No sooner than Konrad Glogowski has finished his PHD (that I’m really looking forward to getting a copy of) and his into another really interesting project, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

Jo Kay has provided a space for the Virtual Classroom Project on Jokaydia in Second Life, and Konrad will mentor me in building and programming graphics and media so that I may attempt to build my ideal learning environment.. in 1 month!

I admit to feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea.. where do I start? do I have any ideas? what if my ideas suck? but Konrad has a nack for no fuss, getting it into dialog that helps me just forget all that and give it a go.

Here’s an audio recording I took of Konrad explaining his idea to me when we met in Second Life today – on location. Just from those few words, my mind was racing with ideas and potential.

Here’s Konrad’s official blog post that launches the project. More ideas from that to! I really enjoyed Konrad’s idea to use a hot air balloon for small group discussions. I have been on that balloon too, and I agree, it is great to watch the virtual world go by while you have a general banter with the person in the basket with you.

But personally, I am most inspired by the chance to explore ideas for building in real life. I’m aware of some criticism of using Second Life to mimic real life, mainly around the idea that Second Life can offer so much more than the physical limitations of real life.. and while that is certainly true, its precisely that limitlessness that makes me want more real life limitation.

We’ve all heard the typical response from first time critics of Second Life, “Second Life! who needs a second life!? I have a hard enough time dealing with real life!” and while that response can be frustrating to people who try to encourage people to use the platform for things, there is an element of truth in its over all dismissal.

Real life needs so much work, it is so wanting of good ideas implemented, and almost impossible to get new ideas tested! So, my design will focus mainly on innovations for real life, that include room for Second Life too.

The first thing I am going to do is deploy as much of my newly learned permaculture design methods to build a solid base for testing some ideas for sustainability.

Using a classic permaculture design process, my first step will be to draw up a base map. This outlines what is already in the space. It can be easily covered by a simple aerial photograph – such as the one we already have of the project space. As well as what the space already contains, it also include diagrams of what hidden things are present too, such as services and existing resources etc.

Second is a Sector Analysis. What are the people movement patterns on or near the space? What is the tract of the sun and other energy forms? What are the temperatures? Are there any pests and diseases or similar problems to keep in mind? Where are potential energy and resources coming from?.. things like that.. all of this can be perceived in Second Life – believe it or not.

And thirdly, the design. Based around zoning and elements. Elements being the buildings and objects in the space (also designed in a permacultural way), and zoning bing the interrelation of elements, resources, people and the inputs and outputs. Zone 0 is the living space, 1 is the first line or production and needing the most amount of tending, 2 is the second line and needing a little less, and so on.

Now, Permaculture design is typically applied to practices of subsistence and market gardening and farming, but I’m interested in exploring its application in all production processes and living spaces. So here goes with applying it to a learning process and space that will include production and living of course.

As for a learning space, I want to put some thought into what would be feasible in a local community today.. I’m not sure if it will be a space for an Institution yet. But I’m looking for efficient use of space and resources; space design that is conducive to inquiry learning and skills training; and with every single aspect serving some form of opportunity for learning.

In the next 3 days, I am aiming to have at least the first 2 drawings done, and possibly some of the design. I will draw up the base map and sector  analysis, and possibly make a start on design ideas. I will then load the drawings into the space as giant blue prints to walk over and talk about with Konrad. Konrad will help me locate or build the resources I need and help to document the process.

I’m really looking forward to this, and is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Many thanks to Konrad for offering me the mentorship, and to Jo Kay for the use of Jokaydia and no doubt a lot of her time too.