Saturday, 15 November 2008

Penguins and pixels: virtual world users

I am still hosting discussions regularly on Infolit iSchool in Second Life (SL), the virtual world. The users of the main grid of Second Life have to be over 18, and quite a lot of them are a good deal older than that. That has led to discussions about whether, since SL does not seen to be drawing in lots of young people, librarians in the education sector should be ignoring it.

I think a different perspective on this was provided by Jackie Marsh (Jackie Darkstone in RL) a Professor in the School of Education here at Sheffield University. 10 days ago she gave a talk on Out of school play in online virtual worlds and the implications for literacy learning (6th November 2008). She has done research looking at how young children are using virtual worlds, particularly Club Penguin (which is a world specifically for young children, where they are penguins and have igloos). About half of the children she surveyed were using a virtual world, with Club Penguin and Barbie World most popular. As with social networking sites like Facebook, people were mostly communicating with people they knew already. When the time came to leave they were moving on to teen worlds like Habbo Hotel. In about 6 years these club penguiners will be hitting university ...
Jackie observed that the children did seem able to find the information they wanted for their virtual lives (her focus is literacy, rather than information literacy). She was speaking in chat, and the chatlog is here: She also has a blog, Digital Beginnings, at

Last week, another speaker, Robin Ashford (a librarian from the USA, Robin Mochi in SL) led a discussion about the Academic librarian in Second Life. She was speaking, and other people were using text chat: there is a transcript of the chat here : Robin recently did a presentation at a conference in SL and her powerpoint is here:

No comments: