Monday, 22 October 2012


Avalon course on teaching English in Second Life: 2012


Osnacantab Nesterov (Osna)
aka Dennis Newson

Participants gather to listen and watch "Randall Renoir" talk about and show holodecks on the sandbox of the EduNation domain in Second Life. (The sheep was especially attentive).

Today (Sunday 21st.   October  2012) I attended the second meeting of the Avalon course on the teaching of English as a foreign language  in the virtual world of Second Life. The course took place on the island of EduNation. The evening was devoted to holodecks, introduced to us by Randall Renoir, a  passionate builder, and co-owner  along with Heike  Philp ("Gwen") of EduNation.

There are lots of points I want to make and questions I wish to raise - and say something about the first meeting - but first let me upload some more pictures, they are more  fun..

Gathering outside the Irish pub.

A holodeck rezzer

Randall can identify the film

Notice Gwen's castle pinnacles in the background

Um.... Kindergarten for  children of Star  Treck adults?

Just because I am a bone eater does not mean  that I am technologically illiterate


Randall's castle

In a glade

The outside is a shell, and you can keep that and have something different inside
(A Horizon product, edited by Randall)

Same shell, different centre

Back  to the sandbox to play with the rezzer

How about this?

Better with cushions?

Waiting for something to rezz

The legs give him away



Getting away from it all

Look, look! That's my place down there  with all that grass

I think this was a hot-dog making machine

The haunted house

Back to Randall's castle

The village square - work  in progress

Village square from above

Village square - ground level

Village square - ground level

Watch  this guy. He will try to sell you inedible, virtual apples in several languages

Looking for the railway station holodeck. It wasn't here

This definitely isn't it

Let's see if it is up here. Mind the volcano

It's OK, we've finished now

Now. Define: "holodeck".
It was a great evening and Randall showed us many examples of holodecks, recoverable set scenes in a box  that can be substantiated, called up at the click of a mouse and put back with another click thus taking up only one prim (the basic unit of measurement in Sl - short for primitive)  however vast they may be when brought to life. He. recommends Horizon as the best package  to use for creating them.Thank you Randall, thank you Carol and thank you Gwen and thank you Adrianna..


Despite technical  difficulties, Gwen managed to provide us with a recording of Randall's session:

Randall's holodeck presentation



Dennis interviews Osna

Dennis: "Osna. How, theoretically, would you want to use holodecks in language teaching in SL?"

Osna:      Mmmmm. I know I am going to make some people frown, but I am known by friends and enemies to be a fervent disbeliever in "grammar, so I would not want to go in that direction. But holodecks are like stage sets. They are great for role play activities".

Dennis:  If you had more skills than I know you've got are  there any amendments you would make to TEFL  holodecks?
Osna:   If anyone likes to compare the way that I dance with the way that you dance they might raise their eyebrows at your insinuation that I am unskilful.. But to answer your question....  I would like to see far more interactive elements built into language teaching and learning holodecks. . Just think there are simple scripts that will give you texts if you touch them and less simple scripts can take you over so that you dance like a champion. And think about the scripts that some dogs have. I  am  sure that creative people could imaginatively produce some very interesting scenarios.


Just for the record....

First meeting

Carol  made sure that we knew how to:

stand up, sit down, walk, run, teleport, shop, run an orderly inventory and change our clothing. For the latter purpose Randall's super, gigantic clothes store for men and woman was rezzed on the sandbox.

 Frankly, I  hate shopping for clothes in all lives, but this is a great shop

The boutique from above

While I was up here I thought I would take another picture

There was a recording of the first session. Here is its URL:

Recording of week 1 (Carol)


AVALON COURSE  Teaching English in Second Life WEEK TWO

Tuesday 23/10/2012

Some people were missing, so it was decided  to postpone the session until  Friday. I looked around trying to get to recognize fellow participants. In the comments, perhaps you would like to identify yourselves.

Carol could not be present, so she sent her aunt to stand in for her

This is.......... (1)

We are delighted to have with us..... (2)

Would you like to introduce yourself?....... (3)

Yes. It is rather hot, isn't it? (4)

Me, from above

Personally, I have difficulties remembering names in First Life.. Now that problem is doubled. To help myself, and I hope you, here is Gwen's original list of the participants in this course - slightly shortened.. Once I have got you right, I will try to put a picture of your SL self next to these introductions. If there are corrections, suggestions, comments, questions, please write to me, tagging it:  AVALON BLOG to::

Dramatis personnae

Randall Sadler [Randall Renoir]
Heike Philp         [Gwen  Gwasi]
Carol Rainbow [Carolrb Roux],      
Alina Dobosa [Alina D]
Claudio Piemont [Vivian Arandur]
Delwen Eirlys Wilkinson[DeeSnow]
Maria Sol Cordovez Noboa [Losairam]
Antonella Elia [Astra Martian
Dennis Newson [Osnacantab Nesterov]

AVALON COURSE  Teaching English in Second Life WEEK TWO

Friday 26/10/2012


Use of notecards

1.  Re-introduced Aunt Esmerelda and  suggested how we might base a vocabulary-learning activity  using Aunt E. as a prompt and employing notecards to guide students towards the kind of thing they might say. The format was based on  "This your life", a classic British TV show..
Two or three people on Friday did this. I could not find that particular notecard,So, as homework,  I wrote this notecard as one for for potential(unlikely future use:.

Aunt Esmerelda: This is your life!

Aunt Esmerelda, sometime in September 1934 you went away for the weekend with a young waiter called Walter a hotel in Brighton.You never saw William again thereafter, and I have only just found out what I am about to tell you.  Aunt Esmerelda.  I am the product of that weekend in Brighton with William. MOTHER!

 1.   Carol reminded/showed  us how to produce notecards.

More vocabulary work using notecards.

2.   We were given a script and told put it in a box and, on a new notecard, write our list of words that could be used, for example, for a vocabualry exercise.

I simply could not get mine to work, so, in the end, I:

a)   Went to the box
b)   Clicked and chose OPEN
c)   Located the script
d)   Opened that
e)   Edited the script, by removing the list of words in there and substituting my own - taking care to get the " and , correct
f)   Saved

(Before doing this I had clicked "build" at the top  of the screen and re-done the script.).

It did not help. My box would still not display my list of words.

Now my box works

And the words I put in describe how I felt when I could not get things to function:     :-)


(Sorry.  Not adjectives. I'm not good at keeping to the point.)

Next, Carol:

4.   Showed us how to set up voice calls within SL

a)    One to one
b)    Group calls

Point to notice:

a)   If you get left in a call i.e. if you have not successfully hung up, if you examine right at the top of the screen (Right), you will see a small  icon of you avatar in green. Clicking on this should free you from the last conversation.:

Carol told us about:


1.   Using maps for seeing who is around one
2.   Going off to pre-selcted places (or persons) on the map

Osna demonstrates how bad his map reading is by ending up in the water and not finding the person he was looking for

This where Osna landed, demonstrating that there is great room for improvement in his map reading.

Map showing the viewer EduNation  (This was the map that led me into the river.)

Games and boards

I think I have become much more visually conscious since spending so much time in Second Life.
better  than describing often is adding a few images. Below, participants were at work with boards of various kinds. (Some notes afterwards).

This game and games like it can be created simply in WORD or such a programme and uploaded as a texture

Our simple task was to choose one of the numbers, press F1 and edit the text.

The marvellous thing about such straightforward  "games" is that they easily generate spoken language - at first answers to questions, but sometimes developing into discussions.

Even Felix, my SL dog, is interested in board games.

The group turned to working with programs for working with texts.

Carol asks Osna to generate media on a prim. (More below).

Osna's attempt was OK, but straighter would have been better.

With board straightened, Osna displays a video from Vimeo.

Carol mentioned some word processings  programs on the internet which can be accessed from and used in Second Life.::

PrimaryPad is a web-based word processor designed for schools that allows pupils and teachers to work together in real-time.



TitanPad lets people work on one document simultaneously.
We are rescuing EtherPad for your use.


Mmm. I do not know the program, there are several and I must ask Carol which one she means.

Last  night (Sunday 4th. November, 2012) there was a session as part of the AVALON course on 


On reflection it seems to me that what we did was something like directed role play PLUS using Second Life to facilitate a form of creative writing. But that is just a personal comment. Here is the report.

Gwen, using the group function, distributed the following notecards a couple of times until we had all got a set.

Gathered in the garden of the Irish pub before the beginning of the session on "emoting"

I landed and remained in the sky. Design or a technical blip?

Notecard 1

Fill in the information below about your character:

Name and Nicknames if any: ((What is your Characters Name in Artstonia. What would be the name a villager would call you, if they knew you. Also do you have any secret names or identities we should know about?))

Avatars name: (If different then your characters name, this is your SecondLife Name)

Age: (Character's Age = Age here should align to the age of your race, and the maturity level of your character. Be sure to research elves, dwarves, etc... if you are choosing a non-human being.)

Race: (Be as specific as you can here- example if you are an Elf, what type of Elf are you? A Moon Elf? A Drow? )

Alignment: (Are you Good, Evil, or Neutral? Are you Lawful, Chaotic, or Neutral?)

Class: (Again be as specific as possible- Example if you are a Magic-User what kind are you? A Druid? A Wizard? A Mage?)

What is your history? (Characters Back Story)

What powers do you have (i.e. merits) (Characters special abilities)

What are your flaws? (Characters weaknesses)

Any other important details? (Character's Likes and Dislikes)

Notecard 2

Welcome everyone to our little tavern in Little woods!

Now, you must be sitting at one of our tables and reading our scroll.

Role play background

The Little Tavern , is a busy little tavern in a village called Little Woods. There, you will find all kind of characters strolling around. Some are the cook, and his helpers. Some thieves that love causing mischief. A bard will sing  for coins from his or her audience or tell a poem. A villain will come and poison some of us. Beware of evil food. It will cause you pain and sickness. Fortunately, we have some healers in the village who will come and save us all. Healing is their magic. They are angels in disguise. But, we'll have to go on  a little  hunt to help healers find a cure for the poor of us tat will be sick.

1. introduce yourself to the role players sitting at your table.

2. Select one of the roles and have some fun role playing it. Talk to your partners in role playing and decide which one will play each role. (just click on the notecard to open it.

3. at the end of the role play. Copy and paste your conversation in a notecard and post some comments in our blogs, or facebook group.

4. Take some photos and post them to your secondlife profile or save them to your disk. Share them using #slang12 or post your comments here:

5. Happy role playing!

Pionia Destiny
Dr. Doris Molero

Role play scenarios

You have been poisoned

A stranger came up to you during your meal and offered you some flavoring to add to your food that he assured you would make the food much tastier(Raw Nutmeg). He was correct, the food was much tastier and you ate a goodly quantity but shortly after eating your meal you began to feel a bit strange.
1. You cannot remember anything about the stranger,
2. you have a headache, you feel a bit sick to your stomach, you are dizzy and your eyes are bloodshot.

A cook helper

You are a cook learner at the tavern.
1. Help cook find the ingredients he or she needs to cook.
2. Ask a lot of questions. You are not sure you know what the cook needs and where is it.

You are a cook learner at the tavern.
1. Help cook find the ingredients he or she needs to cook.
2. Ask a lot of questions. You are not sure you know what the cook needs and where is it.


You are a merchant who is in the village to buy some supplies. Ask for advice from the villagers in the tavern.  Ask Where to find goods at a fair price.

spices, grains, fruits,


Yo are a thief in disguise. Pretend you are in the tavern for some wine. Try to steal some coins from the people in the tavern.

Moody traveler

You are a traveler from far lands. You are really hungry and thirsty. 
1. Order some food and something to drink.
2. You are in a bad mood today.A bard

You are a bard and like to tell stories and poems.
1. Introduce yourself to the audience.
2. read one of the following poems
3. Ask for some coins

You are a thief in disguise. Pretend you are in the tavern for some wine. Try to steal some coins from the people in the tavern.

A bard

You are a bard and like to tell stories and poems.

1. Introduce yourself to the audience.
2. read one of the following poems
3. Ask for some coins

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All things bright and beautiful, 
All creatures great and small, 
All things wise and wonderful,— 
The Lord God made them all.

Cecil Frances Alexander. 


Said Brier-Rose's mother to the naughty Brier-Rose:
"What will become of you, my child, the Lord Almighty knows.
You will not scrub the kettles, and you will not touch the broom;
You never sit a minute still at spinning-wheel or loom."
Thus grumbled in the morning, and grumbled late at eve,


Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen.


As I started searching for the notecards in my inventory this morning I was reminded that there are some  useful filters that enable one to narrow down any search and stand a better chance of finding what one is looking for.

Click on the indicated cog

Search options visible with cog open, indicated by red arrow

Notice particularly you can make searches for items  giving  number of hours or/days in the past when the search is to begin.

Getting to know Builder's Buddy

Osna introduced this free tool which enables one to make single holodeck scenes. They are  stored separately, not as in true holodecks where they are saved in collections of scenes.

Builder's Buddy is actually two scripts - one for the base cmoponent (there can only be one base) and  a second script  for other objects or groups of linked objects.

This is what these powerful pieces of magic look like inside:

Top   left  - a small part of the BB script

A word of warning. You have to be very careful of working  with BB if there are other BB products nearby. They are quite likely to get mixed up, or the new one will take over the old one. This is a powerful program. It is possible to alter the radio channels you personally are working with. (See the presentation on Sharescreen).

Although it was written two years ago, and there have been changes to Second Life in that time, I don't think there is anything described in the Sharescreen presentation that is inaccurate, out of date or misleading.

Web on a prim

This is how you get any prim you create - the inevitable wooden box, enlarged, made white with full bright   - to act as a TV set.

Here is the recipe for doing it:

1.  Rez a box.
2.  Choose the colour white for it.
3.  Pull and stretch until it is a size for comfortable viewing.


To avoid disappointment, a few moments from now:

Hover your mouse over the loudspeaker symbol, top right,
  • Click on the cog at the bottom and check that:
  • Media is enabled, and the volume turned up.
(It is very difficult to take a shot of this cog because it disappears after a few moments if it is not in use.)

While you are there, check, also, on the Master volume setting.


An easier route to the same place is:

>  Me
>  Preferences
>  Sound and media

Checking on on the media settings. The longer route.
The shorter route


The next step

Almost there

It worked

Night meeting

Most of the members of the course had a long discussion one evening


An incident over EduNation

Sometimes working with powerful programs, Builder's Buddy, Horizon, the scripting for some transporters, things can go alarmingly wrong.

As I was working on an example of Builder's Buddy use for the Avalon course, a pink pig I had accidentally damaged, exploded!.

The construction into which I had built the pig, two work areas mounted on to access gangways  like those used for passengers to to board planes, went crazy and whizzed round EduNation making erractic twists and dips and turns and making a noise like a hurricane. It went too fast for me to be able to click on anything to get it under control. After trying many times to catch it, it  suddenly sought me out in my place in the sky ("Upstairs") making itself just visible over the top of the stone wall that surrounds that property. I managed a click that brought it under control.

The two red circles are part of the monster at loose

A clearer view of the monster

Debris in the sky

Preparing for the presentation and demonstration lesson
Sunday 18 November 2012 Sandbox EduNation

Trouble with No. 12

Carol & dragon

Life-size posters for a French lesson

Yesterday (23/11/2012) was  assessment time, Dee having volunteered  to go first. The images should tell much of the story but she explained this was:
  •  A second year  SL course for a group of adults who have already taken part in a face-to-face course.
  • They are people who go to France on holiday, some have second homes there, some, through their children for example, have personal connections and their main aim is to:
  • Be able to speak more and understand more.  They have absolutely no need for examinations etc.

Language points

  •          To revise some basic vocabulary about clothes and colours and to note and practice  particular differences been m. and f. nouns and the adjectival agreement that French requires.
Pedagogical  points

  • Dee practised some choral speaking - repeating words together - and it was interesting to observe how this "speaking together "can work in SL. Carol and Osna added that training responders to allow a pause of two beats, one, two, after the instructor had given the example to repeat was effective.
  • Use was made of the SL fact that you can remain where you are and focus on a distant item using the camera to talk about a series of posters showing different people attired in appropriate various colours.
  • We played a game where, by clicking on a given number, you found a question to ask of the person behind you in the queue.
Discussion points

  • Dee freely admitted that in "real life" she would not have been able to produce all the posters - there would not have been time.
  • There was some discussion of whether peole should have queued up to take a turn at the game or, for example, to have stood on a number and asked a question to the person standing on an adjoining number.
  • One person found standing in a queue was a key moment in the lesson, making one aware of the feeling of space and the ability to physically move that characterise SL.
  • There was a lengthy discussion on whether a shared language should be used in TFL lessons, or only the target lesson.
  • It was agreerd it would be worth training all groups to turn their microphones off when they had spoken and turn them on again when they next wanted to speak. It was agreed that it was very easy to forget to do this, but still worth trying to make it a habit for oneself and for others.
Here follos o


Week 1
by Heike Philp - Saturday, 3 November 2012, 10:03 AM
Tuesday 16 October 2012

In this session, Carol talked us through the basics in SL regarding double click to teleport, how to add or take out buttons on the task bar, how to organize inventory and during the second half of the session we created new outfits using the Boutique Renoir holodeck shop.

Recording (1h37min)

The basics with Carol

Friday session
No Friday sesssion that week

Sunday 21 October 2012
Holodeck workshop with Randall Sadler, University of Illionois.

Recording (1h22min)

Holodecks with Randall

After the holodeck session, there were two groups to explore holodecks, one with Carol in Edu III and one with Adrianne on Edu I, this recording is the one with Adrianne.

Recording (22min)

Group exploration of holodecks

Week 2
by Heike Philp - Saturday, 3 November 2012, 10:07 AM
Tuesday 23 October 2012
Did not take place because of low participation.

Friday 26 October 2012

There was a session during which Carol explained about creating and using notecards and because I was traveling, there was no recording on the Friday.

Sunday 28 October 2012
Virtlantis Tour with Kip Yellowjacket
Recording (1h32min)

 Tour of Virtlantis with Kip Yellowjackedt and Carol

Then there was a repeat of the notecard creation session by Carol.

Recording (28min)

Repeat Carol notecard creation
Edit | Reply

Week 3
by Heike Philp - Monday, 5 November 2012, 06:33 PM
Tuesday, 30 October 2012

This session was a building session in the sandbox, creating posters and using templates on the floor for games, changing the conversation game script, using dice.

Recording (1h 35min)

/Building : posters, templates, games, conversation game editing

Friday, 2 November 2012

First half of the session was all about Identity, modality. It was a discussion on the sandbox and we sat on the floor and just talked about when to use IM, text, using translation tools etc.

Recording (53min)

Identity, modality, discussion

This is the second half of the Friday session about building posters and adding to them sound.
Recording (29min)

Part 2 of session - adding sound to posters

Sunday session
Role-play and Emoting with Pionia
Role play & emoting with Pionia
Edit | Reply

Week 4
by Heike Philp - Monday, 12 November 2012, 09:01 AM
Friday, 9 November 2012
During the session Carol explained how to edit the conversation game, how to create a web on prim, how to create a presentation board and add one's slides and how to use the chalkboard with notecards.

/Carol: Editing conversation game, web on prim, presentation board and slides, chalkboard and notecards

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We had a discussion about methodology, teaching a language inworld, shared ideas on what do do in Second Life, where to take our students, which kind of communities to introduce them to, talked about 'gender bending' and Vampire role play games in Second Life.

Recording (56min)

Methodology, teaching language in SL, where to go, which communities to visit, gender bending, Vampire role play


Then in the second half of the session we had a builders buddy session by Osna. Poor Osna, who built a huge object for 3 days and just prior to the workshop lost it all. He also lost voice, lost our voices, it was interesting to say the least. But we all learned in the end to add a Builders Buddy Base script to a box, add a Builders Buddy Component or Object script to the objects of the scene, learned to record the scene and then to put the objects in the box and learned to rezz the objects. It was fun.

Osna and Builders Buddy

These remarks, unfortunately, are written a few days after the event though it is no bad thing to have the account here an unofficial one.

  • The level of presentation and the quality of the slide  presentations was extremely high.
  • The requirement to give a presentation explaining what would done and how and why did lead in some cases to presenters remaining in explanation mode ion the teaching phases instead of switching away from it to concentrated practice by the learners.
  • With the exception of the final presentation in the Spanish lesson there was, I felt, a tendency to stick to First Life approaches and procedures instead of exploiting the unqiue circumstances available in Second Life.
DESPITE this comment, it has to be said that the standard of preparation, including the visual was extremely high, as can be seen from some of the following images.


Carol   shops for a shirt, I think it was, but did not like the price.

Up in the air with a build of mine getting unscheduled publicity.

Two of our instructors

A view from above

Participants stand on their countries on an over-sized map of the world.

View from above


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