Thursday, August 30, 2007

A dog to give you a different perspective on power

We have just bought ourselves a dog. He is from the compound, but does not seem to have suffered too many trauma's. I will not bore all of you with all the details, it seems to be a mix with a lot of Wetterhoun. The one thing that struck me, as a first time dog owner, is the extreme relationship you build up with a dog. A dog requires a strict and straight alpha male boss. In return you receive extreme trust and obedience. Although there are many parallels in human relations the extent in which this holds true surprised me. This is not something I had picked up by just reading a book, but I am picking up by first hand experience.

Slight case of Mountain Sickness

Some suffer from home sickness, but I suffer from the opposite. After a great holiday in the Pyrenees it is not always easy to return to your desk and get on with every day life. As a happy reminder this is the definite pinnacle of my hols. A scramble up the Gran Encantat, one of the two peaks which makes up Els Encantats. We didn't make it to the top as the route became rather steep and exposed without decent points to fix a rope. This is the view down between our legs looking down on the lower ridges.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Second life lunch

This is a bit late, but I have been off on holiday and rather busy starting up the new year. So, better late than never, a report on a lunch session on Second Life: What is it and how could you use it in your teaching.... It took place at Utrecht University on the 12th of July.

For me the most interesting question raised was: How can you use Second Life in your education and what are the benefits. I did not really hear a satisfactory answer. I can imagine a virtual world being useful if you wish students to learn matter in which the 3D aspect is important (design, architecture, etc) and the freedom offered to create (impossible) structures.
The social aspect could be valuable but Second Life still appears to be more suited to 1 on 1, or 1 on few meetings. Teaching a large group requires keeping the group together. A humorous anecdote was the example in which a teacher kept walking off to a different place. Students which were not actively following the session would be left standing alone while the rest moved on. Second Life still is a little cumbersome at times and it is not always easy to find your way about.
Writing this I do realise that I am (intentionally) describing the use of a virtual world in teaching rather than learning. Learning is a process which can be a lot less structured, less dictated and will often be much more individual. This is something which could be done in Second Life.
A final remark concerns the number of users in Second Life. The Linden Labs company used to boast a large number (millions) of users in Second Life. In practice the number of regular visitors is a lot less. This only appears to be a few tenthousands, so it is not always as huge a buzz as it appeared to be at first.