Well, off I went to Orientation Stations, at Dore. I liked the opening space. There was a clear sign to change the avatar's appearance - an important recommendation to students, as various sources tell us (e.g., this recent paper).
Inside, a rotating SL sign will provide a nice, short text (making it more likely to be read). It explains the basics on how to accept an offer from a picture, change appearance and use the inventory.
I'm not so sure that the hand is a nice idea, though. One of the users I've met asked me what the hand was supposed to mean. He hadn't thought of clicking it!
The question, coming out is: where to go? A seasoned RPGamer will look around and see a "Changing your appearance part 2" sign to the right, but there should be an arrow or other indication to support the user when he/she exits the house he/she was in.
I believe some users may simply walk straight ahead, through the open, inviting, gates.
However, this was nicely planned: if a user does so, the hike is short: some stone steps descend near the water, and the landscape below is visible, but some well-placed wooden boards will prevent the avatar from falling into the water. There is water all around, so the most likely situation (for less-adventurous avatars) is that the user strolls back into the courtyard and finds the remaining signs. Perhaps there is something to be learned here (we can only find out by studying the users' behaviour): instead of making sure the user always follows a path, let him/her stray a little, but taking care to avoid situations where confusion may set in.
One problem coming back, though: one of the steps is too high, the avatar won't climb it just by moving forward. Oops! I could have made an effort to see what would happen if the user tried to go around, but inevitably he/she would fall into the water and lose some notion of what to do, so I'll skip that: changing the height of the step is all it takes to correct this! (By the way, the next step need correction, too.)
So, going to the left, once we re-enter the nice Japanese-looking complex, we'll see houses about "chatting" and "Changing your appearance part 2". Nice. (C
The chatting house is particularly neat: the notecard is very short, as it should be, but selects the main points: pressing Enter, typing, and Enter again. And a helpful parrot is provided so users can have a feedback even if no-one else is present!
At this point, a few new users stepped in. One was a first-time Australian, the other a Canarian that was first-rezzed in June.
They were quite lost, I'm afraid. I suppose notecards aren't the best option, then. Or the rotating green hands. I've helped them out in the basic stuff, including IM, teleporting, flying, creating landmarks, alt-clicking, and then I sent them to the NMC Orientation, since at least that has worked out for a few of my friends and students.
Moving on... this location proceeded with a room on Alt-Clicking and another on dragging objects, and then you had to explore. I came to face doors, but they were closed. I opened them, but I suppose that users that don't click on spinning green hands probably won't click on closed doors, too.
Inside there was a nice exhibition of Japanese art and several empty rooms, so I gather this space is used for classes or mentoring sessions.
A funny thing is that the "Flying" sign and its green hand are on a rooftop, turning away from the pathway. So if users followed have been at the Alt-Click house they will now be able to use that to read the sign. Even if they don't, they can click the green hand to get instructions on flying. Nice!
And if people do fly... well, plenty of stuff in nearby parcels to start exploring.
I think I'd add just a couple more things - which I had to use with the new users I met: how to IM me through the Search panel, in case they get lost, and how to use the map to teleport.
But it is a nice place to learn, even if not as rich in content as NMC!