Podcast: Social Informatics and the Information Economy

In This podcast I discuss the Information Economy and how a Social Informatics lens can be used to critique the popular Techno Utopian view as presented by mainstream media. I discuss how Google’s business is not search but advertising, the concept of booms and busts in the computer industry and how Facebook fits into the mix.

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Podcast: A Conversation with Gamer Girls

In this podcast, recorded at the University of Pittsburgh during the iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3), I’m joined by four students who have been studying the representation of Women in Video Games.

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Podcast: Video Games in China

In this podcast, recorded while on Fellowship in Darmstadt, Germany, I speak with an American technology consultant currently working in the video game industry in China. He provides deep insider knowledge about the game industry culture, working as a foreigner in the game industry, and the differences in perceptions of video game effects on children and learning.


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Video – Project-based learning

This is the second video in a three part series about my Spring 2009 course. This video features students discussing their final projects in Second Life where they had to partner with a third-party client in Second Life and create a project to help them meet their organizational goals. Two groups choose to host events as fundraisers, Under the Sea and Horns for 100K while a third group worked with a role playing group to get a better understanding of what community can mean in a virtual world. I hope you enjoy this video and as always, i welcome feedback!

P.S. follow me on twitter @joe_sanchez

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Second life Learning Curve

Last spring I shot video interviews of my students talking about various aspects of Second Life. I collected about thirty minutes of footage from each student and from those interviews I created a series of three five minute videos. Each video focuses on a different aspect of learning in Second Life; the learning curve, project based learning, and what makes learning in SL different. As a recap, I taught a course called Working in Virtual Worlds as an undergraduate Information Studies course. The class was scheduled as a face to face course but we primarily met in Second Life. Students worked on a variety of projects where they engaged members of the Second Life community in a variety of activities.

This first video focuses on overcoming the learning curve in Second Life. Over the years I’ve conducted quite a bit of research in this area and i wanted to provide an avenue for current and potential teachers in Second Life to hear directly from students about their experiences.

I hope you find this video useful and I look forward to hearing your comments. I will release the next two videos in this series over the next three weeks.
Joe Sanchez

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Remembering Bluewave Ogee

Bluewave Ogee
Dear Friends,
With sadness I regret to inform you that a wonderful and kind soul, Dr. Leslie Jarmon aka Bluewave Ogee passed away last night (11-24-09).

As many of you know, Bluewave has been undergoing chemo therapy for cancer of the lymph nodes the last year. On Friday she was placed in hospice care at her brother’s home in Austin, Texas. She has been surrounded by family and friends. Last night at 8:30PM Leslie passed away.

I was able to spend the weekend at her side, she was in good spirits, jovial and at peace. We spent alot of our time reminiscing about Second Life and the Educators Coop. She loves all of you and she wanted to thank you for all your work and collaborations over the last few years. I asked her if she had a message to share and she replied

“tell them its been REAL”

Rx has built a site where we will keep a permanent memorial for Bluewave. Please visit and in the spirit of collaboration, add a few prims : )
North Lamar / Joe Sanchez

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Checking In

It has been a while since I’ve been able to blog due to a cross country move and new job. This past summer I successfully defended and submitted my dissertation “Becoming: The Evolution of a Learning Organization in a Social Virtual World” (abstract at the end of this post) and in September I started a tenure track position in the School of Information and Communication at Rutgers in New Brunswick. Now that I’m finally settled I will be updating this space more frequently. In the upcoming weeks I will be posting links to a three part video series about teaching in Second Life that features interviews with previous students and discussions about their learning experiences. I will also be sharing details of Leslie Jarmon’s HUGE Second Life initiative through the University of Texas System. For those on Twitter you can follow me @joe_sanchez

–Dissertation Abstract below —
Becoming: The Evolution of a Learning Organization in a Social Virtual World
The Educators Coop is a group of forty-two educators, researchers, and librarians that are interested in learning how to teach and conduct research in the social virtual world of Second Life. This naturalistic inquiry examines how the group utilized the virtual environment in order to meet their goals during a six-month period in 2007.
Members of the Educators Coop exhibited three key behaviors that helped members accomplish their goals of learning how to teach and conduct research in Second Life. Members 1) engaged in a continuous knowledge spiral involving the transfer of tacit and explicit knowledge; 2) were supportive of each other’s ideas; and 3) participated in social networks that often extended beyond the virtual world. Members of the Educators Coop used the virtual world as a complimentary piece to their Real Lives; there were not any synthetic or virtual aspects to their relationships.

One goal of the study was to identify the culture created by the members of the Educators Coop using Choo’s (1998) definition of group culture. Members of the Educators Coop created and participated in a group culture where they 1) articulated a group identity; 2) displayed a common set of beliefs; 3) performed a pattern of behaviors
leading to a leveling of social status; and 4) shaped a group teaching philosophy. The culture of the group created an environment of support, acceptance, and mutual respect for one other’s professional work.

The second goal of the study was to observe and understand how members of the group would alter their virtual environment in order to better perform their work. Members of the Coop altered their environment by creating coordinated weekly events in order to maximize their opportunities for group collaboration. They also used the affordances of Second Life to create a community art space that encouraged a creative and playful environment for interactions. More surprisingly though, the environment altered the members of the Educators Coop as they began to feel embodied by their avatars and the virtual place of the Educators Coop became a real life working space.

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Role-play in Second Life- Becoming the Saints of Hell

Student Event - Role-Play

The last group in my class Working in Virtual Worlds will present their final project in Second Life tomorrow Tuesday, May 5 2009. This group picked a unique project, they wanted to explore a Second Life culture so they decided to join the Saints of Hell. The Saints of Hell are a 1% Outlaw Motorcycle role-play group in Second Life. The students have told me that the Saints are set up like a traditional 1% Motorcycle Club where they have a President, Vice President and Sgt at Arms. The students have been spending up to 10 hours a week immersed in the role-play for five weeks.

During the last few weeks I’ve observed several changes during their role-play experience. The most obvious is their avatar appearance. When they first mentioned their project as an initial task I asked them to give their avatars a biker make-over. As you can see from the picture below, they went a little over board on the fantasy end.
Student's first attempt as being Saints of Hell
The students approached the Saints and pitched their project idea. Sims Rang, the current President of The Saints of Hell was intrigued by the project and sold the idea to the other members of the group. She paired each student with a Saints of Hell mentor and the students were on their way to an immersive experience. Each student now has a custom skin designed by the Saints of Hell along with realistic looking biker clothes and amazing choppers
From Student to Saint of Hell

The event tomorrow will be a forum hosted by the students to discuss their experiences in the role-play activity. The forum will have six panelist, three students and three members from the Saints of Hell. A fourth student will serve as the host of the event and he promises that he has been watching Oprah to prepare for his role as host. During the event they will be asking for donations for the Saints of Hell Relay for Life team. The event will be held at the Educators Coop 1

If you have a chance, drop by and learn more about the Saints of Hell and role-play in Second Life.

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Student Second Life Event: Under Water Fun

Student Second Life Event
The second group from my Spring 2009 course will be having their final project event on Thursday April 30 from 4 – 6 SLT at the Utwig Sim. They have been working with the great folks at the Music Academy Online who agreed to let them use their island for the event. During the event they will submerge the entire sim by raising the water level to 100M (normally 20M) and have diving and other water activities. The event will feature the live band Friendly Fire and D.J. Autumn Beaver and is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Student Second Life Marketing

As part of their marketing campaign the students made an appearance on the SLCN show Music Academy Onlive. The students did a great job discussing their project and talking about the experience of being learners in Second Life. A video of the show is available at SLCN.tv. My students appear after the first guest, about 8 minutes into the program. They are easy to spot since they are wearing their diving gear. Benton, the host and founder of the Music Academy Online, also interviewed me for a short segment. It follows the segment of my students.

UPDATE: My students that held the Longhorns for 100,000K fundraiser surpassed their project goal. They raised over $111,000L during their event and donated close to $450 USD to their selected non-profits. Way to go Team!!

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