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Analysing Second Life interaction

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I made a first go at analysing some recordings of the Second Life sessions we did in April.  I was influenced by conversation analysis as described in Hutchby and Woofitt (2008) but did not do a full painstaking conversation analysis.

It is noticeable how often there is a spoken conversation going on at the same time as people were using text chat about often quite different issues.  It was also quite interesting to notice that students would sometimes write comments that undermined what was being said.  For example, one student was saying that speaking was quite simple in second life and a message popped up on the text chat saying "Not for me it wasn't.

Hutchby, I. and Woofitt, R (2008) Conversation Analysis Second Edition Cambridge: Polity.

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Second Life - session 5

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 18 Apr 2011, 15:45
In many ways, this was a consolidation session with students presenting their responses to the design briefs.  The main functions were explaining and justifying the responses.
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Second Life session 4

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 15 Apr 2011, 15:57

This session involved students in designing in response to design briefs set by other students.

There was a lot of exploratory talk (Mercer 2000) with students giving reasons for something (eg "Papier mache would be good because you can shape it) or for not choosing a particular course of action (If we used glue, it would make it unrecyclable").

There were three other phenomena that struck me.  Firstly, although there was a lot of talk, there were also silent episodes as students concentrated on the task.  Secondly, the boundaries between study and social life seemed to blur (Snyder 2000) as students chatted about their experiences after they had finished the task.  Thirdly, some of the students began to react against the use of pseudonyms.


Mercer N (2000) Words and Minds London: Routledge

Snyder I (2003) "A new communication order: researching literacy practices in the network society" in Goodman S., Lillis T, Maybin J and Mercer N (eds) (2003) Language, Literacy and Education: a Reader Stoke on Trent: Trentham 


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Second Life - session 3

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 19 May 2011, 15:50

Another interesting but rather different session.  We started in Second Life and then split into groups in Flash meetings for group discussions making use of a whiteboard before returning to Second Life for a plenary.  The group task involved clarifying the concept of fragility before setting a design brief for the other groups.

The move to Flash meetings was interesting psychologically as people moved from being avatars to being their real selves.  Many of the techniques for building meaning that Mercer refers to were apparent during this stage.  For example, there were reformulations “We can use the whiteboard” followed by “You can use the whiteboard” with the interesting change of pronoun perhaps helping the students to feel more responsibility.  There were also repetitions like “Breakable, yes”.   There were elicitations “If you think about a design brief, what would you have”.  There were also exhortations like “Great teamwork!”

The return to Second Life allowed for reflection on the task and to pass on information about the design briefs to be worked on.

The switches between Second Life and Flash Meetings seemed to work reasonably smoothly although there were some lags going between them.



Mercer N (2000) Words and Minds London : Routledge

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Working in Second Life again

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 12 Apr 2011, 10:33

There was a second session last night, which was again interesting.  A lot of what I observed links with much of my other OU courses.

First of all it was noticeable how much the students learnt by talking to each other.  This was evident even before we really started when one student helped another in completing some questions about the concept of fragility.

The next part of the session involved the students in constructing objects so there were many language phenomena which were interesting.  These would seem to be language in action (Carter and McCarthy 1996).  One interesting feature was the use of informal language while on task - eg "It is tricky/it is a bit fiddly".  This reminds me somewhat of the hybridity referred to Gutierrez et al (2003). 

There was a brief exchange in French between two French speaking students that was perhaps useful in enabling them to do the task.  Perhaps, this use of languages other than English could be encouraged, especially if it makes the task more efficient and then the students would need to report in English so they still have scope for practising the English they need.


Carter R and McCarthy M (1996) Exploring Spoken English Cambridge: CUP

Guttierez K., Baquedano-Lopez P, and Tejeda C (2003) "Rethinking diversity: hybridity and hybrid language practices in the third space" in Goodman S., Lillis T, Maybin J and Mercer N (eds) (2003) Language, Literacy and Education: a Reader Stoke on Trent: Trentham 




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Working in Second Life

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 11 Apr 2011, 09:24

I am doing some language support for some sessions on Second Life for some students studying design.

We had the first session and it seemed to go well.  Some general reflections are listed below:

- it is hard to control movements and it feels surprisingly embarassing when my avatar does strange actions like getting too close to others.

- the language used in the first discussion did not seem very technical but had features of general academic discourse - suggestions were made ("perhaps...." "might.....") and critiqued.

- text and voice is used, sometimes simultaneously which puts quite a demand on concentration.

- I gave brief feedback on language issues and the main items some students struggled with were my jargon (e.g "hedging").  This is understandable as they are not studying language but this makes it clear how much we get used to our own specialised terms.

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