Exploring the virtual classroom

Online education and the metaverse

2009: Virtual Praxis.2

Women’s International Community in SL

The speakers’ texts are archived here.
Each speaker’s text is linked to their description, below.

WELCOME  (Saturday, November 21, 2009, NOON, PST)  Ellie Brewster (Sharon Collingwood, Women’s Studies, The Ohio State University)

Uthango Social Investments, Capetown South Africa
Alanagh Recreant (Dorette Steenkamp)

Uthango is a public benefit company based in Cape town, South Africa, with a vision to contribute to socio-economic transformation and lasting development and change in Africa. We believe that perceptions about people, places and practices are influenced through exposure and shared experience; in Second Life, we see a catalyst for discussion and sharing of information on issues close to Africans.

Speaker’s notes for the presentation are here:

Four Bridges Project
Millay Freschi (Amy Cross, University of Maine Peace Studies)
Founder Four Bridges Project, Virtual World Coordinator – Amnesty International

The Four Bridges Project began as a sharing of resources for NGO’s and has rapidly become a thriving community of international members sharing ideas, creativity, efforts and space to build and model a world in which a new charter for human beings is possible based on the four principles of respect for nature, universal human rights, economic and social justice, and a culture of peace.

Speaker’s notes for the presentation are here:

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 
Ledoof Constantineau (SL)

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.  Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.  This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including November 29,  International Women Human rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

A coalition of social justice groups within Second Life will be marking the 16 days campaign by organizing a series of discussions, presentations and exhibits highlighting violence against women worldwide.

Speaker’s notes for the presentation are here:

2 – 4 pm Pacific Standard Time:   DANCE:  JAZZ & BLUES, presented by
DJ Tamu Oh (Leta Hendricks, Ohio State University Libraries)

Let your virtual hair down and stay for a while to get to know the other conference attendees and presenters. Dancing is a popular activity in Second Life; it gives the avatars something to do while their writers are socializing.  SL offers public chat, private instant messaging between avatars, and private group chat.

Women with Disabilities           
Jennifer Cole (JennyLin Arashi), GimpGirl
Katherine Mancuso (Muse Carmona),  GimpGirl

The GimpGirl Community was founded in 1998 as a place where women with disabilities could talk about the challenges they encounter and develop their unique identities together.  Our members come together to share their lives, experiences, problems and solutions in a safe space that focuses more on the people they are, and less on what disabilities they have. We meet weekly on Second Life and IRC, and in between meetings we weave our threads together with forum and blog posts. We are one of only a few organizations online that is concerned primarily with providing social support, being radically inclusive of all women with disabilities, and teaching self-advocacy/self-efficacy.  Our goal in presenting at Virtual Praxis is to make feminists online aware of the unique contributions of women with disabilities to online spaces and society.

Speakers’ notes for the presentation are here:

Transitions: A Place for Dreams (Panel Discussion)

Panelists Buffy Bye (Buffy Beale), Joyce Bettencourt (Rhiannon Chatnoir),
Evonne Heyning (In Kenzo), Jessica Dally (Kali Idziak) and Sandra Andrews (Ozma Malibu) will discuss Transitions: A Place for Dreams, a collaborative project designed to bring technology-based educational resources to displaced/refugees as well as to others looking for a “new life.”  By sharing their expertise in an environment in which collaboration and networking are easily accomplished, these women from five organizations were able to design an outreach project with far greater vision and anticipated impact than would have been possible for any group alone.

Speakers’ notes for the presentation are here:

The Power of Place: virtual habitat builds that engage people to appreciate, understand and conserve natural habitats
Delia Lake (Linda Kelley)

Earth’s natural environments are a source of enjoyment and solace to some people and a source of livelihood and food to many others. What people share is a desire to have the habitats they know and care about continue. Yet today, impacts of human activity have thrown many of Earth’s precious environments into severe stress conditions.

People care about places that touch them. Can virtual simulations of natural environments be engaging enough for  people to experience a sense of “being there” and carry away memories of those habitats as places to value? Are virtual media robust enough platforms for meaningful collaborative explorations and co-creation of options to resolve difficult, far-reaching and important environmental and social problems?

This investigation will use as its backdrop three simulated natural environments in Second Life®: the Center for Water Studies and Camp Darfur on Better World Island, Prairie Past and Future on Meliora Terra, and the Albaycin Nature Preserve.

Speaker’s notes for the presentation are here:

11 AM Pacific Standard Time:  GUIDED FIELD TRIPS


1 PM Pacific Standard Time:

Organizing Information Literacy Week in Second Life

Sheila Yoshikawa  (Sheila Webber, Infolit iSchool, the island of Sheffield University (UK)., Senior Lecturer, Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Director of Learning & Teaching in her Department and Director of the Centre for Information Literacy Research.

Sheila Yoshikawa will reflect on her experience of this event, which runs 9-15th November. She will draw some comparisons with organizing Real Life events, consider the question of much “organization” is needed, and also reflect on how different it is for “Sheila Yoshikawa” to be organizing something, rather than her RL alt, Sheila Webber.

The speaker’s notes for this presentation are here:

Second Life and Cyborg Feminism

Ephraim Dalglish (Mark McDayter Associate Professor, the University of Western Ontario) and Annelu Alsop (Elan Paulson, PhD Candidate, the University of Western Ontario)

Second Life (SL) offers a virtual environment in which undergraduate students studying feminist theory may not only theorize representations of identity and community but also practice “being” an identity within a cyberspace community that is both “local” and “global.” After reading Donna Haraway’s influential cyborg theory, students may answer through their direct experience with SL: To what extent can SL be used as a (cyber)feminist space, and to what extent can SL users perform the political myth of the pluralist, DIY, coalitional, and embodied “cyborg”?

The speakers’ notes for this presentation are here:

OPEN DISCUSSION:  What’s next?

We have seen strong growth in our community over recent years, and while this is encouraging, larger communities face different challenges than smaller ones.   Communication is becoming more of a problem, as we are restricted by the “groups” tools in Second Life.  Trust may be weakened as the community becomes larger, as reputation and identity are harder to establish.   Do we need a new plan of action for community building in SL?

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