Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Glen "The Researcher" Gatin analyzes Multi-user Virtual Environments

Dr. Glen Gatin first asked us whether the class as a whole did blogs before entering the "Internet for Educators." Most heads nodded no. Then he asked if we ever heard about VOIP's. Again all the heads shook sideways indicating "nay". He did tell us that VOIP stood for Voice Over Internet Phones, or similarly, Skype. Then the class went "AH".

  • Glen spoke of the following information as well. Webinair is Elluminate, which is like a Seminar but in the form of the web.
  • There are different types of Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer. France banned using this particular program for reasons unknown to me. Other web browsers are Firefox, Safari, Google and Chrome.
  • Google Apps- Docs, Sites, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Blogger, Wave and Chrome. Wave is like Wiki's, Docs and gmail.
  • Social Bookmarking- Delicious, Diigo
  • Microblogs- Twitter, Plurk, Laconica

One interesting thing that Dr. Gatin told us about was that people using Twitter reported about feeling the earthquake in Haiti and reported the aftershocks even before the U.S. earthquake seismic activity sensors could. There was a 2 minute advantage. I thought that was very interesting.

Dr. Gatin explained the term Constructionism which means that people learn better when they build things.

He spoke of a computer program called Second Life which took close to half of the class just on the topic. He shared the following information about games. He said that "games hook people." Second life is based on the game 'Doom'. Students can invest hours on reading the manual and researching. When it came to research, I thought of looking for codes and cheats in an attempt to conquer a game.

I believe that games do serve the purpose of research, reading and developing intrapersonal skills (talking to peers about the game). Among some of the discussions students might talk about are likes vs. dislikes, challenges, stages, levels, cheats, codes, bosses, tactics and strategies. They can collaborate and do team work together, such as team gaming which develops cooperation skills usually towards one common goal, which is to beat the game.

In Second Life, you download the program but it requires a high-end computer made for gaming. You then create an account with Second-life and then they'll make you an "AVATAR". Woah. He said sooner or later, with interactions through e-mail, we will someday create holographic representations of ourselves but in the form of an Avatar. COOL!
Dr. Gatin mentioned that he sat in a lecture through his Avatar and heard a guest speaker lecture then afterwards they could ask questions. He even said that in Second Life any avatar can go to Harvard, pay for a course and get a credit. I was suprised that some U.S. colleges such as MIT and Harvard were in the game.

Dr. Gatin should us the virtual world of Second Life. Each area of exploration is built through the use of a server. Each server is one gridon the Second Life map. When you enter a grid you are interacting with the server. The map grid is similar to how google maps works but for the Second Life world. Wonderful eh?

Among one of the last and most interesting points that Dr. Gatin shared with us is that economically low places can make money through Second Life. They can go into businesses and help their situations. One thing I forgot to mention is that in Second Life there are opportunites for Avatars to make money, called Linden Dollars. This money can be exchanged, from my understanding, to actual currency for instance CDN or U.S. dollars. He gave us an example of someone living up north, say in Pukatawakan, who can make an account and create some money even if they don't have a job. They can spend say 6 hours and make $. Very, very interesting.

Overall, my interested was piqued and I would like to research further on his topic. For some ideas, I would like to see if there are ways to use Second Life on a northern reserve. I wonder if anyone is even using it on a Northern Reserve? I wonder if high speed internet connections exist in a northern reserve too. It would be worth checking out and used as one solution to help Aboriginal people to gain some cash flow into their communities. In closing, Dr. Gatin, said that one woman made 1 million dollars selling real estate on Second Life. Check out the website yourself and tell me what you think. Steven Leveque saying "over and out".


  1. I thought that the most interesting/crazy thing about Second Life was the ability for people to make actual money! I cant really phathom how this happens, but I think you make a great point about Northern communities using Second Life to make some money. I also think that a lot of kids, especially those "gamers" out there, would be really interested in Second Life. These students would enjoy playing the games available through Second Life collaboratively, in order to win the game. Students could also work together to create new games for other students around the world to play too. The ability to take university courses is also really cool. I would be interested in seeing how that works.

  2. I agree with Tannis in that it is unbelievable that someone can make money off a computer game. I agree that lower income communities could use second life to try and generate additional income. Teaching classes through second life would be very interesting! I think students would get a lot out of a class run in this way.