How do teachers see education benefits?
Vimani Gamage … trying to find why teachers ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ MUVEs.
Masters student in business studies at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand-Aotearoa, Vimani Gamage (SL: Emerly Alter), has set herself the difficult task of establishing what factors influence teacher acceptance of multi user virtual environments (MUVEs).
Briefing members of the SLENZ Project team last week she said that she was seeking to establish for her thesis how the known determinants of Technology Acceptance (according to existing TAM-related research) influence the intention of educators to use MUVEs to conduct virtual classes and how educators perceived the potential benefits of educational use of MUVEs as claimed in the literature.
Gamage is using a virtual classroom on Jokayadia within Second Life for her study which will involve the use of a questionaire to explore teacher perceptions.
Although not wanting to compromise the results of her research in anyway, I personally believe the greatest influence on teacher perception of the benefits of MUVEs is directly related, initially, to the informal linkages the teachers form and the networking they do on MUVEs like Second Life when they first enter, perhaps to play.
For early adopters and subsequent promoters of the benefits of MUVEs for education, I believe, the major initial influence is “other people” within the world and the virtual society they become attached/addicted to.
For those teachers who “only work” in virtual worlds, MUVEs can apparently be a very boring place indeed. One sees them nitpicking on the SLED list and other lists, complaining about the technology or lack thereof, or being pedantic about educational theory.
They sometimes forget that MUVEs are fun and should be fun … that is the easiest way to learn … something the earliest adopters discovered and why many of them are still there.
When I consider some of the “reluctant” educators I meet in Second Life I am reminded of a great quote from the Wizard of “Watchmen” – Alan Moore: ” All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we’re really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery.
“Whereas after a hard day’s toil, instead of relaxing with a book they’ll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process.”
My great hope is that MUVEs are never viewed like that – by educators or students.