SLENZ Update, No 140, September 28, 2009

THE SLENZ PROJECT

Virtual world makes mastering

interview skills  much easier

… when virtual ‘really feels real’

“Fabulous”,  “amazing” and “fantastic” were only three of the superlatives used by the  more than 20  educators and researchers who toured the SLENZ Project’s two builds on Kowhai  in Second Life and listened to commentary from educators, developers and builders during the  virtual worlds’  prestigious, annual Jokaydia Unconference  on  Sunday.

The superlatives were used  by virtual visitors from around the world to describe  the concepts, designs, the builds and the practises being  used in the the SLENZ Project’s two pilot education programmes,  Foundation Learning (Bridging Education), under lead educator, Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa), of Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland,  and Midwifery under lead educator, Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky), of Otago Polytechnic.

The Jokaydia attendees probably  would have been even more blown away had they   been able to watch the Pooky Media [producer Pooky Amsterdam,  director Russell (Rosco) Boyd]  machinima production  on  Foundation Learning, “Foundation Interviewing in Second Life,”  which was placed on general  release on YouTube later that the day.

Jo Kay, herself, one of Australia’s leading virtual world educators, said of  the video, “Impressive! Congratulations too all involved in the project and the video,” and   SL’s PimPeccable commented,  “Brilliant and professional.”

BirthUnit jokay unconference_019Arwenna Stardust (RL: Dr Clare Atkins) talks to the Unconference visitors.
BirthUnit jokay unconference_015Inside the  Skill Mastery Hyperdome …  demonstrating a “catwalk” rezzed.

The Skill Mastery Hyperdome, the centre of  the foundation learning  “class space”,  is described by PookyMedia in the preamble to the YouTube video, as “a step into the future, an environment in which students can learn, develop and practise skills that will help them progress on their career pathways and achieve their life goals.”

And it obviously is – and eventually, like the Birthing Centre,  will become the SLENZ Project’s “gift” to virtual world education, having been created under Creative Commons attribution license in OpenSource. It is scheduled to be made freely available  with all bells, whistles, scripts and animations in Second Life on completion of the project.

Foundation students who are use the Hyperdrome build are preparing to enter academic and/or training courses as diverse as nursing, teaching, business, police, travel and tourism, IT, engineering, and social work. Foundation Studies provides the basic building blocks and the scaffolding to enable students to enter and succeed in their selected career pathway.

Acitivites provided in this build are designed to enhance communication skills, specifically the skills needed in an interview situation. These students can  select appropriate interview apparel from Rapungakore (“…you have come to the right place”), the clothing store,  which is part of the Hyperdome.

Noting that irrespective of their ultimate career goal all students will need to develop interview skills and strategies,  Merle Lemon,  has pointed out that the hyperdrome environment allows students to experience virtual interviews, to take on the roles of both interviewer and interviewee, and to develop confidence in answering and asking questions in a professional manner.

“The opportunity to rehearse variations of the interview scenario will lead to further enlightenment through reflective evaluation and deliberation on their own behaviour in action,” she said.

The Manukau Institute of Technology  students, whose reactions are canvassed in the video, find that  the Second interviews “really feel real” with one student even worrying that he was being interviewed for a “real job” which he couldn’t accept accept because of his student commitments.

The SLENZ Project is funded by the New Zealand Government”s Tertiary Education Commission.

BirthUnit jokay unconference_011The Unconference participants tour the birth centre.
Advertisements

The SLENZ Update – No 61, March 29, 2009

How do teachers see education benefits?

img_05191

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.

virtualclassroom_001

Vimani’s classroom is worth visiting for the range of educational tools she uses.

The SLENZ Update – No 52, March 6, 2009

IBM makes face-to-face

easier with Sametime 3D

Sametime 3D demo

IBM is expediting the “marriage” between “virtual world” Web sites, and “unified communications and collaboration tools” — technology that links such things as voicemail, audible chat, and instant messaging – allowing  geographically  widely dispersed meeting-goers to teleport themselves from instant message chats to virtual conference rooms (http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Ibm-NYSE-IBM-957273.html)

Big Blue announced this week that it now allowing selected clients to test Sametime 3D, a new tool which allows business colleagues not only to exchange instant messages and chat verbally, but also share presentations and ideas in private, prefabricated, reusable meeting spaces located in a variety of virtual worlds. These spaces allow participants to, literally, throw ideas on the wall during a meeting to “see what sticks,” and to vote on, organise, and save the most promising proposals. Avatars can make presentations to one another, socialise, debate, or, literally, examine ideas and 3D objects from all angles.

Along with the new software tool IBM is providing several, secure reusable meeting spaces, including a theater-style amphitheatre, a boardroom and a collaboration space which can each be used for impromptu or scheduled brainstorming sessions, status updates, town hall-style meetings, rehearsals, training classes, and more.

“This project is part of IBM’s ongoing work to redefine the nature of online meetings,” Colin Parris, IBM’s vice president for Industry Solutions and Emerging Business, said “The work that takes place during a meeting is hard enough; people shouldn’t have to struggle with logistics. Whether through improvements to Web conferencing capabilities or with special offerings such as Sametime 3D, IBM is offering new ways to engage and collaborate, making meetings more effective and productive.”

The new software overcomes several challenges that have existed for businesses wishing to hold meetings in virtual worlds: First, businesses can collaborate the way in which they are accustomed, using software they may already have, such as electronic presentations, enterprise security, and instant messaging tools. Second, IBM has prefabricated a variety of re-useable spaces specifically designed for productive meetings, making it unnecessary for adopters to painstakingly build meeting rooms each time they want to meet. Third, these spaces are secure, overcoming privacy concerns manifest in many public areas of popular virtual worlds. And finally, colleagues not wishing to participate in a given virtual meeting can still view documents, presentations and results from those sessions — or even snapshots of a previous meeting.

In the future, the software will provide a variety of ways for participants to circulate reports to one another that document the meetings’ progress. IBM will also make it easier for users to chat verbally and exchange information generated by and for virtual meetings, with traditional computer software already installed on their computers and servers.

The new software, which may be made available by the second half of 2009, uses version 8.0 of IBM Lotus Sametime, and a plug-in designed by IBM Research for virtual worlds. When the software is developed fully, clients will be able to use it to connect any number of virtual worlds, such as OpenSim or Second Life.

EVENT

joykay1

Sunday 8 March – NZST time, 4 pm;  AEST time, 2pm, SL time 7pm, Saturday, 7 March: The Islands of  jokaydia’s Community of Practice’s  monthly Mini Unconference  at joykadia Castle will feature:  Annabel Recreant and Konrad March, updating their work on the Virtual Classroom Project (http://jokaydia.wikispaces.com/vcp09 ); Launch of the Annual jokaydia Community Photo Comp;  Skribe Forti, an Australian expert on machinima and video production for the web,  on Video in a Web 2.0 World;  and a visit to Al Lurton’s latest exhibition over at the Kelly Yap Gallery. (Slurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/jokaydia%20Waters/76/126/44) Further details:  joannamkay@gmail.com.