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?



Resourcing Online

February 22, 2010

With Second Life

As I was visiting a language class in Second Life this week, I was privately IM’ing a person from India who had helped me get to the right area for the visit, listening to the avatar teacher talk to a group of international avatar students, watching the local chat to see what was being input there, and listening to sounds coming from outside the classroom we were in, it was amazing to me the coming together of so many resources and wise use of online tools to help people learn one specific topic (speaking English).

The teacher not only had some moving visuals, but as she mentioned terms she thought might not be picked up well audibly by students, she typed the text of the words into chat so they could have the vocabulary reinforced. She did this without missing a beat in the conversation. Students could use the chat to ask questions or clarify as well. YouTube links, site links, sound files, and image files were instantly available to students that they could also easily save for study later. It was a very social, reinforcing atmosphere for learning.

With OERs and OCWs

I’ve always been a believer in providing people with resources and tools. In our course this week we talked about how that is happening online with some major initiatives toward making efforts to organize and make available all the content, resources, and tools out there – particularly Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW).

They ranged from the average person at Squidoo where “everyone is an expert on something” to the professional resourcing offered by MERLOT. Below are some sites that stuck out from this week:

•    Squidoo
•    Connextions (from Rice University)
•    MOOM (The Museum of Online Museums)
•    Tufts University’s OCW:
•    Penn State Live (professor’s anatomy quiz website)