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Friday, March 20, 2009

My avatar's talk: Online safety 2.0

I - or I should say my avatar Anny Khandr - recently gave some talks about safety on the social Web in the virtual world Second Life. The experiences were great fun and kind of magical on many levels. First, I'm giving my PowerPoint-enabled talk from an easy chair in my family room, using a mic plugged into my laptop. I'm watching myself (or the Anny Khandr cartoon version of me) standing next to my slides before an audience of amazing tech educators around the country, who are all probably listening from easy chairs in their houses too, but at the same time gathered in one place: a beautiful "outdoor" virtual lecture space, complete with stage, screen, benches, and ambient birdsong. We were "gathered" on one of ISTE's islands in Second Life (ISTE for the International Society for Technology in Education, of which both my audience and I are all members).

My, er, Anny's first talk - kindly arranged for by New Jersey tech educator Kevin Jarrett (aka "KJ Hax," who gives teacher tours: see this) - was in a bigger venue and had a substantial audience, but there were problems in the recording process. So the "machinima" you'll see is a more intimate talk I later gave to a small group of avatars/educators, some of whom amazingly came back for seconds! [A machinima is a kind of animated video, or moving screenshots - video recorded within virtual worlds - and can range in subject from "action" videos like what you see in videogames to videos of professionals' avatars giving PowerPoint presentations. Quite the range!] The recording of my talks was done by Marianne Malmstrom, aka the extremely clue-filled "Knowclue Kidd," another great teacher in New Jersey. The whole idea, I think, was Peggy Sheehy's. Peggy, literally a rockstar tech educator (a former rock vocalist), teaches in Suffern, N.Y., and on several islands in Second Life, where she/her avatar is known as Maggie Marat. These educators are the real magic of Second Life to me. If you opened your own account at, created an avatar, and teleported to ISTE Island, you'd experience what I have: the members' seemingly bottomless kindness and patience and what the tech education part of it has to teach about the gift economy (see this entry in Wikipedia).

The talk is best viewed here, but if anyone would like to download this animated 40-min. talk to their laptop as a better way to show it to fellow parents or educators, please feel free to download it here (it's a huge file, so it can be downloaded either in two parts or in full). Email me via anne(at) if you'd like my PPT notes, with links to all sources. If it's a cartoon, it's a serious one - maybe a little boring too, but also a snapshot of the latest research on social Web safety.

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