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Exploring Literary Texts Through Virtual Worlds


MARC 2008 Presentation

MARC 2008 Presentation

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  • 1. Exploring Literary Texts Through Virtual Worlds Dr. Mary Balkun, English Department Chair Mary Zedeck & Heidi Trotta , Instructional Designers
  • 2. A Short Introduction to Second Life….
  • 3.
    • An online 3-D virtual world developed by Linden Labs
    • Not a game but a space
    • People create a digital character to represent themselves
    • Interaction with people from around the world.
    What is Second Life?
  • 4. Unique Characteristics of Second Life 100% User Generated Content Built in modeling tools - users can create almost anything they can imagine Built in scripting tools - users can create interactivity and immersive environments In World Economy Supports an in-world currency (Linden Dollars) Enables users to buy and sell goods and services Linden Dollars can be exchanged for real US Dollars Customization of Avatars Users can create highly customized digital versions of themselves Sharing of Media Audio and video can be streamed in-world
  • 5.
    • Communication:
    • Chat
    • IM
    • Voice
    • Gesture
  • 6. Second Life Statistics As of August 2007: Total Residents – 9 million Approx. Regular Users – 1 million regular users Approx. Business Owners in-world- 45 thousand Approx $6.5 million US $ exchanged between users per month More than 170 educational institutions in Second Life…
  • 7.  
  • 8. The New Media Consortium International, not-for-profit consortium 225 colleges, universities, and research centers, largest educational presence in SL NMC Virtual Worlds – Land lease and development services to members
  • 9. SHU’s Second Life 2006 - Pilot Industrial/Organizational Psychology 2006 - SHU Science Faculty identified biosphere environments 2007 - Two Faculty Innovation Grands Awarded 2007 - Lease of Full Island – various price structures and arrangements
  • 10. “ House of Seven” Project
  • 11. Where I was…
    • Had already used several technology tools to try to enhance teaching and learning with mixed results:
    • Course management system
    • Wiki
    • Multimedia
    • Student-created website
  • 12. Where I wanted to go…
    • “ More ambitiously conceived sites can help students enter the world of their subject. They can break unconscious, unexamined patterns of thought by offering new structures for learning. The more dynamic character of the web can help academic subjects break out of the boxes that contain them, and bring the life of the mind into the student’s daily practice of living.”
    • (from “Building Effective Course Sites: Some Thoughts on Design for Academic Work” by Michael O’Malley)
  • 13. Origins of House of Seven Gables SL Project
    • Had heard about Second Life in several quarters, including biosphere created by TLTC working with Biology instructor
    • Approached by Heidi Trotta
    • Did research; experimented with Second Life (created avatar, researched educational uses to date)
    • Decided to apply for a Faculty Innovation Grant (FIG)
  • 14. Reasons for Selecting Second Life
    • Students create mental models and make interpretative choices that affect their comprehension and analysis of a text.
    • Virtual Worlds, such as Second Life, can provide an environment for students to co-create their interpretation of a text collectively , providing opportunities for deeper exploration of themes and character study.
  • 15. Project Goals
    • Provide students with a forum where they can engage in hands-on application of material culture analysis of a literary text, specifically, The House of the Seven Gables , by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    • Give students the tools to turn their research into activities that will demonstrate their knowledge of the text and material culture theory, and help others learn these things as well.
  • 16. Project Details
    • All projects and materials at the House of Seven in SL are student generated (with the exception of the House itself)
    • Students, working in groups, submitted detailed proposals that focused on a specific character/space in the house (kitchen, cent shop, Hepzibah’s room, etc.)
    • Projects had to connect research about the cultural context of the novel and analysis of the text
  • 17. The SL House of the Seven Gables Let’s take a look…
  • 18. Challenges
    • Providing students with the support necessary to complete their projects
    • Overcoming anxiety about the technology
    • Making sure projects could be completed in the existing time frame
    • The amount of support needed for the instructor and the students
      • training
      • project support
      • assistance with assessment tools
    • Technical Considerations
  • 19. Assessment
    • Formal Survey
    • 31 questions – combination of likert scale scaled and open ended questions
    • Topics – accessibility, learning effectiveness and student satisfaction
    • Data is yet to be analyzed by Assessment Director
    • Preliminary Data
    • Difficult to assess on many questions, students were divided
    • Clearly, they enjoyed the course and thought the face-2-face sessions working on their projects were helpful
    • Technology was a challenge
  • 20. Lessons Learned
    • Engagement is greater when students work through their own ideas in SL
    • Support is needed both at the outset and throughout the project
    • Students should be encouraged to spend as much time as possible orienting themselves to the SL environment at the outset
    • Students should be given the choice of working alone, in pairs, or in groups
    • Project proposals must be do-able given the constraints of time and technical ability
  • 21. Dr. Balkun and Her Students Final Presentations – 12/17/07
  • 22. SL Project: Part II
    • American Gothic literature senior seminar
    • Students will build on the SL site and projects developed in the fall semester
    • Students will be given the choice to work alone, in pairs, or in groups
    • Students will be given a list of possible projects with examples, although other ideas will still be encouraged
    • Projects will explore additional benefits of SL such as in-world collaboration, organizing events and interviewing experts in the field of literature
  • 23. Future of SHU’s SL
    • Spring 2008
      • American Gothic Center (Dr. Balkun)
      • Business School/Law School
      • Whitehead School of Diplomacy
      • Public Health Administration
    • Planning for 2008-2009
      • Psychology
      • Freshman/Transfer Orientation
      • Career Center
      • Library
  • 24. Conclusion/Q&A
    • As the model site O’Malley describes, this site allows students to engage in “playful exploration rather than navigation through a hierarchy of knowledge.”
    • Students can certainly read a traditional version of the novel and then be asked to look at some pictures posted online, listen to some sound clips, and post comments in a forum of some kind; this site, however, enables students to engage with the characters in the context of the novel, do purposeful research, evaluate sources, and build an analysis of the text based on the objects and materials they choose to add to the SL site.