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DR. BO BRINKMAN MIAMI UNIVERSITY COMP. SCIENCE Using SL in Teaching Social Impact of Technology.

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Presentation on theme: "DR. BO BRINKMAN MIAMI UNIVERSITY COMP. SCIENCE Using SL in Teaching Social Impact of Technology."— Presentation transcript:

1 DR. BO BRINKMAN MIAMI UNIVERSITY COMP. SCIENCE Using SL in Teaching Social Impact of Technology

2 Key message of this talk Second Life has unique “affordances”  Persistence  Economy  Physics simulation  Web integration  Programmability  Collaborative content creation  Unique culture  Global user-base Best practice: Using SL’s uniqueness

3 Key goal General: Teach students to think critically about technology  Specific: Predict impacts of new technology

4 Key challenges Computers/web are normal Gut/naïve reactions feel trustworthy Result: Myth formation, critical thinking short-circuits

5 Key measures of success Students should …  …realize that gut reactions are often wrong  …realize that myths tend to form around new technologies  …realize that new technologies create new cultures with new cultural contexts  …be willing to critically analyze own assumptions about technology The “Ah-ha! Moment” – “I don’t know as much as I thought I did …”

6 My approach: Study Second Life Students…  …try SL  …consider common perceptions/myths of SL  …with help of instructor  Deconstruct myths  Foster cognitive dissonance  Problematize unacknowledged contexts  …transfer analytical skills to another tech or context

7 Myth In my usage  Do NOT care about truth/falsity  DO care about quality of arguments for/against  Many common myths about technology are assumed to be self- evident Def: Widely held belief that is unproven

8 Why SL? Tech analyzed must be…  …mostly unfamiliar to students.  …well understood by instructor.  …relatively immature (as a technology). Learning to address cognitive dissonance…  …is easier when stakes are lower  …can be transferred to other contexts later

9 Context: My class Title: Technology, Ethics, and Global Society Audience: Sophomores/Juniors of any major Viewpoint: Technology inherent in the definitions of “human” and “social” Relevant course objective:  The student should be able to analyze and predict the effects of a new technology on jobs, class structures, globalization, or other social concerns.

10 At first sight…







17 Which is the most dangerous?

18 Which is the least technologically proficient?

19 Which is the most wealthy?

20 Which is the biggest nerd?

21 Step 1: Introduce a proposition, get student predictions Student predictions: In Second Life, you can be whatever you want. Choose your own:  Race, gender, level of attractiveness, height, weight  Designer clothes, fancy house  Character’s personality, back story, etc

22 Step 2: Introduce dissonant beliefs Have best “clothes” Look any age Judged purely on ideas Be attractive (female) It is not real Meetings in jammies Daryth’s dragons Kid avie controversy Avie birth-date matters Hit on all the time People really get upset How should avie look/act? Unacknowledged context: Assumes that there is no social pressure or external control in SL

23 Step 3: Critical writing Thesis-driven paper, usually with research Example topics:  What was the origin of anti-weapon and/or anti-particle policies in SL? What does this tell us about how new technologies create new cultural norms?  Should crimes motivated by hate of an SL characteristic be deemed “hate crimes?”  What types of avatars should be banned, and why?  Interview 5 long-time residents. How do they use their avatar to communicate their (self-)identity to others?

24 Pattern 4: Back to RL Problem: Students do not always realize a skill learned in one context (SL) applies in other contexts (other techs, and non-tech life) Solution: Instructor (or peer) constructs parallel/linked question about RL

25 Example: Moving dissonance into RL How does email style affect your perceptions of the sender?  Collect 20 emails  Annotate with your assumptions about the sender  Write thesis-driven analysis Most people act differently around “real friends” than they do around “co-workers.” Facebook presents the same profile to everyone you friend.  Is extensive use of Facebook compatible with professionalism?

26 Other lessons learned Video gaming experience “uncorrelated” with student success Humanities coursework “correlated” with student success Explicitly demonstrating transfer to another context is crucial No surprise: Need multiple SL-related activities … otherwise, time to learn SL is too high

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