My colleague, Liz Dorland (SL= Chimera Cosmos) and I (Spiral Theas) decided to organize a Second Life Eduator’s group. We kept meeting these fabulous teachers who wanted to learn more about the application of the virtual world to education and so, we thought, what the heck – let’s set up a workshop series for these teachers. We’ll meet for just an hour – two times per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for four weeks, as an experiment. We can show them beginning navigational stuff, introduce them to basic building skills, and take them to other educational builds, favorites of ours, for inspiration.
What sounded like an easy and fun idea has turned out to be quite a bit of work – but it’s also even more fun that I would have imagined. First of all, it gives Liz and I an iron-clad excuse to investigate lots of interesting places and activities we’ve been wanting to learn about any way. It’s also forced us to be more systematic about understanding the basics of getting around in Second Life (as always, you learn the most when you are going to teach). We’ve created handouts and step-by-step instructions for the participants. Then, of course, we needed an online place to store and display all of those, as well as a place to keep the schedule – so we built a wiki site for the group. And then we wanted to document the sessions – so we started a Koin-Up group where everyone in the class can post photos. Now, I’m experimenting with recording options so that we can archive the sessions.
Today was our first meeting. 13 teachers showed up (there will be 17 when everyone attends) and they’re from all over – Great Britain, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, and Boston. Some teach college students, some are curriculum developers, some teach primary years, and some secondary grades. Men and women – older and younger – some experienced in SL and some brand spankin’ new. I love the diversity.
We started with some basic navigational stuff (creating landmarks, map reading, inventory) and then we teleported up to our skybox classroom. Everyone learned how to “buy” a chair, find it in their inventory, and then rez it on their spot on the classroom floor. Then we had a little lesson in camera controls, learning how to zoom in/out and focus.
After that. we teleported down to the ground and then bounced over to Chichenitza for a bit of fun. Everyone picked up the free Mayan costume and then climbed the magnificent stairs to take in the view from the top.
I was very impressed with how well everyone did. They seemed to follow along beautifully and were patient with the various technical hassles one inevitably has with a platform like this. For Liz and me, it was great fun and a welcome challenge. We work well together – trading off the various responsibilities, and supporting each other (I would never do this by myself!). When one is leading the class, the other is adding helpful explanations to the backchat, taking snapshots, and giving extra support to those who need it.
I’ll try to record impressions and lessons learned here, on the blog. That should help me extract my own learning from the experience – and help us remember what we did!