Teaching Newbies in Second Life

I’m a helper at New Citizens Incorporated. I like to do it. And along the way, I’ve learned a few tricks. Just some random thoughts at the moment.

Keep focused. The objective (IMO) of a helper is to bring the newcomer, specifically the new-rezzed to a point of competence in the basics skills of SL as quickly as is possible. The shorter you keep your training, the easier it is on both of you.

Now, YOU are the helper. It’s up to you to take charge. YOU set the frame for the interaction. Keep structured, if you let Them Who Know Not What They Do take charge, you will be helping them for hours on end. This goes against our mission, and honestly, sometimes our (and their) patience. I’m a helper, but I live there, so when I like to hang out with my friends and build, it’s nice to help someone move on quickly.

Have a structured tutorial for the basic skills. I’m in the midst of writing a formal version of one that I use and adapt right now. I’ll post it at some point.

When teaching someone basic skills, start off with the very simplest granular piece, then progressively build on it. Walking: Arrow Keys. One tap = one step. Running. Just like walking. Control R toggles walk/run. Flying: just like walking. Page up. arrow keys. Tap tap. Page down. Sit on the ground, sit on a cube.  Sit on a pose stand. And so on and so forth.

Teach them what they need to know now. When you teach them to use the camera, for example, use the alt/option click. Don’t bother with shift-alt/option and control-shift-alt/option. It’s too much detail to take in at once. Teach them to focus on your nose (torso is usually a bigger and easier area, so they *always* pick that. Yeah. Boobs. It encourages them <<shrug>>). Then teach them to look at the back of your head. Then teach them to look at their face. That’s the part they love the most. Then teach them to read a poster far, far away.

As you are teaching, teach them WHY things pay off. Your camera skills are important, because you get to see everyone from far off. Ever notice that oldbies don’t walk into each other’s faces? Nothing says Noob like being Nose to Nose. Now you can stand at a comfortable distance! +1 coolness points for you!

And encourage them at every action. Yay! Running! Now you can sit and stand! Good job! Trust me, this goes a long way. It keeps them motivated, positive, energized and feeling good about acquiring new skills. I believe that positive experiences with polite, courteous, supportive and generous teachers up front creates for good citizens. Remember: YOU are one of their templates.

Use metaphores based on experience that they understand. A landmark is like a bookmark. You’ve surfed the web, right? Ever bookmarked a place? Same idea, instead, just like we can bookmark a site, we can landmark a place.

When meeting a newbie, quickly assess their skill level. Ask questions right up front. Are you on a Mac, or a PC? What is your skill level with computers? Don’t take it for granted that they are either competent, or incompetent. Ask pointed questions to know how to direct their attention.

When they say “I need help” ask question that are specific: “To do what?”. Then wait. And listen. The next few words will tell you everything about their skill level.

When they say “I’m new”, don’t respond with “Obviously”. That’s just not nice. Welcome them to Second Life with energy and a cheery smile.

Working with a group is actually easier than working with individuals. Not only do you have pack mentality at work, but they help each other out and each other’s successes encourages the other.

You want to make sure that they can move, communicate and use their camera. In that order.

The next level is that of understanding the fundamentals of inventory, rezzing and taking. Then the search feature, teleports and how to use common objects.

The next steps after that are the very fundametals of culture and etiquette.

At this point, they are well equipped to go out in the world. You can set them free! If they come back, the questions they will ask you will be so much more interesting. They usually involve houses, land and money (they’ve discovered shopping).

Helpers get asked the same questions, over and over. Have some sort of text-macro software with pre-made answers.

Sometimes it helps to have two people relay help. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to have the language, or the right conceptual frame to ‘splain something to that particular someone. It’s often useful to have another person bounce ideas in a new way, or catch it from a different angle. But make sure that your partner understands what direction you are going in.

Take every single helping instance as an opportunity to streamline your teaching matter. Take the time to consider how to sequence ideas and phrase them so that the shortest sentence drills it into their mind. This is a repetitive task. The shorter and more impactful you can make it, the funner it will be for you in the long run.

Hope some of these ideas help. I’ll post more as I think of them.

PS: I am WAAAY open to new ideas and suggestions on this theme. Let me know!

How a ‘borg sees Second Life

This is just a texture I made for the interior of a visor to accessorize my cyborg AV. This is not photography, but it’s fun and silly.

How a borg seems (some) newbes in Second LIfe

How a borg sees (some) newbes in Second LIfe

Cybernetic AO and animations

Cybernetic is offering animations at L$1 per anim. I personally encourage all content creators to offer great deals like this that helps the newcomer. Elvis Woodget has a smart idea: when coming out with a new line of products, do indeed offer your earlier, perhaps less practiced works at a good discount rate. It’s good for newcomers and helps the vendor to create a reputation for themselves.

Good deal at L$1, but NOT free

Good deal at L$1, but NOT free

One thing, all appreciation granted for the good deal, is the disappointement in the fact that the end-of-line animations are advertised for free, both on in the classifies, and on the wall, wherea they are in fact “inexpensive” L$1 animations. Better to either advertise correctly. At L$1, some of the animations are a steal, but this is offset with a certain waryness of the discrepancy between the word and the deed. Still, if you’re a newcomer, or a frugal shopper, the end of line anims are well worth the look.