Reflecting on Teaching Models and Second Life

In deciding to learn more about Second Life, my first thought wasn’t decided on a specific platform but more to research the use of 3D learning spaces for library use. The literature currently available overwhelmingly mentioned Second Life, and thus I’ve decided that it would be a good place to start.

Second Life, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is still used by various tertiary institutions and feature impressive digital library collections. Volunteer Librarians still maintain an active presence, with Forums and Google+ communities a rich source of information.

Preparing for design-based research, I need to understand transformational teaching. As suggested to our NGL group, the R.A.T framework is useful for determining the place of technology in teaching as measured against ‘replacement’, ‘amplification’ and ‘transformation’. Since I have already written a post about the R.A.T framework, I am interested in the Community of Inquiry Model as it relates to Second Life.

The Community of Inquiry Model “represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence” (CoI Model | CoI, 2017).

Image courtesy of Creative Commons search

Burgess, Slate, Rojas-LeBouef & LaPrairie (2010) state that “in an educational context”, Second Life “provides a space for constructivist learning, socialization, exploration, discovery, and creativity. The communicative, social nature of virtual learning allows students to demonstrate the skills and strategies they have acquired through utilization of social technology tools. This applied, situated learning environment has great potential — especially in online distance learning”.

Thus, in examining the Community of Inquiry model and Second Life against the social, cognitive and teaching presence, I summarise it as such:

Social presence: students participating in Second Life, can express their emotions and ideas without fear. Whether it is because they are uncomfortable expression their opinions in a physical ‘real’ class or because they might fear ‘retribution’ from classmates on sensitive topics. The idea of a 3D learning space such as Second Life is to encourage collaboration and general interconnection, and provide those unable to travel to physical classrooms with the same quality learning experience.

Cognitive presence: a networked and global learning community would benefit from using Second Life for the exchange of information, connection of ideas and be able to apply the newly learnt knowledge in their everyday ‘real’ life occupations.

Teaching presence: teaching in Second Life enable discussion on various topics that does not refrain physically disabled students from attending lectures. Understanding of concepts can be build ‘face-to-face’ as lecturer and student avatars are able to simulate ‘real’ life communications. Instruction is direct and the student/teacher relationships can benefit from this type of setting.

This YouTube video by the University of Texas on Education in Second Life is already a decade old but gives a good overview of what attending a lecture in Second Life looks like:


Burgess, M., Slate, J., Rojas-LeBouef, A., & LaPrairie, K. (2010). Teaching and learning in Second Life: Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model to support online instruction with graduate students in instructional technology. The Internet And Higher Education, 13(1-2), 84-88.

CoI Model | CoI. (2017). Retrieved 8 September 2017, from



Back To The Future – NGL then and now

Networked and Global Learning is not exactly a new idea. In 1924, French teacher Célestin Freinet and a colleague launched their own version of NGL, using mail carriers to share information and interesting local artefacts about their communities, and exchanging toys, shells and stories written by their students. This endeavour evolved and adapted as the French postal system evolved to keep up with modern technologies, and by the time of Freinet’s death in 1966, has grown to include over 10,000 schools and 33 nations.

This early years of Networked and Global Learning was filled with wonder and anticipation as participants in the exchange waited for their packages.  Students learned from each others’ experiences, and I’m sure many long-term friendships were formed as questions were asked, and answers were written in return.

Forwarding a good half-a-century in time, and we are spoiled for choice when it comes to Networked and Global Learning. We do not have to wait for mail as email happens instantaneous. Physical mail seems to bring only advertising material and electrical bills. Surely I’m not the only one that feels nostalgic when thinking of handwritten letters? Célestin Freinet most probably would have loved to swap places with me if he knew how efficient modern day technology has made collaboration!

One thing however has not changed over time. To quote Al Rogers (1999):

“The true power of what we do in our classrooms depends less on technology, and more on what we do with the technology we have”

This short video called The Networked Student perfectly sums up 21st century learning. Our network is connected within multiple networks. My fellow student Nikki describes our small class of NGL researchers as bound by the common interest in that we all are striving to finish our degrees, even though our professions differ, and we’re doing it virtually. Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, I can write this post, research the ‘how to’ of 3D virtual learning environments, browse my Google+ communities, and order from Pizza Capers at the same time. Not pizza this time, but ‘classic bolognese pasta’ .. which I’m sure the recipe was obtained from somewhere on the net?

As a student of NGL, I have experienced first-hand the interaction and collaboration that can occur within communities of learning. We often have different ideas and interests but we also have in common a love of learning. Whether that is in our professions as teachers and librarians or learners of a new endeavour, we do seek to build a knowledge sharing/exchanging network that we can call upon when needed.

How does me the student of NGL make sense of my learning journey, and my role as teacher – or rather educator in this instance since I’m a librarian? By building trust. I cannot impart my learnt knowledge and experiences on an uninterested audience with success. Think of the difference between hearing and listening. If your audience (students) does not trust your insight/knowledge, they will hear what you are saying but chances are slim that they will be listening – and in my opinion, listening is where a love for life-long learning is build.

I leave you with this thought by Goodyear (2014) –

“Trust can be infectious within networks. People are more likely to trust friends of friends than random individuals”.

Featured image obtained from


Identifying Your PKM Toolbelt

In Networked and Global learning, the emphasis is on learning outside of your comfort zone, and establishing your life-long learning network globally. Personal Knowledge Mastery, or PKM for short, is identifying your own learning routine.

Harold Jarche (2014) identify PKM as a process of Seek, Sense and Share. Essentially how you seek information, how you make sense out of your newly obtained knowledge, and – important for Network and Global learning – how you share this information.

Ira Socol (2009) from Michigan State University, explains that as humans we all require skills (whatever our interests are) and the ‘how to’ knowledge to share these skills within our network. Skills are transferrable, and sharing will enhance your own understanding, and appreciation of newly acquired skill sets.

This is where T.E.S.T comes in. Task – Environment – Skills – Tools. Skills are learned, and practised in an environment where one could fulfil a task, with specific tools used to complete the task. Some tools work better than other, some tools work quicker but not better.

Remember the days when learning anything you’re curious about meant a trip to the local library? If not, you might be a Digital Native, and Ira Socol are very opinionated about that!

“Don’t give me your “digital native” nonsense. People even need to learn to properly hold a hammer – tool skills are not natural. Nor is tool knowledge. Every day I go into schools where students struggling with reading are left in the dark – as if we denied wheelchairs to students who couldn’t walk on the theory that being left on the floor would motivate their legs to work. Teach your children well ” – Ira Socol

Looking at my own PKM, I find that the Internet plays a significant role. I can hardly imagine a time without the Internet .. although being connected to the NBN (national broadband network) does give me glimpses into the past of dial-up speed!

Social Media has for sure made it easier to connect globally and reach more knowledge communities.  As the image above shows, I use a variety of online platforms to seek and share information. Making sense of it all, is an ongoing process of reflecting and discussions with colleagues and peers. For seeking quality information, one can never pass a good database and for sharing online, I have found Google+ communities to be interesting and insightful. Some of my favourites are:

Libraries and Librarians

Serious Games

Raspberry Pi (quite a big and busy community)

As the semester progress, our PKM will expand and I for one plan to learn more about 3D virtual learning spaces and how libraries can utilise this effectively. Starting with learning how to ‘work’ Second Life.