This year’s version of Athabasca’s University Masters in Distance education course “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education” ended with our now traditional online party.

The gala event (beginning on Elluminate) began with a pop quiz from the teacher (me) presenting effusive academic translations of famous Christmas tunes (for example, Are you Experiencing Parallel Auditory input = Do you hear what I hear). Of course the first respondent had to sing the correct first line to win a point. Then we moved to a gala gift exchange with downloads of a video of a dog playing the piano and a slightly risque mistletoe scene. We also were treated to original poetry and a few new sites to visit and jokes to remember.

This year’s party was of the progressive genre, in that we next moved to SecondLife (minus the four of us who had older machines with unsupported graphic cards, were accessing via satellite Internet or had unresolved firewall problems). One class member hosted the start of the party at the Nantucket Yacht Club.

Most of us were SecondLife newbees but we all learned a great deal during the party about SL and had a great time. For example I had not figured out how to dance. But now my avatar TerGuy Burns is a very hot salsa dancer!!! Now, if only I can get my First Life wife to Secondlife, just maybe she can get over her fixation with having us enroll in a real life ball room dancing class. I also learned how to ‘drink” in SecondLife – tossing down a couple of drafts and some very sparkly martini’s. I loved the new England theme and it warmed my Canuck heart to see ice skating on a frozen pond. I am saving up for a pair of skates now!

It was a bit of a challenge keeping us all together as we wandered through the Nantucket town. One poor soul fell of the wharf and spent quite a length of time under the pier trying to figure out how to get back on dry land – but she did it! It helped when our guide started a private group IM chat. We ended off the evening kicking back in our host’s brand new house and talking about the joys of virtual home construction and ownership.

All in all, twas a great evening, fun way to end a course and a terrific way to get into the festive season!