Individual Reflections For Our SL Investigations




Loran Watson



Second Life and other virtual environments have great potential in enhancing teaching and learning possibilities. The opportunities for students to work in training simulations give students another edge when they are trying to understand information. For example according to Linden Lab researchers (2009) two groups that are taking advantage of training simulations in Second Life are future border patrol agents at Loyalist College and future medical students from Imperial College. Both of these groups state that the benefits of using virtual worlds surpass traditional training that they have used in the past. It was claimed by Hudson (2009) that his students have shown a 30 percent increase in their success due to simulations from Second Life (as cited by Linden Lab, 2009).

In the real world students use class notes, watch power point presentations, and learn in other similar ways, this can also be accomplished in a virtual world. Not only do students have access to power-point presentations and other information but they can see this information many times in a 3D format in virtual environments (Calongne, 2008). Seeing information in three dimensions which are many times interactive, will help some learners identify parts of what they are studying that they would not get from seeing the same information on paper.

The visiting of museums, art galleries, and other education based establishments have been used in schools for many years. Now with the improvements in technology with virtual worlds, schools can take visiting some of these establishments one step further without leaving their school site. Visiting some of these educational institutions may not be realistic in real life if the institution is in a far away part of the world but through a virtual environment, students can get to see, touch and most importantly learn about some of these places that they would not experience otherwise.

References:
Linden Lab Researchers (2009). Why Teach in Second Life? The Virtual Learning Imperative. Retrieved from http://education.secondlife.com/whysl/

Calongne, C. (2008) Educational Frontiers: Learning in a Virtual World. EDUCAUSE review. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume43/EducationalFrontiersLearningin/163163


Jacqueline Hansen


It seems that Second Life has the potential to provide the world of education with the ability to enhance curriculum and enrich learning. In fact, it is already doing just that; according to Harrison (2009) education is prosperous in Second Life. Many Universities and colleges are using Second life to create virtual models of their campuses.
Second Life can be introduced to students in a way that will help facilitate real life skills such as experimental learning, roleplaying, collaboration, patience and increased ability to appreciate different perspectives Harrison (2009). In addition, Second Life allows the chance for students to submerge in learning in ways that may not be available or even impossible. Being able to take a virtual field trip to a museum, planetarium or take a walk inside the human body takes learning to an increased level. Virtual environments provide students with a way to increase their knowledge base about the real world.
Second Life does take practice. Harrison (2009) references in Real-Life Teaching in a virtual World that Sandra Sutton Andrews an educational researcher takes education students into Second Life to teach them how to use technology properly. Second Life can be used to increase basic computer skills and appropriate ways to use technology.
Second Life can provide positive experiences and enhanced learning for students and educators when used in appropriate ways.

Harrison, D. (2009, February 18). real-life teaching in a virtual world. Retrieved from campus technology: httpcampustechnology.com/articles/2009/02/18/real-life teaching in virtual-world.aspx


Stephanie Greco


Second Life may be referred by some as a game; however, Second Life is not a game. It is a virtual canvas for creativity, not based in any one theme. Up to present, much of distance learning has been made time convenient but impersonal. Wright (2006), a program analyst states, "Avatar-based virtual world education is highly interactive, providing the same convenience of not having to travel while providing a richer, more effective and more enjoyable experience. For such, many students would most gladly make the scheduled time for the virtual classroom" (1). When thinking about how to make education more accessible for more students, Second Life is at the top of the list. Students have been looking for a convenient way to learn from home in an interactive and motivating forum, which is Second Life. It is also free, which is very appealing to many educational schools. Second Life, although available to teens, seems like a great way to make long distance college classes more engaging. The need for alternative education is always on the rise. We need to meet this rising need with new technologies such as Second Life.

Wright, Theodore. (2006). Second Life as a Virtual Learning Enviornment. Retrieved from: http://www.dokimos.org/secondlife/education/


Jessica Tapley


The opportunities of the virtual world are endless. While creeping through the landscapes of Second Life, one quickly realizes the complexity and detail that the site has to offer to one that is looking for a worldly experience. Today, technology advances are pushing educators and researchers to investigate in more depth how to use emergent technologies in the classroom (Siva, Correia, & Ballester, 2010). Second Life is in of those technology advances changing the way teachers, teach and children learn. Second Life has many benefits for students to assist in advancing their professionalism and educating them about real world events that they would otherwise not be able to experience.
According to Siva et al. (2010), teachers are looking at exploring the avatar creation as a teaching tool, guiding students through the process of creating a professional identity while setting up their Second Life avatar. One might ask what the benefit of a program such as Second Life might offer to a teacher. As mentioned by Siva et al. (2010), Second Life provides teachers with the opportunities to design virtual early field experiences. This point was proven to be true as I ventured through the Second Life site exploring a site where I was able to experience the world just as the soldiers of the First World War experienced it. The site allowed me to hear poetry of their adventures and see pictures documenting the life that they knew. As a reader, I also was teleported to a virtual world that would connect me with other readers who shared the same love. Over all, I have found that with time and the proper training, a teacher can truly create new learning experiences for his or her students, connecting curriculum and building on the students’ knowledge, giving them real work experiences without struggling to fund a class field trip.
Silva, Correia, & Ballester (2010), A faculty mentoring experience: Learning together in second life. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education; Vol 26 (4).


Kassi Hawkins


From visiting the ISTE site, WWII Digital Poetry Digital Archive, and Book stack Isle, I’ve learned that with Second Life sites, size doesn’t matter. The Digital Poetry Digital Archive site was by far the smallest site Jessica and I explored, but it was the most exciting and interesting. With being able to listen to seemingly authentic poetry and voices from war, you really felt as if you were a part of the site, not just aimlessly wandering looking for something to discover. I’ve also learned from Second Life and many readings throughout this course that glitz isn’t everything. Bookstack Isle was whimsical, beautiful, and breath-taking; however, resources and information seemed to be lacking in comparison to the two other sites Jessica and I visited. It was definitely for book lovers, but beyond that there was little content. There are several clear connections between using Second Life and it’s educational purposes. The World War II Digital Archive would be a great site for a digital field trip. History and English classes alike can travel to learn poetic devices and historical features from World War II. Also, ISTE has great information related to blogging and podcasting. Perhaps a class would want to create a class blog. ISTE can provide a jumping off point for information on blogging. Students can travel as a class to the site, the teacher could project images and information taken from the site, or students can go on their own to learn more about blogging. Overall, I enjoyed thoroughly traveling freely through each site (and more!) looking at the educational features, like Shakespeare plays offered through the Globe Theater, vacant homes, and landscapes. The freedom of Second Life and it’s possibilities are endless! My advice to anyone is to at least check it out – and I dare anyone to only visit one location! Reflection


Jeannette Wahlen


SecondLife is a virtual reality game that is more than a game...it is an educational opportunity that allows me, in the form of my chosen avatar, to explore many different learning environments which replicate real and imaginary places. The class assignments were my first experiences using an avatar and I found it both frustrating and fun. I found that I "fly" better than walk to investigate the sites I chose to visit. The ability to "teleport" and "fly" makes it possible to visit sites quickly. This increases the rate of exploration far beyond what I could explore in real life. It also enables disabled students to explore where they would not be normally able too. Because there is no cost for individual visits or small group/whole class field trips, as a teacher I can help connect my students with many more opportunities to travel around the world. Of course, this is not taking into account the cost of computer set up and maintenance. Another teaching and learning aspect to consider in SecondLife is the ability to maintain students attention due to the interactive nature of the virtual reality and avatars. I will also point out that on at least 2 occasions my avatar was "flashed" by other avatars. I did not appreciate this activity and think that the SecondLife experience needs to be reserved for older and more mature students who will ignore such behavior. Also, I think that students need to be educated and encouraged to set time limits for themselves to ensure they stay engaged in real life and meet their real life obligations and engage in real life relationships. I share this because I know I would need to do this for myself if I choose to visit SecondLife frequently!


Ashley Coulson


Second Life and other virtual worlds have created a new outlook on teaching and learning within education. The opportunities for educators and students in Second Life have stretched far beyond real world applications. Through my observations, teaching in Second Life can enhance instruction and build collaboration. Educators can hold lectures, presentations, and meetings with students and other educators in Second Life at the convenience of their own home. They can share knowledge and gather information from professors and colleagues across the globe. In addition, educators can build their own virtual classroom environments and objects in a space called a sandbox. According to Baker, Wentz and Woods (2009), “Faculty use these spaces to hold lectures or meetings with students, display digital artwork, hold music performances, host gatherings, and build virtual environments” (p.60). Educators can take students on fieldtrips in Second Life in which would not be possible in the real world. Also, the places to travel and explore are endless. “Traveling to architectural sites, visiting art galleries and science museums, and attending music performances with an instructor are all possible for students in SL” (Baker, Wentz & Woods, 2009, p.61). Learning by exploring virtual environments can engage students and open many opportunities that a real world classroom or book could not. Furthermore, Second Life has numerous university campuses, museums such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial, and educational based environments like the Sistine Chapel where educators can use as a tool and space for teaching.


There are many beneficial aspects to Second Life for learners. According to Baker, Wentz & Woods (2009), “One obvious plus is that using Second Life exposes students to a new technology” (p.61). As an avatar students can visit educational environments and journey (in multiple fashions) to see artifacts, historical landmarks and buildings, guest speakers, and museums. Avatars can also create and build objects as well. One of the unique features of Second Life is the interaction with other avatars and sense of community established. In a traditional classroom setting students may not feel comfortable with face to face communication or social interactions. “In some cases, a student who is reluctant to comment or ask questions in class might feel more comfortable doing so in a virtual world” (Baker, Wentz, & Woods, 2009, p.61). With SL students can have a safe environment to interact, socialize, and feel comfortable in their own avatar’s skin. I truly believe learning comes alive in SL because there are no limitations. In the real world students and teachers are limited from exploring places around the globe, interacting with people of all cultures, and expressing their creative character. Second Life allows avatars to build and create anything, journey to multiple environments, establish communities, and form educational groups, which are all suitable for learning virtually.


References:
Baker, S., Wentz, R., & Woods, M. (2009). Using virtual worlds in education: Second Life® as an educational tool. Teaching of Psychology, 36(1), 59-64. doi:10.1080/00986280802529079.



Christen Hashim


There are many excellent educational opportunities that Second Life can offer for both students and teachers. Second Life is a virtual world that can expose someone to an endless amount of possibilities. A high school student studying the holocaust can visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and experience first-hand in their virtual world what it was like walking through the ghettos of the Jews. English teachers can send their students to digital poetry archives for an experience that beats simply reading it out of a book. I was a little hesitant to fully except Second Life and what it had to offer at the beginning, but now I understand how learning can become so alive. Millions of people are involved with Second Life, and educators are beginning to discover the ample opportunities that Second Life can bring to their students. Denise Harrison in her article "Real-Life Teaching in a Virtual World" comments that "The more active educational uses of Second Life take advantage of the immersive experience. Some faculty teach classes within Second Life, and others use Second Life as a supplement to traditional classroom environments and for enriching an existing curriculum." Ever since I have been exposed to this virtual world, I have been discussing the possibilities of it with fellow colleagues of mine. We are going to discuss it with the rest of the staff at our next meeting. Hopefully we can get more teachers involved with it so the program can be downloaded at our school. The pros of Second Life out-weigh the cons, and as I mentioned before, the opportunities for educational growth are endless. Harrison also states "A 3D virtual environment is believed to increase participation and improve retention. It also allows students to meet and learn from each other no matter their geographical location." Someone's avatar in Second Life has the opportunity to visit world famous landmarks and educational facilities that otherwise would not be possible in real life.

Reference:
Harrison, D. (2009). Real-life teaching in a virtual world. Retrieved from
http://campustechnology.com/articles/2009/02/18/real-life-teaching-in-avirtual-


Andrea Sanchez


Technology use within education is rapidly growing. Through various outlets teachers are able to use technology to enhance their lessons and promote fun learning environments. Recently the use of virtual worlds has become a hot topic and has been associated with educational learning in many ways. According to Denise Harrison (2009), the use of virtual worlds especially the program Second Life, can be used in education to help enhance learning. She concludes that using Second Life can help create a fun learning environment. Harrison (2009) also writes “a learning environment such as Second Life can make students eager to join the classes or projects” (Harrison, 2009). These worlds lead to fun environments, which in turn lead to more student participation.

Personally, I agree with Harrison (2009) and really believe the use of virtual worlds can enhance learning. Through my own experiences in Second Life I found myself being much more engaged in the learning process when I could actually walk through history with my avatar. Being able to feel as though you are actually experiencing the situations make the learning process much more enjoyable, and this can be achieved through using Second Life.

I would suggest that teachers try to build Second Life projects into their curriculum. These experiences make learning much more hands on and students will be more engaged. These projects can promote students to be much more in tuned with technology and being to see how they can have fun in Second Life and still be able to learn. Overall, I encourage any and all teachers to consider using Second Life and other virtual worlds in their classrooms.

Reference:

Harrison, D. (2009) Real Life Teaching in a Virtual World. Retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/articles/2009/02/18/real-life-teaching-in-avirtual-world.aspx


Nicole Fanning


Each time I enter Second Life I find and learn something new. I have finally begun to understand the many uses Second Life can offer students and educators. There are so many different types of opportunities that are presented to people within this virtual world. Students can be transported to many places they would never be able to visit in “real life”. There is a treasure trove of information at te fingertips of people in Second Life that is easy to access. As I completed this assignment I began to look forward to finding out what each new chosen island held for me. Just in the few places that I visited with my group I learned so much about what Second Life can give to students. My group visited the US Holocaust Museum and was able to walk along the streets of a demolished Jewish neighborhood. Even though we were there virtually it was still very moving. My group and I also visited EdTech Island, and Rumsey maps. Each of these places offers different types of educational information and opportunities for people who create Avatars. Many teachers are beginning to use virtual worlds as extended classrooms and instruction. Second Life can offer students and instructors the ability to hold class while not actually being together in the same room. Grace Wong explains in “Educators Explore Second Life Online” (2006) that Harvard Law School students are now using Second Life as an extended classroom for distance learning. The fact that the internet and the use of virtual worlds are becoming far spread as a useful tool in instruction is interesting. Technology has been slowly making learning more accessible to more people on more levels. Using virtual worlds as a teaching tool also sparks interest in students. It is something new and interesting. This can be just what an educator needs to grab the students that have been having trouble before. I would definitely recommend using Second Life to educators a another tool to put in the teaching bag.Once you explore the virtual world, specifically Second Life, it becomes easier to maneuver and use the features offered. It may seem intimidating to venture into a virtual world at first, but after a few uses it can become exciting and VERY interesting.
References:
Wong, Grace. (2006) Educators Explore Second Life Online. Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2006-11-13/tech/second.life.university_1_second-life-educators-virtual-world?



Jim Aird


When I reflect on the nexus of teaching/learning and Second Life I get a little giddy. I see so much potential and so many different possibilities it just makes my head swim. In my short time in Second Life I have been to places I could never afford to travel to and felt like I was actually there. I have talked about hundreds of topics and really felt heard and was able to get advice, opinions and make friends. I have been a part of a very exciting project to bring MERLOT's peer reviewed learning object library to Second Life. I have completed assignments with a virtual component and have come away with ideas, thoughts and images I would otherwise have not been able to have, regardless of the presentation mode. And I still see more potential for many other great things. As educators we must be reflective of ourselves and our own status quo MO which implies that we seek new ways to foster learning and eschew our own preconceptions and fears of change in favor of something that may work better. We must work toward being more effective in our teaching, we need to experiment, we need to look at our students and how they are modeled to learn and what skills for learning they already possess. We need to meet them where they are with assignments, activities and projects that are relevant in their world, not only ours. And most importantly, we need to engage our students. We need to grab their attentions, we need to create relevancy and authenticity in our lessons. Let's face it, the days of chalk being an engaging lecture tool are over. Children of today need to be invested in the learning activities or they will loose sight of the purpose and will complete their coursework without knowing that our goal of an informed citizenry has been lost in favor of standardized test scores. Second Life can create opportunities for students to feel community, to be immersed in a media rich environment and to find objects that are well beyond their local reach but are part of their enhanced world view.


Holly Day


The Entire Experience
Second Life is overwhelming at first. The application is extremely customizable and rich in features, so the learning curve is fairly steep. Getting acquainted with the avatar (choosing clothes, hair and adjusting body type) and navigating it around takes time and practice. The first experience in Second Life is very internally focused, self-conscious, and limiting. Users cannot begin to explore the possibilities in Second Life until they are confident in their avatar. I think it is a necessary step to spend a few targeted, very focused lessons to get users acquainted with the avatar, allowing them to customize it, and to get comfortable with navigation. We did this in class but I think for use in secondary school, more, incremental lessons would be needed.

Exploring in Second Life is hard to do in a group. This may be primarily a personal experience, but I feel inhibited when exploring with others. I worry I am spending too much time in one area or not courteous enough when deciding where to go. It is also difficult to balance between reading note cards or watching videos you find in the Second Life environment and watching for your fellow group members in case they message you or start walking off. On several occasions, our group became separated and avatars needed to be teleported back to regroup. I find I am distracted by how I am interacting with the other group members than with learning something new in the Second Life experience. I find it a lot easier to explore by myself. Having said that, one benefit of working in a team is the comments or vantage point of others. I think the experience would be better by combining group and individual exploring. Perhaps in the early exploring stages work in pairs or a group but then have the option to explore alone or with others in later activities. I find that I revisit alone the locations that I visited in a group so that I can spend more time reading and exploring. I find I learn a lot more when I go back alone.

Two Connections to the Real World for Teaching
1) Virtual Field Trips
Second Life permits students to access virtual creations of some of the great locations in the world, where actually going isn’t possible, especially in a classroom environment. Instead of using just books and photographs, students are able to walk around and explore sites using different viewpoints or perspectives. For example, a photograph captures an image from one distance with one vantage point. In Second Life, the student can move in closer or out further or fly up to an object to change perspective. Students can wander (safely) around a location and explore those areas of particular interest to them, all without the crowds, time constraints or admission fees generally associated with the real world sites. However, virtual field trips to replicated sites are just the tip of the iceberg.

Second Life can be used to explore sites that do not actually exist in the real world. Students can explore objects or spaces virtually where it is physically impossible to go. For example, a virtual creation of the human body can allow students to ‘fly’ through the veins and learn about the circulatory system and experience how blood flows through the heart.

2) Role-Playing Scenarios
Role-playing is a constructive learning technique but is not often used in the K-12 setting. For me personally, I hate it when an instructor asks me to do a role-playing scenario because I am self-conscious and afraid of looking stupid. But, I have also found I learn a lot more when I actually ‘try out’ the concepts. In fact, although relieved when the role-playing is over, it seems I would learn more if able to debrief from the scenario and replay it. Even as I write this, I cringe because I hate doing it, but I understand what a valuable tool role-playing can be. This is where I think Second Life can be useful.

Role-playing with an avatar takes away the self-consciousness and can allow a student to focus on playing the role and learning from the experience. I think all the same benefits of empathy and practice will still result from the experience, but the fear of looking stupid is significantly removed. I think students would engage better without the self-apprehension of getting up in front of the class or in front of another student and pretending in a role-playing situation. The avatars level the playing field so that all students are basically in the same physical situation as each other. But, the actions and the dialog are still the student’s and they can practice and learn from the interaction in a safe environment. As students become comfortable role-playing, they will put more effort into it and be willing to do it more often. As a result, role-playing can become a much more utilized and effective teaching method.



Everett Ayers


I see advantages for adult and near-adult students in virtual worlds such as Second Life. The power to affect a presence during a virtual class or meeting is powerful beyond a group chat session or video conference. The ability to examine, explore, and manipulate virtual versions of real world places and objects is compelling.

Beyond these, the idea of creating collections of real world objects that do not or cannot exist together in our world, and creating prototypes of works-in-progress are also compelling. For instance, perhaps one could reunite the scattered archeological holdings from Mesa Verde virtually, or create a virtual gorge and span it with world's fifty longest bridges, side-by-side, for comparison. Imagine the learning that could result from independently and/or collaboratively constructing these, especially as the resolution of the world increases along with the power to move to different scales. An architect could examine molecular structure of an alloy, and a moment later, raise one whole end of the bridge by a centimeter. Going even further, I imagine virtual world spaces that leave behind relations to the physical world, like the suspended space on EdTech Island; the increasing insights of the characters in Orson Scott Card's novel, Ender's Game, as they realize that "up" doesn't matter without gravity, come to mind (1985, 1992). Why sidewalks when there could be ribbons of light? I wonder if somewhere, some special effects master is working on a persistent motion-capture suit or room, so that he or she could nearly always maintain a virtual presence?

The ability to emphasize one or another characteristic of a place is an exciting prospect. I can imagine an architectural overlay for Falling Water, or an ecosystem overlay (or tourist economics, photography, hydrology, etc.). Revisiting the two Falling Waters I had been to, I discovered changes already. The Frank Lloyd Wright Museum is now decorated for Hanukkah and playing Christmas music, a nice lesson in multiculturalism, but the kind of world change that a prepared teacher needs to keep in mind so that the focus of a lesson stays intact. The second Falling Water I visited has lost, for the moment, the educational way-points that it had just a few days ago, and seems more like someone's personal playground.

On the other side, I have several concerns. The power of the visual is compelling - for instance, the fictionalized movie and television version of the West's colonization still looms over stacks of corrective histories. Could pristine virtual environments distract us from and dampen our drive to protect and restore the actual world's environments? We've had to develop our critical vision as movies have become more and more realistic in depicting almost anything. How vulnerable will we be to wrong but well-crafted history online? Say, if someone created a museum that honored the "great" work of US Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s?

As I've moved through Falling Water, and several virtual museums, I've thought of something I've come to call "the postcard effect." Have you ever been irritated to visit a place that you've seen on television or in a photo, only to encounter traffic, litter, and crowds of people breaking up the scene? That's life, of course, but I wonder if the ability to teleport instantly to a quiet Sistine Chapel or Murrow Museum and explore it virtually will have ill effects on exploration in the real world - the raggedness of parking, the people who don't seem to understand how best to enjoy the place,etc.

Finally, I point out the possibility of equating the virtual with the unseen real. I had seen prints of this painting:

WomanWithAParasol-(CamilleAndJeanMonet)-1875-NationalGalleryOfArt-Washington,DC-02.jpg
Claude Monet Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875 Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 1983.1.29 - Public Domain

many times before I saw the real thing in Washington, D.C. When I finally saw it in person, I was shocked at the difference between the reproduction and the original. Will we maintain that distinction in a fully-immersive virtual world, or will our desire to visit, say, the Holocaust Museum, fade, because we've already “seen it”?

References
Card, O. S. (1992). Ender's Game. New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates


Xuejing Lv


Through visiting different places in Second Life, I can feel that, with the development of the online communication technologies, virtual community—Second Life (SL) has become a very useful and effectiveness education tool and environment.
As I traveled in SL at home with my own computer, I participate in the group activities which are very interesting and helpful. In traditional classroom, the professor often gives us opportunity to express our own ideas. The communication with each other is very important for us since we can learn from each other, but the class time is limit, we can’t use all the time to talk. SL leaning can help solve this problem, we can show our thoughts with texts and we can find them in history records. Once more, in traditional classroom, I must take notes as soon as quickly when I listen to the teacher. However many times, because haste makes waste, I missed some key points. In contrast to SL learning, I can find the text messages in the history records. I can review them when I need quote the information about some learning theme. Teacher can also reference this information to evaluate the students’ participation in learning. As we know, we can take photos in SL. In the future, SL may have the potential to develop the function for recording the voice and video clips, and students and teachers may benefit more from SL.
SL shortens the distance between teachers and students, students and students, students and various multimedia resources. Based on computer and Internet, we can meet together without going to school, which brings more convenience and saves the time and money. For the teachers and students in different countries, when they involve the travel in SL, they have started their teaching and learning in this big community, no need to worry about the visa and distance issue (such as me :).
SL is a big community having the potential for every educator and learner to share and contribute their own parts in it. With more and better information resources being uploaded and downloaded in SL community, more and more people can benefit from it. The development of technology will benefit from the sharing and contribution from people world wide.



Victoria Bass


My Day at the Bluestar (with The Singing Hamster and His Only Half Crazy Gumbo)

It was a Sunday afternoon and I found myself in Holland at the Bluestar lounge listening to the Singing Hamster. The music was nice, not my stlye but interesting. There were approxiamtely fifteen others in the lounge, dancing as couples or by themselves and wildly applauding the Singing Hamester after every song. It was my first visit to Holland, ok it was my avatar "Cleo Swizzle" first trip to virtual Holland and all becauses of a virtual reality site called SecondLife.

Although my trip to Holland was pure entertainment, it really reinforced the possiblities of the experiences that are possible in the classroom because of programs like SecondLife. The creativity that is displayed in the recreation or creation of some of the sites really is extraordinary! Virtual worlds can be such an influential resource for education from taking students to visit distant countries to taking them back to a moment in history so that they may witness a historical event first hand. The experience I had visiting the Holocaust Museum was moving and engaged me in more ways than a textbook ever would. As a group, while one avatar stood on a "hotspot" the two of us witnessed the same even of a brick being thrown through a window, the sound of the window shattering and then the sound of wall being spray painted with deragorty slurs. Next, an explanation popped out explaining what we just witnessed. Sitting in a small room, that could barely fit three avatars and reading an explanation on the secret rooms there were commonly used throughout Gemany as safe places for the Jews was another SecondLife experience that I as a former history teacher would love for my students to experience.

Education or entertainment, within SecondLife it seems to be meshed into one. In my opinion, that is the ultimate combination for learning to take place. SecondLife provides a venue for individuals (students and educators) to share what they learned with others who are interested in education. For example, I came across a powerpoint by SpidersWeb in EdTech Island which was titled "What Students Can Learn From Games :& Simulations" that outlined issues we discuss weekly in our EDCI class. The overall point? There are benefits to using games and simulations to help educate todays students. Using various forms of technology in education benefits the students in their learning and prepares them for the technology they will need to use as college students or members of the work force.




Barbara Vogt


This SecondLife assignment was a true adventure. Never before have I visited far away places with classmates. The virtual world has great potential for teaching and learning. It can transform mundane assignments into exciting adventures. I found exploring the virtual world with classmates fun and educational. The most difficult aspect of traveling virtually with classmates was technical difficulties and scheduling. Once we got past that, it was a breeze.

I believe virtual worlds definitely have a place in education. Perhaps it's not for younger students, but I can see it being used in middle school and high school. In the future, I believe new educational virtual worlds will be created for every grade level. Virtual worlds are a great for students to explore places that they can't visit in real life. A class who is learning about Ancient Egypt could easily explore the ancient world virtually and interactively. I believe students would learn more this way, than by reading a text book. Taking this type of virtual field trip, is an excellent way to increase interest and excitement in a subject.

Another way virtual worlds can be used for learning experiences is by participating in virtual events. Students can watch speeches and lectures by professors and famous people. They could participate in virtual classes and interact with other students from many places. The potential for learning in the virtual world is limitless. I see this form of educational technology being perfected over time with limitless possibilities. Perhaps this technology will be combined with augmented reality to provide students with more life-like experiences of things they could never experience in the real world. I am excited to see what the future holds for educational technology.

Audri Bakke

I found it a little overwhelming to teleport to other worlds and interact with other people. I'm still not that skilled in walking, looking around, and talking! Chatting, though something I've done before on facebook or instant messenger, was difficult to do on Second Life when I had to think about where was I looking or how was I standing or moving. And trying to get our group photos of where we had been was almost comical as we all tried to be sure we were looking the same direction with our heads up! But really, I could easily get use to moving and talking in Second Life if I logged on more often and teleported to different places that required interactions.

I enjoyed walking through the Globe Theatre and the educational opportunities there are so rich. I don't teach Shakespeare in middle school but I know that his plays are something that are taught numerous times at the high school level. A field trip to the Globe Theatre would be a great addition to a Shakespeare unit. But there's more than the Globe on Second Life. Teachers could take their students on field trips to well known places all over the world, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of Pisa, the pyramids in Egypt, or perhaps historical buildings in Washington DC. A dedicated and ambitious teacher could spend time creating places for students to visit that connected to the unit they were learning if those places didn't already exist. As an English teacher, it would be so much fun to create fictional worlds for novels students read so that they could really get a feel for setting as they read.

Another way that virtual worlds like Second Life could be used is for networking. I can remember having a Russian pen pal in third grade. We sent letters back and forth through the internet (via our teachers) and shared things about our lives, what we were learning, and what our dreams were. Virtual Worlds could take this concept of connecting students across the world to a whole new level. Students from a class in California could actually meet with a class from Russia in Second Life. They could attend the same lecture or explore the same historical site together. Conversations could be much richer and more content based this way. And the students would feel as though they were really connected to their "pen pals" if they were actually able to meet them somewhere. Colleges can also use this as a way to reach out to distance learners who already take classes online. They can have office hours on Second Life, give important lectures, and set up group discussions without anyone having to leave the comfort of their home (or pajamas!).

There is definitely a learning curve with Second Life, as Cris as said. And t hough I feel a little awkward in the virtual world now, with a little more practice and dedication to the program, I'm sure I could be out chatting up the world without a problem.