THE SLENZ WORKSHOPS AT Teaching and Learning/eFest 2009
Five lessons from the creation of
education pilots in Second Life
SL’s Arwenna Stardust and RL’s Dr Clare Atkins make a point.
The five SLENZ Project workshops attended by mainstream tertiary educators at the annual, national Teaching and Learning/eFest 2009 conference, at UCOL, Palmerston North, New Zealand, last week, provided some valuable tips for the administration and creation of virtual world education.
I thought the lessons important enough to provide summaries of some of them for educators and administrators who could not attend the conference. The first summary is below.
The SLENZ Project team members who presented at the conference included, SLENZ Project co leaders, Dr Clare Atkins and Terry Neal; Merle Lemon, lead educator for the foundation learning pilot at Manukau Institute of Technology, and Oriel Kelly, manager of MIT’s Learning Environment Support Technology Centre; Lead developer, Aaron Griffiths, of F/Xual Education Services; and Todd Cochrane, a SLENZ developer and lecturer at WelTec.
Funding for the SLENZ Project was provided by the Tertiary Education Commission of New Zealand, a Government body.
1. “Working effectively in a virtual team”
[Presented by SLENZ Project co-leaders, Dr Clare Atkins, of NMIT, and Terry Neal, of Blended Solutions.]
The core team was made up of two parts: students, educators, learning designer, Project Leader Second Life, (Atkins) and the developers, in one box, and the evaluator, communications and Project Leader Real Life (Neal) in the other. Although theoretically all the roles were to have worked together in practice they overlapped.
The core team was supported by a project administrator, literature reviewer, web developer, other educators (10), IT support (4), video makers (2), the steering group (9) and the friends of the project who sometimes attended meetings on the Second Life island of Koru or provided advice via email or other means.
Forming: The creation of the project evolved out of Dr Clare Atkin’s network through one-to-one phone conversations, the formulation of a Project Execution Plan and a face-to-face meeting at which modifications were made. Those modifications included the addition of a communications role. In Second Life the “forming* of the SLENZ Project included the creation of avatars, support for newbie players on the team and the formulation of agreed meeting protocols.
Storming: The design and development phases of the project included a process to agree process, the agreement on process, open versus closed interaction, the learning design – considering access or focus on in-world experience, and discussion of the implications of creative commons licence, which will eventually lead to the team’s Second Life work and builds being made freely available with full permissions.
Norming: Communication and problem solving was done through weekly in-world team meetings on the island of Koru, weekly Skype calls by Neal, weekly development team meetings led by Atkins, a weekly catchup/review by Atkins and Neal, and the provision of publicly available documentation through all stages of the project.
Performing: The project proceeded with the ongoing use of established processes, celebration of milestones and achievements – something often missing in virtual projects – and the linking in of educators, through the lead educator in each of the pilots, and the linking in of the evaluator by Neal. Extra team roles were developed with the appointment of a web developer and video developers.
Adjourning ( or the winding down and completion of the project): A final face-to-face team meeting will be held, with the team sharing what it can over the final three months to the winding up and clear finish.
Keys to success: According to both Atkins and Neal the keys to the success of the Project were/are: the establishment of a clear prupose, clear roles, the use of multiple communications methods, including a variety of online tools and text and voice communication; dual project leadership, and constant monitoring of the progress and well-being of the team.
Next blog: MUVEing towards collaboration – the benefits and pitfalls of working as a collaborative teaching in a Multi-user Virtual Environment,” and “In-world, meets the real world – the trials and tribulations of bringing Second Life to an ITP,” presented by Merle Lemon, lead educator in foundation learning, and lecturer at Manukau Institute of Technology and Oriel Kelly also of MIT.
eFest unconference workshop demos
SLENZ co-leader Terry Neal (right) gives an
unscheduled demonstration of SLGriffiths points out a detail to a polytech lecturer.
Educators Trevor Forest, of Rotorua, and his wife watch
a demo by SLENZ ‘adviser’, Warren Masterson
Filed under: Education, Education in Second Life, Education in virtual worlds, Second Life, Sl Conferences, SLENZ Project, Virtual Worlds | Tagged: Aaron Griffiths, Atkins, Blended Solutions, Education, eFest 2009 unconference, Manukau Institute of Technology, Merle Lemon, Neal, Oriel Kelly, Second Life, SLENZ Project, teaching and Learning/eFest 2009, Tertiary Education Commission, Todd Cochrane, Trevor Forest, WelTech | 2 Comments »