Educational aims and content

Willow Springs pictureMama Day is a novel by Gloria Naylor, which deals with a mystical island, called Willow Springs. It additionally deals with matriarchies and magic - Mama Day is a "conjure woman" and although she never explicitly says she does magic, there are a number of places where the easiest explanation for what is happening is magic, perhaps most explicitly the healing of Cocoa and the lightning strikes on Ruby's house towards the end of the book.

The site was provided with a few deliberate mistakes (Mama Day's trailer was originally wood, and it is silver in the text for example) and rather sparsely furnished. As part of the student activities they had to decorate the houses in teams, asking for items that were in the text and, most importantly, justifying these with a page reference. This teaches citing, and also makes the students read the text carefully.

You can read my initial comments and comments on the SL parts of the student feedback and the whole of the feedback as posted on the teacher's blog.

Technical notes

There are two things here of note:

  1. The land of the island is actually all prims - we were constricted for space and didn't want to disrupt the island with teaching space and assignments, so we landscaped the land down to 0 height and built a prim platform (and edges after people kept falling in), and built the classroom under the Willow Springs build and underwater.
  2. Various items such as the other place and the bridge are entirely custom-made textures. Building in Second Life is not just about rezzing the prims properly, without good textures you get lumps of plywood. Making good looking and small (and thus fast to load) textures is part of the services I offer.

Although it doesn't show clearly in the picture, there is a lot of rain and occasional lightning around the place. The storm in Willow Springs is a rather critical event and we've created something suitable for that. There are also various sound effects, ghostly moans, wind and the like around the graveyard and the other place - which I have largely derived from BBC sound effects CDs, but audio editing is also available.


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