17 October 2007

Academic Avatars

I've been thinking about the how academic avatars should differ from our real-life personas in Second Life teaching and research settings. Recently and was fortunate enough to come across Christopher Conway's article on a similar vein. I shall certainly be thinking about Milton's characteristics a little more from now. I'm currently being approached in Second Life on SL-Labs or by email at the rate of about 1 enquiry per day by parents of children with ADHD and/or Autism. It's hard to know how to handle all their questions about these huge topics when there are so many outstanding questions about these fields. A common theme is that there seems to be a huge number of people with Asperger's Syndrome using SL itself for therapeutic purposes or just plain fun. I always try to draw a professional line on advice giving that might influence decisions too much, that's a job for clinicians and multi-practice teams IMHO. But one thing that does strike me is the range of avatars I come across in a professional capacity within SL and how I must appear to them. Milton's AV looks a bit like me and that is the intention; so that students know who he is. I'm wondering if this is really that important. Do we need to have avatars that resemble us in order to be taken seriously? I've always been a little uncomfortable discussing the intricacies of the diagnostic procedure with a 40 year old mum (or dad) dressed up as an anthropomorphic sexy rabbit (or 'Furry'). Am I being prejudice? “Furries have rights too”, I hear you scream. Check out Christopher's article on the Inside Higher Ed pages. I'm just wondering what Goffman would have made of all this?

1 comment:

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