[SLED] avatar appearance matters

Suzanne Stauffer stauffer at lsu.edu
Fri Dec 4 06:02:03 PST 2009

This is faulty analogy. E-mail is simply another delivery method for exactly the same document, one which might still be delivered by post or even by hand. The document doesn't change with the delivery method. What is shocking about using Second Life to interview for a position for which ability in Second Life is not required is the sheer naivete of the suggestion. Not only does neither party have any evidence that the avatar they are interacting with is being operated by the person claimed, the situation is rife with potential bias and discrimination. How does the SL novice compete successfully in such a situation? Or is the employer content to limit the applicant pool to those already expert in SL?  How does a potential employer protect against charges of unfair hiring practices and illegal discrimination?
I have yet to hear of anyone being hired solely on the basis of a phone interview. They are hired based on a combination of many factors, including education and experience as outlined in a resume or c.v., letters of recommendation, often a background check, etc. And you'd have to go back at least 20 years to find it surprising that a phone interview might be used in place of a face-to-face interview. We did have telephones in 1989.
Yes, the world is constantly changing, and what we know today is unlikely to be the situation tomorrow -- including Second Life. Not one of us knows what the future will bring. Teaching students to operate within a specific situation is not preparing them for the future. There are already a number of virtual worlds being created as competition for SL -- and there is also a backlash against the whole virtual world movement. Who knows what the outcome will be? We must teach them concepts and processes, not applications and procedures, so that they are able to meet whatever challenge the future brings. Students who are technologically literate in a variety of ways will be able to adapt successfully; those who are invested in a single product will struggle.
There may be new methods for encountering people, but I doubt that there are "new ways" of being friends, students, employees, or responsible employers. The basic requirements have not changed. As for whether a relationship is "successful," it all depends on what you mean by "success." None of the online/virtual friend relationships that I established has endured for more than a few years except those where we eventually met in person. In one case, dear reader, I married him. And believe me, the real world relationship is nothing like the virtual one, and looks pretty much the same as those relationships always have.
Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Fax: (225)578-4581
stauffer at lsu.edu


From: educators-bounces at lists.secondlife.com on behalf of Esme Qunhua
Sent: Wed 12/2/2009 7:23 PM
To: SL Educators (The SLED List)
Subject: Re: [SLED] avatar appearance matters

I'm with D.I. and Cathy on the interview issue.  The world is changing more rapidly than we can recognize.  It is only as shocking that SL is being used as part of the hiring process, as it was shocking 5 years ago that a person would presume to send their resume by email rather than by post on lovely paper, or that 10 years ago a person might be hired based on a phone interview.

We are challenged to continually rethink what we know to be true.  There are new ways of being friends, students, employees, and responsible employers.  My guess is that most of us on this list have been in at least one of these relationships without ever having met the other person face to face.  I have had successful experiences in all four.

Esme Qunhua/Jane Wilde
Faculty, Marlboro College Grad Center
Marlboro College Graduate School
28 Vernon Street, Suite 120
Brattleboro, VT 05301

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