Friday, January 9, 2009

Teaching in Virtual Worlds

It's really hard to determine how well a presentation was from a simple powerpoint file. Nonetheless, here's an educause presentation on Teaching in Virtual Worlds.


From my ventures into second life, I have to say that it is interesting, but trying to shoehorn it into the curriculum (just like shoehorning an LMS into the curriculum) won't work. A virtual world is a unique pedagogical environment (and I use pedagogy broadly, encompassing all types of *-gogy) and an instructor needs to design around it.

One can't simply create a virtual classroom in Second Life, tell people to come and take a seat and call it a day. This is simply boring and it defeats the purpose. From my point of view, if I were to use Second Life for teaching something, I would use it like a field trip. In language learning for example, if enough cities and municipalities had virtual versions of themselves, you could use that to learn about culture, geography, and language in innovative ways.

The problems addressed in the PowerPoint presentations are a serious reality which, at the moment, impedes the serious 15-week-long teaching of a subject - in my humble opinion.

The other problem I have with Second Life is this: unlike the internet, you can't setup your own, free, server to serve your content. In addition, you can't model your plot of land offline and upload it when you are done, it all needs to be done online. There is also no facility for backup. If something borks the SL server that your info is on and their backup does not work - that's it. Paying money for this is like throwing money down the drain.
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