Last night was the first class of the MGH Study on the teaching the relaxation response in Second Life. The island is a beautiful space, with lovely sound and particularly shimmery water. I still am blown away by how much I am affected by the virtual nature in SL, especially the water, and this space was no exception.
The class itself had some interesting aspects. Like the "Creativity in Second Life" course I took in the summer through MassArt, we sat on cushions for a lecture/presentation part and then moved around for other parts of the class. It was less active because unlike the other class, we are not building or scripting. There were nine of us; two avatars I know and the others I don't. I resisted the temptation to make an in-joke on the text chat, which definitely operated as a "back channel." YES, I just criticized that precise behavior in the CCK08 Elluminate session a couple of posts ago, but last night I participated in that discourse. Maybe in a smaller group it is different, or if there are only short comments that in a real life discussion might be uttered. Still, it is a bit like passing notes in class. Which is fun! Everyone can see them, though. IMs are the virtual passed-notes.
Instead of using the voice chat, the tech wizards have it set up through Skype, which is pretty interesting. Some people were new to it and didn't have their mics muted and that drove me crazy. A good case for using the text chat for group feedback is so we can all keep our mics off until we really have something more to say than a couple of words. The Skype conference call also disconnected a few times, and then the text chat was the only way we had to communicate. There was a blissful, peaceful silence when the Skype quit, sudden and surprisingly isolating.
Part of the commitment to the study is agreeing to do a meditation at least once a day and do 20 mini-relaxations. I don't know if I got 20 in today, but I did do some, and listened to the CD from the Mind/Body Center they gave us for the 20-minute mind-focusing meditation. I am supposed to set up a place where I can do these meditations, but the only place I know I can be uninterrupted is in my office at home, which is cluttered with the detritus from the I Love Lucy book manuscript I finished yesterday (!) and all manner of other positively stress-inducing sights. Me sitting in my chair at my desk looks nothing like L1Aura Loire on her cushion on the Connected Health Island.
I have some other comments about the teacher's avatar (mist!), but I am going to hold them until I have a picture of it, which I hope to take on Thursday.
Connectivism, meanwhile, suffered a little this week. I tried to attend the Elluminate session, but I got frustrated after I lost the connection for the third time. I've been doing the reading and will try to catch up with the Friday discussion session, which is on a tool I'm unfamiliar with, UStream.