Archive for March, 2007
To what extent are institutions engaging Second Life? Certainly, there are colleges and universities represented in SL, but by whom is that SL presence being developed: early adopters only, pilot projects, isolated departmental projects, or institutional strategic planning? How much funding is being allocated to support SL projects, and is that soft or hard funding? How many faculty involved? Has the institution committed any part of any instructional support personnel’s time to SL projects (instructional designers, media developers)? How many faculty and support personnel are involved?
I work with faculty in a community college district across three campus locations to integrate all types of technology into all types of learning spaces. The questions I need to answer focus on the institution rather than discipline specific applications of SL. So, while I enjoy, as an instructional technologist and adjunct faculty, I’m going to make a concerted effort to address the more administratively and institutionally centered issues and questions regarding the implementation of SL in educational spaces – in addition to the discipline specific ideas and learning opportunities I’ve been writing about.
How is my institution engaging SL? Currently, we have a small number of faculty that are cautiously exploring and learning in SL. We’re evaluating how to move forward coherently. Given our learner and faculty demographic, I’m encouraging implementation through systematic support of early adopters. Essentially, I think we’ll best be served by identifying and organizing our early adopters, providing instructional and media design support, strategically planning and budgeting for in-world instruction, supporting faculty research and conference presentations, and proactively and organizationally addressing infrastructure issues. In short, I believe our primary concern is (and should be) another, although more literal this time around, “land grab” at the distance learning landscape that resulted in the “teach now; plan, administer, manage and evaluate later” approach that so many institutions had to, ended up or are still taking with regard to web-based instruction.
I plan to continue discussing how we’re approaching SL as an institution as much as possible, and I want to briefly mention three current projects I have related to institutional implementation of SL. First – and the reason for the research reports graphic above – I am developing and will be conducting research to explore many of the questions I noted regarding how institutions are approaching the implementation of SL; when the time arrives, I’d appreciate any help with encouraging SL’s RL education community to participate in that research. Second, I’ve been asked to introduce a local group of faculty and staff to Second Life; that presentation will occur in late April. And, I’ll be synthesizing both of those efforts for a forum presentation I hope to deliver at the League of Innovations’s CIT Conference this November in Nashville; I submitted that proposal this afternoon.
I appreciate you taking the time to read, and I’ll enjoy any comments, suggestions and collaboration!
If MUVE Forward has been of any use to you to this point, I want to very strongly recommend two similar blogs: The Story of My Second Life by Kevin Garrett (KJ Hax) and Puritan’s Guide to Second Life by Dembe Wellman. Both are, IMHO, very valuable contributions to the education community from which any educator will benefit.
Both blogs have essentially the same goal as MUVE Forward: exploring the educational possibilities of Second Life while making available resources to shorten the learning and discovery curve for other educators entering Second Life.
The Story of My Second Life by Kevin Garrett (SL: KJ Hax) began in late February to early March 2007. Kevin is a member of Walden University’s faculty who received a grant to explore the educational applications of Second Life. From his site . . .
I would like to be able to create a comprehensive guide to SL for post-secondary instructors (and their students), particularly for online universities like Walden.
Puritan’s Guide to Second Life by Dembe Wellman began in early February 2007.
From her site . . .
I am blogging about the possible educational uses of Second Life and safe sites that are New Comer Friendly to SL . . . I will look locations, interactions and of course educational purposes of Second Life. Follow along with me on a daily trip with the Adventures of Dembe.
Both provide fantastic insights into the application of SL to real life education.
Anyone else trying to recover from Spring Break? ;-)
Trying to keep track of learning and conference opportunities regarding Second Life or MUVE’s in general is difficult. One such opportunity coming up this next week is the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Spring 2007 Focus Session activity in Raleigh, NC. The session, Immersive Learning Environments: New Paths to Interaction and Engagement, will occur March 27-28.
Fortunately, there will be several sessions from the event streamed into SL for those of us unable to physically attend the event. NMC Campus will be providing virtual access to Richard Van Eyk’s presentation Generation G and the 21st Century (schedule and slurl available via link) on March 27th; from the NMC Wiki:
The growing use of games in learning may signal a new pedagogical approach to educating the millennial generation. We’ll examine the theory behind the effectiveness of games; what the past can teach us about if, how, and when to implement digital game-based learning; and what this will mean for schools.
NMC will also be streaming a number of sessions on the 28th including:
- Cyberinfrastructure-enabled Learning Environments for Gen-Z
- Collaboration, Immersive experience and Interaction – The Innovation Cycle
- Virtual Learning Environments in 3D
- Immersion and Engagement in a Virtual Classroom: Using Second Life for Higher Education
- The Bar May Not Be As High As You Expect: Considerations in Implementing an Immersive Learning Environment
Full details are available via the NMC Wiki for the event. I’ll be trying to fend off other committments to attend these sessions.
Sometime over the past year, I discovered online archived presentations from TED 2006. If you’re not familiar with TED, you should be – particularly given that you’re reading this blog. From the TED.com website,
TED brings together more than 1000 thought-leaders, movers and shakers . . . in Monterey, CA every year . . . for four days of learning, laughter and inspiration. They hear not just the latest ideas in Technology, Entertainment and Design, but also Business, Science and the Arts . . . in fact ANY subject area offering something fresh and important. This unique breadth of content, and the quality of the people who deliver it are what make TED special.
Personally, I think that’s understated. In my words? TED is an extraordinary meeting of some of the most incredible minds and talents in the world. Take a look at the TEDTalks link from their website; several of my favorite presentations from last year are Jeff Han (8/1/06), Ray Kurzweil (11/14/06), and Sirena Huang (8/8/06).
Here’s the cool part, and the reason I’ve posted this here. I’ve thought over the past year that it would be an incredible experience to attend TED in person. While I’m not physically in Monterey, CA with that group of people, Topher is standing on TED Island in SL – enjoying the live stream of TED arranged by Kiwini Oe (with SL, I believe) who is in fact at the conference. AND, I’m able to network and discuss the issues with others also attending TED through SL.
Granted, sitting on my couch may not be the same experience as being in Monterey, but the interaction I now have the opportunity to engage with other professionals interested in TED is very worthwhile, much more real than watching the stream via a website and chatting about it, and it’s an opportunity I would not otherwise have had without SL. Again – the networking capabilities of SL are unparalleled; it makes virtual networking more valuable and possible than it has been previously.
I just commented yesterday on how important it is for Second Life educators to keep an eye on the NMC Campus blog and calendar. Merely a day later, an incredible opportunity and event has been announced by NMC.
On March 16 @ 10AM PST, Dr. Daniel Reed, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will visit the NMC campus to discuss – via NMC’s audio channel – the potential advances coming to education and research in the next ten years.
This event underscores the importance of monitoring the NMC “goings on” and the incredible networking opportunities available via Second Life. I consider this a can’t miss presentation for those interested in new technologies and the impact they may have on learning environments.
I’ve mentioned the New Media Consortium a couple of times before in this space (Gulliver’s Anatomy and NMC’s Support to Educators), but the NMC’s Campus Observer Blog and Calendar are two must reads for any educator exploring the applications of Second Life to the physical or online classroom. And, of course, the NMC Campus should be a landmark in every educator’s inventory.
The NMC Campus has regular “Teacher Buzz” meetings and sessions with educators and SL developers making an impact on education in the virtual space. NMC supports educational research and use of SL via their campus; from their About page:
. . . the NMC Campus has been carefully constructed to provide researchers and students dozens of prebuilt settings for experiments in social interaction in 3-D space. Expressly designed to encourage explorations both formal and informal, traditional and nontraditional, real and surreal, and serious and playlike, the spaces are flexible and will lend themselves to additional uses, yet to be defined.
All of these resources are available to NMC members who may wish to bring classes to the campus for a visit, as part of a research project, or for a full term. Complete details on using the campus are available on the NMC Campus wiki.
If you haven’t been to the NMC Campus in-world, GO!
Early in this blog, I cautioned against what I thought and still believe is poor use of the SL environment for real life educational purposes. In short, replicating existing classroom spaces for avatars to sit and receive a lecture or simply using SL as a platform for delivering messages regarding traditional assignments is, for me, an instructional technologist’s nightmare. Using SL in that manner is using technology for technology’s sake; quite simply, if SL is the coming of Web3.0 and the internet’s future, we need to engage it’s unique capabilities and not use it to simply do things that Web1.0 applications could do or teach via a unidirectional Web1.0 pedagogy.
As an instructional technologist, I believe the key to quality integration of Second Life into learning spaces is:
to develop authentic learning projects that allow learners to engage learning content through interaction with communities and/or creation of content or products in a manner not possible through a physical or standard web-based learning environment.
Thus, my goal for this blog has been to suggest ideas for doing one of those two things. My hope has been and will continue to be that content experts working as faculty or curriculum designers in specific disciplines (music, language, literature, health sciences etc) may take and develop one or more of the ideas that I’ve personally suggested or one of the ideas suggested by others of the SL education community which I’ve chosen to highlight here.
Given that definition of “quality integration of SL into learning spaces,” I would like to highlight a learning experience and project developed by Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins. Her Rhetorical Spaces project is an absolutely fantastic example of using SL to extend or create an innovative learning experience by exploiting the capabilities of the multi-user virtual environment. Professor Robbins employs both tactics I suggest in the definition above; her students are engaging the SL community and developing SL content/products they could not otherwise create in the physical or standard web environments. In my humble opinion, as an instructional technologist, this is a brilliant application of the SL environment which I believe any student would enjoy immensely.