James at Lloud

Works and thoughts about digital communication & education

Good Morning English City

I had a great opportunity to work in a virtual learning environment known as “English City” for the UK company Language Lab.  English City was a place for anyone who wanted to improve their English language skills.  It is a for-profit business and in this capacity I helped to create some of the most dramatic learning experiences I have ever encountered.

Most of these programs are published on the Language Lab Youtube channel, but I do have this example in my own channel.

How it Was Done

My role was that of event host which provided an experiential aspect to the learning of English – a place for learners to make use of the language.  I hosted events such as ‘Emergency’ and ‘Adventure’ but my favorite event was “Good Morning English City” – a television talk show.  In this 2 hour event learners would play the part of talk show hosts and guests, improvising the topics and performing with invented personalities & backgrounds.  We would run the talk show at least three times so that new learners could observe the process before jumping in.

In addition to guiding the learners through the event, I wanted to create artifacts for both the learners and for Language Lab so I developed a workflow and methodology to record and present the talk show on Youtube.

My production tools included a version of the Second Life virtual world viewer customized by Language Lab.  To capture the sessions I used a screen recorder named “BSR – Best Screen Recorder” which allowed me to capture fluid motion and audio on a custom screen area.  BSR would record into an uncompressed format which allowed for a very high frame rate but created an enormous video file.  Recording to a compressed file was too demanding for my computer even though it was well-configured with a dual-core processor and high speed graphics card.

Several configuration issues were quite challenging.  One was to capture the session while hiding the SecondLife viewer controls & mouse cursor.  Next was mixing the audio coming from the viewer with the audio from my microphone.  BSR had very good options in selecting audio source and mixing form the audio resources in the Windows 7.

Once the session was recorded I created an Adobe Premiere Elements project and assembled the program into one long program.  I created three ‘bump’ animations and an opening animation of a logo provided by the Language Lab staff using motion controls in Adobe Premiere Elements.  Then I broke the big program back into pieces to be uploaded to Youtube where it was re-assembled as a Playlist of videos.  I did this so that learners could view and share just the segments in which they participated.

Alternate Identities

Why “James at Lloud”?

I decided to create this site to help coalesce the alternate identities that I have created during what is clearly our emerging online reality.  What follows is a recounting of my own journey in creating alternate identities online.

I consider ‘jameschrislloyd’ to be one of my earliest alternate identities.  I associate this identity most closely with an image of my self  ‘simpsonized’.

Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons is a hero and role-model to me in the way he combines criticism with humor.  When I was in college I was delighted to see a photo of Matt and discover that we both had the same eyeglass frames!

My next significant alternate self occurred with the creation of my first personal web domain – www.lloud.com.  Lloud was created by my son Joe when I was frustrated that ‘lloyd.com’ was taken.  Out of Lloud.com came “Metalloud” with the thinking that the real person is meta in relation to the artifice of a web site.  In addition I was a frequent reader of www.metafilter.com and just liked the term META.  There is no image associated with Metalloud.

I first encountered virtual worlds in videogaming and Metalloud is my xbox gamer tag.  When I returned to graduate school to study educational technology I was pursing a topic based in the virtual environment of “Half-Life” by Valve software.  Then during the course of my studies my advisting professor, Mike Thomas introduced me to non-gaming virtual worlds like Active Worlds, There.com and of course, Second Life.  My graduate thesis project was based in SecondLife and was conducted with the alternate identity of “Jameschris Snickerdoodle”.

My thesis project was conducted using a topic related to work and when I attempted to introduce SecondLife to my employer, I created an alternate identity named “Molbio Merlin”.  Molbio Merlin was caretaker to a briefly-lived training region named “Molbio – the island of Molecular Biology”.  When it became clear that my employer could not grasp the utility of SecondLife I began to realize that I would have to continue my explorations of virtual worlds on my own.  And with that realization, Lloud Laffer was created.

The funny thing about Second Life for most of the time that it has existed was the insistence that avatar names be created using a pre-selected list of last names.  I’m sure there are articles written about this all over the internet that discuss the up and downsides of this decision.  My conclusion is that it was a largely un-necessary limitation and made it very awkward for those who wanted to connect their real and virtual identities in a way that was recognizable to colleagues.  I enjoy the identity of Lloud Laffer, but to mark the creation of this portfolio blog and the new directions I am seeking to occupy myself professionally, I am evolving Lloud Laffer into “James at Lloud” to return a variety of branches I have explored back towards the trunk of my efforts!

I have played with a variety of spellings of this new identity – “James AtLloud” (as in McDonald) or perhaps “James at’Lloud” (as in O’Connell).  The meaning of the name implies my email address and so I went with a spelling like those used in Dutch surnames (Jan de Vries).


About The Author

James Chris Lloyd

 Learning Technologist
 - Instructional Design
 - Media Production
 - Curricular Analysis
 - Communities of Practice
 - Virtual Environments

"I can make it work."


Favored Quotes

"Early adopters are like indian scouts - they often return with arrows in their backs - just don't take it personally."

"If you can't be handsome you'd better be handy."

"Life is a journey."