Enabling 2011 - VWs are not just cars: Literacy journeys in VWs

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A literacy intervention conducted in the virtual world of Second Life. A small group of pre-degree Māori nursing students completed activities designed to improve reading and writing skills. They were …

A literacy intervention conducted in the virtual world of Second Life. A small group of pre-degree Māori nursing students completed activities designed to improve reading and writing skills. They were introduced to the Red Mesa sim in Second Life. They compared North American Indian cultural practices and beliefs with their own tikanga and protocol.
Full article can be found:
In C.M. Klinger & N. Murray (Eds.) Proceedings of the 1st Australasian Conference on Enabling Access to Higher Education, 5-7 December 2011, Adelaide, Australia

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  • 1. VWs are not just cars
  • 2. Literacy journeys in VWs Merle Hearns Manukau Institute of Technology
  • 3. Definition of VWs • • • • A virtual world is a persistent 3D graphical environment A MUVE is a virtual world which allows a large number of simultaneous users to interact synchronously Over 500 universities/technical institutions currently teach in virtual worlds, with over 350 using Second Life as their virtual world of choice Virtual worlds provide students with: • • • • • • Rich & immersive experience Authentic learning activities Simulations & role plays Complex scenario modelling Opportunity for data visualisation Learning through collaboration Kay & Fitzgerald (2008)
  • 4. Definition of Literacy Literacy is listening, speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and critical thinking, interwoven with the knowledge of social and cultural practices. Literacy empowers people to contribute to and improve society. Literacy Aotearoa
  • 5. Literacy Needs • 1.25 million New Zealand adults are not competently literate • 410,000 Aucklanders with low literacy & more than 20% of all adults have no qualifications • In South Auckland more than 800 students leave schools each year with few or no qualifications • Manukau Institute of Technology lies in the heart of South Auckland – improving literacy levels is of prime importance
  • 6. Communication Features Virtual Worlds have Ryan (2008) Which VWs Literacy in is similar to Real time text chatting-private Instant messaging • Virtual worlds are places where students have a Real timemotivation for using literacy in a multiplicity of text chatting-group Chat room different & purposeful ways Delayed time text chatting Email • More & more daily activities involve screenReal timebased literacies & digital literacy is an integral calling voice VoIP / telephone & conference part of integrated literacy Real time video stream w/ audio Video calling • Virtual worlds are social worlds where Searchable networking tools is a key element / Web 2.0 Social software communication • messaging Note cardThe sense of presence in a newsfeeds RSS / virtual world facilitates engagement & communication thereby Ability to create content Forum, wiki, blogs enhancing verbal literacy Record activities for later access Podcasting • The anonymity of the avatar also serves to facilitate communication sharing Uploading documents File
  • 7. Māori Literacy Levels • Māori are over-represented by those who are underachieving at school • 62% of Year 12 Māori pupils gained an NCEA qualification compared to 72% of non-Māori • A 20% disparity between the retention rate of 16-17 year old Māori & non-Māori in the education sector • Suggested that improving Māori literacy levels requires tino rangatiratanga, control over the creative environment, made possible in virtual worlds - a culturally relevant pedagogy • SL residents come from more than 100 different countries - intercultural literacy made possible as avatars connect with other participants from all around the globe Statistics quoted Nga Haeata Matauranga (Annual Report on Māori Education, 2006)
  • 8. Literacy Intervention • Student group: Māori cohort of pre-degree nurses at Manukau Institute of Technology (under the auspices of the Māori Health Provider Te Kupenga o Hoturoa) • Aims: – To address literacy gaps: reading & writing, digital & Māori literacy – To provide activities in an integrated way & in a culturally relevant environment • Utilised for a portfolio assessment for the National Certificate in Adult Literacy Education (Educator), NCALE course • Further aim: – Develop an integrated literacy skill development programme for Māori learners with strategies and activities matched to learner’s identified needs
  • 9. The Journey • Initial diagnostic mapped against the Learning Progressions • Students selected: Learner A • 40 year old Māori student - long absence from formal schooling • bad memories of high school • clear oral expression but major problems in written expression Learner B • • • • 21 year old of Māori-Samoan descent early school leaver – did not like school started as a repeat student but well motivated able to express herself in writing, but with errors in grammar
  • 10. The Intervention – Part 1 • First set of activities was introduced to students as voluntary extension homework tasks • Self-marking & designed to progress from simple to more challenging. • Activities included: –using punctuation –selecting correct grammatical structure –using prefixes/suffixes, tense selection –using correct sentence structure
  • 11. The Intervention – Part 2 SL • Brief orientation to SL • Activity location - Red Mesa sim in SL • Three tasks: – a structured overview using key words relating to North American Indian & Māori cultures – a series of short answer questions, with some of the vocabulary from the first task revisited – a writing activity completed in pairs using key ideas & subject specific vocabulary
  • 12. Answer – a winged serpent Muscogee – Sint Holo Cherokee – Uktena Taniwha The activity sheet for Task 2, gives the question & the SL location where the answer can be found:
  • 13. Findings the answers to the questions generated discussion & reflection, as well as a great deal of excitement
  • 14. Students were required to read legends and SL ‘books’ to answer some of the questions aimed at eliciting inference & critical reasoning
  • 15. Great discussions ensued – on topics as diverse as:
  • 16. Gatherings – from the Indian drum circle to the Māori hui
  • 17. Similarities between Māori & Native American traditional dress
  • 18. How art depicts the Māori & the Native American Indian
  • 19. The similarities & differences between a shaman & a tohunga Weaponry of the Māori & Native American Indian
  • 20. Daily activities: carrying water, cooking food & decorating the living space
  • 21. Results: There were several indicators of literacy gain: – Student’s self-evaluated perceived improvement in their own skill levels – Vocabulary levels showed notable improvement – Students were writing more accurately in their essay tests at the end of the semester Student evaluations of the literacy activities revealed a high level of satisfaction with the SL activities Student comments indicated they saw value in learning more about a culture that in so many ways paralleled their own
  • 22. Continuing Development • At MIT, a project to build a basic literacy game in a Virtual World is in the early stages of development • Once the game is fully functioning, it will be possible to change it quickly and easily into a game to teach Māori language, or even numeracy • It is proposed that the scenario created for the game be further developed so it can also be used as a tool for teaching Te Tiriti (The Treaty of Waitangi) • Students will be able to role play as tangata whenua (people of the land – Māori) and tauiwi (others – non-Māori) in the 1830s in pre-Treaty New Zealand
  • 23. Thank you for listening!