The SLENZ Update – No 84, May 18, 2009


Memorial University  wins Canadian award  for  SL  shipyard project

memorial shipyard

Distance education – Memorial University’s shipyard.

Canada’s Memorial University of Newfoundland, in the province of  Newfoundland and Labrador – similar to New Zealand  with its rural isolation –  has  just won a Canadian  national award in recognition of its innovative use of Second Life’s virtual technology in teaching and learning.

The Award for Excellence and Innovation in Use of Technology for Learning and Teaching from the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE)  was presented, for the second year in a row,  to Memorial’s  Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT), in partnership with Dr David Murrin, adjunct professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and director of R&D/senior engineering specialist at IMV Projects Atlantic in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The project, according to Pathfinder Linden,  involved the application of Second Life as a teaching and learning tool in Engineering 4061: Marine Production Management, in which faculty and engineering students  incorporated classroom theories and principles into a simulated, immersive environment where students could enact the role of an engineer, and design and construct their own shipyard.

“I was interested in using 3D virtual world technology in my class to better engage students in their learning and generate excitement about the course content,”  Dr Murrin said. “I wanted students to experience and realize the scale of real life shipyards, and gain a deeper understanding about the importance of material flow and the positioning of materials when building something of such enormity.”

Shipbuilding Yard

Students were provided with space on one of Memorial University’s islands in Second Life to build a shipyard with given parameters that would be capable of building three vessels in a year. Using this virtual world, students could meet online and walk through the shipyard to evaluate the functionality and suitability of what they had built. If flaws were discovered, students could then go back to redesign and rebuild to make it more effective.

Memorial is the largest university in Atlantic Canada, offering more than 100 degree programs to a student population of 17,000.

Memorial has two campuses in St. John’s, including the Marine Institute, one in Corner Brook, on the Gulf of St Lawrence, eight hours west of St John’s by car,   adjunct campuses  at Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador,  and in Labrador City, co-located with the College of the North Atlantic , and one in Harlow, England.

Given the geography and climate of Newfoundland and Labrador, DELT, a division of the university, has 40 years of experience as a leader in the field of distance education, Memorialmaking Memorial unique among Canadian universities in that it offers online and distance education, media, design and production capabilities and teaching and learning support all under one roof.

Darin King, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Education, offering his congratulations to Memorial, said, ”  Given the rural nature of Newfoundland and Labrador, our province has been a leader in the use of technology and distance learning, particularly at the post-secondary level.

” The award of excellence recognises how well the Second Life team integrated the 3D technology into a typical engineering course, helping engineering students build a successful, working, virtual shipyard. The students became the designers and the engineers and their level of involvement enhanced their overall performance in the course.

“Our government is a strong supporter of technology in the classroom, recognising how well it can supplement teaching and learning.,” he said. “At the K-12 level, for example, we recently allocated C$2.2 million for computer replacements and C$1.5 million over a three-year period for a technology integration plan. At Memorial, C$1.5 million has been allocated to increase the number of courses available through distance education. In addition, government has supported the implementation of a common cutting-edge technology for distance learning in the K-12 system, Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic.”