Exploring the virtual classroom

Online education and the metaverse

Sheila Yoshikawa (transcript)

Organising Information Literacy Week in Second Life

Sheila Yoshikawa / Sheila Webber
University of Sheffield, UK
November 22, 2009

These are the speaker’s notes for the presentation, which were pasted into text chat for those who could not hear. They reflect only a part of what was said at the conference.

******* Structure
1. What is information literacy?
2. Information Literacy week in SL
3. Why do I organise things in SL?
4. Differences & similarities in organising RL & SL events
5. Is there a difference between Sheila Yoshikawa and Sheila Webber organising an event?

“Information Literacy encompasses knowledge of one’s information concerns and needs, and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand; it is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society, and is part of the basic human right of life long learning.” — Information Literacy Meeting of Experts (2003)

Information Literacy is my primary research and teaching area. Our SL island, Infolit iSchool, shows that emphasis in its name and it houses the Centre for Information Literacy Research. There has been a discussion series since 2007

National Information Literacy Awareness Week in the USA was in October of 2009. The Second Life version of this event took place November 9 – 15. Key events were:

Student Exhibition, Infolit iSchool, Sheffield University

-Exhibition from freshmen students (1st years BSc Information Management): organised Sheila Yoshikawa, UK. To visit, download
and open the Second Life program, and click this link:

– Spanish language discussion: org. Alejandro Arrowmint, Colombia

Health Literacy Interactive Exhibit
– Health Literacy interactive exhibit: org. Brielle Coronet, USA. To visit, download and open the Second Life Program, and click this link: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Healthinfo%20Island/69/33/22

– SL Educators Roundtable: topic Information Literacy

– Information Literacy and HIV/AID diagnosis exhibit: org. Robin Mochi, USA

– Librarians’ SL orientation: org Sheila Yoshikawa and Kitty Mumfuzz, UK

– ACRL Information Literacy and Web 2.0 panel: org. Adra Letov, USA

"What Information Literacy Means to Me" by Sheila Yoshikawa
– What information/literacy means to me: org Sheila Yoshikawa. To visit, download and open the Second Life program and click this link:

– Closing party: org. Adra Letov and Agnesa Capalini, USA

I have been reflecting on my Second Life work after a conversation with an academic in another field who was questioning why I was involved in RL practice-based conferences and meetings. Certainly it would do my career more good to spend more time doing research writing, for example. It probably arises from my background as practitioner in library and information field.

As practitioner I am very active in professional associations, which has included organising meetings and training courses. Librarians are particularly active in setting up meetings and networking (this is part of the professional identity),

Although my primary identity is that of an academic (after 17 years), I am still involved in professional associations and activities: seen as very important to make link between theory and practice. Currently I am most active as a member of the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Information Literacy Section, but I also get invitations to speak (e.g. next week I am at a workshop which is looking at developing an IL framework for Wales) and organise events (e.g. I’m convenor for the organising committee for the IFLA pre-conference satellite meeting next year)

At any rate, I was organising an IL meeting within a few weeks of being in SL.
It is difficult to decide what my exact motivations are but combination of: interest in participating in discussion that interests me; some idea of developing the profession and subject; interest in learning new things.

******* 4. What do I see as differences between RL and SL organisation?

** SL different: easier to involve international collaboration.
This applies to organisers and participants. Time zones still cause issues (e.g. with Hawaiian colleague getting up at 6am, me staying up til 2am at various points) and linguistic issues too. However, it is still a big plus.

** SL different: you need less money to organise a good event.
It is easier to get free venues, there are no travel expenses or costs for meals and refreshments. You can make conference venues and freebies yourself. Money may still of course be needed e.g. for paying people to be organisers, speakers, stewards or facilitators, or to publicise, or to do good-quality of text chats of voice presentations, or to buy special items.

** SL different: you can do some things more at the last moment
Possible reasons are the way you do not have to book venues far in advance, and because people interested in SL are very likely to be plugged into SL or other electronic discussion channels. In particular there is the fact that you can send out messages on the day or on the very start and get “impulse delegates” in a way impossible in RL.

** SL different: it may be easier to more distributed (rather than centrally organised) event
I’m not sure about this: in fact, due to the web and email it is feasible in RL as well (e.g. the “natuonal library week” type activities. At any rate, it still requires a certain amount of centrally organised infrastructure (or at least a central website) and material that can be shared by all, and coordination so that events do not clash and everyone knows what the programme is.

** SL and RL same: need for marketing and planning.
You need to identify a target market, effective channels to communicate with them, effective promotional material, an appropriate price, a suitable product (programme and activities). For this, you need to know about what kind of channels SL residents use (if you are targeting existing SLifers), and effective ways of communicating with people in SL (which implies understanding of groups, use of text, notecard-givers, landmarks, etc etc).

** SL and RL same: you need as much person-time
Even in a more decentralised event, you need to spend a lot of time talking, planning, forming ideas for what will be feasible and exciting, encouraging people, creating promotional material etc .etc.

** SL and RL the same: valuable to have existing network of friends/contacts, and to have created some sort of reputation so people are happy to work with you

**** 5. Is it different for Sheila Yoshikawa to be organising an event rather than Sheila Webber?

I see Sheila Yoshikawa and Sheila Webber as both being me, and from that point of view is is not different. I was using SL and RL contacts and networks to organise and publicise the event (e.g. on discussion lists I would post as Sheila Webber). In some cases people know me in both lives, but certainly not all. From that point of view, unless you are extremely famous in RL, I think it is useful to have a SL “profile” when you are organising things (e.g. it was certainly easier organising things now I have experience and contact in SL than it would have been just after I arrived in SL).

I have also been pondering on whether my SL “work” has as much validity for my RL work colleagues as RL work (e.g. organising a SL conference vs. a SL conference). I think probably not. Nevertheless, this is not going to deter me from organising SL events in the future.

Information Literacy Meeting of Experts. (2003) The Prague declaration: Towards an information literate society. [online] NCLIS; National Forum on Information Literacy & UNESCO. http://www.nclis.gov/libinter/infolitconf&meet/post-infolitconf&meet/post-infolitconf&meet.html

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