This is the second video in a three part series about my Spring 2009 course. This video features students discussing their final projects in Second Life where they had to partner with a third-party client in Second Life and create a project to help them meet their organizational goals. Two groups choose to host events as fundraisers, Under the Sea and Horns for 100K while a third group worked with a role playing group to get a better understanding of what community can mean in a virtual world. I hope you enjoy this video and as always, i welcome feedback!
Last spring I shot video interviews of my students talking about various aspects of Second Life. I collected about thirty minutes of footage from each student and from those interviews I created a series of three five minute videos. Each video focuses on a different aspect of learning in Second Life; the learning curve, project based learning, and what makes learning in SL different. As a recap, I taught a course called Working in Virtual Worlds as an undergraduate Information Studies course. The class was scheduled as a face to face course but we primarily met in Second Life. Students worked on a variety of projects where they engaged members of the Second Life community in a variety of activities.
This first video focuses on overcoming the learning curve in Second Life. Over the years I’ve conducted quite a bit of research in this area and i wanted to provide an avenue for current and potential teachers in Second Life to hear directly from students about their experiences.
I hope you find this video useful and I look forward to hearing your comments. I will release the next two videos in this series over the next three weeks.
It has been a while since I’ve been able to blog due to a cross country move and new job. This past summer I successfully defended and submitted my dissertation “Becoming: The Evolution of a Learning Organization in a Social Virtual World” (abstract at the end of this post) and in September I started a tenure track position in the School of Information and Communication at Rutgers in New Brunswick. Now that I’m finally settled I will be updating this space more frequently. In the upcoming weeks I will be posting links to a three part video series about teaching in Second Life that features interviews with previous students and discussions about their learning experiences. I will also be sharing details of Leslie Jarmon’s HUGE Second Life initiative through the University of Texas System. For those on Twitter you can follow me @joe_sanchez
–Dissertation Abstract below — Becoming: The Evolution of a Learning Organization in a Social Virtual World
The Educators Coop is a group of forty-two educators, researchers, and librarians that are interested in learning how to teach and conduct research in the social virtual world of Second Life. This naturalistic inquiry examines how the group utilized the virtual environment in order to meet their goals during a six-month period in 2007.
Members of the Educators Coop exhibited three key behaviors that helped members accomplish their goals of learning how to teach and conduct research in Second Life. Members 1) engaged in a continuous knowledge spiral involving the transfer of tacit and explicit knowledge; 2) were supportive of each other’s ideas; and 3) participated in social networks that often extended beyond the virtual world. Members of the Educators Coop used the virtual world as a complimentary piece to their Real Lives; there were not any synthetic or virtual aspects to their relationships.
One goal of the study was to identify the culture created by the members of the Educators Coop using Choo’s (1998) definition of group culture. Members of the Educators Coop created and participated in a group culture where they 1) articulated a group identity; 2) displayed a common set of beliefs; 3) performed a pattern of behaviors
leading to a leveling of social status; and 4) shaped a group teaching philosophy. The culture of the group created an environment of support, acceptance, and mutual respect for one other’s professional work.
The second goal of the study was to observe and understand how members of the group would alter their virtual environment in order to better perform their work. Members of the Coop altered their environment by creating coordinated weekly events in order to maximize their opportunities for group collaboration. They also used the affordances of Second Life to create a community art space that encouraged a creative and playful environment for interactions. More surprisingly though, the environment altered the members of the Educators Coop as they began to feel embodied by their avatars and the virtual place of the Educators Coop became a real life working space.
The second group from my Spring 2009 course will be having their final project event on Thursday April 30 from 4 – 6 SLT at the Utwig Sim. They have been working with the great folks at the Music Academy Online who agreed to let them use their island for the event. During the event they will submerge the entire sim by raising the water level to 100M (normally 20M) and have diving and other water activities. The event will feature the live band Friendly Fire and D.J. Autumn Beaver and is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
As part of their marketing campaign the students made an appearance on the SLCN show Music Academy Onlive. The students did a great job discussing their project and talking about the experience of being learners in Second Life. A video of the show is available at SLCN.tv. My students appear after the first guest, about 8 minutes into the program. They are easy to spot since they are wearing their diving gear. Benton, the host and founder of the Music Academy Online, also interviewed me for a short segment. It follows the segment of my students.
UPDATE: My students that held the Longhorns for 100,000K fundraiser surpassed their project goal. They raised over $111,000L during their event and donated close to $450 USD to their selected non-profits. Way to go Team!!
April 15 at 6SLT I will be leading an interactive discussion about the use of role-playing for learning in Second Life at ALA Island . During the event we will participate in a role-playing activity so I ask that attendees come dressed as a favorite historical figure. We won’t be judging the avatars so homemade, default, slider-type avatars will be fine. This is a learning experience so please don’t feel the need to purchase a new avatar and by all means don’t be embarrassed if your avatar doesn’t look as good as you like. As you will see, role-play is more about being able to “play” the role rather than looking the part.
ALA TechSource is proud to present our first virtual world event—a discussion of virtual worlds, libraries and education with Second Life expert Joe Sanchez. Sanchez, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas, is the author of February’s issue of Library Technology Reports, “Virtual Worlds: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations”.
Please join us on the ALA Island on Wednesday, April 15 at 6:00pm SLT for an exclusive interactive discussion and presentation of his work. We’ll be discussing virtual worlds and their potential to impact library service and freedom of information, as well as Joe’s work with LIS students using Second Life. One of the topics discussed will be role-playing in virtual worlds, so we are asking all participants to come dressed as their favorite historical figure!
In October i wrote an issue of Library Technology Reports about some of my research in Second Life. The Issue, Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations is now available through the ALA TechSource Bookstore. In the report I identify the Second Life learning curve and how the learning curve creates barriers to student learning. I also discuss ways that i have designed curriculum to overcome the learning curve with specific examples from K-12 – higher education. A former student of mine and my current TA guest authors a chapter about libraries in SL. Her chapter is one of the few pieces I have read that that pushes back against some of the common held beliefs about building a library presence in SL. The editor of LTR says
In this issue of Library Technology Reports, virtual world virtuoso Joe Sanchez takes us beyond a mere exploration of Second Life and looks at the history of virtual worlds and how educators have used them as tools for learning in the twenty-first century. Sanchez extensively and objectively explores the pros and cons of using second life for both educators and librarians, and a chapter guest-authored by LIS student Jane Stimpson examines several examples of public libraries who have established a Second Life presence. Topics covered include:
A Social History of Virtual Worlds
Public Libraries in Second Life: Expanding
Service to the Virtual Environment.
Pedagogical Applications of Second Life
Barriers to Student Learning in Second Life
Understanding the User Experience in Second Life
The Second Life Learning Curve
I’m gearing up for my Spring 09 course and I realized I never shared the machinima links created by students from the Fall 08 semester. I had four student groups comprised of 4-5 students each. Each group had to create a 2 1/2 – 3 minute machinima telling about their final group project. I think they did a good job. Each student also created a reflective movie where they spoke about their learning experience during the semester. I will post a few of those later this week. Enjoy
If you would like to visit the projects, they will be available for viewing until Sunday January 19, 2009. On Monday I will have to delete the projects tot make way for the Spring class
This Thursday 12\04\08 at 5SLT my students and I will be hosting an event in SL to show the projects they have completed this semester. Earlier this semester my undergraduate class was awarded a C.A.S.E. grant from the Jimmy and Roselynn Carter foundation to promote community engagement in SL. Each project completed this semester has a community engagement focus. The
Four projects are:
Problem: Physical, social and political disasters are often so geographically and culturally remote that people who might help fail to appreciate the nature and extent of the situation. Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, multi-player, virtual-world game to simulate life in Darfur, wherein survival is the object and famine, displacement and armed conflict are the opponents. Game players will realize how much is taken for granted in peace and prosperity and how important even small contributions can be in a disaster. Another project provides a virtual “ride” that helps participants understand the work of the nonprofit website Nothing But Nets. Problem: An Austin (TX) nonprofit reaches out to needy individuals in
rural Texas, but the cost of covering long distances reduces the effectiveness of the organization.
Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, virtual world extension of the agency’s operations that would make it virtually costless to operate remotely. But rather than trying to envision every conceivable combination of circumstances and program a software solution that covers all of them, the UT student solution engages the nonprofit staff as avatars, thereby incorporating all their experience and troubleshooting skills. Further, client avatars can characterize their needs far more accurately and far faster than a “checklist” of options. The combination eliminates travel and remote operation cost without eliminating the skilled human intervention of the non-profit’s staff. Problem: Austin (TX) SafePlace is the nation’s largest shelter for victims of domestic violence. Training new associates at SafePlace is “baptism by fire” because the problems trainees face are “live” and often overwhelming.
Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, virtual world simulation of SafePlace where the avatars of trainees can learn to diagnose and deal with problems from hypothetical cases, safely apart from the actual operation of the shelter. The result is safe training for SafePlace. Plus, the students plan to hold a fund-raising “gala” online where participants from around the world can use “Linden dollars” to purchase necessities for shelter clients, then UT students will convert the “Linden dollars” to actual cash and purchase the items.