Stranger Danger

Since beginning my second life on Second Life back in March, I have had such great experiences and have met such wonderful, welcoming people through SL, Twitter and the DEN.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given a house in Chilbo by Fleep Tuque. I love my little house and I’ve met my neighbors and follow them on Twitter as well.

I’ve attended professional development and social events at the DEN and through ISTE during which I met in SL many of the great educators I’ve met in real life or on Twitter.

Having said all of this, I’ve met many new people in Second Life that were strangers at one time or another, but I met them in an environment that was appropriate. It wasn’t like I struck up a conversation with someone in a freebie store or when I was a complete “Newbie” and walking through the Ben & Jerry’s Orientation island.  I had some unspoken rules in mind similar to what I teach teachers, students and my own children to use as guidelines. (These are a bit different since they were for me. Had I been working with kids I would never have let them include their personal information in their SL profiles.)

  1. Only IM (instant message) with people that I know
  2. Have a Landmarks (similar to Favorites) folder of familiar, appropriate, recommended places to visit
  3. If I feel uncomfortable about something, log out and let someone know about it immediately.

In general, I follow my rules. But a couple of days ago, I returned to my house on Chilbo after having a very nice conversation with a fellow Rutgers staffer on RUCE. I always return to my house before logging off. It’s one of the great benefits of having real estate on SL. I walked away from my computer for just a minute and when I returned – there was an unfamiliar avatar sitting on my couch!


Me: Who are you?
BB: hi
Me: Hi – What are you doing in my house?
BB: im youre new boyfriend :-p
Me: Not really. Are you a chilbo resident?
BB: no passing by
Me: Nice meeting you – bye bye now.
BB: youre leaving ?
Me: You are.
BB: ill think about it
Me: Interesting – this has never happened before.
Me: You must be really bored.
BB: nope just checking this game out
Me: Oh – well I don’t use it for a game.
Me: I use it for work
BB: what kind of work?
Me: Not telling – but you need to leave – you are on private property.
BB: dont worry im not going to eat you
Me: ha ha
BB: this is just pixels remember
BB: ?
Me: Yes, but you are distracting,
BB: verry well then m gone

We can all pick a part how I handled the situation. I was caught a little off guard. My first instinct was to follow Rule #3 and log out, but he was in my house and I was concerned that he would possibly do something to my house or would still be there when I logged back on.

I did send a Tweet out to my PLN and got several immediate suggestions on what to do. (Thank you so much for the quick responses.) I also met with Fleep the next day and she banned BB from my house so that he could never return.

What’s the protocol for Stranger Danger as an adult in Second Life? I talk to strangers all the time in my first life and my four-year-old frequently scolds me as she doesn’t understand boundaries and social graces yet. How do we teach our students and children to be polite, generate new friendships and exchange information with people that can potentially be their friends or of some interest to them in real life or in virtual worlds and maintain boundaries?

I welcome your suggestions. I don’t welcome strangers on my couch. I’m Emanna Romano in Second Life should you want to discuss this in World, we can arrange a public place to meet. :)

PodCamp NYC was a Success!

PodCampNYC was a fantastic experience at Brooklyn Polytechnic yesterday. Not only did David Gordon and I get to talk about the project we’ve been working so hard on for so many months, but so many attendees shared our enthusiasm.


Brian Brewer from had some great suggestions for us and offered to link our vcasts to his organization’s site once they were formally published. Christine Cavalier aka PurpleCar had a great idea for us to include a teenager in the vcasts. David immediately thought of a candidate for the job and I could see the networks in his brain working to make it all happen as soon as we got back to Jersey. And we also met Philip Campbell from the UK who sat in on part of our presentation. Phil runs and graciously offered to help us with circulation and had some awesome ideas on getting additional funding.  


David, Judy and I also had the chance to sit in on the Teachers Teaching Teachers with Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim and we  lunched with Second Life gurus AJ Kelton and Peggy Sheehy.  


Finally, as the day came to a close, we met some of the PodCamp coordinators. They did such a fantastic job. We even had free coffee from Starbucks – in NYC of all places!


I only wish I had met Philip from Philip – I looked for you everywhere.


Check out my Flickr stream from the day.



We’re heading to PodCamp NYC

Tomorrow David Gordon and I present at PodcampNYC. We will be presenting about a project we have been working on for months now.


We’re still not really ready. We had been hoping to have edited more video and published all the video podcasts to Rutgers iTunes U and secured more funding, but best laid plans…


I spent some time today finalizing our presentation and realized it will be very difficult to summarize in an hour (from 1-2pm) what has taken us many months to put together. But I am very excited to share what our vision has been to help children, parents, classmates and teachers of children re-entering school after having been treated for cancer.


David and I (and everyone else involved with this project) are hoping that after today we’ll be able to forge ahead.

We Can’t Read Minds

Last week my post was titled, “What are 2344 People Thinking?”. I was realistically hoping to get about ten of those newsletter subscribers to tell me, instead I got three people to e-mail me directly asking me to take them off the ListServ (nothing unusual) and two people were so kind as to share their thoughts with me.

We can’t read minds. We can survey formally using Survey Monkey, Response-o-matic even Google Docs Forms, and we can even do a Twitter Poll, which works for many of us Ed-Techies, but these methods do not work for the bulk of the educators subscribed to my Center’s Listserv. (Think back to the two comments left on my blog.)

What will work? Are they reading the newsletter? Since last Tuesday when I posted to my blog and sent the newsletter to the ListServ via e-mail I’ve taught two in-district workshops, one workshop at the Center and spoke in front of about 60 NJ educators at the monthly NJECC meeting.

I informally surveyed those I had the opportunity to speak with regarding during the week. “Oh, I get your newsletter – Great Job.” And “The tools looked cool, I’ll check them out soon.” And this one a few times as well “That grant site – do you recommend it?”. Are they reading it, or are they just really very nice?

What can I do to get them to read the newsletter? Better yet, what can I do to move them from the newsletter to a subscription to a blog? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

What are 2344 People Thinking?

As more educators in New Jersey move from 1.0 to 2.0 methods of communication, I’m thinking the need for a newsletter may begin to fade. Not that I would stop e-mailing it to our some two-thousand subscribers anytime soon. But it’s time to offer some options and to hopefully start getting some answers.

Many teachers and administrators that I’ve met with over the last few months have started to follow me on Twitter and have signed up for Google Reader or Bloglines to organize the blogs that they have begun to read. They’re open to moving forward into the Web 2.0 world.

CMSCE April 2008 NewsletterThe Center has been using their Listserv to communicate with NJ educators for years now. We use it to send out notices of special events, upcoming workshops and when I joined the staff in 2004, I began to send a monthly newsletter to the ListServ’s subscribers.

According to L-soft the ListServ was invented in 1986. Just two years prior, the CMSCE at Rutgers University was established to contribute to the improvement of mathematics, science, and computer education programs in New Jersey schools and in schools throughout the nation.

Many of you know I abandoned what little blogging I had done at Blogger and decided many weeks ago to start from scratch with Thumann Resources. I gave some thought as to the benefits of the Center’s ListServ subscribers reading the information I present to them in newsletter form in the form of a blog post. Here is what I came up with:

If you click on the image, you’ll see a full screen version of it.

The yellow bubbles represent anything that both the newsletter and blog have in common such as the fact that both are written in html and are best viewed in a browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari). Another commonality is that the ListServ will not allow any e-mails to go through with virus attachments and the moderator (that’s me) will not allow any comments to go through that are not approriate or related to the conversation.

The remaining bubbles focus on four major points:

  1. I have no idea how many of the 2,344 educators who subscribe to the Center’s ListServ or the additional thousands of educators who subscribe to NJSSI‘s ListServ (who I also send the newsletter to each month) actually read the newsletter. On my blog I can see how many people visited each post.
  2. Not only can I see how many people visited each post, but I can see how many times each of the links in the post were clicked.
  3. I can track where my readers are coming from. Did they come to Thumann Resources from Google, Rutgers, Twitter, the DOE?
  4. The only person who gets to see the reponses that subscribers submit to the monthly newsletter is me. Many of them are kudos and many others are requests for “a site that can help me with…” and “when will you offer the…” and of course “please remove me from…”, but the blog opens the door to readers being able to leave comments that other readers can read and respond to.

My favorite is number 4. I’m hoping some of you will comment on this post letting me know your thoughts about what I’ve written, what you’d like to share with other educators, what you’d like to see in the newsletter, or anything else you’d like to share.

The Web 2.0 Whirlwind

Someone said to me the other day, “A Web 2.0 workshop? You can teach that with your eyes closed.”

I know the comment didn’t come from someone truly immersed in Web 2.0 and I know they don’t have in their Google Reader or they would realize just how difficult it is to keep up with all the new 2.0 applications that come out on a weekly basis.

So, I took a look at the eBoard that I used the last time I taught Web 2.0 at the Center. eBoards has been how we’ve organized information for our workshops at the Center for many years now. We have a partnership with Seacliffe technologies and we give every workshop participant a free eBoard for a year when they attend one of our workshops.

So I took a look at my resource at I wasn’t feeling the love. I had put a lot of time into it when I had used it last, but since then I had facilitated a half a dozen workshops in districts and a few presentations at conferences and had used various wikis and Twitter to provide the links to the sites.

Am I supposed to do a complete overhaul on this eBoard? For the teachers in NJ that have access to these resources – should I change the links or should I leave it so that they sign up for our summer workshops or again in the fall to update their web 2.0 toolbox.

I thought about it all day. I wrote my agenda, got together a few handouts (I try not to give paper in technology workshops, I prefer to give everything in digital form).

Here’s what I decided. Be honest. Tell me what you think and I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m going to invite the (small) group of teachers to join me in a Google Doc as we create a list of web 2.0 tools we use during the day. This way they can make notes on each tool as we go.
Here’s the list of tools (I have 5 hours of professional development time)
1. Google Docs
2. iGoogle
2. Twitter
3. Skrbl
6. Tiny.url / moo url
7. Zamzar / converttube
8. VoiceThread