Category Archives: education

Learn a Language in a Medieval Roleplay

Pionia, Elaine and Anna

This weekend Artstonia hosted an introduction to Roleplay for the teachers of VILLAGE: Language Learning and Community Building in Second Life, an online workshop of TESOL EVO 2001
Pionia Destiny, who ran this kind of events many times in the past years, asked Elaine Khandr and me to give her an hand.

This time we decided to change a bit the formula, and to organise a short quest for the participants, thinking that in this way they would have the occasion to have a clearer idea of what roleplay means.

But the organisation of the event was also an occasion for the three of us to know each other a bit better, and I hope that we will have more occasions to collaborate since I really enjoyed the experience.

To say the truth, most of the work was done by Elaine, who is a skilled builder and scripter, beside being a wonderful person.

I would like to thank also Sir Sol and Sil Edge and all the other Arstonian who joined us in the quest and who gave the participants a good example of what good roleplay is.

And of course, a huge thank to Gwen and Nahiram, without whose organisation and support this little workshop would not have been possible.

introduction to rpg by Elaine



Filed under education, role play

3, 2, 1… you are on air

On saturday I was invited by Pionia to take part in an interview, together with Cyber and her, about language learning in virtual words.

Well… who can say “no” to  such a proposal?

This was an occasion as well to spend some times with two good friends and to learn about new intersting initiatives in SL, like the Teknoartia forum, whose aim is to be a meeting point for people interested in making things in SL. A real public square where you can find people with similar interests and share ideas and projects with them.

Actually, the radio that invited us, Colombiamor was born in SL, and it’s the result of the work of people leaving in different continents. A demonstration of how SL is, with no doubt, the best social network existing at the time.

Pionia, Cyber and me met a bit before just to chat, confess each other we were rather nervous, and meet some of the staff of the radio. It was nice to see some of the backstage while we were not “on air”.. you know how curious I am.. of everything and everybody :). Of course at the beginning we were tenses, but then thanks to the warmth and the competence of our hosts, we relaxed and even joked a bit.

In the end, we were asked to tell a recipe of our country… a really embarrassing task for me, because, despite being Italian, I’m a disaster and a danger in the kitchen and all my friends know that I’m rather prone to burning to ashes everything, even the saucepan.

I leave here the  link to the interview (in Spanish)

After us, was the turn of presenting a nice initiative: the Peace and Diversity  Marathon Art  2011, that will be held on 15-16 January. 24 hours non-stop of concerts, literary readings, exhibitions of visual arts and many interesting events to send a message of Peace and Unity in Diversity throughout the world. Another brilliant example of what SL and VW in general allow us to do.

For more information:

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Filed under education, interview, radio, Second Life, teknoartia

back again with old friends

This year I will be sharing a little plot in Edunation with two old friends:  Daf Smirnov and Paolo Inventor (former Head Teacher). Really happy about it, and who knows, may be we will start collaborating again in some nice project.

At the moment, we are all too busy even to meet, so I will leave here a little drawing of us 3 together. Will add the “real” photo soon.


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Filed under education, edunation, Second Life

add a dimension to your learning.. with a good friend

In October 2010 Karelia Kondor and I prepared a presenation for the 3rd Virtual Roundtable Conference.

For me it was a real pleasure to be able to collaborate with Karelia: we met in Edunation thanks to Carol and became real friends by now. And I love to work with people: I like the energy that is produced and the learning and teaching that is taking place. In this case, I was the one who learned more, and I have to thanks Karelia to offer me this opportunity.

Since the conference was not on SL and then probably our “pubblic” was mostly new to Virtual Words, we decided to give an overview of what can teachers do in Second Life and to explain it from the point of view of  our personal experience.

It was nice and reassuring as well to have Gizmo, Pionia and many other friends among the attendats, and to be able to rely on the wonderful organisation of Gwen.

Here are the slides, since we had a little problem with them and were not able to show them all.

For more information:

the recording:

Karelia page:


introduction (video)

Italian Art: Gallery of the italian creativity: dynamics painting  and sculpture by Gleman Jun.
Sculpture: Both myself by Gleman Jun
Avalon Learning

For information on the project:

Slanguages 2010

sharing resources (slide)

International School
One of the many places where you can find free resources for teaching in SL.
English at Cypris Chat (slide)

Virtlantis (slide)

Goethe Institut (slide)

Teleportnovela (slide)

Italianiamo (slide)

Games (videos)
Role play (video)

Artstonia (role play sim)
Chatlog: example of role play interaction
[2010/09/29 23:50]  gadget Cyberstar: greetings, anna
[2010/09/29 23:50]  anna Begonia: greetings
[2010/09/29 23:51]  Relm Foxdale: Greetings
[2010/09/29 23:52]  anna Begonia: greetings
[2010/09/29 23:52]  Whrek Nirvana: Eya Girly
[2010/09/29 23:52]  gadget Cyberstar: ooh goodie, the rat is here
[2010/09/29 23:52]  Whrek Nirvana: shut up
[2010/09/29 23:52]  gadget Cyberstar: and why would i do that?
[2010/09/29 23:53]  Whrek Nirvana: you’ve got shit spewwin out yur gums
[2010/09/29 23:53]  Whrek Nirvana: I’m sure relm doesn’t appreciate getting covered in it
[2010/09/29 23:59]  anna Begonia: *approaches Whreck, looks at his skin*
[2010/09/29 23:59]  anna Begonia: Sir, do you paint it every day? It would take long. How many hours?
[2010/09/30 00:00]  anna Begonia: do someone help you?
[2010/09/30 00:00]  Whrek Nirvana cocks his foot to the side and sweeps his tail around it, standing up tall in front of her, “Wha, You aint meanin ta tell me you aint never seen a tatoo before girly, THis down come off, its burned on my flesh”
[2010/09/30 00:00]  Relm Foxdale suddenly chuckles. “You have longer hair than me.”
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: aye, frieking wood elfs, they dun know how ta cut hair
[2010/09/30 00:01]  anna Begonia: Oh, my god! burned! it has to be very painful! Why did they do it to you? *with a shrill in ther voice*
[2010/09/30 00:01]  Relm Foxdale grabs his ponytail playfully
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: hey! no pulling!
[2010/09/30 00:01]  Relm Foxdale laughs
[2010/09/30 00:01]  gadget Cyberstar: pull my hair, i steal an ear
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale: You wouldn’t dare
[2010/09/30 00:02]  gadget Cyberstar: try me
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale frowns
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Relm Foxdale: Nah
[2010/09/30 00:02]  Whrek Nirvana holds his hand up and traces down his arms, “Traders and brands, each of these was given to me when I was slave to one or another, the Ravinica guild added the roses every time, or was it gruuls
[2010/09/30 00:02]  gadget Cyberstar: tatoos dun hurt, actually
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: well, much
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Whrek Nirvana: they do when theyre seared
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: yeah
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: Not very much, no
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: i said much
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: Depends where they are
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Whrek Nirvana: take a hot Iron, dip it in ink, then brand the flesh
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: well, ye stop feeling much after a whyle
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale smirks. “You’ve never seen mine, Gadget.”
[2010/09/30 00:03]  anna Begonia: you were a slave? *goes nearer to Whreck* how can be that you were takein slave? You are so strong *smiles half shyly half mockingly* why did you not defend yourself?
[2010/09/30 00:03]  gadget Cyberstar: did nay know ye had one
[2010/09/30 00:03]  Relm Foxdale: But then I keep it hidden, for good reason
[2010/09/30 00:04]  Relm Foxdale: When i was with those…people
[2010/09/30 00:04]  gadget Cyberstar: ah
[2010/09/30 00:04]  Whrek Nirvana: I was a boy when I was taken at as a slave, and even now not much I can do to a camp of slavers ta stop em, though I’ve slipt outta theyre grips a few times as of late
[2010/09/30 00:05]  gadget Cyberstar: ye just gotta learn how ta fight right
[2010/09/30 00:05]  anna Begonia: I was told that there are raids sometimes in the village, they catch people, children or girls. Are they slavers?
[2010/09/30 00:05]  gadget Cyberstar: mostly just monsters
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Whrek Nirvana: Wouldnt doubt it, Sparten raiders are pretty notorious fer taken breedin stock, women and girls, athenians well take workers of men
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: Well, Gadget, I need to go to bed…it’s been a long day, traveling to Flotsam and back
[2010/09/30 00:06]  gadget Cyberstar: *frowns* alright
[2010/09/30 00:06]  anna Begonia: ah…. other mostners, not the one you have in the village, i guess
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: But thanks for dancing with me *smiles*
[2010/09/30 00:06]  gadget Cyberstar: goodnight, relm
[2010/09/30 00:06]  Relm Foxdale: Night
[2010/09/30 00:06]  anna Begonia: good Night lady
The real Virtual World
art gallery (slide)

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Filed under education, presentation, Second Life

It’s time for me to sit on the other side

There are two kind of people in the world: normal people and teacher and students. For normal people the year starts on the 1st of January. For teachers and students it starts on the 1st of September.

And you know: new year, new promises and proposals (and new quitting smoking, collecting princesses’ and queens’ needles and learning languages adds on TV).

September is approaching and Anna Begonia is reflection on what she did, what she does, and what she wants to do. And she feels that she needs to take a break from sitting on the teacher -well, she does not like the word, let’s say facilitator- chair and would really like to sit again on the learner chair.

She wants to have time to experience learning, in all its form: from learning to fight like a ninja with Karelia Kondor, to brush up her German with Gwen Gwasi, to try to improve her English with Professor Merryman, to learn at last to use an holodeck, pupetree and all these stuff she keeps unused in her inventory. And to carry on at last her Mystery House project (what’s it? Aha, a mystery 😛 )

She feels not guilty towards the Italianiamo participants thanks to Misy Ferraris, who will start soon her Italian classes in SL.

Her RL counterpart too is not possessive with her students: she tends to avoid having the same class more than one year in a row. They have to change teacher, listen to other pronunciation, experiment other teaching styles and personalities. And, let’s admit it: all of us have our manias, strong and week points. All of us teach better something and less well other thing and insist more on this or on that. So, changing is good.

And changing for us teachers (opss, sorry Anna, facilitators) is good too. And changing prospective, sitting on the other side, is very, very important.


Filed under education, Second Life

A teaching experience. Some reflections

I was contacted by Luisa Panichi to teach in an Italian beginners course for the Avalon Project. For me it was an honour and a great responsibility. But above all was a learning occasion, so I accepted without hesitation… and then started to worry 🙂 ).

For me it was a long list of “first time”. The first time I actually teach an “Italian course” (I’ve been always busy with informal learning until now), and the first time I had to manage a rather large group (10-15 people).

You will ask: “What? You have been doing things in SL for almost 3 years and never faced a group of 15 people?”

People coming to Italianiamo -let’s confess it 🙂 – are not that many. And when I was at Languagelab it was quite different.

Recognising who is talking

Let me explain it better. When new people drop by at Italianiamo they are one or two for session. But we already know each other and recognise each other voice. Therefore you know that if you hear a “new voice” it belong to the “new person”. And this was the case as well at Languagelab: you ended up knowing almost all students, so when you were running an event for them, you had already met them before and learnt how their voice sounded.

But if they are 15  strangers, as your new students the first days of a course… well, it’s another story.

Next time you are in a large meeting, pay attention. Are you able to recognise immediately who is talking? Or at least, do you know immediately if the person talking is sitting in front of you, on your right or on your left? No. Not at all. Unless you already know the people in the meeting.

In RL, voices come from a direction, we hear where the voice come from, and we turn to that direction, thus spotting who’s speaking.

In SL voices have no direction: everybody is just speaking into your ears.

Of course the teacher can keep an eye on  the active speakers list and on the “green brackets” on avatar’s head, but a teacher is often doing many other things while he or other people are talking: rezzing objects or boards, writing key words in chat, fetching people who got lost on the way, etc. So I assure you that until he’s learnt to recognise his student’s voices, he will have no clue to know who’s asking a question or who’s asking for help.

A solution could be to have a one-to-one chat with each participant (for instance while testing their oral level) so that the teacher could get used with their voice, but since it’s not always possible, be prepared to ask “who said this? Who asked that” when needed. I’m sure your students will understand.

Technical problems

Technical problems are rather common in SL classes. It does not matter if students had their introductory SL skill class before starting, someone will always have technical problems. Some are not important (if you are a white cloud for the whole class… well, you can still follow and participate in it) others are hindering a person class participation: mostly voice problem or crash problems.

For a teacher that’s working alone (if it’s a tandem teaching… well one goes on teaching while the other can help the student to set up his micro) it can be a big problem. He can spend a couple of minutes helping the student, but he cannot spend half an hour with it.

I found short, very focused video tutorials helpful and I would have liked to have made them before the beginning of the course rather than “on demand”.

Video tutorials in my opinion are much better to explain “what to do and where to click” in SL than an inworld explanation. The student can see the teacher interface, where he/she clicks, which menu is she/he opening, etc. and following instructions became easier that in those conversation among blinds that we are forced to carry in SL.  “On the left upper corner of your screen. Do you see it?” (silence on the other part).” If you see please write “yes” in chat”. “Yes, I’m clicking on it, but nothing happens”. “Ok, what is written on the button you are clicking on?” etc.

And… most important : he/she can see it alone, after the class (if the problem is not urgent) or during the class but without interrupting it.

I think it’s better for the student too. It does not have to be easy for a student to ask for help and then feel that all the other students are waiting for him. I mean, having technical problems is already enough frustrating and we do not want to add to it feeling somehow bad about it.

Student does not react

I remember my first workshop. It was about creating a gesture. And I remember me spending time and energy to communicate with one of the avatar who… was obviously having problems because she was not following any instructions, nor answering to my questions.

Later, I learnt that she is always multitasking: she opens her SL viewer, park her avatar there and then… skypes with friends, writes articles for her blog, answer mails.

In conferences she usually leaves her micro on, so we can all hear her typing over the voice of the speaker.

Now when I see her in meetings, I mute her directly. It’s rude, but it’s useless to send her IM asking her to close her micro: she’s doing other things and will not read your messages.

That’s was not the case with the students in this course. They were all really good and participative and it has been a great pleasure for me to meet them all and work with them.

But let’s see some typical VW issues that can be at the base of the problem.

  • First of all: do the student know that someone is asking him (him, and not the group or another student) the question? When asking a question to someone, always say the name of that person, and teach your student to do the same.

If the name of the person the question was addressed to was specified, and we do not get no reaction whatsoever, it can be that:

  • The student did not understand the question but is too shy to admit it: ask the student if he/she understood the question.
  • The student understood the question but he’s thinking his answer: leave the student some time before starting to stress him.
  • The student is googling up words (you can hear him typing): leave him some time but then ask for the answer.
  • The students is distracted by IM: can happen, may be he’s just writing: “busy. In class.” Repeat or ask to repeat the question.
  • The student crashed. Check it by bumping into the student.   If he/she is phantom and you can walk through, he/she has crashed.
  • Sound problems. Sound problems divide themselves in different categories.

– He/she forgot her micro closed (I constantly do it 🙂 ). Solution: say and write in chat that you cannot hear her/him. (that was easy!)

– He/she has voice problems: ask her/him to write in chat the answer, go on with the class and try to help him later, so you are not interrupting the activity.

– No sound: he/she did not hear the question. Solution: Write in chat the question but be aware that not everybody is constantly staring at chat. So write it a couple of times.

  • RL interferences: like telephone ringing, someone came to say something, doorbell ringing, etc. It’s normal and understandable, we all have a RL.

In many cases, you will never know what was going on. I usually allow some time  (while i’m checking all those points) and then go on. If possible, I will go back to that person later, hoping that this time he/she will be able to answer and participate in the class.


Filed under education, Second Life

on 3d classes

Some weeks ago I was talking with Imparafacile Runo on the opportunity of bringing into SL learners of Italian who were already living in Italy. I found the idea an absurdity: they were already living in a 3D, interactive world, full of native speakers. A world that, let’s admit it, it’s much richer than Second Life.

He agreed on this point but pointed out that, for various reasons it’s very difficult for a teacher to bring students out of the classroom and into the real world: permission is to be asked well in advance and is not always granted, due to safety and organisation reasons.

Things are different when the school is small, may be in a small town or village, and – most important – when the management is cleaver enough to understand the importance of direct experience with the language in a real environment for the learners.

That’s the case of Edulingua, a small italian school in the Marche region.

I was talking with its director, Giorgio Massei (Giorgio Kuhn in SL), few weeks ago. Giorgio was one of the pioners in SL when he was teaching in the University of Michigan. Once he went back to Italiy he applied to real life what he learnt in SL.

In his scool students learn to go shopping in the italian town market of Castelraimondo, and when they want to learn vocabulary and expressions related to the house they visit a estate agency and then… a real house!

What an experience for these learners! the language becomes true, their interaction goes further than role play: it’s simulation. they do not ask question to each other pretending to be the seller/buyer: they ask question to a real estate agent, who will speak real, spontaneous italian. The vocabulary they will learn will not be associated to a 2d images on their book but to 3d objects, movements, emotions.

This is a dream for every language teacher, and for every language student. Yet, this way of teaching would not be possible in a large city like Rome or Florence: distances are greater and everything is more complicated. It’s possible in the small village of Castelraimondo, where you reach each destination in few minutes and where everybody knows everybody and the residents are somewhat actively involved in the life of this tiny, revolutionary school.


Filed under education, real life, Second Life, task based learning