Sunday, June 1, 2008

Week 5, In-World Class 3

As we gather for the third time as a full group there is excitement in the virtual air - at least I imagine there is :-). Pamet and Drew have transformed themselves. Later Tiernan reveals that he has identity tricks up his sleeves as well. Others have adjusted hair, changed clothes... Though I have resisted the temptation to change my look for many months, I am drawn into the past weeks discussions and am myself donning a new outfit. Hair and "question reality" button remain so that I am easily recognizable from a distance.

I always pack too much into the agenda. Hour 1: SL version of a webquest. Hour 2: Teen SL with a guest speaker. Hour 3: debrief/sharing from first hour and building basics. Everyone was prepared with voice - just a few hiccups of screeching mics. Still it took us half an hour to get going... onto my agenda. The time was well spent. We are still getting to know each other, people have questions. And given voice I talk, perhaps too much.

The groups did not take off immediately to the first location on their quest, as I had envisioned. I would have traveled first and divvied up assignments once there. But most groups gathered first and made a game plan. I liked it - first because it is a sharp reminder that people have different ways of doing things. Second I had the opportunity to observe some of the process. This was only the second time the class members have worked in small groups, and signs of leadership and trust were apparent in all.

The pressure of our speakers arrival at the second hour left little time for the groups to travel to several educationally related sims. The world of Second Life is vast - with much worth looking at. I hope the brief visits were intriguing and will lead students to go back and explore the same or other sims on the activity note card.

In spite of the rush groups made brief visits to the International Spaceflight Museum, Reflexive Architecture, the Healing Pool, NOAA, Virtual Starry Night, Sistine Chapel, Dante's Inferno, Renaissance Island, Ivory Tower Library of Prim, Camp Darfur. TelRport was not what I had told that group to expect Dr. Danforth where is your testis?!

Selected sites that I don't think were gotten to include the towers at International Schools, Svarga, College of Scripting, Paris 1900, Info International, Greenies and Slolar.

Flexibility in teaching is an important skill. When adding the component of technology the need for flexibility increases exponentially. Our guest speaker did not arrive and my over planning and generally calm demeanor (ok don't talk to my husband about that) came in handy. We debriefed as a group and got spend a decent amount of time on the basics of prims, textures and uploading images to the texture folder.

As I reflect on what I'm doing I remind myself that there is not time to offer people comprehensive training in any aspect of Second Life. The emphasis must be on the potential for teaching and learning and not on specific advanced skills in communication, building, scripting... I offer an introduction to various aspects of virtual existence and encourage students to explore more during the intervening weeks. Once one knows that something can be done, s/he can take one of dozens of free classes offered daily in SL.

Through the instruction I provide in the basics of SL I hope that I am not only exposing students to some of the media available, but also modeling teaching techniques for maximizing the opportunities and minimizing the obstacles of the 3D classroom.

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