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Archived Posts from “Miscellaneous”

My evolving Second Life



Well, having solved some of my bandwidth issues (now I have 60Gb monthly limit!) I have been able to better use my time in Second Life and really started to establish a presence.  SL is a real bandwidth slurper.

Like many newbies I wandered aimlessly around the SL world seeing what I could see, and trying to make sense of the things I could touch.  In Second Life, as in First Life, not everything is as it appears.  I found myself falling foul of pranksters who offer freebies that have embarrassing little scripts attached.  I finally secured some land - well I have a loan of some land under the Campus: Second Life program.  I might have to look into establishing an educational consortium to buy an entire island - perhaps WUGPWA will be interested.   I wonder how long before we get an ECAWA island?

I’ve set up home on the corner of my parcel of land - I have great views and a nice work space and living area.  I have flat screen panels that stream video and news updates to me as well as great little conversation area and a huge rug on the floor to relax with friends.  Upstairs is a lounge and outdoor setting.  Way up in the sky is a Skybox where friends can meet and play with their appearance or try out new objects.   I’ve modified a couple of objects to act as teleport platforms – one as an internal lift and another between home and the skybox (although that one sometimes needs the ESC key to finalise the process!)

I’ve a big empty building that I’m hoping will be used as small auditorium for presentations (might have to reduce the number of prims in use on the parcel though).  Down the other end of my block are a nice little gazebo and a duck pond.  There are a few water features and some plant and animal life.  The weather is still unpredictable. A crackling fireplace, some music upstairs, an annoyingly chatty parrot make it seem both more peaceful and chaotic.

I’ve started to modify scripts and can play about with the appearance of existing objects - including adding scripts and new textures.  My skills in building from scratch are a bit rudimentary - but I think given time I might come to grips with it all.

Presently my SL home is quite realistic in appearance and that’s something I might want to change over time as I come to understand the possibilities of new metaphors.  Why go to a virtual world and recreate the real world - I suppose mainstream theatre and film also fall into the same pattern.

My SL home has started to come alive for me - and people are dropping by to visit.  My list of friends is growing and I’m getting more invitations to interesting events.  The purchase of my new computer recently has given me the ability to email to and from my work space in Second Life.

Kim's Corner

The basic understandings I’ve started to come to terms with in relation top education are that there are fantastic opportunities to display information in ways that require understanding and critical appraisal.  Also, the use of role can be incredibly powerful in developing a rich engagement.  I’ve found a couple of interesting educational sites and a nice little theatre - people in SL are so kind and generous, offering to share the use of their spaces and helping newcomers find their way about.  If you drop by Kim’s Corner then be sure to visit these locations:

A useful book download is “Learning Spaces” – Diana Oblinger (ed) (20Mb)

Cartoon PD online package



This week marked the passing of Paul Rigby noted in The Australian as “the legendary Australian cartoonist whose quirky, stylised work graced the pages of the world’s great newspapers, has died in Western Australia.” Paul Rigby’s cartoons were regulars in the New York Post and Daily News in the 70’s. Cartoons appeal to all ages and inevitably appear in the curriculum at various stages but history examiners have “identified cartoon interpretation as an area of weakness in the teaching of History in Australian schools.” To this end the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library has developed this Cartoon PD in a Package. The team behind the package is looking for feedback from teachers. Here’s one of Rigby’s cartoons from The Sun on 24 July 1971 with a nod to the prospect of computers taking over the Ashes entitled “Damned uncanny, these computerised Test matches…“:
Source: Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature, University of Kent

Digital games-based drama.



Well, I’ve been back  in Perth for a few weeks now after delivering my keynote at the Drama Australia “Turning the Tides” conference.

I was presenting on Monday morning and was first up - there were quite a few latecomers as the conference dinner was held on the Sunday evening.

My topic was This drama is pwned: 1337 drama - a bit lame I know but the point was to show that most drama education folk don’t necessarily know the world of gaming and online interaction. I tried to push the point that we need to abandon simplicity for a while and take some control of the various types of technology that are available to us.

I demonstrated the pretext material I’m using for my online process drama as an example of the social issues that can come into play in the online world.

A couple of my points that seemed to strike a chord with the audience:

Just because we have the first generation of so-called “digital natives” doesn’t mean they are more in control of the technology.

They may be less concerned about using the technology but far from all of them are in control of the technology.

The “prosumer” (Carroll) or “produser” (Bruns) may be able to rip, mix and burn but we can’t assume they can grip, fix and turn.

This notion of GRIP, FIX and TURN – the capacity for control, the capacity to remedy, the capacity to reposition…..


What seems to be missing from most of the online learning environments, and technology integrated learning experiences is a lack of ambiguity. Especially moral ambiguity. We can take kids into virtual worlds and learn all sorts of facts and figures – this is incredibly and stiflingly safe. Students are already engaging in online communities and yet the one subject at school that could offer a real critical investigation of the stakes is often the one area that shies away from the technology. Look to MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and a vast array of other Web 2.0 social networking tools. Blogging is passe, vlogging and podcasting are rapidly becoming the older forms, new ways of interacting are emerging daily. Second Life has just released their Teen world… a whole new horizon of human interactivity becomes the norm for the “digital natives” and they expect nothing less.


What we need to ensure in any engagement with new technologies is that we do not overly simplify the learning – we do not want to go down the path of simple declarative narratives that do little but embed snippets of information. Rather we want to ensure that there is complexity, space for repurposing, re-presenting, redaction – we want to maintain principles of critical pedagogy – to engage students not merely entertain them, or worse, subject them to playing roles in a deceptive marketing exercise for schools – often called the school production. The types of technologised performance we are chasing must offer an unpredictability of meaning – what Malaby calls “semiotic contingency”… an openness of reading and meaning making.


Not only blogs, but any socially constructed space – games are but one expression of these new performance spaces… what haven’t we even begun to consider?


“Indigenous people are subject to stereotyping by non-indigenous” Anne Marshall

How do we treat the techno-literate and gamers? Digital natives are often regarded the same way as indigenous people – they complicate our perceptions.


My perception is that when it comes to technology our “theatre/drama” mindset limits rather than liberates us.

I’ve had quite a bit of positive feedback and some requests to participate in other projects including a new book.

HELP!! I’m also looking for some assistance with the next phase of my research. Not only do I need 15-20 volunteers (preferably teachers, preservice teachers and performers) to participate, I also need to locate an available LAN. I’ve encountered problems with some of the networks I’ve had access to. The main issues are that firewalls and exclusions limit access to the sites I’m using for my online drama. I need a set up that will allow ports 2400 and 2600 as well as letting Javascripts run…. my drama also contains links to YouTube and Google Video. I’d really appreciate any assistance with locating a suitable venue - hey - even if someone can host a LAN party to do this!!  Otherwise recommendations for good LAN/Net cafes that might allow me to rent their space for about 3×3 hour sessions.  This all needs to happen in Perth and very soon. Any assistance or ideas will be greatly appreciated and may even result in an acknowledgement in my thesis!!  I can be contacted via QUT - or my mobile 0403530726.

Mac Vs PC



I’ve not seen much discussion of the new promotional videos from Apple.  A colleague over at Creativity/Machine has raised her eyebrows and challenged the creative crew to parody the new ads.××

There’s a whole swag more at

Interesting for more than the promotional intent - there are certain values promoted and I sense there is a Gen-Y, iGen ideology being represented.

I still think the social and cultural implications of ICT in schools needs to be more in the foreground of the curriculum - critical pedagogy demands that students examine their own practices.  These ads could be an interesting starting point for investigations.

Keyboards for young digital natives



While attending the Knowledge Bank 2006 Online Conference I listened to a presentation on a teacher developed website in a Year 1/Prep class at
Clevy Keyboard
Wheelers Hill Primary School. The website is centred on developing the metacognitive abilities of the Year 1/Prep students through the use of thinking and goal setting tasks, student self and peer assessments and rubrics. Additionally, it contains samples of student work and also planning documents. One thing raised was the difficulty students had in using traditional keyboards, specifically the ability to recognise capital letters. This is a problem I have experienced too. Adding stickers to the keys can help, but they tend not to last very long! Another solution may be a keyboard designed for these young learners. I have heard there are plastic covers available but can’t find a link. A couple of keyboards I have come across are Big Keys and Clevy Keyboard which has Australian distribution. BNC Distribution claims the Clevy Keyboard:

…. essential in the education of writing and computer skills in primary schools. It anticipates on the growing interest for the development of the motor system connected to the education of handwriting. Moreover, this attractively designed keyboard stimulates young children to get acquainted with computers in an educational way.

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Recent Comments
  • Melanie: Thank you Kim! I will definitely check out this link and see the developments for higher education on the SLED.
  • Kim Flintoff: We have been using Second Life in a range of situations. Built a Wound Care Clinic with Curtin University for training nurses about wound care and the relationship between hand-washing and infection in a...
  • Melanie: Hello Paul, I am wondering, have continued to utilize SecondLife? Do you find that it has better user-friendly features? Do you find that your courses are easier to teach in this format? Is the VLC classroom a...
  • Melanie: We may agree to disagree on the instant gratification society term, however when you look at new social network devices that are connected to mobile devices – there is an urgency that is attached to those...
  • Kim Flintoff: "instant gratification society" - I'm not sure I'm part of that society. Educational institutions do not make decisions - people do. Which people in educational institutions will cling dearly to email? Email...
  • Melanie: I agree that email is outdated in most settings. However, many educational institutions will cling dearly to email due to the aspect of "waiting before sending." Email is still a resource and an appropriate tool...
  • Maryjane: This is incredible and we need to spread it to school districts. It was posted two years ago and I've not seen new policies or classroom innovations happen since then. People are afraid of what the kids might do....
  • Suzanne: I cannot help but think that this trend, while reflecting archetypal youth rejection of all things "adult," is also related to the digital immigrant/digital native thing. The young are very flexible, very willing...
  • Maryjane: This made me laugh outloud. School districts are still discussing whether they'll give access to students for email; do all their business by email instead of walking next door and talking to someone; and wonder...
  • Nick Smith: This video was exactly what I needed/wanted to hear. As a student working towards being a teacher, I find it great to not only revolutionize teaching, but to re-invent it all together. One woman mentioned...
  • Scott Merrick: Hey there, feel free to unpublish this comment--it's more or less for your own info: This is to let you know that Digital Chalkie has been nominated for Blog-o-the-Month at the Blogger's Hut on Second Life...
  • Laura Seabrook: I have one other question, which I can't find answer to on the Murku wiki (no doubt the answer is right there and I keep missing it) - where/how does one get it?
  • Laura Seabrook: Murku looks really interesting (and I shall definitely try it), though the examples could do with some improvement, as per my comments above. Positioning can be important - see the Blambot article at...
  • Kim Flintoff: Murku is designed to facilitate the construction of comics based on content in a Second Life TM, ie SL, environment. Murku will be of interest to those who have always dreamt of creating their own comics but...
  • Laura Seabrook: Actually there was a typo in my previous comment. I meant to write wouldn't be, not would as far as being the first to do an SL comic. I discovered Plywood shortly after starting my own, which can be found...
  • Kim Flintoff: Hi Laura, The example in the article wasn't intended to be a highly refined product - it literally took me 60 seconds to create with some random images grabbed from my hard drive. The points you make about...
  • Laura Seabrook: I started doing Second Life comics late in 2007 ( though I didn't use Comic Life - rather I drew bits, used screenshots and put it together using PaintShopPro and Fireworks (for speech balloons etc). I knew...
  • michael chalk: Great stuff Paul .. lots of good points here. You are right about the ABC - they're really leading the charge into the new era of digital participation aren't they! My favourite thing they do is the way they...
  • Ken Allan: Kia ora Kim! I don't think it is anything to do with HOW we communicate. It is more to do with how kids see email. It is simply to do with the age-old feature of youngsters avoiding ANYTHING that is associated...
  • Aaron Fisher: This is very cool! It is amazing how those principles from long ago are relevant today, just in different forms. Students do learn better by doing, no matter the subject. We teachers need to do a better job...
  • Julie Carney: Thanks for this post, and for posters like Paul who have linked and commented on resources for educators to use. As is the case with most things, it seems the right combination of educator/program/developer...
  • Debbie: I, too am upset that this website has been taken off-line. My special education students loved it, and I knew I could always find an activity geared their levels and abilities. I hope that it will soon be running...
  • Andrew Westerman: Each LO costs $20 000. So, if 20 students use that learning object for 0.1 of an hour (6 minutes), that's 2 student / hours @ $10 000 per hour. If 2000 students use that LO for 0.2 of an hour (12...
  • Cathy Nash: Learning Objects are one of the tools in a good teacher's toolbox. It is simplistic to lay them aside as past it. A poor teacher can make a pencil look dull and a great teacher may just achieve great things...
  • Suzanne: I am so upset that this site has been removed, however I fully understand why. My Year One children and my pre-primary children loved using the site and it catered for all ability levels in my class. i do hope...
  • Julie: I am sorry that Rainbow Maths has been forced off the web. My daughter loved it so it is missed. Any idea when Jenny may put it back on the web with added security measures to prevent it being copied etc?
  • Jen Zupp: I totally agree with Jenny's reason to take it off. I have spent thousands of hours keeping my website up which is pretty much a directory of quality websites I find online. If I had created a masterpiece like...
  • Kristy Dickson: I agree with Paul, $20 000, $80 000, or whatever they cost, kids are losing interest. I think they have their place for a bit of drill and practice occasionally, but I wouldn't pay for them. Motivation and...
  • Ingrid: I'm distraught that rain forest maths is not available. My 3/4 kids loved it. My kids loved it and it is so easy to cater for their abilities with the different levels. Anyone know if there's a chance it will be up...
  • Azam Ali: my kids love this site, they come on rainforest to learn. Anyone trying to stop kids education is playing with our future. Shame on people who are greedy for money and dont care for the future.
  • Bryn Jones: Channel 4 in the UK has £50million to develop new media content. Ewan McIntosh has some role in it as Digital Commissioner for Scotland. Jobs open now!
  • Thomas Goodwin: Paul Reid has pointed educators in the right direction (create and collaborate) however he started from an incorrect premise; The Learning Federation's Digital Resources are completely different from the...
  • Patricia Corby: Phew, what a terrific wealth of useful info here! Thanks Paul. In reference to this comment "They need to move from static to dynamic in form" as an overall comment it is relevant but being fair some are...
  • Paul Reid: If everyone's Math is correct the Teaching & Learning Federation pays $20k for jpeg pictures Learning Objects! eg these ones shown here http://www.thelearningfederati
  • Janice Millard: its not fair that my class can't go on rain forest maths because of other people copying we were going to do a test on it but it was closed down my class was very upset not very happy!