Ok, so Vaneeesa and I started talking about my dissertation and failed blog a few weeks ago and long story short, she invited me to her blog. You may ask – who is this girl?! Truth be told, I’m just another graduate student trying to change the world with her research lol. For those of you who have not yet been harassed by my avatar in SL, I am conducting research for my Ph.D. dissertation on how we experience informal learning in SL museums and galleries. In simple words, what do we take away from seeing, hearing, and experiencing “art” in a virtual world through our avis? I put “art” in quotation marks because the definition of art in this respect is very broad and at the same time my research begs the question – what fundamentally is art in SL and what can RL learn from it?
Obviously, as an overachieving graduate student wanting to change the world, my quest does not end there. I want (of course) my research to be different than all the other research in and on SL. I want this to be YOUR research as well, hence the idea (thanks, Vaneeesa :)) to put it all out there on a public forum.
Nothing about this concept is new. Qualitative researchers have been doing this kind of research since the 1970s. In fact, before even thinking of having this level of transparency in my research process, I wrote the following as part of my abstract:
“…It is only by studying these experiences in context and situated within virtual spaces that we can expand our understanding of the avatar-mediated informal learning process. Ultimately, it is not enough to recount how we, as academicians, interpret virtual world learning; we need to make the voices of SL residents heard in academia.”
And here I was talking about the same thing last year on my failed blog:
“June 24, 2011 – A few weeks ago, I started conducting interviews with several artists, writers, and museum visitors in-world and so far, have obtained fantastic feedback! I am thrilled to possibly play a small role in changing how SL is viewed in academia. I have to say that I continue to be amazed at the talent, creativity, openness, and friendliness of this community. As I have said before, I want this research project to be about you – every hour spent in SL reinforces my belief that your voices must and will be heard in academia. While perceptions are slowly changing and SL (and virtual worlds in general) is becoming more than “simply a game” for the academic community, this stigma is still, unfortunately, very prominent in museological discourse. While we cannot force stakeholders to change their mind overnight, I believe that education can and does have an impact on acceptance of technological and media advancements.”
I’m honestly not sure how this is going to work out or exactly what will unfold. I guess that is part of the excitement, to be a pioneer of sorts. In any case, if you are interested in participating in my study, please feel free to email me or drop me an IM is SL. My name in SL is Kathleen Koolhoven and my avi looks pretty much like me in RL.
Since I just chopped off all my hair for the summer, I’ll have to update my profile picture and avi. I’m looking more like Jean Seberg these days, or at least trying to! Isn’t she fabulous?!?!?
I hope you’ll find some enjoyment in following my musings and data collection woes on this blog. And I promise no academic jargon :).