THE SLENZ PROJECT
SLENZ teams finds new ‘acceptance,
enthusiasm’ at education gabfest
… Need seen to retain team skills, post-SLENZ Project
Almost full house … Aaron Griffiths details a Developer’s work.
as the SLENZ Lead Developer/builder.
Growing “acceptance” of Second Life as an education medium and a new “enthusiasm” for virtual world education was demonstrated in Palmerston North, New Zealand, last week by the number of mainstream tertiary educators who attended five SLENZ team workshops at the annual, national Teaching and Learning/eFest 2009 conference .
The growing interest in virtual worlds also was demonstrated in an unscheduled, eFest unconference workshop before the conference proper and the fact that the eight members of the SLENZ team who attended the conference were constantly pulled aside by attendees, wanting to learn more about virtual world education or wanting to know how to become actively involved.
It was the third annual mainstream conference at which the SLENZ Project has been promoted but its acceptance was very different from previous outings.
As Lead developer Aaron Griffiths (pictured) (SL: Isa Goodman), of F/Xual Education Services, said, “It was like a coming of age. At the first two conferences we could only tell them what it could be like. With this conference we really had something to show them. We could show that education in virtual worlds can work and be both economic and effective.”
The success was such that a number of educators attending the workshops and in private conversations later suggested that the SLENZ Team, due to complete the SLENZ Programme by year end, should be retained so that the skills learned and honed on the project would not be lost to the New Zealand education community. The suggestion was even made that the project should be set up on a permanent, collaborative basis with funding from New Zealand tertiary institutions who wished to employ the team’s skills in setting up their own virtual education units.
Commenting on this, SLENZ Project joint co-leader, Dr Clare Atkins (SL: Arwenna Stardust), of NMIT, said it made sense for New Zealand’s tertiary institutions, and particularly its Polytechnics to co-operate and work collaboratively in virtual worlds, rather than individually. In that way they could make effective, economic use of the available advice, skills and lessons already learned as well as ensuring that each was not going through the costly exercise of trying to reinvent the wheel, independently.
After the conference, co-leader, Terry Neal (SL: Tere Tinkel), of Blended Solutions, said that the Project would consider setting up a virtual world roadshow for those Polytechnic educators and administrators who had expressed interest in learning more about education in Second Life and other virtual worlds.
The Polytechnic educators at the four-day conference at UCOL who appeared most interested in virtual world education for their students included those involved in nursing and paramedic training, anatomy and physiology lecturing, foundation (bridging) learning, trade and industry training and agriculture, including viticulture, all areas which the SLENZ team has worked in or has looked at working in.
Dr Clare Atkins and Terry Neal .. working effectively in a virtual team.
The SLENZ Project team members who presented at the conference included, Dr Atkins and Terry Neal; Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa), lead educator for the foundation learning pilot at Manukau Institute of Technology, and Oriel Kelly, manager of MIT’s Learning Environment Support Technology Centre; Aaron Griffiths; and Todd Cochrane (SL: Toddles Lightworker), a SLENZ developer and lecturer at WelTec.
The SLENZ workshops, which will be the subject of a separate posting, looked at, “Working effectively in a virtual team,” “3D as an everyday medium for teaching, ” “MUVEing towards collaboration – the benefits and pitfalls of working as a collaborative teaching in a Multiuser Virtual Environment”, “In-world, meets the real world – the trials and tribulations of bringing Second Life to an ITP, “From Real World to Virtual: Actualising Virtual World Education.
Filed under: Education, Education in Second Life, Education in virtual worlds, Second Life, SLENZ Project, Virtual Worlds Tagged: | Aaron Griffiths, Blended Solutions, Clare Atkins, Education, F/Xual education Services, Manukau Institute of Technology, Merle Lemon, NMIT, Oriel Kelly, Palmerston North, Second Life, SLENZ Project, teaching and Learning/eFest 2009, Terry Neal, Tod Cochrane, Todd Cochrane, UCOL, Weltec