The SLENZ Update – No 67, April 8, 2009

SL and secondary schools

Evidence of education benefits  grow

Evidence of the benefits of Second Life use in Secondary Education are growing as  New Zealand secondary school teachers look towards the possibilities of the immersive medium.

The latest report in The  Herald, published in Plymouth in the United Kingdom claims that 80 per cent of the 24 Year 9 students at Stoke Damerel Community College involved in the Second Life pilot scheme had hit their Key Stage 3 target for the subject within a term – against a target of three terms.

Media advanced skills teacher Darren Towers, commenting that the project was breaking new ground by helping children learn and giving staff a chance to assess its use as a teaching tool, said the pupils taking part were so passionate about the pioneering approach to learning that many chose to miss their break to turn up early for the weekly one-hour lesson, which would now be extended to an after-school club.

“So much has been written about the negative effect video games have on youngsters, but here we’ve utilised a cyberworld to show such a format can be used very successfully for both academic learning and improving social and leadership skills,” he said.

The Herald published an earlier report on the project at the maths and computing college in which Towers said it was hoped the Drake Island site on the SL Teen Grid would help to promote reading and writing among the 13-to-17-year-olds.

“We are trying new ways of looking into teaching to adapt to how young people spend their time,” he said. Another report  was in the Business and Games Blog which referred to the creation of  the teaching environment by the TwoFour Group.

At the moment  only Christs College, in Christchurch, appears to be internationally known as a participant in virtual worlds but other secondary teachers are known to be looking at possibilities and have made enquiries to the writer of this blog site.

Christ’s is listed as one of the 24 schools from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Chile, Portugal, Canada and the United States participating in Skoolaborate, a global initiative successfully using a blend of technologies including, blogs, online learning, wiki’s and ‘virtual worlds’ to transform learning  for students aged between 13 and 18 years of age.





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