Doctoral Internship: Creating Machinima for Language Learners


This semester, I participated in the CreAting Machinima Empowers Live Online language Teaching and learning (CAMELOT) project funded by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The purpose of the CAMELOT project is to provide language-teaching resources for English as foreign language instructors, as well as to share the technological and pedagogical expertise on creating and adapting their own machinima for the classroom. Machinima are screencasts of animation in virtual worlds to create movies. I interned for a grantee in the project, Heike Philp of let’s talk online, sprl. My primary goal was to learn the craft of machinima in order to assist with the production of machinima in Second Life™ (SL) utilizing Camtasia Studio video production software, as well as to produce supporting how-to guides. My personal goal was to become adept at producing media for young children.


Orange tabby sitting lotus style next to lady at campfire
Irish Pub on EduNation in Second Life


I received wonderful guidance from Heike Philp, my intern supervisor.  She spent numerous hours with me inworld and in webinars hosted on Adobe Connect.  We met in an SL sim she owns called EduNation.  Sometimes we sat around a campfire to discuss the various issues I was having in SL.  Other times, Heike or her co-moderators led training, machinima screenings, or live film shoots. They invited us to collaborate on group projects.  The volunteer moderators of the workshop provided ongoing activities beyond the confines of the 5-week training.  For example, in the sixth week, we were challenged to create a lesson plan to accompany our machinima for a CAMELOT competition in the SLanguages Symposium on February 28th.


To create machinima, you need characters. You can ask others to star in your production or serve as extras in the background. In my case, I decided to become a character in my own simple production. Ms. Philp bestowed upon me a great gift of Linden dollars to purchase a new avatar. Now I am a grey cat that looks lifelike and makes cat sounds. I love it! I wanted to be a cat that had animated features for filming purposes. I had previously selected a tabby cat avatar from the freebies but found that it did not have the same movement capabilities of human avatars. Now with this new Zooby cat skin, I can do several actions like sit, clean myself, nap, run, purr, and meow.


I want to use this avatar cat in a machinima about my children’s story, Kanimambo, Charlie Makako (Translation: Thank you, Charlie Monkey). This is one of the stories that I hope will be selected for future CAMELOT projects. In the story, one of the things that the cat does is dance. I tried the different gestures provided in SL affordances. I can move his legs from side to side as if he’s dancing. I can also change the cat’s physical attributes to make it look more like a monkey (e.g., elongate tail), which is one of the characteristics of the cat’s character. Here are two of the machinima I created this semester:  (I hope to add more to these to embellish the story.)

1.  Adventures with Charlie

2. Cast Party at the Castle

Your blogger,

Sandra Rogers, PhD

MachinEVO: Machinima Screening and Cast Party

I attended the final meeting of the MachinEVO workshop training held on EduNation in SL. The moderators and participants met to share their group machinima projects. I think I was the only one with an individual one. I was timid about sharing mine but at the same time proud of my beginnings. I shared a two and a half minute machinima with the gathering. They way these are shared are to post the YouTube link in the chat box. Then everyone goes to that site to view it separately.

My production is called Adventures with Charlie. It has background music, speech bubbles, transitions for title/credit slides and for the music to fade in and out. There’s no voice for Charlie though. I’d like a male young male voice. I haven’t paid for the “voice morphing” on SL. Instead, I hope my young nephew can read the lines for a recording. Hopefully, I can get that done before the competition next week. I got positive feedback from the workshop participants and moderators nonetheless.

After the screening, we went to a cast party with a live DJ from Berlin. It took place in a virtual castle. It was well attended. There was a magic ball that granted you dance options, so everyone was doing all kinds of dance moves, even my cat avatar. In the spirit of machinima, I filmed the cast party as others did. I saw one posting of a machinima of the party that was beautifully done on our MachinEVO Google Community. If they shared it publicly on YouTube, I repost it here. I have the raw footage and will try to make something of it myself. The cat looked so funny dancing around. I even had him fly around while he was dancing, which was even more hilarious. The flying mode allowed me to capture everyone else at the party. I’ll add some dance photos to this posting soon.

This party was the culmination of a 5-week workshop titled MachinEVO, which is part of the annual offerings by the Electronic Village Online. I like how the moderators of the workshop provided ongoing activities beyond the confines of the 5-week set-up. In true Webhead fashion, their devotion to training educators goes beyond the 100%! They invited us to collaborate on our group projects or create an individual one to submit to a machinima competition at the SLanguages conference on Feb. 28th. It’s the first CAMELOT award for machinima for children’s language learning purposes. I’m honored just to be a part of it all.

TEACHING TIP: Here’s my first original machinima: Adventures with Charlie. It’s geared toward young English language learners. I was thinking of possible uses to teach language such as having the students record their voice for the machinima or add more dialogue. I could add a preview of the vocabulary at the beginning and a quiz at the end. Still shots could be created and uploaded to for manipulation by the students. That way, they could add dialogue to the still shots in a easy and inexpensive way (no printing of color ink, etc). These could then be shared on a wiki.

P.S. I forgot to mention that this is part of my on-the-job training for my doctoral internship this semesters with let’s talk online, sprl in Brussels, Belgium.

Filming in Second Life to Create Machinima

Meeting of avatars in Second Life
I’m the grey cat avatar.

Photo of MachinEVO moderators providing a training session in SecondLife in EduNation.

This is one of my first film assignments as part of the MachinEVO workshop. I was in a group filming a story about a magician on a ship. It’s a humorous story, so I used some corny  music (Sorry, Gsus) for the sinking ship scene. I was already familiar with the screencasting software, Camtasia Studio. The toughest part for me was trying to maneuver the screen shots in Second Life from a live action shot. I’m at the mid skill range in SecondLife.

My participation in this workshop is part of my on-the-job training for my doctoral internship with let’s talk online in Belgium. Heike Philp is the coordinator of my internship and moderator of the MachinEVO workshop. I just finished five weeks of robust training with her and her co-moderators! We even had a film showing and cast party afterwards. I created a few other machinima during this time that I will share in different posts.

The moderators shared many different resources, tips, and demonstrations. One tip I followed was the use of for free background music. It offers fee-based and free MP3 downloads. They have a great collection of music. It was easy to register and start using it right away.

Sinking Ship set to electronic guitar version of Titanic:

Virtual Student Foreign Service Internship Project: Spanish Language Websites

2 Cars driving along the sea wall
Havana, Cuba

Over this past school year, I’ve been serving as a virtual intern for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba (USINT Havana). It’s a Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) internship through the US State Department. I communicate via email with my program coordinator in Havana.  We’ve been working on two major projects: a Kindle literacy book club project and updating their organization’s website with links to educational bilingual sites.  USINT Havana requested a list of a variety of web resources in Spanish to include under the “Resource” tab on the USINT homepage, as well as a review of the existing links listed on their site.  Improving the list of Spanish language websites would increase traffic to USINT’s Web page, provide better access for new Internet users unaccustomed to searching the web, and help ensure their Internet time at the centers is used for educational purposes.

I’d like to share some of the bilingual (Spanish/English) educational websites that I found. They address children, juveniles, and adults. The topics include  literature,  K-12 Education, free e-magazines, and general resources on the US and Cuba.  There are several constraints to the learning environment in Cuba. One being the lack of high-speed Internet. Unfortunately, this restricted flash media such as videos and gaming websites from our list. Additionally, the lack of English knowledge is another constraint. Therefore, I selected either fully Spanish or bilingual sites. I was actually amazed at how little I could find in Spanish.  If you have some great sites to share, please leave a comment. The project will finish in April.

Journalism/ Periodismo Nueva Sociedad es una revista sobre la democracia y politica en la America Latina. Humanística es una revista sobre la antropologia y sociologia. “Islas” es una revista trimestral dedicada a los temas afrocubanos. Libres es una revista mensual de crítica y creación, fundada en 1999 y heredera de la tradición y el ánimo de la revista Vuelta fundada por Octavio Paz. Sitio Web de la revista Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana Habana Elegante es una revista semestral de la literatura y cultura cubana, caribeña, latinoamericana, y de estética. Cajastur es una revista sobre España para los menores.

References/ Referencias ofrece herramientas gratuitas de publicación y colaboración tales como documentos, hojas de cálculo, formas, diapositivas, eventos y dibujos graficos. Se puede cambiar la configuración para español. ofrece noticias, cultura y eventos sobre los cubanos. ofrece información sobre la investigación, la empresa, la universidad, el cine, la ciencia y la salud. También cuenta con libros electrónicos y una enciclopedia. Se necesita un código de acceso especial para utilizarlo. es una enciclopedia de contenido libre que todos pueden editar. ofrece noticias, cultura y eventos sobre los cubanos. ofrece asesoramiento gratuito médica sobre su salud.ón para los hispanohablantes que viven en los EE.UU. sobre cómo acceder a los recursos del gobierno.ón para los hispanohablantes que viven en los EE.UU. sobre cómo acceder a los recursos del gobierno. of origin) University Website of Texas website on Cuba

Education/Educación incluye actividades de alfabetización bilingüe para los padres, estudiantes y maestros. actividades de alfabetización bilingüe para los padres, estudiantes y maestros. ofrece historias preescolares en español. ofrece juegos para la escuela primaria. ofrece atividades del idioma espanol para los niños. Boricua ofrece canciones de los niños puertorriqueños. ofrece actividades de alfabetización.

Literature/Literatura venden libros y CDs; sin embargo, ofrecen acceso gratuito a la poesía y la prosa. Proyecto del Gutenberg tiene 25 ebooks en español y 40.000 ebooks en Inglés. permite a cualquier persona a descargar esta aplicación gratuita por su teléfono inteligente o computadora para leer libros electrónicos.

Photo Source: Sandra Rogers, 2008