Joining active groups is a best practice in-world. You will be notified of meetings, events, and educational opportunities within your area of interest on a regular basis.
It is very useful to have navigation tools like teleport pillars, maps and clear signage to move around within a sim.
Educators should maintain "office hours" and allow their space to reflect their identity and provide web links to current projects.
Observations Although there are various events and "newbie" classes happening in SL, it is difficult to find good examples of active educational sims in SL. Many of the islands are empty and do not contain current information or event calendars. It is not necessary to reproduce existing web content in the 3D environment, just provide a link out to the current information. Many designers of sims appear to recreate RL buildings. Why do we need roofs if we can fly? Do we need bathrooms and kitchens in-world?
Event #1 : Meeting of the group "Virtual Pioneers" This is an active group of Social Studies educators interested in using MUVE's. At this meeting, we were given a new tool called an URL Giver and learned how to add our own live links and edit a floating script. This can be used to share your favorite web links with others. It also gives a notecard. This group meets every Sunday to share SL resources and learn together.
Event #2 : Meeting of ISTE: Educational Technology Assoc. Most groups were organizing social events at this time of the year, so unfortunately this was not a learning event. However, it was an opportunity to meet other in-world educators and share ideas. I did informal interviews of several group members about their experience in SL and also received some excellent advice about joining groups and places to visit.
Event # 3: Self-Paced Tutorial @ The Particle Laboratory If you read my earlier blog, you know that I wanted to learn about particles. Here I learned everything I could ever want to know and more about particles, although I still need some personal advice from Viki about how to use them. This is a great example of how difficult material can be presented through demonstration, notecards and building on previous knowledge. It reminded me of being in "Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory", a little surreal and magical.
Event # 4: New Citizens Incorporated (NCI) Skyclasses My group partner,Gloria, introduced me to this group. Since I joined, I receive regular notifications about classes. I attended a few "newbie" classes at NCI to learn about how to manage Inventory and use the Search and Map functions. Although we learn these tools through trial and error to accomplish the basics, I discovered many more cool features and tips to make my in-world life easier. This is a very active group with many classes.
Cybrary City This board gives links to some well known educational sims. The mission of this place is to assist educators and librarians in virtual learning environments. Campus SL Although this place seemed to have many classroom spaces and sandboxes, it was empty both times I came. Also the notice board was 1 1/2 years out of date, the last update showed many good projects in SL. I wonder what happened with the projects?
NMC Event Calendar There are many events through NMC Island. You need to gain permission to become a member of NMC Guest group. This photo shows the SLED calendar, but due to the holidays the agenda was fairly empty this week. University of San Martin de Porres (Peru) This sim is for students and faculty of this university. Here they can look at careers, watch videos and visit the gallery. At the Feria, you get a box containing notecards, landmarks, and some freebies!
This activity gave me further opportunity to explore SL and discover new educational sims. It was late during the activity that I joined some active groups who meet on a regular basis, but due to the holidays there was not much happening with these groups except social events. At least I was able to broaden my network of educators who are using SL, even if many of them cater to K-12 education and standards. They are more content driven and this does not align with my objectives of using SL for management skills training for adults.
Overall, the events that I attended were informative. I deepened my understanding of tools and features available in SL. Class content was delivered by voice chat or notecard readers. I did not attend one class where presentations or videos were used.
The layout of classroom spaces mimics those in RL. Banks of seating arranged in semi-circles with podiums or presentation viewers at the front. Sometimes the Instructor would just sit among the students and read out notecard instructions that were given at the start of class.
Have a Merry Christmas and happy New Year!! See you again in 2009