If you are like me, perhaps new programming languages may seem intimidating. Linden Scripting Language (LSL) is a great language and can really add a lot to your inworld endeavors.
Often it is the simple things that add value for your users. Perhaps just giving out a notecard, displaying some hover text, opening a URL, or other scripts that you have seen inworld. I just learned a piece of code that allows an object to open your map and offer to teleport you anywhere in the grid. It’s a nice alternative to a landmark giver and saves the user a click. But I digress . . . (those code snippets will be made available in an LSL library I am developing for eLearning Guild DevLearn 2008 conference attendees).
Torley Linden posted a new tutorial on a fantastic tool to help get your feet wet with LSL. The tool was created by Ann Enigma and is available (with wonderful documentation) at 3greeneggs. Torley’s video tutorial is available on the Second Life Blog here.
It is far too easy, for me, to grab Flash and start creating interactions and what not. It’s not that Flash is easy, but there is a comfort in using the tools you are most familiar with.
Often we do not take the time to stop and grab paper and pencil and sketch out our entire flow. We (the eLearning community in general) do use storyboards for our lessons, but it stops there often. We do not work out the minutia on paper. That is natural and often seen as a time saver.
But sometimes, making it work on paper first saves a lot of time. And sometimes, maybe the paper version can be the final eLearning. To explore that concept, I set out to create a detailed flow of how to buy land in Second Life.
The storyboard for a simple task, buying land, turned out to be a series of drawings on paper. It easily could have been created in Flash using a combination of snapshots and machinima (sl video). To do that would involve setting up land, creating a set, wardrobe for the avatars, video editing, importing into Flash, et cetera.
It seemed like such overkill for a quick 2 minute tutorial. So I pulled out the camera, kept it low tech and campy and the result works well. Hardly a new concept.
In fact it is somewhat like a flip book. The closest eLearning example I know to something vaguely similar would be the masterful work of Common Craft.
However, I used no video (keeping it simple for very fast production), no pre-made props, had no hand appearances, used colour, and only used drawing (no scissors kept it safer too!). I drew out the main points on individual sheets and made notes on each (they are visible in the video) as to what needed to be added.
The biggest time factor was in scripting the voice over. This was done first and based on iliveisl’s Flickr tutorial on Buying Land. The total production time was about 4 hours. It is an experiment and if it were to be redone, a little polishing would be done, like tighter shots, no desk in the background, perhaps the use of a ruler for some drawings.
Enough pontification, the final version is here.
Blogging is not new to me, but I have yet to blog as en eLearning practitioner. My blogging efforts have been geared to promoting my “freelance” work in Second Life®. These efforts, and the lessons learned, have afforded me a certain expertise in Second Life.
Thus this first post shall paint a picture of some of that experience to frame my perspective on Second Life and it’s possible uses within eLearning content.
I was introduced to Second Life during the height of it’s coverage by the news media and further drawn to explore it because a few of our client’s were using this bizarre metaverse where you can buy virtual land. By day I am a multimedia developer, along with 10 other eLearning specialist, for Newmarket International. Newmarket creates sales and catering software for hotels. In fact, the hotel for the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn 2008 Conference uses Delphi to book and manage functions, such as the conference itself.
Our eLearning is used by over 100,000 users in 110 countries. As with any training, we strive to create engaging eLearning and look to the eLearning Guild to help guide our exploration of the latest “best practices”.
And that is where the meshing of eLearning and Second Life occured for me. We had been striving for incorporating video into our training but were faced with the reality of actual budgets!
With the discovery of machinima, or inworld video, it seemed to perhaps offer an alternative to the challenges of real video. After all, avatars don’t age, it’s easy to create a cast of characters, outfits and sets. As a “proof of concept”, I took it upon myself to learn how to do machinima.
I was suprised at the lack of information on how to effectively “shoot” video within Second Life. Many late nights were spent both on the web and inworld discovering what tools were used to obtain the results I had seen in machinima posted on various forums and on the Second Life site.
Those links will follow in later posts, as well, as advice on what I found to work well.
Coincidentally, just weeks prior to this time I had built a prototype of a “best practices” teaching facility for a possible eLearning Guild presence in Second life (isl). I had been teaching inworld classes on building techniques and THiNC book creation and “tested” the prototype with two classes.
Funny how some things just intersect in life. Well these events led to the start of a virtual real estate business and, many sims later, I truly grasp why someone (or some company, institution, or university) would own virtual land.
So that is a little glimpse as to where my background lies . . .