Got Social?

EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Group

After the wonderful response at last years EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle, an EDUCAUSE Constituent Group was formed as was a group in Second Life.

Plans are in the works for a meeting in Second Life of both of these groups and a poll is currently being taken of what time would be best.

Please consider joining either or both the Constituent Group and/or Second Life Group.

I can’t think of a good title (suggestions encouraged)

I think everyone should read the following blog by my incredible colleague, Laura Nicosia.

http://nicosiapedagogy.blogspot.com/2007/10/small-group-epiphanies.html

Laura strikes the nail square on the head with this. I was present to watch her work with seemingly techno-handicapped students who begin to learn something new while learning something new.

I had a similar experience this last Thursday in my Introduction to College Writing class. I have been talking about SL since the beginning of class and encouraging students to sign up for SL on their own. About 10 days ago I had everyone sign-up, or sign-in, in class. Unlike Laura, I only have 19 students and we meet in the writing lab, so access to the computers during class time is easy and there are far fewer students in this class to work with.

Following Laura’s lead I set down blocks of 30 minutes and posted the times in our blog on Blackboard. Students were asked to go to the blog and sign up for a time. I locked out the blog thread when the group hit two. I preferred more groups of fewer students. Like Laura says, it required a lot of extra time, but I will do it this way from now on. Watching the genesis within the students, coming to see and understand what a metaverse is (and what it isn’t), is worth the time dedicated.

Last Thursday I devoted the first part of our class to our usually opening writing exercise followed by some discussion on images, especially those produced by the media, and how they intentionally (or unintentionally sometimes) impact our lives. In class we’re talking (writing) about the creation and perception of identity and self. This is where the SL fit comes in.

Anyway, back to last Thursday. After our writing and discussion I wanted to meet with each student briefly, individually, to go over what might be missing, how things are going, etc. I told the rest of the class to sign in to SL, help each other, hang out, do things.

Nearly the whole class ended up in the Residence Hall area of the CHSS Island. That is when near pandemonium broke loose. It only too a few minutes before students were shouting across the room to each other, interacting, hanging on the beach, riding the jet ski, trying the first pieces of exercise equipment I put in the Student Center (more to come and some games, like darts, air hockey, and pool – interactive, avatars can actually play them!), comparing notes on avatars, and helping each other learn things.

I had to tell them it was time to go. Not one student had packed up his/her stuff a few minutes before the end of class. I walked out of that room with such great happiness and pride.

I will be at EDUCAUSE in Seattle from the 22-26th of October. Instead of canceling class I will be holding them from Seattle, in Second Life. I have to get up at 5:45am to do this; I told them I expect them to make sure they do what it takes to get online. We’ve had plenty of time to work out the kinks. I haven’t had to push too hard on this, each of them seems to be into it. We’ve been figuring out the technical problems together. And unlike that mysterious printer break down or hard drive crash or sibling that deleted the file, they are coming to me BEFORE the fact to get help figuring out how to do it. They are, well almost all of them, are genuinely interested.

I’ll report back after the two classes.

Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle

I am thrilled to announce that EDUCAUSE has scheduled a Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion for this year’s Annual Conference in Seattle. The conference will take place from October 23rd to the 26th at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

Details on the full convention can be found here – http://www.educause.edu/e07

The Virtual Worlds Hot Topic Discussion will be held on Thursday, October 25th from 12:45pm to 2:15pm (PDT) in Room 211. The description of this event is:

Will teaching in a virtual environment really be the next big thing? A number of institutions and faculty think so, and that number is growing. This session brings together those who want to discuss how virtual learning environments impact all facets of the institution. Given the position of Second Life in this arena, it will probably dominate most discussions.

http://www.educause.edu/E07/Program/11073?PRODUCT_CODE=E07/CI17

I’ve made arrangements for there to be a laptop, project, and a static IP address which will enable us to stream SL into the conference location. Streaming the conference into SL is going to be up to us. More on that in a second.

If you are planning on attending EDUCAUSE, please make sure to include this event on your schedule. A good show this year could very well lead to a great commitment from EDUCAUSE ( i.e., I’m working to try and establish a Constituent Group, etc…)

If you have not decided if you will be attending, I hope this will push you off the fence. :-) Its usually a good conference, plus…I’ll be there! :-)

If you cannot attend, I’m hoping you’ll attend the in-world session.

I am looking for volunteers on two fronts:
1) people who can help work on the technology aspect of this with me
2) people who are willing to work as in-world organizers.

Please respond to me directly (sorry.afk at gmail.com).

More on this as it comes together.

It might not be as good as sex, but…

One of the things I have on my never-ending to-do list is to add something to one of my blogs each day. I try to keep to that. I determined that I should take a mere 10 minutes out of my day and write this to-be-posted item.

Well, it seems as if I can write an awful lot in five minutes. I don’t like to read really long blogs. Its not that I don’t want to see what others have to say, I just don’t have the time. Now, some blogs need to be long – but my daily rant isn’t one of them – at least not all the time. So, I’ve decided to cut my allocated time for this in half, to five minutes. Lets see what comes of it.

Well, it might not be as good as sex, but having my first paper published feels pretty damn good. After weeks of work, and a last minute revision to update statistics, my EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin was published yesterday. The Title is “Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning” and here is the description.

Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning
by Alan J. Kelton
Volume 2007, Issue 17
13 pages

Abstract: This research bulletin examines the current state of Second Life in relation to the educational environment. Although literature about virtual worlds dates back many years, this bulletin reflects on more recent publications that discuss both technological and pedagogical issues. Content is drawn from interviews with educators and innovators who are already involved in building campuses, teaching classes, and providing resources to those using Second Life.

Unfortunately for many, ECAR is a pay-for service, so unless your institution subscribes to ECAR, this document won’t be in the public domain for 18 months.

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference

I am all set for the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle.

My busiest day, ironically, is always the date BEFORE the conference officially starts. I have the Constituent Group (CG) Leaders Meeting in the morning followed by the EDUCAUSE Quarterly Committee lunch meeting. After that I head over to the last hour of the CIO CG meeting.

This years the Distributed Technology Support CG Meeting will be on Wednesday at lunchtime. On Thursday, I’ve arranged for a Virtual Worlds Birds-of-a-Feather. The BoF meetings are held at lunch and usually they allocate two tables in the lunch area. More on this as it comes up but if we have good showing I hope to spearhead the effort to start a Virtual Worlds CG. It looks to me as if things are moving in that direction. Again, more on that as I have it.

So I’ll be leaving for Seattle on the 20th, Saturday. This will give me some time to see the city as it is one of the major US cities I’ve never been to. I’ll be coming home right after the conference on the 26th.

Are you going to EDUCAUSE? If so, let me know and we can meet up.