Welcome to Wednesday

What do you do on Tuesday evenings? When I can, there’s a roundtable discussion on (and in) Second Life. This week I was talking with a teacher in New Zealand about her subject – language teaching in SL (my Tuesday evening was her Wednesday lunchtime so the conversation included one of those SL-surreal phrases: “Welcome to Wednesday”).

We were speculating on why people would run a language class in Second Life in a sterile classroom, rather than a relevant environment – a Parisienne café, German railway station, Mexican “Day of the Dead” festival for example. One possibility is that they are so enthused about the opportunities for distance learning in Second Life that they don’t consider all the possibilities.

In fact, I’m coming to a tentative conclusion that there may be an institutional learning process that everyone goes through with Second Life (and probably virtual worlds in general). It would run something like this:

1)      Get excited about being able to fly, be with people from anywhere in the real world, create anything you can imagine and interact with it as though it was real

2)       Recreate the real-world institution one belongs to using Second Life, only better (minus rust, potholes and mess, plus trees, classrooms in the sky and quacking ducks)

3)      Recreate real-world teaching – lectures, tutorials, group work

4)      Suddenly realise that teaching could be lots better if the unique environment were fully utilised

5)      Start building environments to support field trips, context for learning and experiences

The switched-on institutions go through this process as a thought exercise and begin their Second Life work further down the list.

It’s good to be switched on!

Dr Paul Rudman
19th November 2009

(See the Second Life group Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable)

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