Joanna Robinson


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“Participatory Pedagogy: Challenging ‘Real Life’ Practices of Educational Institutions in Virtual Worlds”
This presentation discusses virtual spaces as participatory pedagogy in which student learning is formulated through exploration, reflection and collaboration (Hobbs et al 2006) both individually and as a group. Importantly, we argue that virtual environments such as Second Life have shown educators that we need to rethink existing learning strategies and enhance them with innovative tools that encourage creative thinking and promote technical skills that foster communities of knowledge and practice.
1) How can virtual worlds effectively challenge the ways we sociologically frame education and educational practices?
2) What are some of the obstacles educators face when converging real life and virtual worlds into their pedagogical style, and in the classroom?

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Joanna Robinson

  1. 1. “ Participatory Pedagogy: Challenging ‘Real Life’ Practices of Educational Institutions in Virtual Worlds” Joanna Robinson Great Northern Way Campus – Vancouver, BC Co-Author: Tracy Kennedy Communities & Technologies Research Group, Microsoft – Redmond, Washington
  2. 2. “ Participatory Pedagogy: Challenging ‘Real Life’ Practices of Educational Institutions in Virtual Worlds” <ul><li>GNWC Masters of Digital Media Program’s explorations in Second Life </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of pedagogical approaches to virtual worlds </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘Modding the metaverse’ workshops and what we learned </li></ul><ul><li>Blended reality learning? </li></ul><ul><li>Some useful strategies for educators in virtual worlds </li></ul>
  3. 3. GNWC Masters of Digital Media Program’s explorations in Second Life <ul><li>The Masters of Digital Media (MDM) team came to SL in 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Originally we had recruitment and promotion in mind </li></ul><ul><li>It wasn’t long before we noticed there were many more possibilities for augmenting our program </li></ul><ul><li>We began researching what others had learned and explored and began developing our virtual space </li></ul>
  4. 4. We held a number of events & workshops to explore how we could utilize the space <ul><li>Blended reality open house </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Modding workshops </li></ul><ul><li>And hosted some events: </li></ul><ul><li>Vancouver Police Department Info Session </li></ul><ul><li>William Gibson’s Second Life book launch </li></ul><ul><li>CITASA MC 3.0! </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Our SL island will be a resource for modeling project concepts and student social space as well as hosting events such as these. </li></ul><ul><li>Moreover, we plan to explore participatory activities in SL (among other tools) in Fall for these blended reality/hybrid courses: </li></ul><ul><li>Building Virtual Worlds </li></ul><ul><li>The Visual Story/Narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary Improv </li></ul>
  6. 6. Approaches to pedagogy we observed in Second Life <ul><li>Replicating the first life classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Building environments and activities around learning objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Exploring both of these styles </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual environments such as Second Life provide different opportunities and constraints to the first life (or rl) classroom. </li></ul>
  7. 7. ‘ Modding the Metaverse’ workshop <ul><li>A series of workshops held at the Virtual Centre for Digital Media in SL, exploring how a group of student and educator participants could collaborate to modify a traditional style seminar room </li></ul><ul><li>Aimed at developing the best spaces and methods for our students (some of the non-traditional classroom ideas generated we are building now) </li></ul><ul><li>Stage one – Discussing building around a pedagogy of participation, why different styles of building may be better than others </li></ul><ul><li>Stage two – Working together to modify the space and build new configurations </li></ul>
  8. 10. ‘ Modding the Metaverse’ workshop <ul><li>What we learned: </li></ul><ul><li>It is possible for a large group to collaborate in SL modifying a space </li></ul><ul><li>BUT, it is not easy – there is a skills barrier, and clear design brief is needed </li></ul><ul><li>As others have noted, many enjoy some familiarity, linking them to the first life classroom – such as chairs, or a school tshirt </li></ul><ul><li>Maintaining order in the group is more difficult than first life! </li></ul><ul><li>Modding took place but mostly rebuilding, predominantly in circular designs – none of these had a roof </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  9. 11. Blended reality learning? <ul><li>Since virtual environments are inherently different than first life classrooms we suggest that: </li></ul><ul><li>Space design and activities are best build around learning outcomes, in order to augment rather than attempt to replicate </li></ul><ul><li>Replication of the first life classroom and modes of teaching serves no purpose (other than basic distance learning and collaboration opportunities) </li></ul>
  10. 12. What are some useful strategies for educators in virtual worlds? <ul><li>Educators need to understand that virtual worlds bring out certain responses in participants </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps in part because of the cultural framing of the space and associated expectations of participation and play </li></ul><ul><li>The first things students often do: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Edit their appearance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dance and try out gestures/animations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Run and jump around, push into each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start talking and not listening to the instructor </li></ul></ul>
  11. 13. What are some useful strategies for educators in virtual worlds? <ul><li>Build (or visit) a variety of spaces, do not expect students to sit still in a virtual classroom build and be engaged </li></ul><ul><li>Harness the power of their drive to play and explore </li></ul><ul><li>Find activities that are participatory, related to learning objectives </li></ul><ul><li>If you can, start with what students generally want to do first anyway, participate in the activity with them and then discuss relevance </li></ul>
  12. 14. <ul><li>Get to know other educators using virtual worlds – share ideas and lessons learned! </li></ul><ul><li>There is a large community of educators using SL – a good place to start is the SL and education and SL Researchers mailing lists </li></ul><ul><li>A good reference for developing engaging course work is “101 Uses for Second Life in the College Classroom” (Conklin, 2007) </li></ul>
  13. 15. <ul><li>Joanna Robinson / JoannaTrail Blazer </li></ul><ul><li>Research Associate </li></ul><ul><li>GNWC – Masters of Digital Media Program </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Co-Author: Tracy Kennedy </li></ul><ul><li>Communities & Technologies Research Group, Microsoft </li></ul>