Position statement
Diane Carr, project team member, Knowledge Lab, IOE

The day’s 4 themes grew out of discussions that the project team (me, Martin Oliver,  Andrew Burn) have had since the project commenced in June 07. Lots of notes and commentary is available here at the blog, under ‘project updates’ as well as on various pages.

Defining Second Life: How should SL be defined? What are the disciplinary, conceptual and methodological ramifications of this definition?

There seems to be a need for more reflection on the ways in which our disciplinary perspective shapes our analysis in the case of Second Life…I’ll be talking about this during our presentation tomorrow.

Second Life Literature reviewing: Is the attention directed at SL resulting in the emergence of a compelling body of research literature? What previous research/fields do SL researchers ignore at their peril?

From the paper I’m working on at the moment…”At the 2007 Association of Internet Researcher’s conference a day-long workshop was dedicated to Second Life and a number of active mailing lists and wikis indicate that there is research underway. Researchers are using sociological, ethnographic and psychological methods to examine questions of online identity. Educators are examining the use of Second Life as ‘classroom’ or considering Second Life as a site for simulations designed to address specific curricula (biology or geology, for example), as a tool that enables the honing of particular skills (such as programming) or as a stage for collaborative practices (drama, art-working, building). It is possible to locate reports, blogs, wikis and reflections on practice, but difficult to find examples of work that share a disciplinary perspective, where the application or suitability of specific theory or methodologies is discussed in depth. This means that the Second Life researcher faces a bafflingly broad range of material that is peppered with significant ‘gaps’.”

Research ethics or ‘ethics’ ethics? Ethics in relation to: privacy, teaching, research practice and priorities, documentation, observation, methodology, culture, policy – and Second Life.

This theme was prompted by some of the discussions that have gone on at Terranova or on the SL Researcher’s mailing list (often generated by Ren Reynolds) on matters of ethics, the difference between bad ethics and bad manners, and the role/influence of US university internal review boards (for example, in relation to the potential emergence of conventions relating to good practice).