Metaverses & Scholarly Collaboration
Welcome to this discussion about metaverses for teaching, learning and scholarly collaboration. As with our last forum on "Participatory Learning," this discussion will be taking place both "vertically" in a traditional text-based format, and "horizontally" in a vlog format. You can stop the video widget below from playing (and start it again, if you wish), by hovering your mouse over the video window, which will make the clickable controls appear. Note that one of the controls is "reply." If you click on that, and you have an account at http://www.seesmic.com (it doesn't take long to register, and accounts are free), then an authentication form will pop up. Enter your Seesmic login info and you can reply to the video with your own video. See the small horizontal strip of thumbnails at the bottom of the video? Hover and click on those to play the replies. The replies are displayed in chronological order, with the earliest videos at your right -- you can scroll through them in either direction, stop and click on any one, and stop it the same way, by hovering over the controls.
The Humanities, the Arts and the Social Sciences have been late players in the exploration and use of grid technologies, though the possibilities in these fields seem to be endless. As opposed to a supercomputer, in the Grid, a "super and virtual computer" is composed of a cluster of networked computers that perform very large tasks in a concerted way. Therefore, Grid technologies are being applied in computationally intensive scientific problems. From my own observation in the workshops in High Performance Computing that I have had the privilege of attending at UCSD, UCI, and UIUC, seamlessly transiting across HPC applications seems to be a cumbersome process when you are also teaching classes and conducting your own research. At this stage, accessing the Grid still involves several challenges imposed by the nature of the technology--from authentication to scalability--which pose obstacles to scholarly collaboration and effective pedagogy.
But perhaps metaverses, with their sense of ?presence? through embodiment, may bring the ?humane? back to scientific collaboration. Although scientific visualization is core to the cyberinfrastructure, it often attains a level of abstraction that hinders rather than encourages those modes of communication most germane to us ? vision, gesture, voice. Could metaverses, by adding embodiment and hence these more natural modes of communication, be the missing link that invites Humanists, social scientists and artists to participate and explore the vast amount of computing resources now available in the Grid?
Principles of scholarly collaboration such as trust, and reciprocity have long been studied in academic scholarship. Participatory media test those principles and emphasize their importance. Could embodied environments that are literally built by their community members not only test but evidence those principles?
There have been few technologies in recent years that have caused such a split in the academic world between advocates and dissidents as metaverses, particularly Second Life. In this short post that I expand on through my vlog, I explore some of the main reasons offered by scholars who criticize the use of SL or other metaverses in Higher Education, as well as the reasons that some have embraced it.
Second Life in Higher Education environments
What the critics say
- Instability and lack of interoperability with other Internet applications
- Proprietary technology
- The uncertain future of user-generated content
- A parallel economy - of superficial values?
- An idealized World
- The resistance of funding agencies
- The scholarly generational gap in research and teaching in SL
- The problem of metrics in SL
What the advocates say:
- Critical mass
- A stimulus to the development of standards for metaverses
- Corporate R&D investment
- Vast Knowledge Base
- Interoperability with other Internet applications
- Innovative End-User License Agreement
- Non-profits? fundraising
- Metaverses as a new medium of artistic expression?
Listen to the above vlog to hear more about the different points raised for and against using SL in education - and let us know your thoughts!
I want to thank Dr. Geraldine Heng for two reasons- the opportunity she gave me of being part of this great community, but also for having 'released' me from my duties these past few days - we have an ongoing project - so that I would be able to post this. And many thanks to Erin Gentry Lamb for all the support she gave me and continues to give everyone in this community!