Growing the DEN in SL

by Beth Knittle on July 4, 2008

The high light for me at NECC was to meet the DEN in SL leadership council and some of our SL community and present with the LC. We only had an hour to share everything and we could not do it all. The list of links below takes you to video, and some posts about our session. If you were there or know of a post regarding it please leave a comment and share.

One of the objectives of our session was to explain how we built our community in the Second Life ® environment. Any community is made up of people and it is people that grow and strengthen this community. It takes a conscience effort to seek out the members; to welcome and orientate them to the group and it’s surroundings. This role is carried out by the Guides, wonderful people who volunteer an hour or so a week to greet visitors and answer their questions.

It is also vitally important to aid the members in sharing what they know and provide an opportunity to learn and grow. We do this with our Wednesday workshops and other discussions and events. At first the LC did most of the presenting but we see these workshops as a place for the membership to share with each other. We will support them in learning how to present in this unique and changing platform. There needs to be a mix of learning and social opportunities. The LC and guides also need to make an effort to introduce the membership to each other. I frequently use the note feature in SL to record what I learn about various members so I can introduce members to others who may have similar interests and talents. A follow up note and thank you is also helpful in keeping the community connected and valued.

The DEN in SL also provide other avenues for the membership to connect and keep up to date with events. We have a blog, wonderfully maintained by Laelia, and a Google group. These provide links to resources and discussions that are less transient then those that occur in SL.

We currently have a membership approaching 600. Of these we have the usual regulars who pop in almost daily, or at least 3 times a week. We have members who come for all events and those that attend only those of interest to them. Some of our membership visit once or twice a month. Another group seems to have entered SL, joined the DEN in SL and did not return to SL. Did they try SL and find it was not for them? Or were they so bewildered they gave up before they connected with other educators? It is these people I would like to find a way to support and encourage. I realize SL is not for everyone but if I had not returned and given it more of an effort I would have missed out on some great friendships and learning. I am eager to help more voices join the conversation.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad L. July 5, 2008 at 6:51 pm

One of my goals this year is to learn more about and get involved in DEN. However, I’m still not interested in Second Life – I have enough to worry about in my first.

Elaine Plybon July 9, 2008 at 9:17 am

Beth, wasn’t it great to see the work we’ve done over this past year culminate in actually getting to meet each other! I suppose Chad brings up a good point – SL isn’t for everyone. My personal opinion is that everyone should give it a try. Just as we all have different learning styles, different formats for our personal learning network will work for us.

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