Second Life – Overall Reflection

SL Art Museum PIC

Being open to exploring ways to develop the computer skills of the elderly population was the key to being a helpful instructor for the online Virtual World called Second Life. Second life is a free website where users of all ages create an avatar to participate in activities that prevent cognitive decline and increase brain health. For the past 7 weeks via Skype and one in-person meeting at Starbucks, I was able to teach more than the basics of navigating the computer to my senior named Marilyn. With practice and patience, Marilyn and I were able to enjoy exploring the various programs of Inspiration Island and learned how to overcome challenges while having fun.

In order to prepare working as a Second Life instructor, my peers and I would meet online in Second Life to work with our supervisor, Lynne. We would all review the module lesson and practice sitting, chatting, writing in notecards, taking pictures, and other animations to prepare ourselves to teach our seniors. I found this preparation to be very helpful because I could ask Lynne questions and make improvements on how I navigate my avatar to finish the lesson in an efficient manner. Then I would share what I learned to my senior, Marilyn. While working with Marilyn, I first reviewed our previous lesson and then built upon her knowledge by teaching her the new lesson. I needed to make sure I was very clear and explained everything step by step when guiding Marilyn so that way we can both be on the same page. I always made sure I remained upbeat and positive during the sessions so Marilyn feels happy while learning especially when she had a few moments of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content to learn. At the end of the session, Marilyn and I would share our thoughts on how we think we could improve our experience for the next session the following week. This was very helpful to debrief with her because I could better understand where she is having trouble understanding how to have more control with the functions of Second Life. Listening to Marilyn’s feedback helped me learn how I can further help her and allowed me to get to know her strengths and areas of improvement.

As a result of working with Marilyn, I know that there is a lot of possibility of teaching the elderly about technology. Seeing Marilyn smile and get excited about exploring the virtual world was very inspiring to me because I noticed how much she appreciates learning. This shows that with enough encouragement and patience, the older population can learn about technology. Running into a few issues and lots of repetition in a kind and gentle manner helped Marilyn learn a lot more especially since she is a visual learner. Marilyn and I loved working with each other in Second Life. If one way of accomplishing a task did not work, Marilyn and I would find an alternative. For example, if walking with our avatars did not work to travel from one area to another on Second Life, we could fly, ride a horse, run, ride on a magic carpet, or teleport, which was the best option for most of the time. Although our meetings were mainly online, I learned that what really matters in connecting with someone to help them learn virtually is openness to new ideas, genuine interest, and problem solving. Therefore, Second Life is a solid and reliable way to keep the minds of the elderly active while having fun with art, music, photos, and psychology.


Second Life – Session Seven

SL New Ballon PIC

Marilyn and I had a wonderful time during our last session in second life! We had so much fun exploring Inspiration Island at the Health Hacienda, Meditation Garden, Nature Preserve, Mad Science Lab, and the Abyss. At the beginning of the session, Marilyn introduced me to her husband, Ross. Ross was happy to see that I was teaching Marilyn about Second Life; he was so fascinated by the water fountain of the online world. I was so happy to see him very interested in SL and explained how SL is an online program for cognitive brain health created by software developers. Next, I shared with Marilyn the HUD (Heads Up Display) and brain that monitors avatar movements on SL. By using the teleporter, Marilyn and I took pictures together at each of the locations we explored with the camera icon; we each used our Linden coins to save our pictures to our inventory and then shared our pictures with Lynne in SL. At the Meditation Garden, we both flew on the magic carpet. Marilyn and I were able to ride on the Hot Air Balloon and Marilyn was able to ride on the horse too. What was super creepy was the Mad Science Lab where there was strange music playing, zombie-like characters, and electric shocks sparking near science tools in the background. Finally, Marilyn and I went the the Abyss where we landed underwater. Under the sea, we saw colorful fish, a green octopus, and a giant clam with a white pearl. By the end of the session, Marilyn wrote in the note card she created to share with Lynne that she needs to work on all areas of well-being: self-care, cognitive, social, creative, and purpose. She said that she will use her top strength of honesty to help her spend more time in all areas of well-being. We both gave ourselves time to say goodbye and we will definitely keep staying in touch. Marilyn told me that it was a pleasure to learn about SL and that she enjoyed working with me. I also loved working with Marilyn and I feel that she got very skilled at using SL so I am confident that she can continue being an active user of the online world.

Second Life – Session Six


Marilyn and I went to the Grove of Wisdom to do the Book Hunt. After Marilyn completed her Values in Action Survey, we were able to find all five books. At first, it was a bit challenging for Marilyn to find them; completing the hunt got easier as she got used to exploring the area since she finds it helpful to use maps to guide her when trying to find something. Following the directions for filling out the notecard was better when we decided that we would first focus on finding only the five books. While riding on a horse, I took pictures of Marilyn completing the hunt. Then, we focused on answering the questions. Using this strategy helped Marilyn understand the activity in an efficient manner. Finally, Marilyn was able to answer all of the questions from each of the five books in her notecard that she created with her inventory. She used the boxes labeled with virtues, which matched her strengths in order to answer the questions. Next time, Marilyn and I hope to explore more of the island while riding the horses.

Second Life – Session Five


Exploration was the theme for session five This time Marilyn and I met in person at Starbucks. After practicing the functions in SL, we went to the Community Cultural Hub. We were able to arrive at a museum where there was a piano and sheet music displayed across the walls representing different kinds of music. Next, we went to the Whole Brain Health Home Parcel where Marilyn flew on the magic carpet. Marilyn had lots of fun flying through trees and over the rainbow bridge. We tried to ride the horses, but our avatars were not responding well throughout the session. Finally, Marilyn was able to use the teleporter globe to arrive at the underwater spa. Marilyn took a picture of the colorful fish and coral surrounding her avatar in the deep blue sea. Although there were delays with the avatar response time, Marilyn said that meeting in person was effective and that she enjoyed the overall experience.

Second Life – Session Four


During the Butterfly Hunt, Marilyn and I were able to find all of the five hidden butterflies located in the Lotus, where each floor illustrates one of the five components of well-being. We had a lot of fun seeing the different levels of the Lotus even though it was a challenge to get up and down the stairs. Flying helped the both of us reach all of the floors. When collecting the butterflies, Marilyn was able to type in her notecard that she found the butterflies and she also answered the questions. At the end, she was able to submit her responses in the box of the Lotus to receive her Linden coins.

Second Life – Session Three

Magic Carpet SL PIC

The focus of today’s Second Life Session was on getting more comfortable with navigating with avatars. First, after I sent Marilyn a teleport request to meet at the Orientation Center, we reviewed the Avatar Preferences menu to know how to receive email notifications and change the draw distance to be able to view other user avatars. Marilyn was also able to select the World menu tab to learn how to change the sun position, show property lines, and set home to current location. After showing Marilyn where to go to move her avatar with the “Walk” icon, she felt more comfortable using the pop-up menu rather than the arrow keys on her keyboard. Here, we also practiced how to run and located where to select the “Flying” option. By right clicking on each of our avatars, we were able to choose the “Sit” and “Stand Up” buttons.

Next, when working on changing the appearance of our avatars, the Camera Controls helped Marilyn view her avatar better. Once we reached the “Edit Shape” menu, we were able to make our avatars smile, but there was an issue with altering the height of Marilyn’s avatar. Marilyn’s avatar lost her legs so we both tried to trouble shoot the situation. I reached out to the Firestorm Support Group Live Chat and we learned to navigate through more menus in the inventory to try to get back the legs. Marilyn was able to join the Live Chat by choosing the “Help” tab and selecting “Join Firestorm Support Group.” She and I practiced chatting with the support group members and tried to fix the issue, but nothing was working; we agreed to continue trouble shooting during our next session with the last set of directions sent to us: “Take off everything listed in your Current Outfit folder except for shape, skin, eyes, and hair base.” Further, we will try to look into what is the meaning the the “Video Icon” and “Alpha and Mesh.”

Marilyn feels a lot more in control since she is thinking more about the functions of SL. She said that the logic of how to use the software is more present and that overall she sees that we are doing very well with learning together. Running into a few issues has helped Marilyn learn a lot more especially since she is a visual learner.

Second Life – Session Two

SL Blog 2 PIC

During Module 2, Marilyn and I reviewed where we left off at the Orientation Center (OC) and continued to learn the rest of the poster tutorials. We were able to navigate our avatars with more ease throughout this second session. Step by step, I explained the poster instructions and Marilyn was able to perform the actions in an excellent manner. As we went along the OC, I took pictures of us interacting with our avatars. Practicing various animations, sitting, chatting, and trying out the Fortune Teller Machine was enjoyable for us. We also learned how to use the Suitcase Icon to access our clothing inventory and learned about Linden currency for making purchases. Another aspect of the program we learned about was using Landmarks to find places and go to Skybox 1 to receive a notecard.

Although this session was a great learning experience, there are a few improvements I would like to share to overcome some challenges we faced. A challenge I saw was with how the module was assembled, which Marilyn mentioned in her reflection as well. I agree with her in that the module would be easier if similar tasks were grouped together, then older adults would feel less exhausted. The idea I suggest is writing the module and SL posters online in the form of very short and easy bullet point short cuts. Perhaps, adding pictures to demonstrate tasks in the module packet itself can even further break down the training a little more. Marilyn and I also discussed during our session that maybe having some kind of animated demonstration appear as a pop-up window as soon as a user hovers their mouse over each poster in the OC can make learning easier. There was a lot to read so condensing the material in the simplest way possible will shift the user’s focus from being overwhelmed to simply enjoying to the fullest the great benefits SL offers for brain health.

Second Life – Session One

Lynne & Elaina Dance Pic SL1

Introducing myself as a Second Life Buddy to Marilyn and guiding her was a wonderful experience we both enjoyed very much. Marilyn and I scheduled a Skype Call and got to know each other. I learned that Marilyn is a retired Journalist and Editor who has experience with working with non-profits, specifically Neighbors Link in Westchester where she was the Executive Director. Marilyn is Ukrainian and Russian and loves learning. She has 30 years of Electric Dark Room experience so she is comfortable using a computer. Just like myself, we both agree that education is everything and that critical thinking skills are essential for problem solving. I shared with her that as a Computer Science student, I am working on Second Life as a course project to educate the older population about the various programs Second Life offers to help people become more competent in their computer skills. What we have in common is non-profit experience, since I recently volunteered for my grandfather’s non-profit located in Dominican Republic to help the most poor through food, clothing, school supplies, and toiletry donations, a project for the Pace Setters Leadership Program.

After we introduced ourselves, we were able to get started with exploring Second Life. Since Marilyn had already installed the Firestorm software to join Second Life, she was logged into the program with her avatar named Mashap102. First, I sent Marilyn a friend request and she was able to see the notification and accept it. Once we became friends, Marilyn and I had some trouble trying to meet with each other. We tried describing what we were seeing on our screens. I directed her to take a look at the button icons to see if she can find the map, but we need to work on getting more familiar with the icons for the next session. So, I sent her a teleport request and we were able to meet at the Orientation Center (OC). At the OC, we went through the first few poster tutorials of the basic functions your avatar can do. We learned how to use the camera eye and practiced zooming in and out. Then, we practiced using the arrow keys to move our avatar around the room as well as using the ALT + Click to zoom in as well. Our favorite part was watching our avatars dance! Marilyn and I laughed so much with the dance poses! Next time, we will go through the other dance poses and slowly learn the remaining poster tutorials. Marilyn loved the program so much that she wants to encourage her husband to join Second Life too.

Second Life – Orientation

Ori PIC 2

Second Life is a free online global environment where users interact with each other in a variety of different ways to help continued brain growth. It’s a social experience that the director, Lynne, and her assistant, Madeline, have geared towards helping the elderly exercise their minds to learn technology. During this orientation at the Elm Hall lobby, the students and I were able to see the online world in action with the avatars and were given an overview of how to install the software. We explored different landmarks by such as the Orientation Area, Inspiration Island, and the Grove of Wisdom by moving the avatar and adjusting the camera. It is fascinating to have learned that some users stream piano music through Second Life and that there is a teacher from South Africa who teaches world music.

Teaching – PowerPoint Effects – Lesson 5

Teaching PowerPoint PIC

Nuvi and I had tons of laughs when we went through all of PowerPoint’s slide transition and animation effects for her slides, pictures, and text! As Nuvi became more familiar with PowerPoint’s menus and tabs, she was able to choose all of the different animation effects. After she tried out all of the effects, we played her slide show presentation. Seeing everything in action was very exciting for her and I loved seeing her having an awesome time! Finally, I demonstrated how to save her work with the “File, Save As” drop down menu.

Nuvi’s favorite part was working with the shapes to make her text more exciting and simply just learning PowerPoint. She said she is now confident to know what others talk about for the next time she hears PowerPoint being mentioned in conversations. Navigating is better and she knows where things are so she is no longer afraid of using the buttons and mouse. Just like our previous learning sessions, Nuvi expressed that my message was clear when teaching and it is easy to learn with me. She thanked me many times since she was so grateful to learn everything I taught her and that she will apply what she learned with PowerPoint whenever she can make a food presentation for those she cooks for.

Nuvi and I with her finished presentation can be seen here!