Thursday, July 30, 2009

Listening to the experts

Yesterday, I had a serendipitous moment that happens regularly when you spend a lot of time online. I attended a meeting in Second Life in which John Miller (SL: JS Vavoom) gave an account of the work he is doing in Second Life with nursing students. This meeting was part of a series of talks called ISTE Eduverse Talks.

What John had to say
The key things I picked up from John wasn't new to me but it did confirm what I have been learning about designing learning activities in Second Life.
  1. Learning activities in Second Life must be social - students learn better when they are with others - they will not learn by walking around empty buildings by themselves. We need to develop a sense of community for students - we can do that by emphasizing social aspects of Second Life. One thing John does is takes students to meet medical support groups in Second Life.
  2. Second Life gives us the opportunities to explore other ways of delivering information eg what's the point of delivering PowerPoint presentations in Second Life - we do enough of that in 'real life'.
  3. Why get our knickers in a twist about using Second Life for educational purposes - did you ever evaluate your use of overheads or PowerPoint for delivering information? Second Life is just another way of delivering education.
  4. Must make lessons fun in Second Life - be prepared to use games.
  5. Encourage students to personalize their avatars.
  6. Move away from using notecards to deliver information.
Social learning
The main challenge to me is how to make the learning activities associated with the virtual birthing unit more social. At the moment the birth unit is a static resource with little or no interaction. Once we have the role-playing birth scenes up and running, I am sure we'll see increased student interaction.

I love the idea of taking students to meet maternity consumers. This is an idea I have been playing with over the last week. One thing I would like to do to invite the owners of the established commercial maternity units to talk to us and tell us a little more about why people role play pregnancy in SL. The other idea is to see how 'real' pregnant women use SL.

Do you have any other ideas about how we can socialize learning for students in Second Life?

Image: Doing chicken dance with a midwifery student in the TLC Maternity Unit


Mireille's Learning Circle said...

Hi Sarah

not able to reconnect to the elluminate session.

I tried several times, got in and then lost the connect.

i've been trying to get back for the last 10 minutes and unable to do.

i'm not sure where to contact you so I'm doing it here

will there a recording so I can hear what I missed?

thanks Sarah

Mireille Massue
Toronto, Canada

Sarah Stewart said...

trouble is our end. join us on skype


Leigh Blackall said...

One thing I would add to your list (and I'm no expert, but..)

Don't think of SL in isolation. Bare in mind that lost of people can't access it for a wide range of reasons, and so use SL lightly and in combination with other methods. (Unless of course your course is entirely about something to do with SL)

Sarah Stewart said...

@Leigh or we use it in a face-to-face computer lab where we're providing all the technology. But the problem is for a blended course that you restrict it's use for the short periods of time that students are on campus and defeats the idea of SL being a resource for distance learning.