Friday, April 24, 2009

Tips for Starting a Second Life Program

Once people find out what I'm doing with second life at my school, I tend to get a lot of questions about getting started with a SL program. We are moving slowly here (on purpose), but I've learned quite a bit so far that I thought I'd share. I'm sure this list is only the beginning.

Talk to your technical team.
They will be highly involved in the success of implementation. I recently talked to mine again because Second Life is about to be a county-wide resource as opposed to it currently only being run in my school and maybe a little in one other. Because of this, there are many things to consider. What we have decided to do is block of a period of time to run Second Life on one machine, then run it on several simultaneously. The technical team will watch what happens with bandwidth etc. depending on the activities being done. This will help us move forward to determine how many people can be on at once and if it will affect any programs we're currently running.

Know what you're doing before you begin implementation...
then go learn a little more for good measure. I've said over and over that I can't believe how much there is to learn in Second Life. Just when I begin to think I really know how to do something, I learn something else. It will be imperative to know a lot before beginning to teach other people about second life because the questions that come up tend to be complicated at times.

Get your admin on board
They may be terrified at first, but find the most positive way to introduce it and explain it as fully as you possibly can. If there are complaints or questions about what students are doing in Second Life, they'll be the first person a parent calls, so they need to be fully aware of how it is being used and why it is a good educational resource.

Start small
Get a few teachers interested that will help spread the word. With something this big and this new, it's best to have a few people around that are willing to share their thoughts and ideas, so pick those people and help them get started first. Use this quickstart guide to help you

Check your computers for minimum requirements to run second life
One of the biggest problems I have had is our computers not being able to handle the graphics of second life. It takes a good graphics card and many school bought computers don't have that because they usually are not equipped with extra features. We ended up getting a mac lab at our school specifically for second life use. Check the requirements on the second life site to be sure your computers are ready.

Get a premium account
I've had to enter a few support tickets to fix little problems here and there. One of those problems, for example, dealt with allowing more than 5 accounts per ip address (which is a problem you'll most likely encounter). You have to have a paid account to enter those support tickets. Linden's support center is pretty good, so you will most likely need their help at some point in the process.

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