Status Identifiers October 25, 2007Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools, Students, Unintended Consequences.
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Yesterday, in my 330 class, a comment was made about how computer mediated communication removed status identifiers. Interestingly, I have found that within Second Life there are knowledge base identifiers such as virtual clothing, accessories, and personal spaces that are indicative of an enhanced set of skills. I wonder how off putting those are to students new to the SL learning environment. Also, I have heard from one colleague whose AV is quite formally attired in order to differentiate himself from students in his class. He figured there needed to be a barrier of some sort. A research thread?
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Matt Hillman wrote today about reactions to technology and the timing was perfect for me. Yesterday, I did a demonstration of Second Life to my pre-service teachers since many of them were convinced that computer-mediated environments lacked a human touch and interactivity.
As soon as we encountered other avatars, a group from the Netherlands, several laughed and asked questions such as, “Golly, how much time did they spend in that environment?” or “Gee, do they have jobs?” Their laughter caught me by surprise.
The avatars spoke Dutch, which I don’t speak. We then tried French as a bridging language and one of their group said he was studying it. So we pushed on in French. Despite the obvious lesson in how a virtual environment could be used for linguistic development, my students began to turn on me, “How much time do YOU spend in there, Mister?”
I can tell you that I spend only a few hours a month looking around, but my naysayers had already tried and executed my interest in a virtual world AND the whole virtual experience itself.
There seems to be something powerful causing individuals to look askance at something when they do not quite see the value of it. Perhaps that’s the heart of technology fear. If it won’t help you toward a goal, then it’s just an irritant.
I can say that by the end of my demonstration, I had convinced some of the laughers to re-examine the tool for its educational value. I won’t give up on the rest.