Coming up for air… and meeting in Second Life

(many thanks to George Brett for the lead via Twitter on this great collage generating tool)

It has been far too quiet here, I know, and I am a wee bit ashamed to admit there are waaaay too many blogposts in the “draft” mode that I simply have not had time to tweak and publish. Alas I have been bitten by the slooooow blogging bug, and with that the slow-to-press-the-publish-button bug as well. The problem with slow blogging is that as you are writing and crafting and diddling with the text you can often trick yourself into thinking that people might actually read yer stuff, which then freaks you out even more. Or that glazed, panicky stare you get when you know you gotta write something but you don’t know what…(I have seen this happen with my own students numerous times.. a feeling that Gabriel García Márquez used to call “the fear of the blank page.” )

I don’t feel entirely guilty though. I have been doing some low-stakes blogging here and I have also provided moral support for my husband who just started blogging on his own here . My husband reports: “Wow, blogging is hard work.” Truer words…

[Transition paragraph missing…oh well] 🙂

I started the academic year a man short and a month behind, but a new hire is on the way, the semester is almost half way over, I feel as if I can now, finally, breathe again.

And blog.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend time in the hills of Vermont with three of my most favorite (slow and not so slow) bloggers — the Fear 2.0 BlogHers:BG, Laura and Leslie (we missed you Martha!) — and I left that meeting feeling re-centered and ready to take a whack at writing again. So this is a start..

Next semester I am teaching a Spanish conversation class that use blogs (as I have and it has for the past three years)… but this year I am taking the plunge and adding Second Life and World of Warcraft as options as well.

Why SL and WoW? Well, for one, I need to learn more about both things and unless I have to teach it, I won’t learn it, and so I throw down the gauntlet (with myself?) and off we go. (Did I mention that I like to work under a deadline, even if it is self imposed??)

I have also been watching the work of some of my colleagues in SL and WoW….the good news: the tools are still around… and are still being supported…. so maybe now is the time to dig in. The bad news: I am still not sure who is doing what out there in the world. If you have ideas…leave a comment.

I am thinking that these tools, like Skype, might provide a way to meet native speakers in new and different ways… both via text and via voice…for the students who find this type of immersion comfortable and familiar. (Note: I am not one of those folks… It took me three days just to find clothes in SL for my avatar didn’t look like something out of a porno magazine). No this won’t work for everyone… but as a firm believer in the 2nd principle of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), I feel it is my duty as a teacher to try and find the appropriate means of expression for each of my students, vs telling them to do it the way I learned or was taught.

So, as I install yet another patch to my European version of WoW for my work laptop (oh goody, only 5 hours to go, yawn), I thought I would also share a collage (See above) of some pictures took while doing “research” in SL. These are photos from a recent virtual get together that the Fear 2.0 BlogHers had in Second Life to celebrate GeekyMom’s retirement from Higher Ed.

(More photos of our SL fun available here thanks to Martha)

Okay…back to the drafts I go with dreams of more weeding, editing…. and posting!

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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