Epedagogy, Learning & Second Life
Overview: Second Life was created by Linden Labs in 2004. Philip Rosendale, the founder and CEO of Linden Labs, sees Second Life as the basis for a platform to power a new kind of web: a three dimensional communal space in which people can work, play and learn. In the time that Second Life has been available many businesses and educational institutes have experimented there. Businesses have set up shop (sometimes literally) and universities and schools have taught classes and undertaken research projects.
Some of this work has been genuinely experimental, but much of it seems to have consisted of trying to find ways of repainting old paradigms to fit the new scenery. The aim of this course is to
- examine the nature of virtual worlds on the web, and Second Life in particular;
- analyse its specific features, the points of view hidden inside them, and the experiences of the users;
- link these to pedagogical theory;
- construct an educational platform that makes use of these features to provide learning experiences that could only happen in Second Life;
- demonstrate the platform in use by running a short course using the platform;
- documenting the project and presenting a seminar inside Second Life to discuss the results.
The course will be taught entirely online. It will involve a mixture of discussion groups based around Skype chats; in-world explorations using Second Life; planning and documentation using AirSet as a tool for group planning and asynchronous discussion; and Zoho as the permanent documentation repository.
What follows is a provisional outline of the weekly sessions. The precise nature of the later sessions will depend in part on the direction and progress that students make in the opening sessions.
- You will need to have a Skype account, and a headset so that that you can join in group chat.
- You will need to make sure that you are on my buddy list. I am owenkelly on Skype. When you send a buddy request please mention this course in the note, so that I can file you in the correct folder.
- You will need a computer that is capable of running Second Life; you will need to have downloaded the latest Second Life client; and you will need to have a Second Life account (a free one will do fine)..
Week 1: introduction Date and time: Tuesday February 5th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Skype chat and Second Life exploration
1. Test session: the usual twenty minutes in which everyone explores the minutiae of group chat on Skype; checks their equipment; and establishes rules of conduct.
2. Set up: an explanation about AirSet and Zoho. Everybody will get themselves accounts and then join the relevant groups.
3. Zoho in detail: a look at Writer, Show and Sheet. A tour of Zoho Notebook, and its uses as a documentation repository. A brief discussion of the idea of distributed publication and its use here.
5. A discussion about the concept of multiple entry points using open formats, and its use in collaborative working and learning.
6. Pointers to the existing documentation for the course.7. A tour around Rosario in Second Life. This will serve to make sure that everyone can log in, navigate, and so on. It will also look in outline at the pedagogical goals of the Rosaro project, and raise questions that will concern us for the rest of the course. These will include the fundamental question: “what advantages can we hope to derive from learning in a virtual world?”
1. You will be given a list of existing and planned virtual worlds. These will be of two sorts: open worlds and goal-oriented worlds. The former include Second Life, Metaplace, Entropia and others. The latter are usually games such as World of Warcraft or Eve Online.
2. You will be given online links to information about each world. You will be asked to read through the documentation and, where possible, to explore the worlds.
3. Your assignment is to note the differences between the worlds, both in terms of their overall aims and objectives, and the user experiences that they offer.
4. During this period you will also be expected to join Second Life; download the client and go through the induction process. (This takes a total of approximately twenty to thirty minutes.)Week 2: a world of worlds
Date and time: Tuesday February 12th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Skype chat and Second Life chat
1. We will look at the results of the first assignment. Can we divide the worlds into specific types or genres? Do the different kinds of worlds offer different inherent possibilities for activities? Are some worlds better for educational purposes than others?
2. We will pay particular attention to the similarities and differences that apply to Second Life, since we will be using this as our test case. Why has it become so popular so rapidly? What are its apparent strengths and weaknesses?
3. We will log into Second Life and continue the chat there. We will explore the nature of the interface, and the avatars. Our purpose here will simply be to make sure that everyone can successfully move around; use the map; search for places and events; and chat.
Week 3: exploring Second Life
Date and time: Tuesday February 19th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Second Life chat and exploration Note: Jutta Törnqvist will take this session
1. We will begin by dressing our avatars, and customising them to present a visual appearance that we are happy with.
2. We will take a tour of shops, clubs and places of interest.
3. You will be given an introductory lesson in building and creating objects in Second Life.
4. This will concentrate on textures and primitives.
Week 4: thinking about Second LifeDate and time: Tuesday February 26th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Second Life chat and exploration Note: Jutta Törnqvist will take this session
1. We will look at the different approaches to building that are possible.2. We will look at building in terms of real functionality vs virtual functionality. What is this stuff for? How can people use it?
3. We will build more complex forms with specific uses or audiences in mind. Assignment: 1. You will be given a list of links to resources about Second Life. These will include tutorials about building and scripting, as well as selling and marketing. There will be links to web sites that offer related facilities and services.2. You will be introduced to a community of blogs and wikis that report on the technical, social, educational and visionary aspects of Second Life.
3. You will be asked to read through this material, and then write short reviews of 4 or 5 which will be gathered together on a group wiki.
4. You will then be asked to follow links in the material that you read and write a short piece about a conceptual issue arising from the material that seems relevant to the aims of the course.
Week 5. augmentation
Date and time: Tuesday March 11th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Skype chat and Activeworlds session
1. We will begin by discussing the material that you have read and commented on. 2. We will have a guided tour of educational venues in Second Life. During this you will meet various other educators who will give brief explanations of their own projects. 3. Video conference with Robert Sanders from Appalachian State University. 4. Guided tour of AppState’s ActiveWorlds learning environment.
Week 6: immersion
Date and time: Tuesday March 18th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Skype chat and Second Life activities
1. Discussion about microlearning and digital natives
2. Exploration of the role of immersion in New Caledon
3. In-world conference with Ordinal Malaprop
4. Discussion about the role of learners Week 7: project devising session Date and time: Tuesday April 15th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode: Skype chat
1. The group will define an approach to an immersive educational activity in Second Life
2. The group will devise the outline of a learning project to take place during the Rosarian Semano Semano festival in May.
Week 8: project feedback session
Date and time: Tuesday April 22nd, 20:30 (Helsinki time)Mode: Skype chat and Second Life activities
1. The group will discuss their progress in constructing the project. We will examine any issues or problems that have arisen and devise strategies to deal with them.
2. The group will demonstrate their progress in-world and receive critique.Week 9: project rehearsalDate and time: Tuesday April 29th, 20:30 (Helsinki time) Mode:Second Life activities and Skype chat
1. The group will guide a small team of hand-picked beta testers through the educational activity they have devised.
2. The group will receive feedback and criticism.
3. The group will convene on Skype and discuss plans to utilise the feedback constructively.Week 10: an open session Second LifeDate and time: Friday May 9th, 20:30 (Helsinki time)Mode:Second Life activities
The group will run an open learning session in Second Life, including mechanisms for documenting the session as it happens.Week 11: project analysis and conclusionsDate and time: Tuesday May 13th, 20:30 (Helsinki time)Mode:Skype chat
The group will analyse the results of the session, the documentation and the reactions of the participants. From this they will draw conclusions.Week 12: public presentation of projectDate and time: To be decidedMode:Second Life activities
The group will lead a public presentation of the results of the project in Second Life. This will be aimed at other educators working in Second Life, and we will try to have it included in an early summer in-world seminar.