It’s Alternate Reality Learning Week in The World is Open Course!

March 24, 2010

That means lots of talk about Second Life, massive gaming, and simulations – much of which most people have negative views about and see little educational value. Sarah Robbins (Second Lifer Intelligirl who has taught in Second Life, co-wrote Second Life for Dummies with Mark Bell, just came out with a new research book of which she is a co-editor, works for the Kelly School of Business, and is mom to triplet girls), visited our class via Breeze.

I was impressed how she fielded a question about concerns of people posing to be someone they are not. She said someone needs to do the hard data because her experiences are that some people, yes, use virtual reality as a place of entertainment where they might pretend to be more outgoing than they are or try things out they are not likely to try in offline life, but most people (like her and Mark) are simply the same people in Second Life they are offline. It was refreshing to hear someone with validity make those statements.

Sometimes fears cause us to make more out of situations than they really. While it’s easier perhaps to make up a false persona online, it doesn’t necessarily follow that people will do that. I think most of us have much deeper desires to be known for who we really are than to pretend we are something we are not. And, when others know and respond to who we are, we grow a little – we become. And, isn’t that what education is all about? Becoming the person we are meant to be?



3 Responses to “It’s Alternate Reality Learning Week in The World is Open Course!”

  1. Justin Whiting said

    I am going to play devils advocate a little, because I am still very skeptical of the dangers of SL being used too much in education. I certainly think that there can be educational value in it and I am not arguing that. However I do see a real danger in people having an ‘alter-ego’ avatar that they use in SL. I like the idea that Sarah gave of some people using SL as an extension of their real life. But she also said that there are those that use it as an escape. While some escape time is good, I think that many things like facebook, SL, online gaming can have an addicting effect and that can be very dangerous is kids spend too much time in a virtual world.

  2. Lisa said

    I don’t see structured learning applications as being used for escape (especially when fees are involved). I also don’t think of the application as particularly useful for young children. Sounds like older teens can get some useful experience with building and learning in SL though from what Sarah shared. One of the things I’ve learned well in the IST program is that not only is not every approach or pedagogy useful for every situation but neither is every technology. Some are good for some situations but not others. No universally perfect educational pedagogy or technology exists that can do it all; thus, the need for IST designers who can make those decisions based on need and use. Good news for us. 🙂

  3. Cyndi said

    Lisa –

    I guess I don’t worry too much that SL will become the norm for instruction. It isn’t for everyone but for those who find it a fit I think it is very interesting. I had hoped to have tried it by now but things happen in life that sideline us but it is still something I intend to do soon. I really don’t want to pass too many judgments without first experiencing it. I applaud you for taking the leap 🙂

    I did a little informal survey with high school students. I asked if they had the option of taking a course in an SL type environment would they be interested. I was surprised that none of them even knew about SL. After I gave a brief description, they all thought it sounded like fun and would like to give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences…

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