Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Module 1 - Section 2 - Activity 10

Fashion Show

Hi dear all:

During the last weeks we have been working and playing with our avatars. It's been a very interesting experience. I've been changing my avatar's skins, and now, I'm not afraid of becoming a bald man because I already learnt how to save my avatars.

As a closing for Section 2, a fashion show was designed. We would have to show how much control we had on our avatar (s). the event was held at Emerge last Sunday, Dec. 9. It was the first time I participated in a fashion show. I had to go on the catwalk and show two outfits at a minimun. I was there early trying on different outfits I had chosen before, and I felt fine and secure. But, when the public started to arrive, I became more and more nervous. I guess that's the way it is in RL. Steven played some music to us and the show started. My heart was beating. All ladies were in the changing room and we were paying attention to Paz Lorenz who organized us. It was so exciting, especially when it was my turn.

I had decided to show two outfits, an elegant and sexy red dress and a gorgeous wedding dress. But, unfortunately, since we were many participants we could only show one outfit. Nevertheless, at the end of the show, I changed my red dress by the second outfit, the wedding dress. Tere Short asked me who had designed that dress and I told her that it was an Angel Sanchez's design. Angel is a very famous Venezuelan designer. Since I couldn't passed again by the catwalk to take a snapshot, I came back last night and took the pics I wanted.

After the show, we got relaxed and danced for a while. We really had fun together. I want to take advantage of this space to congratulate Paz and Steven, as well as the organizing team for such a wonderful event. It was a total success! Congrats and thanks!

Here you can see some snapshots. Enjoy them!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Module 1 - Section 2 - Activity 9

Curating our digital selves

Hi dear all!

During this week we were asked to take some close-up snapshots from our friends and create a mini-exhibition. It took me some time to decide how I was going to design my gallery. I didn't have any idea. I first started trying with prim, colors, shapes; then, I decided to create walls and the decoration; and finally, I uploaded images (textures) to be shown. Since I was not sure about the total number of snapshots I was going to use and I didn't plan my work in advance, I spent all the money I had. So, I'm broken now. I couldn´t upload all my friends' snapshots, but in this slideshow you will have an idea of what I included in my exhibition. Enjoy the show! You are cordially invited to visit my gallery in Muvenation; here is the landmark:

Evelyn Michalski's Gallery, Muvenation (122, 130, 300)



Module 1 - Section 2 - Activity 8

All about My Avatar: Evelyn Michalski

Evelyn Izquierdo interviews Evelyn Michalski
Dec 3, 2008

EI: Hi, Evelyn! Thank you for accepting my invitation for this interview.

EM: Thank you. I'm glad to tell you about my SL experiences.

EI: When was Evelyn Michalski born?

EM: Evelyn Michalski was born on August 9, 2008. That means I'm only four months old, LOL.

EI: How did you choose your SL first and family names?

EM: Well, I decided to keep my RL name because I love it and because I didn't want to lose my own identity. I think Evelyn is a beautiful name; besides, having a different name made feel strange.

Regarding my family name, I had to choose from a long list of last names. It was fun. I chose Michalski because it sounded like Russian or Polish. It seemed to be nice and elegant. At the beginning, I even forgot my last name, but after some months, it has become part of me.

EI: How would you describe Evelyn Michalski?

EM: Well, Evelyn Michalski is a young woman, between 24 or 28 years old, with long black hair and a beautiful smile. She has a sexy walking style and loves using poses. She usually wears black hair and purple eyes; but, lately, she has discovered how exciting is having a new look everyday. She is being trying new skins, new makeup and new outfits. Look at here:

EI: Is this your first avatar? Tell me about your first moments in SL.

EM: As all new SL avatars, I was naked. I had to decide about her size, height, weight and face's features. I took me some time to edit her appearance and design some outfits for her, but I really enjoyed it. To that moment, I didn´t know how to save a skin or buy a new one. One day, while editing my avatar's appearance I made a mistake and I lost all the work I had been doing. My avatar suddenly became an ugly, fat and bald man. I tried once and again and I couldn´t change his physical appearance, so I went shopping and bought another skin. This new skin was pretty much what I was looking for. I made so changes to her and that is the second avatar you have seen.

EI: How do you feel when editing your avatar? What effects do you want to produce on others?

EI: Interesting question. More than thinking about the effects I might produce on others, I try to find something that makes me feel well. Evelyn Michalski has been an inspiration to me. She always feel comfortable with her appearance. And if she doesn't, she inmediately changes it. In RL, for example, you cannot change your appearance in seconds, except under surgery; but I think we must feel confident and happy with the way we look like, anf if we don´t, well, find the way to do so.

EI: Do you have any relatives in SL? Do you have other avatars?

EM: No, not yet, unfortunately. But I do have many friends, most of them are Webheads. I'm learning how to control my feelings when I don't like the skin, and I would like to try with a new avatar.

EI: What does Evelyn Michalski do in SL?

EM: Uhmmm, I don't know yet. She looks like an excutive but it seems to me that she is unemployed. Two months ago, she was trained to be a Spanish teacher in SL. She might be teaching in Ciudad Bonita soon, or she might find a job as an English teacher as well. She loves exploring lands and making new friends. She also likes building, but she needs more practice.

EI: What do you do in RL?

EM: I'm an English teacher. I work at the School of Education of Universidad Central de Venezuela. I love ICT and using Web tools in my classes. I discovered they are excellent media to learn the target language.

EI: Well, Evelyn, thank you very much for letting us know more about you.

EM: It was a pleasure! You are always welcome!

Module 1 - Section 2 - Activity 7

The Professional Avatar

Hi dear all:

In Activity 7, we were asked to answer the following (provocative) questions related to the 'professional' avatar:


  • Do you think avatar appearance is an important aspect of educational activities that are being undertaken in Second Life?

No, necessarily. Perhaps, if you are working with newbies, the appearance might have some influence on them, but once the learner knows the SL environment, he or she can easily understand the difference; what really matter is if you are prepared or not to teach in SL.

  • What does appearance say about us in a teaching situation in Second Life - to what degree is it the same as real-life?

I think RL and SL teaching situations are very different. In SL you need to master several abilities you never put into practice within a traditional RL classroom. It is also different from teaching online. SL demands a lot from the teacher; he or she must know how to deal with all the technical aspects, besides having the competence to be a teacher. I mean, he or she must have been trained in the pedagogical aspects and must know the subject or course content. As a SL teacher you have to design a lesson plan and follow it, but controlling at the same time all what students are doing too (ie. voice, chat, audio, movements, etc).

The avatar's appearance might be important or not depending on your class objectives. In RL, a teacher should be careful with what he or she wears. Something that doesn't follow the standard rule might be a distracting factor for the entire class.

  • What is a appropriate professional avatar appearance for education?

Well, almost all teachers have the same physical appearance all over the world. I mean, we have standard rules on what a teacher should or shouldn´t wear, or how he or she should look like. The main aspects concerning to the avatar might be those related to behaviour instead of appearance. Some teachers are more formal than others and they would probably like to show a similar look in SL. Or, on the contrary, someone who is always tired of being dressy in RL would probably have a less formal appearance in SL. It is simply a personal style matter. With a 'professional' or 'non-professional' appearance, teachers must inspire respect and confidence, since they are an example to follow; that is something you get in return if you are a professional teacher, if you treat the others with respect, if you know the subject matter, if you prepare your class, if you listen to others and respect their ideas, etc. Of course, if you choose something very 'strange' as an avatar or something that is not 'allowed' in RL, your students might be probably observing you, instead of paying attention to class. That's a risk. It also happens in RL.

  • Does your avatar have a professional appearance for educational contexts? Yes, no? Why?

Well, it depends on what we understand for professional appearance. But, well, yes, I think she has a standard 'professional' style.

  • Is there any appearance you would never use to teach in Second Life and why?

Yes, I would never teach being naked, or I wouldn't like to teach with a devil appearance.

  • The ability to change avatar appearance could be described as an affordance of Second Life. How can the ability to alter avatar appearance be used as a teaching tool?

As a language teacher, I think the ability of changing or alter an avatar is really important, since it is an excellent resource for a warming up activity, follow up tasks, homeworks, etc. It is very useful to practice specific language skills, indeed. I think SL, in general, has many advantages for online language teachers and learners.

This is me as Vivi

You may add your comments below. They are very welcome!

See you inworld,


Module 1 Section 2, Activity 6: Almost Famous

As part of Module 1- Section 2, we were also asked to alter our avatar's skin to create a famous person. I chose Abraham Lincoln. I spent several hours to get an avatar as close as possible. Unfortunately, I had some trouble with the beard and eyebrows, which I couldn't make darker. I tried several times, and this is what I got.

While I was in a store buying some men's clothing, a woman arrived. I said hello to her although I was really uncomfortable. I had to let her know that I was not a man, and why I looked like Abraham Lincoln. She told me that I had done a good job with my avatar, which made me feel proud of myself.

What do you think about the results? Your comments are welcome!

Evelyn Michalski

Monday, December 1, 2008

Module 1 - Section 1 - Activity 8

Micro lesson for an Induction Session

In this activity Evelyn Michalshi (Evelyn Izquierdo) and Tamara Ashton (Jennifer Verschoor) have worked together to create a mini-lesson on:

Getting Around: Taking a Closer Look
Landmark: NMC Orientation 213, 105, 27

Objectives: At the end of this module, participants will be able to:
  • Use the computer keyboard to focus, zoom and pan
  • Use the camera control feature to focus, zoom and pan
  • Get around and take a closer look at things by using camera controls
  • Be able to stay in one spot and quickly view something from different angles

1- Find an object that interests you and inspect it closely from all angles. Also pan around the environment and around yourself.
2- Play hide and seek with another friend using only camera controls to search for the other person without moving your avatar.

Previous knowledge: None

Materials: Item Location Camera Control View > Camera Controls, panels, images uploaded (textures) and pasted in prims, snapshots with camera controls, images with arrows.


  • Step 1: Focusing. Hold down the Alt key to activate Focus Mode. Did you see your cursor change to a magnifying glass while Alt was held down? While continuing to hold down the key, click on anything - an object, the landscape or a person. Notice how the view centers after you click? Even when the object or person moves, your camera will stay with it until it is out of range.
  • Step 2: Zooming. While holding down the Alt key, press the UpArrow key on your keyboard to zoom in and DownArrow key to zoom out.
  • Step 3: Horizontal panning. As you continue to hold down the Alt key, press the RightArrow key or LeftArrow key to pan right or left. This is a great way to go around your subject. You can also pan using your mouse. While holding down the Alt key, drag your mouse around. Did you see that you can zoom by moving the mouse forward or back and you can pan by moving your mouse left or right?

Play 'Hide and Seek':

Play 'hide and seek' with another friend using only camera controls to search for the other person without moving your avatar. By the end of this mission you will be able to pan in all directions and angles.

Further Practice

  • Step 1: Vertical panning. Hold down the Alt and Ctrl keys together then click on something. Now press the UpArrow key or DownArrow key to pan up or down. You can also press the E or C keys to pan up or down. This time the distance from your avatar remains constant but you can pan in all directions using the arrow keys. Try this now: Using your mouse, make sure you hold down the Alt and Ctrl keys together, then click on something and drag your mouse around.
  • Step 2: Pan landscape. Hold down the Alt, Ctrl and Shift keys all together and drag your mouse. Did you notice that as you move the mouse, the camera slides across the landscape as if you are dragging the ground around?
  • Step 3: 360 degrees around yourself. To get a quick look around your avatar try this:
    With the Alt key pressed down, click on your avatar. While continuing to hold the Alt key down use the arrow keys to spin around your avatar. This is a great way to see what your avatar looks like from the front.
  • Step 4: Camera Controls. There is one more way to access your camera controls in Second Life. Under View menu select the option Camera Controls. View > Camera Controls
    You will see two circles and a bar in between appear at the bottom of your screen.
    The left circle rotates the camera.
    The middle bar zooms in and out.
    The right circle moves the camera left, right, up and down.

We will be soon advising you about our hours available for orientation.


Evelyn Michalski

Module 1 - Section 1 - Activity 7

Coming in to land - Do's and Don'ts
Hi dear all:

During this week, we were asked to select two orientation spaces from the list below to be analyzed:

  • Orientation partly interactive, Virtual Ability (135, 124, 23)
  • RL Student Orientation Area, Campus (172, 90, 24)
  • NMC Orientation (107, 114, 39), and
  • Orientation Stations, Dore (32, 99)
I visited the four orientation spaces, but I chose Virtual Ability and NMC Orientation to make my main comments here.

Orientation partly interactive, Virtual Ability

The first space I visited was Virtual Ability. I was delighted with that space. I think it provides the necessary guidance to make a 'just born' SL avatar happy and confident. The arrows, images and explanations are very important for a newbie. A person who is entering in-world for the first time needs to be treated as as young child. All information you can give him/her will be appreciated and this space takes that child by his/her hand teaching him/her the whole process to control and learn from his/her avatar and his/her environment, step by step. I also liked the calm and peaceful environment provided by this space, the games incorporated, and rewards when tasks are well done.

In Virtual Ability, I met Pecos Kid. He is one of VA mentors. He asked me about the orientation space and my experience there. We enjoyed chatting for a while. He taught me how to climb a tree, something I've never done in RL. It was exciting. I took several snapshots during my visit. I really enjoyed it.

NMC Orientation

Regarding NMC Orientation, it seems to be more sofisticated, more serious, more elegant perhaps. It provides another interesting orientation space for newbies. I think students can feel comfortable, and they will be able to learn a lot. However, I think this space demands a higher competency level than Virtual Ability, and more attention. But, well, it depends on the learner's maturity or learning style.

In NMC, I met my friend Tamara Ashton (Jennifer Verschoor in RL) and we explored the orientation island together. We checked, step by step, all what we were supposed to know according to the training received with Languagelab, until we got to a video station. We got distracted there. I saw San Francisco's trolley, which made me remind my visit to that city. That was our first distractor, then we walked around and passed over the Golden Gate bridge. We completely forgot the other stations and we never came back to complete the steps, but we have come several times to plan our micro-class. The fact of not finishing the circuit indicates that something wrong is happening. Perhaps, it is too long, or it has some distractors on the way to make the SL learner get some rest. I'm not clear about the purpose of this specific design. I really liked it, but it would be advisable to have someone around who provides some help or guidance. We have never found anybody there.

Tamara Ashton on the left

The other two spaces, Dore and Campus seemed too simple to me. I don't think they provide enough information to the learner. On the contrary, the learner can get lost and feel frustrated. There is no place to go, nothing interesting to see, except for shopping. I found a MVN mentor in Campus, she asked my opinion about the space. We had a very short chat and said goodbye. In Dore, I found a stranger who seemed to a mentor. Tamara Ashton (Jennifer) and me were put off. I don't know why. We couldn't come back. Wow, I'm happy not to be a newbie. I would have felt very bad and I would probably never come back to SL.

In sum, orientation spaces should be:

1. Goal oriented and well guided. Arrows, images and explanations should be clear and enough in order to lead the learner step by step to reach the goal (s).
2. Interactive. It should offer many opportunities for the learner to interact with the environment.
3. Task-based and well graded. Activities must have a purpose and must go from simpler to more complex.
4. Encouraging. It should incorporate games and provide positive feedback when tasks are well done.
5. Pleasant. The learner should feel comfortable to develop SL abilities under a relaxing and peaceful environment.
6. A learning facilitator. It should provide some help if needed. There must be a mentor or helper ready to give a hand to those who need it.
7. Friendly. It should encourage learners to come back for more practice or just to check some tasks.
8. Fun. It should include funny activities for learners to enjoy while exploring and discovering the SL new world.

Orientation spaces should NOT:

1. Provide only written instructions. They should have enough images, pictures or sounds to guide the learner to reach the goals set.
2. Hide signals or simply not show any kind of learning path.
3. Provide too short explanations or descriptions.
4. Be dark spaces or desolated. They must be built by specialists in graphic design, architects or people who know about online space management.
5. Leave the learner by his/her own. Some kind of help must be offered.
6. Provide negative feedback.
7. Be static.
8. Be boring.

I'm not sure whether a SL orientation space should have a linear path or not, what I do think is that all orientation spaces should provide different possibilities for all different learning styles.

Well, that’s all folks.