Archive for February, 2008
I never published the first Second Life related blog post I ever composed; actually, it was my first blog entry on any topic. I thought it would sound foolish or too far fetched, so I didn’t post it; I only discussed the idea with a colleague. However, 15 months and a couple of recent articles in the blogosphere later, my colleague and I are amazed that it’s not so foolish or far fetched as it originally seemed.
Fifteen months ago, after meaningfully engaging Second Life for the first time, the first possibility I imagined was the ability to project an avatar into the physical world; I recently encountered a video at YouTube that shows how that might be accomplished. Start watching the video at the Augmenting Life-Size Avatars section which begins at the 1:48 mark. The video was published by Tobias Lang and Blair MacIntyre with credit to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in Munich.
The second technology I thought possible surfaced online three days ago: the notion of syncronizing a real-world environment with a virtual replica. In short, a marker placed on a physical world object corresponds to a virtual counterpart; as the physical world object is moved or changed, the location or status of the corresponding virtual object is updated within the virtual environment.
Independently, those two technologies, to me, boggle the mind. I wonder, though, how long it’s going to take to go one step further still. Combine those two technologies with real time holographic video recording and projection: the capability to record a 3D rendering of a person or an object and project it, across the network, in a holographic, 3D format. With those three technologies, a holographic-technology enabled physical space can network with a virtual space to mashup the physical world with the virtual one in an entirely immersive manner. The holographic space has objects marked to create the counterparts in the virtual environment, and elements of the virtual environment can be projected into the holographic space of the physical world. The thought is a little messy, but it’s a thought. How long before the technology appears in a blogspace somewhere?
I attended the EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference in Houston, TX; my first session Thursday morning was Does Your Campus Need a Second Life? presented by Ana Gonzalez (SL: Mayela Saenz), Terry Peak (SL: Benotto Bailey) and Phil Youngblood (SL: Vic Michlalak) from the University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio). My live blog notes – with comments/ideas from remote friends – are available online, and my thoughts and reflections are below. This group covered a lot of ground in their 45-50 minutes; do look for the presentation materials to be posted at UIW and the EDUCAUSE session site noted above.
This group noted two situations which are very fortunate when trying to explore Second Life for instructional uses. First, the CIO at UIW asked the instructional technology team to explore Second Life for relevant educational applications; a CIO requesting proactive exploration of any instructional technology seems like it would almost always be a good thing. Second, they began the project with what can fairly be described as a complete team: an instructional designer, a media specialist and a faculty member. As a result, they’ve grounded the work they’ve done on sound instructional theory and have had a successful and very accomplished pilot project that leverages unique capabilities of Second Life. Specifically, Terry spoke specifically about how they’ve used Chickering & Gamson’s 7 Principles as a framework by which to engage Second Life as a hybrid activity within a face-to-face programming/computerscience course, and Phil described a learner centered classroom that includes collaboration with two other classrooms – one in Mexico and one in France.
A couple of ideas I’ve explored recently did enter into the discussion – in shades, at least. First, given the 7 Principles, they did consider Time on Task; they set specific time requirements for completing tasks. Of course, this begs the question I’ve been asking, “To what extent does Second Life distract attention from content materials?” They may be accomplishing the time requirements, but does that account for the distractions encountered?
Directly related to that question, Terry commented that there is a learning curve for Second Life which can be somewhat steep; they had a very short time to overcome it. The UIW course is an upper level computer science/programming course, so the technology experience many of those students likely bring to the course probably mitigated the difficulty of the learning curve. While that raises the “efficiency” question (per Dodge’s PADE formula), Phil indicated that they have had 100% attendance with learners frequently staying after class to work on projects. You’d suspect that Second Life and quality designed instruction could provide an extra source of motivation, but that level of attendance and engagement by learners is extraordinary.
A couple of notable comments and question/answers from the session:
- You have to have (instructional design/media) support to teach in SL. You can’t do it by yourself.
- UIW spent a semester working on and planning the course.
- UIW specifies minimum computer hardware requirements for learners in the course.
- Learners could opt out of the SL activities in favor of alternative assignments (which also doubled as SL-is-down-assignments) but none took that option.
If you have any questions about the session, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll answer as best I can.
Tomorrow morning (Thursday, 2/21/08), I’ll be live blogging – with CoverItLive – a Second Life related session at the Educause Southwest Regional Conference in Houston. Does Your Campus Need a Second Life? will be presented by Ana Gonzalez, Terence Peak & Phillip Youngblood at University of the Incarnate Word.
CoverItLive enables remote participation, commenting and discussion. Join the conversation via the CoverItLive console I set up for this session. Alternatively, I’ll be trying to Twitter as well; you can follow me or the Conference Twitter with Friends feed – assuming Twitter is working (grrrr!) I’ll update this blog post after the session with additional thoughts and ideas. See you in the morning!
And, if interested, I’m also live blogging a number of the other sessions at the conference; those are detailed in my other blog space: EdTechaoutille
The final session of the first day for me (Wed 2/20) at Educause SW Regional was Promoting Active Learning with Mobile & Wireless Technologies by Morrie Schulman from University of Texas. The significant portion of the session focused on audience response systems – aka “clickers.” My live blog notes are available, and my thoughts and reflections are below; again, my significant take-aways from the session are in bold.
Was interesting to see that 14 of the 30 responding indicated their institution currently uses clickers, and another 10 are considering it. For some to have suggested recently that clickers are “on their way out,” there’s a high number of institutions engaged with the technology. I also doubt the comment made in a later session that cell phone based polling would “soon replace” clickers. While it’s an attractive idea, and given the ubiquity of cell phones, it makes sense, but I believe that type of technology is at least a couple of years away from being reliable enough to implement. Then again, technology does move quickly, so I could be wrong ;-)
Mr. Schulman provided a laundry list of capabilities and weaknesses of classroom clickers, and he cited a variety of possible features along with the clickers that had them. However, I would like to see a more complete listing of features – perhaps in a matrix format – because not all systems with a particular feature were noted. Specifically, I know personally that the Interwrite PRS system possesses several of the features listed but for which the PRS system was not noted.
Also noted during the presentation were survey results from the University of Texas’ evaluation of clickers. The numbers were significantly consistent across all iterations of the survey issued to students – 85% Plus of learners indicate that the clickers help in learning course content and that they are more likely to attend class in which the clickers will be used. I do hope to get in touch with Mr. Schulman regarding any additional resources he may have to compare clicker systems and any additional survey/evaluation results; if those are made available, I’ll share as much as I am permitted.
The PRS system is of particular interest to me since my institution is currently testing those devices in three classrooms; it was encouraging to note Mr. Schulman’s comment that the PRS system “has a lot of benefits and capabilities that others don’t.”
The presentation did “jog” the memory. There were two online polling systems – both freely available if I remember correclty – that I need to check back on. One was presented as a poster session at the Educause Learning Initiative Annual meeting in San Antonio, late January, and the other was one I encountered some time ago. I don’t know if “Numina II” is still available or not. If or when I find information on either of those two systems, I’ll share in this space, and if you happen to be familiar with either of those two products, please contact me via a comment.
I looked forward to this session at EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference since I suspected Camtasia Relay may work the way I’d like for a pod/screen/lecture-casting system might work; my live-blogging notes are available online, and I have a few thoughts following the session. As other posts have done, I’ve bolded my own personal revelations and/or conclusions below.
Geraud Plantegenest, Michigan State, commented that one of the most significant features to offer learners with a podcast, from their experience, is variable speed playback controls. That allows learners to listen to a recording at up to twice the original playback speed; learners then can review a lecture in 25 to 50% less time than the original time. This feature is not one I had considered in the past, but as a student, I know variable speed playback could be incredibly useful for review purposes.
In very rudimentary and concept-only terms, Camtasia Relay is a new product based on Camtasia Studio. Realy splits the front and back ends of Camtasia Studio into two pieces. The recording tools are captured in a client application to be installed on a standard computer; the encoding and publishing functions are deployed as a server application. With a profile created to specify encoding and publishing options, a faculty member only has to start and stop a recording from the client application. Once the recording is stopped, the raw file is sent to the server for encoding and publishing per the specifications within the profile.
A few specific questions that were answered during the session.
- Relay supports publishing to media servers and iTunes etc.
- TechSmith is working on a Blackboard plugin and e-mail notification to users.
- The client application can latch into LDAP, active directory etc to authenticate identity before publishing a recording to a channel.
- The application is currently in a very limited closed beta; the beta may be expanded between now and mid-summer with a potential product release at that time (if I heard correctly).
- No preliminary licensing structure or pricing estimates are currently available.
From what I’ve seen and read, I believe the approach used by Camtasia Relay is the most reasonable and cost-efficient configuration possible for lecture-casting from classrooms. It avoids the need for and does not press for the purchase and installation of encoding devices in individual classrooms, and there’s not a secondary market for an upsale to streaming classroom lectures which I generally believe has little to no value. I do hope the licensing and pricing structure will focus on the server application and allow a more open distribution of the client application across an institution; I believe that would make the most sense given the client seems near useless without the server application, and the more open distribution would make the solution more scalable and cost effective for educational institutions.
This post will be the first of several regarding reflections I have following the EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference in Houston, Texas on February 20-22.
The first plenary session was “Knowledge Sharing: Some Myths and Ideas, and a Little IT” presented by Jean Engle, the Chief Knowledge Officer for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. I live blogged the event, and the archive is currently available online. I had three main thoughts leaving the session; as much for my own use as anyone else’s, I’ve bolded those personal revelations (however, naive they may be) below following background information and discussion.
First, NASA is using or considering a variety of Web 2.0 technologies both internally and externally – including Twitter and Facebook. The primary uses for the technologies are to engage the public and their employees. Generally, such tools can be used for organizational education and development and for facilitating knowledge sharing. I know educational institutions consider the need to use collaborative and social networking tools within classrooms for student purposes. However, how many institutions have investigated using social networking and other collaborative tools for employees and faculty? to promote organizational development? I believe social networks should be considered for all stakeholders within an educational institution – not just students.
Second, I don’t think any institution questions the value of knowledge sharing, but the implementation of an effective method for facilitating that process is incredibly involved. Ms. Engle highlighted a number of myths regarding knowledge management – most of which minimize the impact of or difficulty in accomplishing effective knowledge sharing. The process NASA engaged to begin planning a knowledge management initiative was quite extensive including benchmarking a number of corporate entities and working with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) which also happens to be in Houston. Any institution without an explicit knowledge management initiative needs to invest in one; I know my own institution could do a much better job of knowledge management and would benefit tremendously on both the instructional and business sides of the house from a well planned and supported initiative.
Finally, four of NASA’s coop/intern students researched and produced a presentation focused on what NASA needs to do to better engage younger employees. The presentation was escalated to and reviewed by JSC’s chief administrator. Ms. Engle showed that presentation during the session. I truly hope she makes it available via the Educause session archives; it’s every bit as applicable to higher education institutions as it is to the NASA work environment. In short, the presentation – again, researched and developed by intern students at NASA – described a workplace very similar to the learning environments we should be working to develop. Younger employees at NASA expect to be engaged and valued in a collaborative, social environment which allows them to demonstrate their expertise.
I plan to be live blogging and twittering from the Educause SW Regional Conference over the next 2+ days in Houston. I’m using CoverItLive.com and Twitter.com. In the list below, if the session title is hyperlinked, it will take you to either a live blog or the archive or show you the schedule for the session. I’ll update this post with links as the conference progresses.
- Knowledge Sharing: Some Myths & Ideas by Jean Engle, Chief Knowledge Officer @ NASA
- Use MERLOT to Develop Hybrid/Online Classes More Easily by Cathy Swift, MERLOT
- Lecture Capture for the Masses by TechSmith & Michigan State University
- Promoting Active Learning with Mobile & Wireless Technologies by Morrie Schulman (UT)
- 8:30am Does Your Campus Need a Second Life? by University of Incarnate Word
- 9:30am Using Google Apps and Videos to Enhance Instruction
- 11:45am The 12/10 Conspiracy: Guiding Faculty adn Staff Exploration of Web 2.0 as Learning Tools
- 2:30pm Successful Mediated Classrooms
- 3:30pm Reaching Students through Facebook, YouTube, Digital Storytelling & Second Life
- 8:30am Students Knowledge of and Attitudes Toward Podcasting
- 9:45am Rice’s Three-in-One Wiki
- 10:45am Washington Update: We’re from the Government & We’re Here to Help You
Also as I have time, I’ll be blogging in more depth about some of the sessions and other thoughts I have through the conference. Those blogs will be either here or, if relevant to Second Life, at MUVEForward.com
I’ve been considering in more depth the question I initially asked in my Happy Productive Returns from Second Life? post, “What are some ways in which the effort required [to use Second Life for a learning activity] and benefits received [by learners] could be measured?” A few, very rough thoughts follow on how that question may potentially be investigated.
Following the lead of Joop Van Schie’s work described at Aggiornamento II, I tracked down resources regarding Bernie Dodge’s PADE formula. Professor Dodge first discussed the formula at a CUE Conference in Spring 2007; Wes Fryer blogged about and podcasted that session at the Speed of Creativity. Furthemore, I did learn, from Professor Dodge via Twitter, that the PADE formula has not been “written up” or studied specifically.
The PADE formula suggests a learning power quotient may be achieved to measure the quality of learning games:
Learning Power = Attention * Depth * Efficiency
As Wes Fryer recorded in his notes of Dr. Dodge’s session, Attention is equal to the brain minutes spending attending to X divided by the total brain minutes spent. Depth is the degree to which thinking is required (shows traditional Bloom’s taxonomy), and efficiency is brain minutes devoted to curriculum divided by total brain minutes.
I’m currently considering two general approaches to measure the learning power of Second Life: one qualitative and one quantitative in nature.
First, one option would be to extend upon the work Joop has done by focusing on educators that have conducted learning activities in Second Life. Working with those that have already taught in Second Life, data could be collected regarding: learning objectives, learning activities, perceived benefits, achieved outcomes, development time required for resources, artifacts produced by learners, and estimated time commitment required of learners. A multiple case study method could be used in combination with coding of collected data in a manner to facilitate the evaluation of Second Life in each case per Attention * Depth * Efficiency.
Second, conduct a learning activity via Second Life in collaboration with a faculty member at my institution. Using a more in depth, single case study, information similar to that described above could be collected via semi-structured interviews with study participants. Plus, learner activity (efficiency and attention) potentially could be measured using a scripted activity logging tool developed for the study which they could use while engaging course content. Finally, WeGame.com or comparable screencasting tool could be used to record learner activity to be coded by researchers to determine the depth of learning taking place.
Finally, while media comparison studies have less perceived value than they did in the past, a comparison of Second Life to other delivery methods in light of the PADE formula may arguably yield the “net power” of Second Life for delivery of certain instructional activities.
This evening (Friday, Feb 15), I attended a Community Colleges in Second Life group meeting at the CCSL Resource Center on EduIsland 4. The title of the meeting was “IT: Friend or Foe?” A few reflections . . .
I continue to meet outstanding educators with incredible perspectives, insight, work ethic and desire to help learners achieve maximum potential. Many of them are working in difficult situations and helping learners with significant challenges, financial and otherwise.
Some institutions may have “all the bandwidth” they need while others don’t have a sufficient “pipe” to support regular use of YouTube on campus. That obstacle does curtail the opportunity to use Second Life for educational purposes, but more than a few continue to trudge forward individually, on their own time, trusting their institution will eventually catch up and eventually leverage the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in Second Life.
Many institutions have engaged Second Life by making a significant investment (an island etc) and then working to ensure that faculty have the opportunity, interest and necessary support to involve students live learning activities. Of course, not all institutions have the finances or IT capabilities to begin in that manner. A second approach – and the tact I’m currently taking – is to define a very small scale project with specific goals to evaluate the instructional use of Second Life and to work with IT to support the smaller project. This alleviates the magnitude of concern IT may have regarding issues typically created by Second Life: security, update requirements, bandwidth, user support. As my project continues to take shape, I’ll post details in this space.
Of course, most everyone at the meeting acknowledged that IT does everything they can do to support learning; however, their hands are often tied by insufficient resources – understaffed, underfunded, “under-bandwidthed” (my word ;-), and underappreciated. There are instances in which IT opposes projects for security and stability concerns, but those concerns are naturally at odds with the implementation of an emerging technology.
This is slightly off topic, but then again, since I’m *still* in grad school and working (slowly) on a dissertation which happens to be a Second Life project, perhaps it’s “on topic” to post it here. Indexed by Jessica Hagy provides a great deal of entertainment given the less-than-a-minute it takes to read each post – a good return on investment. Intelligent comedy. Read it. Add it to your reader.