I found a Blackboard booth… ironic isn’t it?
If you combined Second Life with Blackboard, you’d get… anyone, anyone?
Our experiences with blackboard have been somewhat limited. Their communication and chat tools didn’t work very well. There system seems fine for people who only want to communicate via e-mail or forum, but that is so 1990’s. I found it interesting that they had a booth presence in Second Life.
Well, on the other hand, it’s good to know that Blackboard is at least aware of Second Life.
So far in my exploration of Second Life I’ve come the following conclusions about introducing or applying Second Life for educational purposes:
1. Makes sure initial participation is voluntary - the learning curve on Second Life is so high that it will frustrate even those with moderate tech savvy abilities. Draw in the people who are really curious and motivated to use it first. Grow this group of people as SL experts and mentors. Still, encourage all folks to try… just because something is ‘hard to do’ doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth while.
2. Teach students how to teleport to a location – give them initial instructions on how to get to the first meeting point.
3. Provide interesting orientation activities - take a field trip as a group in the “NMC Orientation” to learn the basics of moving, talking, using inventory, changing appearance, etc. As a leader you can provide a walk through tour of the orientation area (just to show students where everything is). But you should also encourage students to return and practice some of the things on their own. You can even set up a task list of things that participants need to complete by week 1, etc. Also have appointed meeting times in SL so participants can interact with each other and even share what they’ve learned or made.
4. Participate socially - attend live learning events in SL through the SLED calendar. The best part of Second Life is interacting with other SL inhabitants and even learning from them.
5. Encourage students to share their learning with each other – Second Life and the tool interface is so complex that one person can’t effectively and quickly learn all the features. If learners share what they’ve learned with each other they can ramp up quickly.
I would love to set up a social learning group in SL that focuses on how to communicate and build things. I’m thinking I can get a few people to do this. I’d even be willing to help orient some people on how to use the features and tools.
One thing, that sort of perturbs me is the land costs. From what I’ve read, land costs in SL have grown because of speculation. Crazy isn’t it? I guess virtual ain’t free.