in July 2007, are aimed at teens learning English as a Foreign or Second Language, but should also appeal to native English speaking teens too:

BritishCouncil Isle – point of entry, with information centre, village, mystery mansion (alternate reality game) and various quests (the Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood) and puzzles trails to be solved

BritishCouncil Isle2 – features the London Eye, Right On pier, the Giant’s Causeway and more (to be opened in September)

BritishCouncil Isle3 – features a sandbox and what will become a teen-generated town among other features (to be opened in September)

Second Life International Education Conference (SLIC 2007)

The Second Life International Education Conference was held on May 25th and was an exciting event.

With a focus on Best Practices in Learning, Teaching and Research, it was very well-attended, and I think the educational community got a lot out of the many presentations that were given.

Apart from the SLIC2007 wiki, there is a SLIC2007 blog to help people keep up-to-date with what’s happening.

I was very excited to have been chosen to give a presentation with my colleague Kyle Mawer about the Teen Grid project we have been working on, which was well attended and well received (see snapshot above and go to  slideshare for the actual presentation)

A special place to spend time online

Our developers are performing a truly admirable task, transforming what was our basic and dull standard island into a beautiful place. This was always one of our major requirements – I think it’s very important for it to be a very attractive place to hang out, apart from all of the educational and fun things on offer. If we can make our island a place where teens want to visit just because it’s cool, and an attractive part of Seond Life, then we’re half-way there.

 

I dropped in there yesterday, logging in under our owner’s account (hence the sex change in the picture above), to take a look at how things were going, and the sheer beauty of the place, especially with the sunset, made me linger far longer than I’d originally planned.

 It reminded me of a key moment in Second Life, last year, when something finally ‘clicked’ inside and I realised that, for me, the platform was a far more powerful tool than any chat room or videoconferencing set-up.  I bumped into Sus, from Denmark, and we were sitting chatting on a bench as the sun went down, with a Marx Brothers movie showing on a screen in front of us.

Some combination of what we were talking about, the setting , the ambient sounds, movie, etc. led to this being a special ‘Aha’ moment, and I just understood that this type of environment could be a very special place to be.

After talking to Bee last week about how she feels she still hasn’t ‘got it’ yet (even though she’s spent a lot of time in SL), I wonder if anyone else has experienced the kind of moment that I did. If you have and feel inclined to share it, I’d love to hear about it.

Hello world!

Welcome to the new blog I have started to document the progress on the British Council Isle Second Life Teen Grid project.

The shot above was taken a few weeks ago, a couple of days after our developers, Kim & the Magicians started work on our first island.

Since then, we’ve already been mentioned in the press, and our presence has been noted by the people over at the fabulous Global Kids project, which is the longest running Second Life Teen Grid project.