Ethnographic Research in SL and IRL

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Computer-blue.svg

Ethnographic Research in SL and IRL

Grade Level: College
Subject: Sociology
Sub-category: Ethnographic Research Methods


Length/Duration: 3 hours in class and 3 hours outside of class
Technologies Used: Second Life, Posterous


Lesson Overview[edit]

Students will learn how to do ethnographic research and conduct a mini-ethnographic study in Second Life (SL) and in real life (IRL)


Stage 1: Enter USD space in Second Life

Stage 2: Watch a video on ethnographic research methods

Stage 3: Explore Second Life with an eye for issues of race/ethnicity and gender

Stage 4: Explore Purple Haze Classic Rock Club & Mall

Stage 5: Explore Bootylicious Club & Shopping Mall

Stage 6: Reflect on SL experience using Posterous

Stage 7: Explore a shopping area or nightclub that caters primarily to people of color IRL

Stage 8: Explore a shopping area or nightclub that does not cater primarily to people of color IRL

Stage 9: Reflect on IRL experience using Posterous

Stage 10: Compare and contrast SL and IRL experiences on Posterous


Check mark.svg

Lesson Plan[edit]

Stage 1: Students sign up for a Second Life account at Second Life. Encourage students to customize their avatar so it suits the “self” they want to represent in Second Life.

Stage 2: Students enter USD's SL space. Students watch a video called Introduction to Ethnographic Research that talks about the differences between “traditional” research and ethnography. Instruct students to think about how ethnographic research can be used to study race/ethnicity.

- Ethnographic Research Methods

Stage 3: Explore Second Life with an eye for issues of race/ethnicity and gender Second Life

Stage 4: Students visit Purple Haze Classic Rock Club & Mall for 20 mins. During this time, students should walk through both the mall and the nightclub and observe and/or interact with the mall/club patrons. Students should take field notes on their experiences. Encourage students to take photos of events/objects/people at this location. Photos can be emailed directly to post@posterous.com from Second Life.

Students should be aware of:

- representations of race/ethnicity and/or gender

- their feelings of comfort and/or fitting in

Stage 5: Students visit Bootylicious Club & Shopping Mall for 20 mins. During this time, students should walk through both the mall and the nightclub and observe and/or interact with the mall/club patrons. Students should take field notes on their experiences. Encourage students to take photos of events/objects/people at this location. Photos can be emailed directly to post@posterous.com from Second Life.

Students should be aware of:

- representations of race/ethnicity and/or gender

- their feelings of comfort and/or fitting in

Stage 6: Students reflect on their experiences in both SL locations. Reflections need to be posted to Posterous. Reflections should respond to the following questions:

- What is the student's overall impression of the culture of both SL locations? (compare & contrast)

- How did the student feel in each location? (comfortable/uncomfortable, insider/outsider, etc.)

- What stood out in terms of representations of race/ethnicity?

Stage 7: Explore a shopping area or nightclub that caters primarily to people of color IRL for 20 mins. During this time, students should walk through the mall or nightclub and observe and/or interact with the mall/club patrons. Students should take field notes on their experiences.

Stage 8: Explore a shopping area or nightclub that does not cater primarily to people of color IRL for 20 mins. During this time, students should walk through the mall or nightclub and observe and/or interact with the mall/club patrons. Students should take field notes on their experiences.

Stage 9: Students reflect on their experiences in both IRL locations. Reflections need to be posted to Posterous. Reflections should respond to the following questions:

- What is the student's overall impression of the culture of both SL locations? (compare & contrast)

- How did the student feel in each location? (comfortable/uncomfortable, insider/outsider, etc.)

- What stood out in terms of representations of race/ethnicity?


Stage 10: Compare and contrast SL and IRL experiences on Posterous



Instructor Resources[edit]

USD Library guide on Second Life

USD's SL space

Second Life Education Wiki

Sim Teach Wiki

How to do almost anything with Posterous


Learning occurs through immersion in subject matter and reflection upon that subject matter. An online, cross-cultural learning environment can promote learning by exposing students to a diverse range of ideas, opinions, and interactions. As students explore Second Life, reflect upon their experiences on Posterous, and read the reflections of other diverse students, they are exposed to ideas that facilitate growth and learning. Technology on its own cannot enhance learning. However, the purposeful use of technology in a finely crafted lesson can and will enhance learning as long as it keeps the student engaged.

Ethnographic research immerses the researcher into the environment being studied. Researchers act and are acted upon by their research subjects. This provides the researcher with experience that may shape how they view the data collected. Dewey states, “the measure of the value of an experience lies in the perception of relationships or continuities to which it leads up” (164). In practicing ethnographic research methods, students get to experience the methodology as well as learn the theory behind it.

Focusing on representations of race/ethnicity and gender in the SL environment allows the students to compare and contrast that data with that collected IRL. Representations of people/cultures in games has implications for society. Williams posits that games need to be understood as “important systems of symbols which might have a broad social impact” (816). He states that the presence, absence, or type of representation of varying social groups has an impact on society. Jones summarized the work of Nakamura (2002), by stating “avatar construction tends to conform to cultural standards of what is considered attractive or normative, and since the majority of user of online worlds are male, white and bourgeoisie, their particular cultural view impacts the virtual space” (p. 23).

The reflection activity in Posterous provides students with a chance to reflect on what they experienced in SL and IRL when practicing their ethnographic research skills. Lapadat asserts that “the nature of onine interactive writing itself, in an appropriately designed conference, supports meaning making” (16). Reflecting on the freflections of their corss-cultural partner school students adds richness to the experience and exposes students to different ideas.

The reflection activity in Posterous provides students with a chance to reflect on what they experienced in SL and IRL when practicing their ethnographic research skills. Lapadat asserts that “the nature of onine interactive writing itself, in an appropriately designed conference, supports meaning making” (16).


References[edit]

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Jones, D.E. (2006), I, Avatar: Constructions of Self and Place in Second Life and the Technological Imagination, Gnovis, Journal of Communication, Culture and Technology, 6.

Lapadat, J. C. (2002). Written Interaction: A Key Component in Online Learning. JCMC (4)

Williams, D., Martins, N., Consalvo, M., & Ivory, J. D. (2009). The virtual census: representations of gender, race and age in video games. New Media & Society. 11 (5), 815-834.


For more lessons incorporating Distance Education, check out these resources: