May 25, 2007

Learning and Teaching in Second Life

The Center would like to thank Anthony Fontana and the wide range of faculty and staff who attended our first Second Life workshop. The workshop focused on the teaching and learning possibilities in the online virtual world called Second Life. The enthusiasm and questions generated will provide momentum as the University continues to explore the possibilities of Second Life as a environment for learning.

Over 20 interested BGSU community members attended yesterday's discussion, sharing both possibilities and concerns associated with using a virtual environment in the classroom. The Center is offering "open lab" times today from 10-12pm and 2-4pm; additionally we encourage anyone to make an appointment for a one-on-one Second Life consultation. The Center is currently planning additional SL workshops, discussions and "open lab" times for the summer and fall semesters.

In case you missed yesterday's event, here are some of the highlights:
  • The artistic and community aspects of Second Life were briefly discussed.
  • Existing educational endeavors in Second Life were explored.
  • Issues with research in Second Life were considered and discussed at length.
  • The BGSU "island" in Second Life was revealed, and the possibilities surrounding its use by the BGSU community of educators and students was explored.

Workshop times include:
* Open Lab, Friday, May 25th, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
* Open Lab, Friday, May 25th, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

For those who attended the seminar, what are the most promising educational uses for Second Life? What concerns or suggestions do you have regarding Second Life? Do you have any helpful tips or experiences to share with other people that have just started exploring the "Wild West" a.k.a. Second Life?
Click on the COMMENTS link below to get started!


C. Rathsack said...

Being new to SL, I'm looking forward to learning about the current educational uses and generating more over time (with the help of many other innovators, of course). SL will take time to develop and implement, but don't all great activities/strategies?

I'm interested in following where the BGSU community will go with this...

Thanks for the 'spark,' Anthony!

Linda Mandlebaum said...

I'm having an interesting time learning about Second Life. There is just so much to know and there doesn't seem to be one place to go that answers all questions. Maybe I just haven't found it yet, but that doesn't discourage me from spending some time in Second Life every day.

By the way, I know I can call or e-mail CTLT and ask questions or go in for personal help, but I like learning as much as I can on my own. Then I can go in with a list of questions to focus on.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to help develop some simulations for my students that will help them understand how to teach students with exceptionalities. The possibilities are really exciting!

cyberdiva said...

I came to one of the workshops for a refresher course and to get an idea of how to involve the CTLT staff with the Web 2.0 learning community I will be doing starting August 2007.

I have been exploring Secondlife since the time I heard about it (late 2003) and when it seemed like we were encountering a generation of students (undergraduates) even in non technical fields such as interpersonal communication who no longer needed introductory sessions on how to use software or online communication systems.

[The case of graduate students however is slightly different since generationally some of them tend to lack ease with the software and confuse themselves by forgetting the conceptual grounding of the assignment. Thus they tend to conflate their lack of technical skill with a lack of understanding of how the assignment works in relation to the course.
Thus not all graduate and undergraduate students respond well to assignments requiring them to engage technology in classroom since there are still students with a fair amount of tech anxiety and a lack of imagination and/or a lack of sense of imagination - in our classes. I have tips on how to work with that population of students as well - but dealing with those is a post for some other time and certainly my summer class did not have any problems with the secondlife based assingment. They were wonderful!

In my summer COMS/WS class - conceptually, they understood the opportunities offered through the exercise using Secondlife - and so the rationale for the use of secondlife within the class context was very clear to them.]

In the past I have used a now seemingly antiquated (yet pedagogically very useful) text based multi-user online program known at "MOO" (and specifically Lingua MOO - - and PMC moo) in my classes, and secondlife seemed like a logical 3d environment to use for exploring communication, culture and identity based concepts we used to explore in MOOs.

However in 2003 2004, 2005, 2006 - I tried to find a way to get secondlife onto our lab computers - to no avail. Also secondlife software was not very user friendly and needed more frequent updates than it does now.

Since 2006, however, secondlife seems a little less clutzy (and I speak only in relation to communication, culture and economic activity - and not in relation to the graphics and the number of times the computer crashes when using secondlife I have figured out ways to download the program for class use without it being a security concern for the labs.

Also - with all the educators and businesses interesting in SL and with all the growing economic and social activity internally in secondlife, it is a much more interesting place to take communication and women studies students into.

While we explored secondlife in my Spring 2007 class - we used it extensively in my summer 2007 class on Feminist Research Methods. There was a great deal of excitement, international networking with academics from other parts of the world as well as understandings and discussions of practically DOING research and ethnography as we juxtaposed the exploration of secondlife with a service learning assignment collecting oral histories in Perrysburgh Hts.

I can discuss the details of all our work with anyone f2f if they wish to talk to me.

Radhika Gajjala