The SLENZ Update – No 7 September 15, 2008

SLENZ issues RFP

More than 40 individual educators from tertiary institutions across the country  have expressed interest in becoming part of the Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ) project.

All five types of New Zealand tertiary institution are represented in the numbers – Universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, Wanangas, Industry Training Organisations, and Private Traiing Organisations – across the length and the breadth of the country

“The response to our call for expressions of interest has been very heartening,” Terry Neal, joint cordinator of the project said when announcing that SLENZ had now issued a formal Request for Proposal to those who had expressed interest.

Funded by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission the research project, which has been set up on the Second Life island of Koru (general views pictured at right), owned by NMIT, aims to determine how multi-user virtual environments might be used to improve student learning, had already attracted considerable interest from educators which has now solidified into the 40 formal expressions of interest.

Using the multi-user virtual environment Second Life, the project aims to delineate and demonstrate to New Zealand educators and students the educational strengths of learning in a virtual world as well as involving them on an on-going basis.

The deadline for the return of proposals from groups of educators who wish to be involved in “engaging with Second Life: Real Education in a Virtual World (SLENZ) project” is October 10.

The final selection will run from October 11 to 25 with the preferred educators/groups notified on October 31. A negotiation period has been set aside to November 30 to confirm institutional and IT team commitment
and the release of the lead educator to the project.

It is anticipated that group work will commence in December with a design and development workshop for each  project team and lead educator.

Click for the full text of the SLENZ Request for a Proposal.

 

 

The VW trends

 

Further to the story in our last blog five interesting trends emerged at last week’s  Virtual Worlds Expo, in Los Angeles, according to Simon Newstead, CEO and co-founder of Frenzoo, a start-up in the 3D fashion and lifestyle area, writing as a contributor to Freetooplay.biz [http://www.freetoplay.biz/2008/09/12/the-war-on-geekiness-and-4-other-trends-from-virtual-worlds-expo-2008/]

Asking where Virtual Worlds were headed, he said several hundred insiders – operators new and old alike, technology providers, and a smattering of advertisers and Hollywood players –  had offered their own opinions on the future: opinion which should matter to all those involved in creating education space in VWs.

He listed these as “the multi-global war on geekiness”;  the users are saying “no” to large client downloads;  the trend for virtual brands to enter the real world, as has Neopets (pictured); the charging for brand items which were once “free”, and a growth in “social responsibility” among the creators/marketers of  various virtual worlds.

To sum up one could say that the virtual world as envisioned by the insiders in LA will be one which is simple, doesn’t create a log-jam inside a user’s computer, promotes its products in-world but sells them in the real world, starts charging for almost everything that has a brand on it, and is as socially responsible as the wholesome Brady Bunch. By these sort of standards one wonders where Second Life might be tracking.

 

E-Learning Research

 

Learning Light Ltd and The University Of Sheffield, UK,  have carried out a comprehensive Systematic Literature Review of e-learning research in the workplace. They haved made this research  available through the e-Learning Centre, based in Sheffield, which is a free information resource for learning and development professionals and academics and staff developers.

Partnering

Australian-based virtual world initiative, Skoolaborate, has “partnered” with the Pacific Rim Exchange project and Global Challenge joining 17 schools from across the Globe to make it the world’s largest ’school based’ virtual worlds project. Westley Field, Director of Skoolaborate, believes that it is the collaborative and philanthropic nature of the project that has struck a chord with schools. Claudia Linden, Head of Education for Linden Labs described Skoolaborate as the “best model I have seen for international collaboration”.

 

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