Monday, September 28, 2009

Teaching students about Second Life

I have talked about the course I am doing Learner Centred Learning and how I have to carry out a teaching session that is observed and critiqued as an assignment. Originally I thought I would teach a 'class' in Elluminate...something about social media. But now I have decided to be very brave...or extremely full-hardy, depending on your perspective, and teach students how to use Second Life. This will be part of the Facilitating Online course which I am currently facilitating.

Here is my lesson plan.

The aim of the session will be to introduce students to Second Life as part of the "Looking at virtual worlds" segment of the Facilitating Online course. In this course, students are expected to explore Second Life and think how they can use it as a space for facilitating events and activities. The aim of my session will be to give the students some basic skills so they can get out and about in SL.

1. Be able to walk and fly in Second Life.
2. Be able to teleport from place to place.
3. Be able to 'make friends'.
4. Be able to search for landmarks and make landmarks.
5. Be able to talk and text.
6. Be able to change appearance.

Date and time
The date and time will be in the week of the 11th October – the lesson will be one hour long. The time will be in the evening, probably at students time to put children to bed. This means students will have to be able to access Second Life from home. This may be problematic for some if they do not have adequate computers or Internet access. But if I lead the session in the day time, students may have even more problems accessing SL because of institutional Internet policies and firewalls.

We will start off in Elluminate because this is an environment that students are very familiar with, and if Second Life is down for some reason, we can continue discussions in Elluminate. Once I have connected with students in Elluminate, we’ll head off to Second Life. Once we’re in SL, I will show them the two SLENZ projects as examples of how SL can be used for education. Then, we’ll head off to Jokaydia because it has wonderful examples of community life in SL. I have asked Leigh Blackall if he will accompany me during the lesson. He will be the lesson facilitator and be a second helper just in case I have a large class and need extra help supporting students.

I will be able to record the part of the lesson that I hold in Elluminate but not the session in Second Life. However, I will offer students the opportunity to meet me in SL for a one-on-one orientation session for a period of a week following the lesson.

Students’ pre-lesson preparation
I will ask student to prepare themselves before the lesson by creating their own avatar and reading the orientation information developed by SLENZ. They will also be asked to add their avatar name to the course wiki so I can track them when they are in SL. I will have a couple of ‘spare’ avatars ready just in case some students have problems with developing their avatar. They will also need to have downloaded SL onto their computers prior to the lesson. The information about the lesson will be dissemination to students via my blog, the Facilitating Online blog and email group.

Students in this course are already familiar with online real-time meetings/lessons so they already have headsets with microphones. They also need computers that can handle SL. Students who do not have adequate access to SL will be unable to take part in this lesson. I will plan to run a session in Elluminate at another time for people who cannot access SL so we can discuss the requirements of the Facilitating Online course in regards to virtual worlds.

Learning style
The learning styles used mostly in this lesson will be kinaesthetic – student will learn by ‘doing’ and experimenting. The SL environment with its high-level graphics will also appeal to visual learners. People who are readers/writers will be catered for as I provide written instructions for using SL. Visual learners will be provided videos on how to use SL.

  • 00 – 10 Meet in Elluminate. Introduction to the lesson. Explanation about Second Life. What I aim to achieve – what students would like to achieve.
  • 10 – 30 Take students to SLENZ projects. Make friends. Teleport. How to communicate. Change appearance. Create landmarks.
  • 30-45 Jokaydia. Explore newbie gardens.
  • 45-50 Questions

Barriers to learning
The main barriers to learning will be lack of access to technology and Internet. Time constraints may also be a barrier. The lesson will be just an hour long which may not be long enough for students to really get a grip with SL. Thus, this lesson will be approached as an introduction to SL rather than and in-depth exploration.

Students will be invited to complete a brief online evaluation form, and leave comments on my blog.
  • What did you learn in this lesson?
  • What did you feel went well in this lesson?
  • What would you recommend for a similar session in the future?
Can you see anything I missed? Any tips or hints for me about teaching newbies in Second Life?

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