Online Learning in Virtual Worlds


I had two mixed Real Life/ Second Life work events today. The first was more successful than the second one.

The second was a meeting with 6 ICT students who are working on some Teaching and Learning projects in Second Life as their semester long project. The library is the client for this. Our Uni Second Life Interest Group had identified potential pilot projects, so I kept track of who wanted what done, found a few relevant resources, gave the students some building/ navigation tips and watched them quickly outstrip my skills within a day or so.

Two of the group members are in country towns and one is in Europe. They had their avatars in Second Life during the meeting, however we had some hardware problems and I forgot my headphones, so they were left in silence for a while and I don’t think they really knew what was going on. It will be interesting to see whether the group develops an efficient method to use Second Life to communicate or fall back on something like Skype party calls.

The first event involved staggering out of bed and on to the PC by 7:30am. The University of Southern Queensland’s Faculty of Education Symposium Online Learning Using Virtual Worlds was streamed live on the web, into Second Life and involved people presenting at the campus in Real Life. I presented from within Second Life as Emerald Dumont and was on a telephone line into the room at USQ at the same time. My voice was then streamed into SL on the big screen…where Emerald Dumont was listening.

Other presentations were from Dr. Rob Sanders who coordinates the Appalachian State University Library Science program, and uses Active Worlds in his teaching, Dr Penny de Byl, a Senior Lecturer (Computing) with USQ Faculty of Sciences about ALIVEX3D and Lindy McKeown, PhD candidate at the University of Southern Queensland about Action Learning in Second Life. Dr. Daniel Livingstone who teaches Computer Games Technology at the University of Paisley and was going to present on sloodle must have slept through his alarm, as he couldn’t be found…not in RL, via IM or in SL.

I had prepared two clips – a 15 minute one about Libraries in Second Life and a shorter one called Murdoch University Library gets a Second Life, explaining what we are doing with SL at MPOW. While they were playing, Emerald was part the back channel typing comments within Second Life….so while I (Kathryn) was presenting in RL (although via telephone and streaming), I (Emerald) was also being an audience member with critical input. And I swear I never left my seat in front of my PC to do it all.

There were quite a few comments like “oh wow, those librarians are cool” and “these aren’t like librarians I know” and “oohh…a science fiction portal”. One avatar from Australia even asked me for a copy of my presentation so he could show his fellow scientists how far ahead librarians were of scientists. ( And so I think I may have unintentionally created more work for my librarian friend, Sue who works in the same organization – sorry).

For the panel discussion / question time, I was answering questions and once again part of the back channel typing responses and questions within Second Life. I think I was even Twittering when it all got a bit slow. The questions were about topics like copyright, plagiarism, what you say to people who call it “just a game”, how “real” you need to be to keep the experience immersive and whether Second Life is being used for research as well as Teaching and Learning.

I was surprised at how much I felt like a participant, rather than a spectator. I think it helped that the streaming video looked rather jerky – so the people in RL seemed less real and more avatar-ish. Lindy and her team of 11 geeks are to be congratulated on making an experimental event such a success.

Blah blah blah about Dewey?


Via gapingvoid, I found Christian Long’s Future of Learning Manifesto :

Here’s a summary..

1. “Playing Small Does Not Serve the World.”
2. What Would Socrates Do?
3. Nobody Cares if You Walked Up Hill Both Ways Barefoot in the Snow.
4. Got Passion? If Not, I’ll Tell You What To Care About.
5. My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart. Otherwise, I’ll Stick with Google
6. Look it Up or Die.
7. Collaboration Ain’t About Holding Hands. It’s about Going Cool Places Fast.
8. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record.
9. It Ain’t About the Technology. It’s About Being Inside the Story.
10. Nobody Knows the Answer. Get Comfy with the Questions.

Point 5 deserves full reproduction. Are we engaging via story…or blah blah blah about Dewey?

5. My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart. Otherwise, I’ll Stick with Google.

I could memorize your facts, but I got Google for that.

Yeah, completely outsourced my entire “traditional fact memorization” protocol to this upstart search engine. Yeah, like a library, ‘cept that there ain’t no dust and much, much bigger. Yeah, it’s not perfect, but I’m not going on Jeopardy, either. Yeah, there isn’t a librarian holding my hand, but then again I need answers now. Not after a lecture on the Dewey Decimal thinga-ma-bob.

Sure, I’ll do that memorize thing for you. Just one catch. Tell me a story.

Seriously. Put away the chalk. Get out from behind the podium. Look me in the eyes. Reach deep into my gut. Massage my heart. Get the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Get me to tell the flavor of clouds. Tell me to close my eyes and go somewhere bold.

I’ll remember anything you tell me. Swear it.