Where to even begin with my Second Life (SL) experience: after walking into the bottom of the lake outside the NLU building and being guided back in thanks to Matt and Craig, I was beginning to wonder if I was meant to even be allowed into SL. Seriously, I have enough trouble with the first life that this site held little interest to me. I'm still a bit skeptical with using this in a classroom of students (especially at the lower elementary levels), but can see some possibilities if closely monitored.
When looking at the options of where to explore with my field trip partner, we were immediately taken with the "Tombstone"/Adult rated section. If I as a teacher get excited to find out what kind of trouble I can get into with this kind of site, how will students act as well. After discussing options with my partner (and remember my problem at the bottom of the lake), we decided to stay away from Tombstone which was probably a good thing.
What we did do was explore the recreation of the chapel, the tsunami area, as well as NASA. For a classroom to be able to examine the shuttles up close and personal allows them a view of life that a textbook could not; the same being said for the other sites. However, this is where Kathy's blog from last week comes into focus. To trust our students in this type of open world/environment, we must train them before we even get there about proper etiquette and online behavior. Just as we cannot shelter them from all the evils in the world (example from this week - an unknown person trying to pick up children at several bus stops), we can train them how to act and behave (stranger danger). With more and more students spending a vast amount of time in the digital world, these behaviors must also be ingrained in them just as much as "don't talk to strangers". If we do this, we can trust them to behave in an appropriate manner no matter where they go to learn.
SL has great possibilities if used in the appropriate context. Students can meet to experience concerts together or talk with musicians the world over to gain knowledge and expertise that would not be available to them in other forms. They can travel to places that they had only previously heard about making learning come to life. The face of education is constantly changing, and I believe we will see programs like this become much more valuable as technology continues to evolve. Now we must evolve our teaching to prepare our students to engage with these programs.