The Future of Being Human: A Science Course with a Second Life Learning Activity
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The Future of Being Human: A Science Course with a Second Life Learning Activity

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The Future of Being Human is a State University of New York Empire State College interdisciplinary science course funded by the Charitable Leadership Foundation.The course is offered through the ...

The Future of Being Human is a State University of New York Empire State College interdisciplinary science course funded by the Charitable Leadership Foundation.The course is offered through the Science, Math and Technology program at the Center for Distance Learning. The Second Life Activity is an immersive, interactive discovery experiment, in which students enter the transformation station, transform shapes, and are both transported to different worlds and guided through a range of activities using a HUD [heads up display].


This is a presentation designed for the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference in Second Life, March 27-29, 2009

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    The Future of Being Human: A Science Course with a Second Life Learning Activity The Future of Being Human: A Science Course with a Second Life Learning Activity Presentation Transcript

    • The Future of Being Human
          • A Science Course with a Second Life Learning Activity
          • Nicola Martinez and Audeliz Matias
          • (Ragitake Takakura and Merapi Praga in Second Life)
      • Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference
      • March 27-29, 2009
    • About this Project
      • The Future of Being Human is a State University of New York Empire State College interdisciplinary science course funded by the Charitable Leadership Foundation. The course is offered through the Science, Math and Technology program at the Center for Distance Learning. The Second Life Activity is an immersive, interactive discovery experiment, in which students enter the transformation station, transform shapes, and are both transported to different worlds and guided through a range of activities using a HUD [heads up display].
      • SL Project Concept and Design: Ragitake Takakura and Talarus Luan
      • SL Project Team: Ragitake Takakura, Merapi Praga, Talarus Luan
      • Course Author, Sciences: Merapi Praga (Audeliz Matias in Real Life)
      • Course Author, Philosophy of Science, Media and Technology: Ragitake Takakura (Nicola Martinez in Real Life)
      • Course Author , Mathematics: Enda Indigo (Betty Lawrence in Real Life)
      • Course Author , Genetics: Veronika Mimulus (Mary Mawn in Real Life)
    • Course Description
      • The 21st century is upon us, no longer a futuristic sci-fi fantasy. DNA and cloning technologies exist, as does the cyborg--the machine-extended human being. What is in store for humanity? Our growing technological powers have given us an increasing ability to not only change the world around us, but ourselves as well.
      • The goal of this course will be to read current scholarly viewpoints on the question of being human and to discuss the implications for our future as humans in times of unprecedented scientific discovery, technological advancements, and medical breakthroughs. Activities will help students examine these implications through discussions, a pro-con debate, field research and an optional activity in "Second Life.“ [4 Credits, Undergraduate level, Science Course].
    • Course Goals and Objectives
      • Discuss what it is to be a human being in the 21st century.
      • Apply the scientific method and to develop your own experiment.
      • Explain exponential growth and how it differs from linear growth.
      • Experience how your mirror neuron system responds to observed movement.
      • Describe different types of artificial life research studies.
      • Critically examine the linkage between medical breakthroughs and society.
      • List available life-extending facilities in your community.
      • Discuss projected biological enhancements and computer capabilities.
      • Develop an awareness of federally funded projects and legislation as it relates to genetics, such as the Human Genome Project.
      • Discuss opposite viewpoints on genetic pre-selection.
      • Assess implications of science and technology policy related to technological advances.
      • Describe how experiencing virtual reality, such as through virtual worlds, is changing human beings.
      • Critically examine scientific information as presented by the media.
      • Design a scientific research project, including the development of a scientific hypothesis, annotated bibliography, a research proposal, and a final paper.
    • Course Topics
      • Introduction: Icebreaker Discussion: What are your thoughts on what it is to be human in the 21 st century and the future of being human?
      • The Changing Lifespan: Lifespan, longevity, and related health technologies.   Singularity.
      • The Changing Brian: advancements in neuroscience research and how they inform our understanding of what it is to be human. This includes the study of mirror neurons and an experiment in embodied simulation.
      • Artificial Life and Human Enhancement : Medical breakthroughs: limb and organ replacements, surgical implants, body enhancements; Artificial Intelligence; The Philosophy of Artificial Life; Emerging media and communication systems
      • Designer Children: Genetics; The Human Genome; DNA testing; genetic pre-selection; genetic enhancement; stem cell research. Includes a pro/con debate on sex-selection.
      • Technological Futures: the virtual human; transhumanism; parahumans; tracking implants; surveillance futures; the loss of privacy; restricted freedoms; nanotechnologies; emerging technologies; science policy.
      • Concluding Remarks: Follow up discussion from the icebreaker: now that you have completed the course, what are your thoughts on what it is to be human in the 21 st century and the future of being human?
    • Second Life Activity
      • Students enter a transformation station and select the avatar of their choice from a pre-determined set of avatars. They enter the station in their newbie avatar, and exit transformed.
      • During the transformation process, they receive a HUD and a transportation system to guide their experience of the following activity:
        • Explore the world wearing different types of avatars, including technologically enhanced avatars. The transportation system includes a selection of worlds that are from a historical or imagined past, present, and future.
      • Using the HUD and transportation system, the student visits these worlds, and analyze them from the perspective of: 
          • Being Human (Avatar)
          • The World Itself
          • Emerging Technologies  
      • The student designs an experiment and chooses a research focus.
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Transformation Station
    • Second Life Activity
    • Second Life Activity
    • Second Life Activity
    • Second Life Activity
    • Second Life Activity
    • Contact Information Nicola Martinez (Ragitake Takakura in SL) Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design Center for Distance Learning 111 West Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 518-587-2100, ext. 2276 [email_address] Audeliz Matias, Ph.D. (Merapi Praga in SL) Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructional Design, Science and Math Project (SMP) Center for Distance Learning Empire State College State University of New York 111 West Avenue Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 (518) 587-2100 x 2416 [email_address]