Preparing to Teach Field Research in Second Life

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Preparing to Teach Field Research in Second Life. Edward Lee Lamoureux/Professor Beliveau NMC Regional Meeting San Antonio,TX November 8, 2006. Course Goals. Teach our students about virtual worlds/immersive environments. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Preparing to Teach Field Research in Second Life

  • Edward Lee Lamoureux/Professor BeliveauNMC Regional MeetingSan Antonio,TXNovember 8, 2006

  • Course Goals

  • Teach our students about virtual worlds/immersive environments. Most of the Multimedia students at Bradley want to learn to author 3D, immersive media. Doing meaningful things in SL (like holding class, making presentations, observing other, etc.) will help them further understand the products they want to someday make.Show them that games are for more than just playing (esp. shooting).Teach students to better understand how new media impacts society by learning a valuable and oft-use strategy/method for doing research.(ethnographic field methods) that they may later use (in more detail) to study how new media is used.Learn about virtual worlds as a distance education platformCourse Goals

  • My Goals and Motivations

  • Im the theory guy in our program. Ive have been opposed to teaching games directly as Im uninterested in shooting, killing and fantasy. But SL presents us with a wonderful opportunity to learn and teach about virtual environments for living and learning.Helps keep me engaged and relevant to our students.

    In my previous life I was a field researcher/conversation analyst. This course gives me the opportunity to teach ethnographic methods to neophyte researchers in an environment that is safer for both students and subjects than is Real Life.

    And not to be ignored, SL offers a distance education platform unmatched by other modalities, thereby giving me a chance to teach and earn additional income over an otherwise dark period at Bradley. We offer courses in the January interim, but few students want to come to Peoria in order to take them.

    My Goals and Motivations

  • Preparing Students, orI LOVE THIS COUNTRY

  • I have a kind of perfect stormMy Students are, generally, Multimedia degree majors; some gamers; almost all want to make games or do animation; they have equipment, network, & know how.By application only, specially chosen. Up to 8 for research; 1 machinima maker as historian.We have a little room so weve invited one student (each) from Trinity, Ball St. and UNR.Many folks have asked to visit.

    Application requirements:Meet or exceed system requirements and broadband.Create account and Avi prior to 2 hours F-2-F Dec. 2 meeting in our labs and SL.Orientation Island & Help Island & join NMC and class group before December 2.Identify group of interest before January 2.Complete research application/proposal before January 5.

  • About the Course

  • About the CourseThree hours per night, M-F, first 3 weeks in January (interm). 100% distant in SL.One hour lecture/discussionOne hour student presentations of their researchOne hour in the fieldThey will blog, takes tests & write a final paperField Research: Strategies for a Natural Sociology Leonard Schatzman, Anselm L. StraussVirtual Methods Christine Hine (Editor)Second Life: The Official GuideMichael Rymaszewski

    EnteringCasing, approaching, relationships, presenting the self & the study, reciprocal negotiations. HSP/ethical practices/protocols.

    Getting organizedMapping/tours (places, people/functions, action zones)Establishing a sampling strategy (location, time, aspect/event, and amount)

    Data CollectionWatching/listening as passive presence or with limited interactionInterviewing an informantData recording, data coding and data security (subject protection and physical security)

    Data AnalysisDeveloping theoretical leads from the dataTaxonomies and categorizationConstant comparisonsDrawing inferences from data.Writing up results

  • Interesting Challenges So FarProtection of Human SubjectsDoomsday Planning

  • Protection of Human SubjectsIn an unexpected role reversal, we are faced with more procedural challenges over human subjects protection in SL than we would face in RL. The research Ill teach my students to do would normally get an exemption from review if undertaken in RL, due to its nature as pure observation and interview. However, in SL proposals have to first be submitted to Linden Labs for their approval. Then

    Our universitys human subjects committee has determined that they want individual proposals from each student prior to approval. I was hoping for a blanket OK on a generic, class-based form that Id submit instead. The committee takes seriously the fact that most SL residents wear name tags over their heads as evidence that even observational research cant be done---the subjects in SL arent anonymous in that environment, so we have moved to produce strong protections for them.

  • Protection of Human Subject ProceduresFollow Linden Labs procedures for planning and notification.Linden Labs will announce the research and identify the research class and members to the community.Create Researcher group identification for all student avatarsHowever, the casing portion of entering will be done without this designation, before any data collection takes place.Once data collection and class begin, the designation will be displayed prominently.Bradley University HSP committee requires that students research proposals for approval. Expedited review promised.Create a HSP handout carried by every student as a notecard offered to any avatar who inquires as to the research work/researchers presence or on whom data is collected.

    Maintain subject confidentiality in data management (coded names, etc).Forbid students from copying and saving transcripts of talk from subjects from whom they have not gotten permission (and who havent been given an HSP handout)Forbid students from using camera controls to see through objects and into spaces where they are not co-present with the subjects.Publish the URL for the student course blogs on the Linden Labs blog site.Review the student blogs regularly to catch any beginners mistakes that might compromise subject protections.Block out avatar names and faces in cases of publishing photos of subjects without their permission.Copy of final papers posted to the student blogs.

  • More Protection of Human Subject IssuesAlmost every observed avatar can be identified by avatar name. Only some can be cross-identified by RL name. Those who list RL names can be identified by anyone in the game via a search mechanism.Our permissions will have a check off for just using the SL name and image without coding . . . some/many dont care. Virtually every text chat generates a transcript for anyone within 200 meters.

    Camera controls allow/enable seeing through some otherwise seeming to be solid surfaces.We cant post a notice in all regions (though we might be able to post one in some depends). If pressed, we might be able to get each land owner to allow us to post.Our permissions will have a check off for images as well. We can block out the names and faces.Havent yet heard back from Linden Labs about our plans. Slow response time from them is problematic in development mode.

  • DoomsdayWhat happens if the University closes?In this case, if SL goes down?With the growth of SL has come DOS attacks and the chance of a sudden sale and closure. What happens to students if the class is cancelled midway due to loss of SL?BU doesnt have a clear policy for closure of the university mid-term. We had a week of tense negotiations, leading to a solution: 3, 1-credit enrollments that get us money and grades in a step-wise fashion. Cant be used by the students, only by the program and only for doomsday.

  • Build it and they will come(and theyll bring their notepads)

  • with the Professor (audio interview) -Preparing for the class, part one -Preparing for the class, part two -Background and class poster (word.doc) -"Right Click to Learn," Boston Phoenix, 8-17-06 -HOI-19 interview article, 8-19-06: "Virtual Classroom to Start at Bradley" -BU gets a virtual second life (BU Scout, 9-8-6 -"A Whole New World," PJS, 10-17-06 -PJS photos -BU spotlight BU alumni magazine is working on a story appearing after classPlus, we will hold one session as open (with my view projected in our lab) to Bradley administrators (including the Provost) so they can watch as the class unfolds

  • SL sites that help me keep up and and better understand h