THE SLENZ PROJECT
First classes of Foundation Learners –
excited , motivated, enthusiastic …
“Even the most unenthusiastic and unmotivated students were “sucked into” the excitement of the virtual environment!”
–Merle Lemon, SLENZ lead educator, Manukau Institute of Technology, Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Smiling Foundation Learning student Aziz Qasimi (SL: a280q Engineer) at
the first class on the Foundation Learning site on Kowhai in Second Life.
By their very nature Foundation Learning classes can be difficult for students and lecturers alike.
The students are often there because they have been spat out by the education system somewhere along the way. And the lecturers, although dedicated, are often disheartened by the attitudes of students who have been turned away or who have turned away from getting even a modicum of necessary normal, modern-day life skills to enable one to survive successfully in an ordinary, mainstream world.
Therefore it was with some trepidation that SLENZ Project lead educator Merle Lemon (pictured) (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa) launched her Manukau Institute of Technology Foundation Learning classes on the island of Kowhai in Second Life this week.
It’s early days yet but but with two classes successfully undertaken she is no longer holding her breath.
Speaking of her second day’s teaching classes designed for students to learn interview techniques, she said, “The first class today was new to Second Life. The start of the class was slow-moving as four students had no avatars, despite repeated reminders that this had to be done for homework. One student created an avatar in the lab and three students ended up using avatars that were provided for them
“This class was not easy! A couple of students were reluctant to sit down at the computers, but once into Second Life, they became engaged and seemed to really enjoy their activities. Even the most unenthusiastic and unmotivated students were ‘sucked into’ the excitement of the virtual environment!”
Commenting on another class, entering Second Life for only the second time , she said, ” This lesson went like clockwork, and students were fully engaged … the students are all ready and anxious to begin interviewing practise in Second Life … “
Her first session three days earlier had had “good and bad moments”, some of the problems caused by campus logistics, lagging, visitors to the new class, observers and absenteeism.
But even so student motivation appeared ” extremely high”.
“… it was so high it was hard to hold them back in any way,” Merle said. “They wanted to try the next thing, learn the next skill, just continually moving forward at a break-neck pace.”
Describing her personal feelings now that her pilot program has been launched, Merle said, “I believe (the first week of classes) a success. Second Life proved to be motivating and fun. It was very rewarding seeing students making such huge progress in a single session of learning in Second Life. I can’t wait for the interviewing to begin.”
The Foundation Learning area on Kowhai
Filed under: Education, Education in Second Life, Education in virtual worlds, Second Life, SLENZ Project Tagged: | Aziz Qasimi, Foundation learning, Manukau Institute of Technology, Merle Lemon, MIT, SLENZ Project