Introduction: Hello! It is great to see everyone here, we ’ re really excited to be here today. I ’ m Sophia Stone (Aphrodite Staheli) Dr. Chapman (Terpa Rossine), from NC State, and Dr. Elizabeth Hodge (Elisabet Eitleberg) from the College of Education at East Carolina University. Thank you all for attending today. Our presentation today will discuss 3D virtual worlds, and the benefits and challenges using a virtual world such as Second Life in your teaching, especially in terms of implementation and assessment of student learning. I ’ m going to give you a brief overview of my dissertation research, Dr. Chapman is going to discuss her work with virtual worlds in her classes as part of the Virtual Online Learning Technologies project at NC State, and Dr. Hodge is going to share with us how she has implemented Second Life in her teaching, and how she evaluates and assesses student learning in Second Life. We also have an exciting opportunity to Teleport to Dr. Hodges virtual classroom, for the last half of our session, and take a look at her Skylab and the innovative ways she has implemented second life in her courses at ECU. Just a quick bit of housekeeping, I wanted to talk just a minute about taking questions, and since there are three of us presenting, it will be best if you place all your questions in open chat, and we ’ ll address them as time permits If you could type the word QUESTION in all caps, and then type you question, that will help us distinguish questions from comments. When we meet up in Dr. Hodge ’ s skylab, we ’ re all going to be available for questions there as well.
Overview Well, let me begin by giving you a brief overview and some background of the work I ’ m doing in Second Life. For my dissertation research, I am interviewing instructors at area universities, both public and private, who are using Second Life in their teaching. My study is a qualitative case study, so I ’ m able to spend some time with these instructors, and learn about the benefits and challenges that come with using virtual worlds in teaching, specifically in the area of strengths and limitations to teach adults. My research has taken me to meet with faculty who teach in a variety of discipline areas, such as the sciences, education, management, and other humanities areas, and to learn about their use of virtual worlds as an instructional tool, the types of educational experiences made possible in virtual worlds, and considerations for teaching adult learners. Instructors are giving careful thought to the strengths and limitations this environment presents for students, and none of the instructors I interviewed integrated SL without a lot of careful planning, preparation, and learning on their own time. Not to deter you from pursuing this in your teaching, but some instructors have reported as much as 6 months learning time, depending on the design complexity of the learning experience. Most of the instructors had earlier facility with technology and all had prior online teaching experience, ranging from several years to 12 years exp. As many of us will agree, there is great potential using Second Life as an educational tool, but the road is not always smooth sailing, especially if there are non-traditional learners in the group. I want to share with you briefly the benefits, challenges and insights I ’ ve gathered through my experience. Here is a list of what instructors comment on most frequently, in regards to teaching benefits, and challenges.
3D visualization Yesterday there was a great presentation on data visualization. For DL students enrolled in discipline areas such as science, the 3D visualization in virtual labs is a significant benefit, as it allows instructors to offer similar educational experiences to students in the online course, as the traditional F2F course option, something DE science instructors have struggled with for a long time. --Users can manipulate data three-dimensionally, 3D visualization, great for science --Enhances student engagement esp. with content that has strong visualization requirement --Great for science disciplines which require lab work—science instructors always struggle with the lab requirement and how to best deliver that to distance learners --Ability to assess student learning of concepts, esp. with 3D modeling capabilities “ I can really get in their heads and see what is going on…. ” “ It ’ s the 3D visualization, which is so important in science. ” [3D visualization] Presence --Synchronous interaction with multiple users, serendipitous moments, a real sense of presence “ It ’ s definitely the sense of presence. That is the appeal for distance learners. ” Sense of place & Community Instructors appear to be very certain of the value of SL for creating a college experience for DL students, and for creating a sense of community for DL students, for those who are enrolled in online degree programs and would otherwise never come to campus. It is this community participation, which is central to authentic learning. “ Students experience rich, discussion based gatherings and they can reflect and synthesize material, with a sense of place lacking in other environments. ” [Place] Immersion --SL captures key elements of: 3D, visualization, synchronous, audience, community “ Virtual worlds are immersive, you are there, in the moment. But, it takes a real skill and sensibility to build immersive learning experiences. ” [Immersion] Audience For instructors who use this as a supplement to teaching in their F2F class, they enjoy providing their students a learning experience that extends the boundaries of the physical classroom. This involves creating assignments and projects that require exposure and community interaction among many SL communities. In addition, if an instructor is seeking a large audience for his/her course, SL provides that audience, for public presentations, research projects-- truly expanding the virtual classroom in a synchronous, and persistent online environment. --Large and extensive audience for student project work --Project scope can be expanded outside virtual class space, a real-world feel “ People don ’ t want to learn on their own. They want to learn from others. They want to be part of an audience. For distance learners, Second Life offers that hands down. ” [Audience]
Usability and Interface - “ Some students will shut down and never acclimate to Second Life ” “ Second Life is very good for teaching concepts, but it is very difficult for adult learners, especially those not familiar with this interface. ” [interface] Training/learning curve --Skills mastery/competencies --Faculty development, start up time “ Second Life is not intuitive enough for new users and I don ’ t have the time to train students on how to use it. The cost benefit ratio is too high. ” [ lack of intuitive interface = high cost benefit ratio] “ The gestures, animations, and poses assumed by a student ’ s avatar doesn ’ t enhance the instructor-student communication experience. These visual cues are not necessarily enhancing the quality of communication. ” Technical requirements Esp. graphics card, you need a high end card “ Instructors need to be aware that there are significant issues with requiring Second Life in your course, and requiring it of all students. Some students will simply shut down. The learning curve and technical requirements are significant considerations. ” [training and learning curve] Sustainability --sustained costs, time, personnel, and available resources Perception “ The teaching functionality is not there ” --Assessment of student ’ s work: separate grading on content, verses SL skills --How much is SL really contributing to additional learning of course content? --Very high cost/benefits ratio --Assessment/Evaluation --Teaching functionality “ Social learning: I ’ m not sure how to assess the sense of mastery they gain from social learning, I ’ m not sure Second Life is worth much in additional learning. ” [Assessment]
UNC TLT 2009
3D Virtual Worlds Across Disciplines: Implementation and AssessmentSophia Stone, NC State UniversityDiane Chapman, NC State UniversityElizabeth Hodge, East Carolina University 1