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We are a devious lot, we humans.


There is in us, all of us (certainly as children), to dress up and roll play as a form of learning (and entertainment).

Are virtual worlds not simply playing to this innate trait?

Invited to give this a go as part of the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) I asked for my 13 year old son to let me into his game. Female? Why not. After a bit of running around and interaction I leave him to it. I come back the next day and find the above. My son explains that I ran out of money and sold my clothes 🙁

Jonathan Franzen bemoaned authors who could only write as themselves, indeed at Harvard being part of a writer’s group where most people could do little else than invent characters who had been on a gap year or had a difficult term at school.

It is insightful to think yourself into the role of a.n.other, old, young, male, female, different cultures and class. Doing the reading I am impressed and informed by those with serious injuries or disabilities who can find a compensatory form of existence when playing in these worlds (exactly like the movie Avatar of course in which the protagonist, paralysed from the waist down, finds legs).

Thinking further, might or could behaviours be like that of controlling a ventriloquist’s dummy?

That you let your avatar be your more bold and outspoken alter-ego?

A minefield for teachers. I wouldn’t like to enter such a world with a bunch of young teenagers!

This is why South Korea has it right putting all new teachers through e-learning training.

I learnt that World of Warcraft is far too robust for cheats, indeed that the culture of its creation mean there are none. In one respect, again, like a movie (the narrative theme), the world is consistent even though it is of course ‘other wordly’.

I also learn that my wife has bought stuff from other avatars in the belief that these purchases would get our son through a level without him having to spend hours/days on a quest. I think she should appreciate that this thing is never ending.

In a learning context you can’t buy yourself a skill or knowledge set.

Plagiarism tools should pick it up if you have bought a paper, but more importantly there will be an assignment at some stage that is robust and designed to test what you know. However, as I have shown with my wife taking over my Avatar, could not, and do not people do this?

As the learning, not the qualification, is that what matters to me in MAODE might I share this entire experience with another? Split the cost and do the work together, but only one of us taking the credit?

We are a devious lot, we humans. If something can be got for free …

Regarding ‘dressing-up’ and roll play I was reminded as I ran through a list of authors I have read extensively that Virginia Woolf and some friends once dressed up as Middle-Eastern Royalty and were entertained by the officers on a vessel of Her Majesty’s Navy.

And rock musicians? From Alice Cooper and David Bowie to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber

Many are acting out a fantasy or role-playing.

Are we not obliged to take silly names in things like Twitter anyway as most variations of our own name have gone?

Was there not a first-adopter, classroom clown approach to email addresses too that some might regret, certainly change in due course?

As a diarist going online I regret being open simply because I see now how open and revelatory people want to be, which is best achieved by remaining anonymous, the best and apt blogger going by the name of ‘Invisabledon’ (see links) being one such person who after a decade I can only know as a bloke in his 40s or 50s living in North America. Going in as myself had its compensations from a ‘branding’ point of view but such first-name ‘public’ secret diarists are rare.

This from Diaryland shows that kinds of names people adopt. Do they then live up to the names they choose? Often they do.

If you are interested in blogging, this platform, launched in 1999, has barely changed though copied a thousand times over. Here a limited list of ‘buddies’ (75) are revealed in a simply menu that tells the blogger when someone last updated. I’ve long ago abandoned blogging here, but you would edit out those who didn’t update, certainly once they’d got the the 3 month mark. I can’t think of any blog platform that gives you this kind of insight into a selection of fellow participants.

Parameters, as here, have their virtues.

(Like learning music, you don’t start with a cathedral organ, but a piano and Grades 1-3. Being given the full orchestra may be overwhelming).

Something else they have are ‘Diary Rings’, sets of like-minds who opt in to a huge variety of ‘circles of friends’ which sounds like (and is like) Google + Circles.

The problem/issue Diaryland has, and they have stuck with this, is to refuse ALL advertising anywhere so leaving it, clearly, underfinanced so unable to modernise.

For a blog coach looking for a ‘training pool’ to put novices testing the water I can think of no better place. You even have to learn or remember some Basic HTML.

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