2018-05-03 – Feature Presentation: Identity, Literacy, Immersion and Presence

Transcript of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable: May 3, 2018

2018-05-03 VWER - Mark Childs Interview_002

Speaker: Mark Childs
Topic: Identity, literacy, immersion and presence; joining together the building blocks of virtual world learning – part two!

Mark Childs (Gann McGann in Second Life) is a researcher and teacher who has been working in virtual worlds since 2005. His PhD on Learners’ Experiences in Virtual Worlds was completed in 2010. His most recent work in virtual worlds was in 2015 and was an exploration of how virtual worlds aren’t that different from a whole lot of other types of spaces that require engagement of belief in order for them to be effective. This is a summary of that work.

NOTE: Mark has added some afterthoughts to the discussion. To distinguish these from the dialogue at the time these are attributed to Mark rather than Gann.

This presentation was recorded by Rhiannon Chatnoir and is available at https://youtu.be/skPnW2-F0OA . Thank you, Rhiannon!

Slides are available at http://www.slideshare.net/sheilawebber/identity-literacy-immersion-and-presence-joining-together-the-building-blocks-of-virtual-world-learning-part-two


Sheila Yoshikawa: Hi everyone, and welcome to the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. We meet on Thursdays at 12 noon SLT for an hour. 8pm In UK, 3pm EST. VWER is a forum to educate and inform the community about issues that are important and relevant to education in virtual worlds. This is a public meeting, so we will be keeping and publishing a transcript.

Sheila Yoshikawa: Gann will be presenting in voice but discussion will be in text chat

Sheila Yoshikawa: Please join the VWER group here in SL. If you are on Facebook, or Google+ please join our group there. Our group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/159154226946/, and our Google+ community at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101630374387475211030

Sheila Yoshikawa: Also find and post pictures to our Flickr group and follow us on Twitter @VWER. When you blog or tweet, please remember to include the tag #vwer. you can catch up on our tweetchat at #vwer.

Sheila Yoshikawa: I am chairing today’s session

Sheila Yoshikawa: I am celebrating my 11th rezday by hosting a talk from longtime virtual worlds research, Mark Childs aka Gann McGann, who I got to know when I was zero years old, I think, as part of the UK virtual worlds community

Lyr Lobo: Happy Rez Day

Gann McGann: happy rezday Sheila 🙂

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): I don’t hear voice. Will there be transcribing?

Sheila Yoshikawa: and thank you 😉

Kali Pizzaro: he is an old lad

Kali Pizzaro: hehe

Kali Pizzaro: welcome

Sheila Yoshikawa: I am not using voice–only Gann will be using voice, and he has given me a script which I will be pasting in (I HOPE at the right points)

iSkye Silverweb: I am also not on voice

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): I do not HAVE ability to hear voice.

Kali Pizzaro: transcript will be pasted in as Mark speaks

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Thanks Kali

iSkye Silverweb: Thanks, Kali 😉

Sheila Yoshikawa: OK I will hand over to Gann and paste in the stuff for his first slide

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: I was invited to the opening keynote speaker at this year’s VWBPE. I was unsure about whether or not I’d have anything useful to contribute. It’s been about three years since I did any new research into virtual worlds, and my PhD on Second Life was finished 7 years ago.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG:  I suggested I actually cover some of the theory on the basic elements of the theory of virtual worlds, and use the keynote as a way to get people to share their experiences of these.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG:  As it turned out, people wanted to talk a lot so I only got to do the first two sections of the talk. Sheila invited me to do a re-cap of the keynote here, but instead I’m doing the bits I didn’t get to talk about last time.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : So this half is mainly talking about two things, really closely interlinked. They’re both things that I talked about in my half of this book: Making Sense of Space, which I wrote with my friend Iryna. I’m going to kick off with immersion.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : A lot of getting your head around the basics of virtual worlds research, for me, was how the same words get used interchangeably to describe different things.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : I spent a lot of my time going round in circles before deciding I was going to have to just pick a set of definitions that made the most sense to me – particularly with these three words.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : So this is the most basic form of experiencing something at a distance I can think of, but it still has the basics.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : that image you can see on the screen


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: If we were going to look at this in Activity Theory terms there’s the subject, the person doing the action, the technology they’re using, and the focus of the activity. We kind of don’t think of this in usual face-to-face communication because there’s no tool, but it’s similar


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: So, for me, when I’m talking about immediacy, it’s the extent to which there is no tool, or no awareness of one.

Immediacy: The sense of the transparency of the medium between participants and the psychological distance between them (Wheeler, 2007, 111-112); Unobtrusiveness; Perception of non-mediation

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: These definitions all make that point. The idea is that the more immediacy you feel, the more present you will feel.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : so the experience isn’t mediated

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : So here’s an example of telepresence. Telepresence differs from virtual presence only in that you’re feeling the immediacy of a remote real location rather than a computer generated one, so I think it’s relevant.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG This summarises a lot of the technical details that can produce this feeling. They relate to how your senses convey a space; the breadth of senses that are engaged, the depth of detail for each one. How responsive it is. How reliable and so on.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : those are all things that add up to telepresence

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : so that’s immediacy

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG But there’s more to a sense of immersion, of connection to a place, than how your senses convey that sense of immediacy

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG Here’s an example of what I mean. This is the underground in Sao Paulo. Now in the underground they have colour coding for their tubes.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : However, sometimes they use the colours to label the tube line, sometimes they use the name of the terminus of the line to label the tube line. Sometimes they use the Name of the colour to label the tube line, in Portuguese. Perceptually, all your senses are engaged, but your sense of being present in the space is minimal, because you are completely alienated. So you can get completely lost. The immediacy is total, all senses are engaged, but you feel lost, so it isn’t immersion


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: However, immersion is also about all these things. It’s about what happens in the head, not in the technology. It’s what Lombard and Ditton call psychological immersion, which can be quite different from perceptual immersion.

Kali Pizzaro: Agree

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG : Matthew Lombard and Theresa Ditton (2006), refer to the sense of connection to the place as psychological immersion. Perceptual immersion is the degree to which ‘what you see’ submerges the perceptual system of the user, enabling them to disregard the medium.


Gann McGann: also narrative

Rhiannon Chatnoir: btw, if you want to share the live stream recording, the link to it is https://youtu.be/skPnW2-F0OA  

Beth Ghostraven: wonderful, thank you Rhiannon!

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: so if you can create a story then your sense that you are there is more intense

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: And when we’re talking about psychological immersion, there are a lot of factors that aren’t anything to do with technology. I mean, one of the most psychologically immersive platforms is a book, and they’re a pretty old technology.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: So this is how I’ve come to distinguish between immediacy and presence. Immersiveness is the measure of how much a technology creates perceptual immersion, but it’s not – for me – the most important thing in creating a sense of presence.

Childs slide 13

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: But also, there is a pay-off between immediacy and psychological immersion. This image is from an exercise I did at Coventry University. The immediacy is reduced by the pop-ups, but some of these add to the sense of immersion, such as the chat, and the nametags. Some of them don’t help, such as all the instruction cards. Sao Paolo tube would have been much more immersive if I could have had a heads-up display explaining where everything was.


Gann McGann: Do you agree with this distinction between the two things, does it reflect your experience?

Sheila Yoshikawa: I certainly find it useful to emphasise it’s not just to do with technology

Gann McGann: i mean narrative really makes a difference, and motivation

Lyr Lobo: It is far more satisfying than coming here alone…later

Gann McGann: i think the problem with emphasising the tech is that people look at improving the resolution or the responsiveness , but even when it’s pretty laggy SL can create a sense of immersion because you want to be there

Marly (Marly Milena): The presence of other Avatars has a grounding effect. It is different from simply being in a space whether familiar or new

Gann McGann: exactly

Sheila Yoshikawa: though I think even without other avatars, creating a narrative for yourself is immersive

Kali Pizzaro: i feel presence then social presence when other avatars and we are communicating

Gann McGann: and actually when i’ve tested students on this, it’s the sense of connection to other avatars that really comes through, even those people who don’t “get” the world itself

Sheila Yoshikawa: Immersion depends on

Suspension of disbelief / engagement of belief
Motivation to engage
Design of content (narrative, appropriateness, etc)
Ability to feel embodied

Sheila Yoshikawa: that was from an earlier slide

Sheila Yoshikawa: they don’t all depend on the social

Gann McGann: sure

Sheila Yoshikawa: I suppose I am following my own hobbyhorse about that you can be immersed without being social

Beth Ghostraven: So, like we’re always saying and hearing, it’s the people that are the important part

Kali Pizzaro: yes i think if you feel you are embodied then you feel presence – there and when others are around and communicating socially present – being there with others

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol but I was saying not only the people – it’s also you and your feelings and imagination?

Beth Ghostraven: Sheila, yes, I agree–wandering around a beautiful region by myself can be totally immersive

Gann McGann: but immediacy, the sense of no technology – is more immediately powerful – put on a VR headset and you’re immediately blown away, but you might not come back for more without a sense of connection to people

Marly (Marly Milena): Even when I am in my residential space, there is a definite difference when nobody else is around and when others (even unknown others) are somewhere on the sim.

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): for some people the feel of the spaces themselves is very powerful — on person would come in after work and sit by the water for twenty minutes to decompress

Rhiannon Chatnoir: we are filming this. so feel free to speak and type since the audio / video are being recorded

Gann McGann: but i think the beautiful regions maybe also tell a story or make a connection too

Morgaine (Morgaine Borgin): for me, the sense of connection is extremely important

Beth Ghostraven: Gann, yes

Sheila Yoshikawa: actually having said that about being alone – if I wander round a lovely sim – part of it is knowing that someone else has put thought and creativity into it

Kali Pizzaro: yes so if we go back to Goffman and his idea of presence it is similar you can be in a room with no one there then sense when someone comes in even if you do not see them…….

Sheila Yoshikawa: I’m experiencing another human being’s world

Gann McGann: and emotional impact, some of my students only got it when they saw the holocaust museum here, the emotional resonance of that had a profound effect

Sheila Yoshikawa: I find the VR worlds I’ve seen more generic and less personal

Kali Pizzaro: or we could have that higher presence – symbolic that you belong to something bigger – a VW?

Gann McGann: yes

Gann McGann: ahahh that’s my second half of the presentation Kali

Kali Pizzaro: a VW community

Kali Pizzaro: oops lol I will shut up now

Sheila Yoshikawa: could you pause just a little bit more between slides, Gann?

Kali Pizzaro: 😉

Sheila Yoshikawa: when you go back to them

Gann McGann: no that’s excellent, it reassures me i’m building on these concepts in the right order

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): one person I brought in found the safari area and was so delighted because it reminded her of her home in South Africa

Gann McGann: ok

Lyr Lobo: There is a live stream of this session, Gann, on Youtube at the moment

Gann McGann: ok cool, hopefully people won’t be thrown by the silent bits

Kali Pizzaro: sure and my findings and others build on yours, that’s research lol

Sheila Yoshikawa: Shall we move on now, is that ok with people?

Gann McGann: 🙂


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: So now I want to finally talk about space, about how I understand virtual spaces as an extension of a longer and older tradition of spaces.

Marly (Marly Milena): As educators, we have talked about what has more agency….reproducing spaces that look like the schools people have gone to…..or completely reinventing and redesigning where and how learning takes place


Childs slide 16

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: We’ve all lost ourselves in a book. It is a completely immersive experience, but the technology is thousands of years old. In fact, Michael Saler in his book “As If” describes a certain set of fictions, those which are shared between people and believed in, sort of.

Gann McGann: what is the earliest VW you know of?

Beth Ghostraven: Oz

Rhiannon Chatnoir: probably cave paintings

Marly (Marly Milena): Plays

Kali Pizzaro: habbo hotel lol

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): MUDS

Beth Ghostraven: oh, I thought you meant for me

Sheila Yoshikawa: Alice in Wonderland or Winnie the Pooh

Beth Ghostraven: stories around the campfire

Rhiannon Chatnoir: lascaux in France.. but lots of examples of cave paintings

Sheila Yoshikawa: or where ever it was Noddy lived

Gann McGann: Toyland?

Gann McGann: stores around the campfire

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol self-centred thinking of me

Beth Ghostraven: (or rather, just “fire”, as prehistoric people were living, not camping)

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: if we were talking about a joint world where you are co-creating Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: 3 things, shared world, people take on identities, co-create content

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: these are key even if text based

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: then the answer is

Rhiannon Chatnoir: 1 shared world, 2. people take on identities, 3 people co create collaborative stories within it

Sheila Yoshikawa: drum roll

Gann McGann: Glasshouse Conference

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): MUDs and MOOs

Sheila Yoshikawa: anyone heard of that

Gann McGann: predating muds and moos

Morgaine (Morgaine Borgin): no

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): no

Lyr Lobo: No *smiles*

Beth Ghostraven: nope, me neither

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): no

Gann McGann: built by Branwell, Anne, Emily, Charlotte

Lyr Lobo: Yes, hehe, but not by that name

Sheila Yoshikawa: built by the Brontes

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: Michael Saler (in As If) talks about an ironic imagination, or double consciousness, where people play along as if they believe something is true, whereas really they know it isn’t. Such as the Sherlock Holmes fandom that like to believe the Holmes stories are real, and written by Watson.

Mark: Like Beth says, Oz works like this as well. Frank L. Baum pretended that his stories from Oz were real and had been sent to him by electric telegraph. People knew it wasn’t real, but played along because it gave them more pleasure to play the game.

Rhiannon Chatnoir: collaborative play of children falls into this.. like coming up with imaginative worlds and then playing in them together

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: Suits in his book talks about games, in which we maintain a double consciousness. We know really it doesn’t really matter if our team moves a ball from here to there, but also we can enter a space, and a mindset, where it does. Huizinga talks about ritual spaces in a similar way.

iSkye Silverweb: Star Trek cosplay comes to mind

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Tolkien’s secondary creation/secondary belief.

Mark: Yes exactly. And Saler discusses Tolkien in his book too.

Sheila Yoshikawa: whilst immersed in watching a game we believe it really matters

Sheila Yoshikawa: people engage in the belief as part of being in that ritual space

Sheila Yoshikawa: e.g. they believe the sun comes up

Sheila Yoshikawa: but engage with the ritual that says it needs a ritual

Marly (Marly Milena): One could say the same thing about any individual life–a teeny blip on the panorama of existence!


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: Victor Turner called these sorts of spaces Liminal Spaces. The idea of a liminal space is that they are spaces which are set apart from the regular world – the limen is the edge of a stage which separates the magical make believe space of the stage from the audience. We know the play isn’t real, but also it is in a way.

Beth Ghostraven: a willing suspension of disbelief

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: And when we’re looking at theatres in a virtual world, there’s a two-step process. There’s the stepping into the virtual world, and then there’s the stepping into the theatrical world within the virtual. Some would say the transition from the non-theatrical virtual space to the theatrical one, is a bigger step.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: What these spaces all have in common, is that they require the engagement of belief in order for them to be fully experienced. You can walk into a shop, and your experience will be pretty much the same as anyone else’s, but there are some spaces, and I’ve got some examples here, where two people will have very different experiences depending on what their expectations and beliefs are.

Sheila Yoshikawa: So those comments cover the next few slides

Beth Ghostraven: that’s true of literature too–what the reader brings to the story

iSkye Silverweb nods at Beth’s comment


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: So that was a play


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG:  this is a game

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: do you believe the money is real?

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: that will have an impact on how you are immersed in the game

Beth Ghostraven: while I’m playing Monopoly, that money is real!

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: this is football


Sheila Yoshikawa: Gann has never got football and me neither, but obviously many do

iSkye Silverweb: many very passionate fans

Mark: The only sport I’ve ever watched that I got caught up in is tea duelling. But that’s as much due to my love of tea and dunking biscuits as anything to do with competitiveness.

Marly (Marly Milena): Football is not the same in the UK and the US. The word refers to two different games!

Marly (Marly Milena): Haha

Gann McGann: soccer

Sheila Yoshikawa: yes we were referring to proper football lol

Beth Ghostraven: lol Sheila

Marly (Marly Milena): But it  refers to your first query about the use of words!

Mark: although I think the same applies to whichever version of football we’re referring to. Or which version of hockey. Actually any sport.

Beth Ghostraven: don’t say that to someone from Texas :o)

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol Beth


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: and this is a religious space

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: so there will be different impact, depending on whether you believe in that faith

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: I’ve listed some of the elements that mark these out, mapped against the elements of the extended activity theory model) and we’d need a lot more time to discuss these than we have here.


Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: The essential thing for me though, is that this means that the challenges for our learners of moving into new spaces such as virtual worlds, aren’t new. If we can reflect on our experiences of these other more familiar spaces, then we can help prepare our students for being in virtual worlds. Which will prepare them better for learning in them.

Sheila Yoshikawa: “we’ve experienced these challenges for thousands of years”

Sheila Yoshikawa: Also in case you can’t read the screen, the points on it are:

“What makes these spaces special”

Belief and metaxis (presence)
Boundary objects and semiotics (tools)
Different goals and aims (object)
Transformation of role and status (division of labour)
Suspension of normal conventions, transformation of time (rules)
Participation requires ability to engage belief (subject)
Identity and roleplay (identity)
Community and Communitas (community)
Transformation and outcome

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: I’m going to leave the discussion of spaces with this image of another friend and colleague, Stelarc. This is a performance in which his avatar in Second Life was moving randomly, and its movements were generating jolts of electricity that were moving his physical limbs. In effect, Stelarc’s avatar was controlling him.

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: he had a script on his avatar to make it move randomly


Beth Ghostraven: wow! Rhiannon, how does that compare with the recent performances at Arena Stage in DC?

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: I guess that’s my common theme. Where there have been occasions where I’ve met resistance from students, underlying this has been a fear that the technology is controlling them. I think whatever you’re teaching, taking some time to make the experience transparent. That it’s not about the technology per se, that this is only an extension of their previous experiences. So that’s the final bit

Sheila Yoshikawa: GMcG: Does this correspond to how you perceive the types of spaces that virtual worlds actually are? Also, I skipped over a lot of stuff in the slide of attributes of virtual worlds / liminal spaces, so I’ll go back to that and can talk about any of those in more detail.

Sheila Yoshikawa: That’s fine Gann

Gann McGann: Does this match how you feel about SL and about liminal spaces?


iSkye Silverweb: To the degree that we allow ourselves to be immersed in the virtual setting, yes

Dodge Threebeards: So how do we design for students who have been in SL for a few hours only, so that they feel more comfortable?

Gann McGann: That’s an interesting perspective — “allowed” some would say it takes effort to become engaged, others would say we just have to surrender ourselves to the process

Gann McGann: i think it’s different for different people, and i don’t think we always get how different the experience is

Sheila Yoshikawa: one of the unspoken things

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): The question of course is whether a liminal space is something one observes (ie a stage) or one that one participates in? Or both?

Sheila Yoshikawa: is that this space appeals to people with active imaginations

Sheila Yoshikawa: but people focused on practical aspects have more problems

Beth Ghostraven: Marly, can you allow time for transcription

Rhiannon Chatnoir: me too Marly

Sheila Yoshikawa: I’m transcribing Marly

Rhiannon Chatnoir: that is why my avatar name comes from mythology

Lyr Lobo: you have to have a certain kind of imagination

Lyr Lobo: to really immerse yourself

Gann McGann: Dodge: i don’t think we need to design the spaces, i think we need to build in time to reflect on those experiences and talk through the challenges

Lyr Lobo: and get the most out of them

Sheila Yoshikawa: so Marly says that some people want an experience that is more grounded in what they see as reality

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): I know people who have little imagination and do not get why people get involved in SL at all.

Lyr Lobo: some will take to it easily

Lyr Lobo: many experiences now of online kinds of presence

iSkye Silverweb: I’ve encountered a number of people who are unwilling to engage fully, immerse, and so they don’t get quite the full experience, or benefit, they could.  For someone who expects to only spend a couple of hours inworld for an assignment the attitude and the level of engagement will be significantly less than if that person could be engaged, or actually create something that gives them the sense of being IN, not just playing at, this environment

Lyr Lobo: than her generation had

Lyr Lobo: and literalists who are very grounded in their immediate presence

Lyr Lobo: in regular life

Sheila Yoshikawa: and so Marly says this applies to students, some take to it easily, and they have more experience of online presence, and literalists will not take to it as much

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): I think sl doesn’t work with all types of brains

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): it depends how the brain works, we are not all the same

Marly (Marly Milena): I agree, John

2018-05-03 VWER - Mark Childs Interview_015

Gann McGann: profdan – i think there is far more going on in observation than we give credit to, even just by being an audience member we are participating, in engaging our belief

Sheila Yoshikawa: myself I think it’s nice there is a space for people with imagination 😉

Lyr Lobo: and our experience of the world varies, John

Dodge Threebeards: in evaluations, we get about 10% of students who hate SL

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Does the classroom work for all types of brains?

Dodge Threebeards: 25% who love it

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): for example, I can’t get any pleasure in watching sports events

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): but the first time I tried sl it was a kick

Sheila Yoshikawa: In terms of learning in general people vary in what they prefer and value

Beth Ghostraven: Dodge, I think that’s not a bad percentage–10%!

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): others get a lot of pleasure from watching sport

Lyr Lobo: I’ve noticed that of the students who are uncomfortable in world, when we spend time one on one learning how to move, interact, communicate and create content, they experience a transformation and for many, it becomes their world

Gann McGann: i think the people who get it eventually is around 75%

Dodge Threebeards: we greatly reduce student frustration by our designs, this increases students feeling of comfort,

Beth Ghostraven: lol Dan, of course the classroom doesn’t work for everyone! In fact, I’d say the percentage of learners who hate the classroom environment would be way higher than 10%

Rhiannon Chatnoir: i think though, similar to say movies having more mass appeal, if you can set up an interesting narrative and environment, that can help bring in more people who might not necessarily be as comfortable creating or imagining the space from the start

Gann McGann: they just need to get over the initial barrier to interaction

iSkye Silverweb: watching baseball on a television, meh. watching my nephew hit a home run in little league, I’m standing up and cheering him on as he rounds the bases. Big difference.

Mark: That’s what Turner means by Communitas, not just community but a shared emotional experience, action in concert. Suits talks about highjumping as an example, the point is not to get from one side to another, but to do it against a set of rules that make it difficult, so that when it’s achieved we feel that sense of connection with others. In fact, the point is still not to get over the bar, or to hit the home run, the point is the sense of shared achievement when it happens. Suits calls that Reverse English (it’s a cricketing metaphor, so I don’t know what it means really). But it’s something that looks like one thing, but is really meant to be something else. The point is meant to look like hitting a baseball and running round a square, but it’s not really. The point is you standing up and cheering him as he rounds the bases. Subtle difference. 🙂

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): In learning and education we should get back to nature

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): be natural

Mark: But using new tech is more natural than avoiding it. The first mobile devices pre-date human beings by about a million years. Homo Ergaster created them, these were acheulean hand axes. These became the tools by which they interacted with the environment, digging, scraping, cutting, the key things they needed to do. I have one. It’s exactly the same width and length as my mobile phone. Which is of course my main interface with the world. The one I got was designed to be functional, but there are loads that are bigger, useless decorative. They’re found in huge pits, which people have speculated are places where the users discarded them in a conspicuous display of wealth. These outside mobile devices were, I guess, the iPads of their day. By using these devices, the users’ brains evolved – the bit that was needed to operate them successfully was a pro-survival characteristic – a part of the brain that also develops language. And hence Home Ergaster became Homo Sapiens. In short, we didn’t invent mobile devices, mobile devices invented us. We were born as cyborgs. It’s an essential part of our nature.

Sheila Yoshikawa: scrolling back to look at what Skye said, I also find the idea of whether people are allowing themselves to get immersed or not interesting, I think there are many strong messages (that we should limit screen time, that being online is unhealthy etc.) that deter people from immersing, or letting themselves immerse

Beth Ghostraven: John, I don’t know about that–do you know middle schoolers? lol

Lyr Lobo: The difference is not the technology in my experience…but the shared experience and overcoming the separateness experienced when faced with an unfamiliar and dramatically different learning environment and use of a complex interface

Gann McGann: i have a good friend in the elearning community who hates SL, but we both looked at a platform Birmingham uni developed, which was a reproduction of their campus, i thought it was a waste of effort, but Laurie loved it, it didn’t challenge the imagination so much, it had a reassuring reality to it

Gann McGann: mundanity

Lyr Lobo: so what I mean is that students who transition from feeling alienated to feeling connected to a community… find it easier to study in these worlds

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): In Italy we have a sort of second life for teachers

Sheila Yoshikawa: @John really?

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): it’s called Edmondo and it’s experimental –  http://edmondo.indire.it/

Sheila Yoshikawa: sounds very interesting!

Beth Ghostraven: Gann, I think those familiar structures can help us know how to behave and what to expect in those spaces

Mark: I agree, as a first step. But I think there’s a fear of losing a connection with reality with some people that prevents them from going beyond those first steps to exploit all that these spaces can provide.

Gann McGann: i think you just need that one thing to make an emotional connection

Dodge Threebeards: yes, what is the balance between a real campus and an open space campus


Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Overcoming the separateness–excellent point, Lyr–this is my goal in using SL for online students–giving student a sense of being with each other, working together in a space that is more immersive than discussion forum text or text chat, or even talking heads with conference apps.

Gann McGann: sport too, when i do identity work with students, the ones who are into sport says it gives them a connection to their parent, usually father and it’s that that is informing its contribution to their identity

Marly (Marly Milena): I brought in two advanced educators for my climate change workshop.  One said she actually got nauseous watching her Avatar represent herself on the screen and didn’t come back

Gann McGann: i think other liminal spaces are the same

Gann McGann: sometimes the feeling of immersion can be too strong for people

Marly (Marly Milena): The other got fed up with all the tech glitches he encountered and had no desire to return

Sheila Yoshikawa: ah I was hoping the 2nd would be a success story lol @Marly

Beth Ghostraven: (I looked this up, btw: What Is A Liminal Space? |


The word liminal comes from the Latin word limen, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.)

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): SL cannot be used safely with underage students

Sheila Yoshikawa: perhaps you could come back and talk about it at VWER @John

Marly (Marly Milena): My wasband….a guy with both great imagination and analytic ability! @Sheila

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): It looks so interesting John

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Depends on the age, John. I’ve used it successfully with 16-17 year olds.

Sheila Yoshikawa: liminal may also be frightening for people who are literalists as Marly puts it?

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): I am talking about legal issues and internet dangers

Sheila Yoshikawa: people may feel they don’t want to be transformed

Kali Pizzaro: I suppose it also depends on whether you see this as a place – which I am sure many of us do that what i feel the rest of the web is – a space

Gann McGann: yes – but they are, every time they go to a theater,

Beth Ghostraven: Sheila, good point–they want black-and-white, not gray areas

Kali Pizzaro: so i see web as space and this as a place

Marly (Marly Milena): Not to mention people who are mentally shaky!

Gann McGann: but then maybe mentally shaky people are threatened by liminality per se

iSkye Silverweb: I do wish there were a Teen SL again – a lot of the kids were sooooooo inventive and it was delightful to see what they came up with in their creations and activities.

2018-05-03 VWER - Mark Childs Interview_016

Sheila Yoshikawa: OK 5 minutes left

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Spaces in virtual worlds can be made safe for younger people.

Sheila Yoshikawa: So final comments and questions

Gann McGann: however it can be a release from the day to day stresses

Kali Pizzaro: I have a connection and this is what i found that people had place identity here similar to the physical world

Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes they can, you can lock down avatars to regions and lock out folks from those regions if you wanted to in SL

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): the best is openspace

Dodge Threebeards: kids are doing great things in OS and Minecraft

Rhiannon Chatnoir: and certainly OpenSim has even more ability

Sheila Yoshikawa: yes

Marly (Marly Milena): Gann, did you say you don’t come in here much anymore? If so, why?

Sheila Yoshikawa: 😉 good question

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): lock down avatars to region @Rhiannon?

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Does the use of a virtual environment facilitate community because of its ability to be both immediate and immersive? Some students thrive on a learning community, and then others only tolerate, just wanting to do the work on their own.

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): But that’s true f2f and in virtual environments.

Sheila Yoshikawa: @profdan, good point

Sheila Yoshikawa: the endless struggle convincing some students that group working has a value….

Gann McGann: its mainly because i am working in one city, living in another, trying to find time to fit in family, cats etc

Gann McGann: it’s just time really

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): how can we lock an avatar to one region?

Marly (Marly Milena): Haha, sounds like a familiar story

iSkye Silverweb: I am sure I’m not alone in saying I am a member of several communities in SL and the reason is because of the satisfaction I gain from being involved in different ways.  I can understand someone initially saying “so what do we DO here?” when they first come in. This is a platform, not a game (you can play a game in SL though) and this is what I think confuses them – the lack of structure, quests, etc.

iSkye Silverweb: but that was the very thing that drew me to SL.

Gann McGann: i was in here because i had specific things to do, projects, research teaching, but now the funding for those has ended, there is no incentive apart from when i’m invited to do these things

Gann McGann: i miss it though

Sheila Yoshikawa: Did anyone have an answer to @John’s q about locking an avatar?

Lyr Lobo: @Profdan when I transitioned my classes from “held in SL or OpenSim” to the learning management system and an application sharing conference tool, the students said that they felt like some of their senses were deprived

Lyr Lobo: the class experience, while real time and shared, was not as poignant in a conference tool as it is in here

Marly (Marly Milena): Come back!  LOL

Beth Ghostraven: Gann, you and your wife could do social things here, like hang out at my pub, or explore Fantasy Faire

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Interesting, @Lyr. Exactly.

Gann McGann: we;; she’s in Katmandu atm

Gann McGann: poor wifi

Rhiannon Chatnoir: how to lock an avatar, you can use the RegAPI capabilities, Linden lab created an API you can use to register and lock avatars to estates. YOu need someone to work with that API for your particular needs. I have done that with Frans Charming in the past for many edu projects that had youth or other sensitive populations.

Beth Ghostraven: I’m always disappointed when I hear of someone who has used SL professionally who isn’t inworld anymore because the professional reasons stopped–I would go to the library even if I didn’t work there

Sheila Yoshikawa: Thanks Rhiannon!

Sheila Yoshikawa: OK

Sheila Yoshikawa: I think that’s it for this time!

Lyr Lobo: @Beth yes

Marly (Marly Milena): Thanks Gann and Sheila!

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Avatars were locked on the teen grid too.

Sheila Yoshikawa: Gann has I think said he will come back later in the summer with another presentation /discussion

Gann McGann: well i will come to your pub then Beth 🙂

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Thank you Rhannon

Morgaine (Morgaine Borgin): Thank you!

Sheila Yoshikawa: Please thank Gann

Beth Ghostraven: wow! this hour went fast! Thank you so much, Gann! and Sheila!

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): Excellent presentation and discussion, Sheila and Gann!!!

Sheila Yoshikawa: in whatever way you deem appropriate

Beth Ghostraven: Gann, that sounds great–you are all invited!

Beth Ghostraven: the LM is in my Picks

Gann McGann: cool

Gann McGann: thanks everyone for coming

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd) claps

Kali Pizzaro: thank you Gann

iSkye Silverweb: wishing more people could have come to this

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): thought provoking info!

Beth Ghostraven: IM me when you’re there, though, so I can join you (all of you

Sheila Yoshikawa: thansk everyone for the good discussion

Rhiannon Chatnoir: well I recorded it

iSkye Silverweb: Gann would you come and talk with us again??

Gann McGann: yes i would

Sheila Yoshikawa: and special thanks to Rhiannon for the videoing

Rhiannon Chatnoir: and part way through, realized i could move my chat window over to show that

Sheila Yoshikawa: so will it be available as a recording?

ThinkererSelby Evans (Thinkerer Melville): good discussion

Gann McGann: just email me, or catch up with me inworld

Rhiannon Chatnoir: but with the chat transcript and the recording, others can watch and read it later

Lyr Lobo: Thank you *smiles*

Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes Sheila

Lyr Lobo: Have a great week! *waves*

Sheila Yoshikawa: excellent!

Kali Pizzaro: byee all take care

Rhiannon Chatnoir pokes Lyr to look at Skype

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Thanks for transcribing Sheila.

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): maybe post it on all the education groups?

Kali Pizzaro: I am away next week but enjoy

iSkye Silverweb takes her scheduling pencil out and makes a note.. “contact Mark – back for another talk…”

Kali Pizzaro: lol

Gann McGann: 🙂

Prof. Dan (Profdan Netizen): bye, all

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): Rhiannon’s recording ?

Sheila Yoshikawa: So, I want to know why people preferred the chairs to the cushions

Kali Pizzaro: Good woman iSkye

Lyr Lobo: Yes, that was live

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Is there a link for the video?

Sheila Yoshikawa: oops that sounded a bit blunt

Sheila Yoshikawa: just curiosity

Sheila Yoshikawa: apart from Darke

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): I was wearing a short skirt Sheila

Beth Ghostraven: because my clothes look better when I”m sitting in a chair, Sheila

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol

Kali Pizzaro: lol someone sat there first and we all followed the social norm

Lyr Lobo: we had no idea how one might be posed on a cushion

Rhiannon Chatnoir: yes great stuff Mark, and would love to even hear more on that overlap with performance and theater.. that mixing of realities

Sheila Yoshikawa: propriety and vanity, I understand those

Sheila Yoshikawa: lol

Gann McGann: yes i was wondering about the cushions too,

iSkye Silverweb: My av is in heels. Normally casually I am just barefoot with hair up and shorts and dirty tee on but I thought I’d show a bit of decorum

Lyr Lobo: and in the past, the group sat in the round *grins*

Sheila Yoshikawa: they have poses in them

Gann McGann: oh i can talk about that forever Rhiannon

Kali Pizzaro: lol iSkye

Lyr Lobo: aye, but sometimes cushions on the ground are more social

Kali Pizzaro: right I am offski

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): I would like to see the slides again if possible

Gann McGann: i’ve a paper somewhere on the differences between RL and SL theatres

Sheila Yoshikawa: Yes so next week I am leading a discussion on AI and ethical issues in education

Gann McGann: i could dig it out

Kali Pizzaro: lol Lyr doing her best Scottish accent

Kali Pizzaro: aye

Rhiannon Chatnoir: would love to look at that Mark

Lyr Lobo: hehe

Wisdomseeker (Lissena): can the slides be posted somewhere?

Sheila Yoshikawa: so hopefully see some of you then!

Lyr Lobo: Thanks! *waves*

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Everybody else was seated on a chair

Gann McGann: Sheila has the slides I’m sure she can post them somewhere

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Thank you

Sheila Yoshikawa: mm I can put them on my slideshare, but is that ok?

Sheila Yoshikawa: with you Gann?

Sheila Yoshikawa: we don’t have a vwer slideshare currently

Lyr Lobo: have a lovely day *waves*

Sheila Yoshikawa: and you byeee

Zo (Zotarah Shepherd): Byeee

Gann McGann: sure , feel free to use them how you like

John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): ty and good bye all

Sheila Yoshikawa: great that would be easiest for me

Darkejade Tempest (Darkejade): thank you 🙂  have a great night / day !

Sheila Yoshikawa: and i will make sure that the links are publicised on SLED discussion list and the VWER group

2018-05-03 VWER - Mark Childs Interview_012


VWER Meeting Transcripts by Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://vwer.info.

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