SAESL Blog: OSGrid welcoming…and a bit overwhelming

I waited until I arrived home to try to visit another virtual world today. Last week, I think the school’s firewall was keeping me from accessing anything.

I decided to try the OSGrid using the Hippoviewer. I like the Hippoviewer because it’s one viewer that can visit multiple grids. You just choose the grid from the pulldown menu on startup. Of course, you have to have already registered an avatar on that particular grid’s website to visit, but usually the sign-up process is pretty straight forward.
The Hippoviewer can be found at http://mjm-labs.com/viewer/ .
To sign up for an OSGrid avatar, visit http://www.osgrid.org/elgg/ .
When I logged in, it said there were just above 70 users on the grid at that moment. I think the room I entered into had probably a quarter of those.
It was a lounge-like setting and most of those hanging out appeared to be helpers. Once they noticed the newbie avatar in the room, I was IM’d with “do you need any help?” and “I have plenty of freebie landmarks. Are you a guy or doll?” Next came an avalanche of landmarks, helper notecards, skins, shapes, and the like.
I made my excuses, that I was experiencing a lot of lag (using the terminology made them understand that I wasn’t just a general newbie–I do know my way around an SL style viewer)–and that the lag was because I had multiple programs running, I thanked them for their welcomes and kindness and set out to search for freebies. (Because, let’s face it, being in a newbie avatar body once you’ve been exposed to SL for a couple of years–its uncomfortable!)
After searching through a couple of the freebie areas, I ended up being a black anthro’d kitsune in a dark gray business suit with black hair. My ears wouldn’t work right, so they came off and my eyes never would rez in.
Perhaps the next visit, I’ll actually get to check out some of the educational areas. As it was, I was running SL along with OSGrid on my computer–after a while, it gets to the point where both programs will freeze up unless I close one down.
I guess the lesson I take away from this experience is that sometimes I forget what it’s like being a newcomer to the grid. Even though I teach SL to others, I forget what the experience was like, my first day coming into a new world. I think these grid hopping activities make me reflect more on that process (at least I hope they will!). I think experiencing over and over again what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land will, I hope, help me better understand what it is fellow educators and students need to get them off on the right foot, in the virtual world and also in course subjects that they might not have a background in and are delving into for the first time.
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