Second Life: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning in a Virtual World
DR. LAURA NICOSIA
What do you already know about Second Life?
What is Second Life?
“ Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents.”
A flexible space for learning and exploration
An opportunity for people to interact in a way that conveys a sense of presence lacking in other media.
Generalized rather than contextual, applicable to almost any discipline.
Second life is NOT a game - there are no rules or a fixed goal-oriented purpose
http://www.secondlife.com/whatis and http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2006_Horizon_Report.pdf
15-20K sign ups daily - over 10 million total
25 - 50K residents on at one time
over $1 million spent daily
The Linden - $L - The LindeX
Well over 200 educational institutions
Over 250 “sims” dedicated to education
What is Behind Second Life
a scaleable co-located grid of servers running Linux - “infinite” growth just by adding a server
Real-time 3D streaming at DSL/Cable modem (or higher).
Streaming positional audio - conveys distance and direction.
One download delivers persistent desktop access - everything resides on the grid
What is Behind Second Life
Infinite avatar customization - no two avatars alike
Uploadable textures and audio
Quicktime video can play in-world.
Rigid body physics simulation
International Language Support - chat and communicate in local languages, including Asian character sets. European keyboards supported.
Pedagogical Validity for Teaching with Second Life
First, we recognize…
There is significant media hype focused on the “darker sides” of the in-world experience - violence, sex, drugs and rock & roll [VSDRR]
The label of “gaming” poses an image problem for SL insofar as its potential uses in secondary and/or higher education
Without proper directions, goals and objectives, SL is as aimless and as pedagogically bereft of meaning as any other poorly designed or poorly deployed classroom lesson
However, with constructivist pedagogies…
Comprehension soars when (Neo)Millennial students engage with their avatars and co-journey through the learning environment’s unfolding episodes and processes (Dede)
Learning communities are fostered ( Bereiters and Scardameglia’s Knowledge Forum experiment )
Collaborative knowledge-building develops and cognitive capital is distributed among groups and individuals
Continued on next slide
Learners forge Identity Formation Strategies (agency) through graphical avatars (persona) to communicate with other agents and to interact with digital artifacts (Dede)
In many ways, SL immersion is similar to what many literary critics call Transactional Reader Response (Rosenblatt).
Second Life is…
A medium or text that may be “read” as a hybrid genre or environ
A platform for learning and engagement
An interface where immersion in a virtual environ using avatar-based entities is akin to a transactional reader response with a character
We construct the Self in many ways; narrative exploration is one method
Harvard educational research indicates...
For psychologists adopting this model of cognitive psychology, embracing narrative and its characters is a fundamental way to enable human beings to make their way through the world.
We have at least 3 selves
The Real - the identity in the here-and-now; the person behind the facade or character
The Projective - the identity of the Real person we put into an avatar or online character; the qualities we transfer from the Real to the online
The Virtual - one’s identity AS a virtual character; a constructed, fictionalized protagonist we embody while “inworld”
Gee, James Paul.
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave, 2003.
Navigating experiences through these personae is not simply “play”
Importantly, Jung clarified that the various persona, are not a pose or some other intentional misrepresentation of the self to others. Rather, it is, as it were, the self as self-construed, and may change according to situation and context.
Living through virtual experiences is to inhabit a realm of pure possibility and to practice what Donald Graves calls “long thinking.”
“ Long thinkers are problem finders, enjoy their own company, have a sense of play, are highly focused and have been appreciated by other long thinkers.”
Donald Graves Testing is Not Teaching: What Should Count in Education, 2002
Immersion yields enhanced motivation
Hands-on, constructivist practices pose challenges and peak curiosity
MMUVEs reach learners who do not succeed in conventional classroom settings
The use of MMUVEs allow for delivery of sophisticated content in context and application
Dede’s research on MMUVEs shows
The application of MMUVEs
Requires higher order skills
Builds fluency in distributed modes of communication, expression and rhetoric
Encourages participants to engage in extended periods of dialogue (both written and oral)
Second Life permits
Guided Inquiry, where experience is central to learning
Scaffolding of in-world prior experiences through seeking, sieving and synthesizing experiences
Decentralization of the class - knowledge is created across a community rather than delivered from an individual (the teacher)
Unlearning of unconscious assumptions about communities and the “Other”
Application of critical thinking and problem-solving in context and in process
Sharing of resources, cultural knowledge, stories and experiences
Social exploration using a multiplicity of perspectives and points of view
Asynchronous media to enable convenient participation and deeper reflection at each user’s pace
Synchronous virtual exchanges to allow for heightened immersion and emotional/social interactions
A combination of mediated, situated learning-environments (teacher established challenges) AND free, evolving situated learning environments (to experience virtual exploration)
An effective virtual learning environment may:
Supplement face-to-face interaction
Be used in combination with other multi-media (I.e. videoconferences either embedded within the SL platform or concomitant with SL)
Be an adjunct to BlackBoard or another more linear, asynchronous interactions with discussion groups and blogs
For discipline-specific uses of SL in the class:
“ 101 Uses for Second Life in the College Classroom.” Dr. Megan S. Conklin—Elon University http://trumpy.cs.elon.edu/metaverse
Ultimately, We Must
Make the environment part of the learning experience rather than an end to itself
Enable metacognitive reflection on the SL experience
Construct feedback loops and self-renewing frameworks to inform our praxis
Investigate the pedagogical successes and failures of using Second life for our classes and disciplines