[SLED] Purpose of the list

rloon at hbci.com rloon at hbci.com
Wed Aug 8 19:50:11 PDT 2007

   I dropped out of this conversation near the beginning because it  
was clear to me that participants were talking past each other.  
Perhaps rashly, I've decided to restate a point that was lost along  
the way.

   Fernando, I understand your points, and agree with many of them.  
Quite obviously, an instructor cannot hide her identity from  
students.  Many people on this list, however, are educators, but not  
classroom teachers. There are Ed Tech professionals, administrators,  
librarians, professional developers, technical consultants, and others  
who support the educational enterprise. What I think I heard some of  
them say was that a person's age, gender, and other RL personal  
characteristics shouldn't be relevant to their presence in SL.  
Therefore, for many reasons -- personal security among them -- it may  
make sense for people to separate their RL and SL personas if they  
can. That option is not open to classroom teachers, but is to many  
educators. What I heard in at least some of the comments that led to  
your posting was a lament that Voice could make that separation harder  
to maintain.  To the extent that the affects their working conditions  
as educators  in RL and SL, it is a legitimate topic for discussion. 

   [BTW, While I didn't hear a similar concern raised on behalf of  
students, I suspect that there are many of them who would prefer to  
keep their RL identities concealed (except, naturally, to an  
instructor) as well. Having served in various administrative  
capacities over the years, I can assure you that on any campus in the  
U.S., there is a small handful of students whose real identities are  
carefully guarded secrets  -- and plenty of others who wish they could  
hide from ex-husbands, creditors, or stalkers.]

   I do not recommend designing any system around the exceptions to  
the norm, and I am cautious about appearing to fuel paranoia. Life is  
full of risks, and it would be unwise to reject change simply because  
it may have negative consequences for some people. On balance, I have  
come to agree that the advantages of voice in many venues outway the  
disadvantages. This long-winded note, though, is not about whether  
voice is "good" or "bad." It's not about whether fears about security  
are realistic or overblown, either. My point is that a discussion of  
risk to members of the academic community should be fair game wherever  
educators gather -- including this list.

   Rolig Loon

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