Now into Day 3 , the vBusiness Expo in Second Life has hosted a number of excellent sessions discussing the business of education in virtual worlds and Second Life. Be sure to register to attend and catch a session before it ends tomorrow! SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Clever%20Zebra%203/20/2/49
On Day 1 of the Expo, I was lucky enough to lead off the Education Track with a session about some practical tips for “Selling the Idea of Virtual Worlds to Stakeholders”. Getting institutional support for virtual worlds projects can be a little daunting, but a combination of compelling arguments and a well put together presentation can increase chances for success. One tip, dress your avatar in the same outfit you will be wearing in the real world to help bridge the “reality” gap for your audience. Another suggestion, falling flat on your face off a building in Second Life is also good for an element of humor in your presentation. =) See a sample PPT slide set on Slideshare for Pitching Second life to Educators in 15 Minutes.
Jonathon Richter (SL: Wainbrave Bernal) spoke about the SaLamander Project in the next session, describing a very clever tool that educators can use to tag, index, and search learning objects and environments in Second Life. By creating a repository of known learning objects, educators can share resources and help determine best practices for developing educational spaces in virtual worlds. Jonathon encouraged builders and creators of educational content to submit their creations to the index for possible inclusion in a MERLOT linked repository of 3D learning objects. Be sure to pick up your own SaLamander HUD from the Center for Advanced Technology in Education in-world to tag objects you create or find!
On Day 2 of the Expo, Barry Joseph (SL: GlobalKids Bixby) of Global Kids discussed “Doing Well by Doing Good: Supporting Non-Profits and Philanthropies in Virtual Worlds” and how Global Kids has been able to successfully create experiences that engage Global Kids teens in discussing and learning about real world social justice issues, while also bringing in such groups as the International Criminal Court into Second Life. They recently launched the International Justice Center in Second Life and will continue to foster collaboration between students and non-profits. He also announced the new RezEd Hub for Learning & Virtual Worlds and encouraged educators to get connected.
In a special session of Metanomics, Robert Bloomfield (SL: Beyers Sellers) of Cornell University interviewed Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel) , CEO of the New Media Consortium about his recent testimony to Congress about virtual worlds. Larry also discussed how NMC has engaged and supported the educational community in Second Life to explore what really works in virtual worlds, from sharing information about their experiences developing campus spaces and islands to hosting events like the recent Symposium on Mashups. NMC’s focus on community, collaboration, and creativity is an excellent example for corporate organizations at the vBusiness Expo to emulate.
On Day 3, Aleks Krotoski (SL: Mynci Gorki) from the University of Surry and Mark Bell (SL: Typewriter Tackleberry) from Indiana University discuss best practices for performing survey research in virtual worlds like Second Life. One key affordance of doing research in virtual environments is the ability to capture reams of data, not just from the avatar, but also the environment itself. Aleks suggests researchers try to focus on the data they really want, since you can capture more than you need. Mark Bell announced a new SL HUD-based survey tool his team has created to simplify data collection while preserving the immersion of the environment. Both suggest that researchers approach campus IRB groups early on in the process to help ensure plenty of time for answering their questions about the environment.
Sarah Robbins (SL: Intellagirl Tully) of Ball State University chairs a panel with Jeremy Kemp (SL: Jeremy Kabumpo) of San Jose State University and Jeremy Hunsinger (SL: buridan Simon) of Virginia Tech about the future of education in virtual spaces. As long term veterans in SL education, Jeremy Hunsinger points out that educational gaming and 3D spaces have long been a part of the academic computing tradition, and asks, “The future isn’t all face to face, is it?” Jeremy Kemp remarked that he expected to see more concrete data about effective teaching practices in SL than we have seen up to this point. “We need to be studying the efficacy of these models,” he said. Sarah asks, “Is Second Life a ‘creepy treehouse‘?” referring to the term used to describe a place (physical or virtual) created by adults to lure kids in. Jeremy Hunsinger replied, “I’m asking my students to come in here to do their own work,” rather than putting them in a space he created, and he notices that his students are spending time here of their own volition in part due to the different types of experiences students can have here powered by their own curiosity. Excellent panel!
More to come as the vBusiness Expo continues!
– Posted by Chris Collins (SL: Fleep Tuque)
Written by Chris Collins