From: Kevin Jarrett <kjarr...
Interesting thread and contributions ... both sides of the coin represented. Here's my $0.02, sorry for the length. :)
To me, the Webkinz/Club Penguin 'craze' is many things, but most importantly, it is the harbinger of things to come - to wit: (as David points out) multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) like Second Life. While I am concerned by the overt marketing, commercialism and materialism (BUYING things is a huge part of the experience), I am impressed by the safety features built into these sites to allow safe and age-appropriate exploration and building of online social skills. My daughter, age 11, has mutliple Webkinz and loves the site.
If Gartner is correct in their prediction that 80% of the current internet population has a presence in a MUVE like SL by 2011 ( http://tinyurl.com/32a4be ), then it will be THESE kids, the ones who are immersed in MUVE technologies NOW, that will be the leaders in the design, development, and implementation of MUVEs in our society.
Witness Microsoft, HP and others, already conducting interviews - and hiring people - in Second Life: ( http://tinyurl.com/2z93rb ). Imagine the growth curve continues at its present rate, then imagine these kids, many of whom who are now 8-12 or so, interviewing with ease in a MUVE years from now.
There are people who believe, and I am one, that what we are seeing now is a very early, and very crude, future of the 3D internet. UK Teen Katharine Berry, who is one of the leading developers in Teen SL, has already developed an AJAX-based client to run SL via a web browser: ( http://tinyurl.com/2zo7u9 ).
Further, interested parties should read these two articles, which talk about Club Penguin in specific, but are nonetheless relevant to the conversation at hand:
Margolis, Dawn (2007, March). Puffle Kerfluffle. Retrieved May 8, 2007, from WIRED.com Web site: http://tinyurl.com/ywj9de
Slatalla, Michelle (2007-May-03). My Daughter, the Burger-Flipping Penguin. Retrieved May 8, 2007, from New York Times Online Web site: http://tinyurl.com/237wrl
I'm a K-4 educator who also teaches grad school (Walden University, MS in EdTech). I have spent the last five months immersed in a grant-funded study of Second Life (project blog: http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com ). I am more convinced than ever that these "social networking training wheels" sites should be used in schools. Personally, I am trying to find ways to bring Whyville.net into my classroom, as it is research-backed, education friendly, and less commercial.
I'll close with this (horribly retold) story, from my colleague, friend, co-presenter and SL guruette Catherine Parsons ( http://victoriagloucester.net/ ). Essentially, her daughter, who is (I think) seven, has a Club Penguin account, and was lamenting one day about the high cost of purchasing a particular item that she desired. The essence of her complaint (I wish I had the exact words) was that the item was overpriced, and, that it would take several hours of earning money in Club Penguin - more time than she was willing to invest - to earn the income needed to purchase it. Catherine says she had been trying to explain to her daughter FOR MONTHS about why she should save her real-world allowance and only buy things she really needs and wants, but she never got the concept. However, she figured out the value of money ON HER OWN in Club Penguin.
A small, singular example, to be sure. The point? MUVEs do things and teach kids (and people!) in ways we are only now beginning to understand. I encourage anyone here who is curious about MUVEs to join the growing educator community in Second Life. In-world, I'm KJ Hax. Look me up. I'll help get you started.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
- African Proverb
Kevin Jarrett | Part-Time Faculty | Walden University Graduate School of Education
In-World: KJ Hax
SLBuzz Profile: http://profiles.slbuzz.com/kj-hax
Research Project Blog: http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com
Email: kjarrett at waldenu dot edu
Kevin Jarrett | Technology Facilitator, K-4 | District Webmaster | Google Certified Teacher
Northfield Community School: http://www.ncs-nj.org
Grade 4 Computer Repair & Service Club: http://computerclub.northfield.groupfusion.net/
Edtech Blog: http://www.ncs-tech.org
kjarrett at ncs-nj dot org
Edtech Archives, posting guidelines and other information are at:
Please include your name, email address, and school or professional
affiliation in each posting.
To unsubscribe send the following command to: LISTS...@H-NET.MSU.EDU