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:

References:

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.12.003

CoI Model | CoI. (2017). Coi.athabascau.ca. Retrieved 8 September 2017, from https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/

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How NGL can inform my role as teacher

Looking at Librarians in the teaching space requires a different frame of mind. We are not necessarily Teacher Librarians, but we are educators of digital literacy, information literacy skills and we stand firmly as the bridge that aims to overcome the digital divide in our communities.

I am proud to call myself a Librarian. Yes, there are those that perceive us to be stereo-typical little ol’ ladies with glasses and cardigans but truth be told, we are that and so much more .. as you can see from this clip below of staff from the National Library of Australia performing Thriller at the 2008 staff Christmas party.

We are not (always) bound by the normal constraints of educational curriculums and thus can be inventive and creative in our approach to teaching. Looking at my own ‘role as teacher’, I will use the R.A.T framework to gauge the impact of NGL on my teaching. The R.A.T framework was developed by Dr. Joan Hughes in 1998 as a tool for self-assessment in utilising technology as a teaching tool.

The R.A.T model .. cannot be bribed with cheese.

NGL is a Librarian’s playground. We connect globally to research emerging technologies, learn new tips and trick from our colleagues abroad and we find ways to incorporate our newly acquired knowledge within our professional teaching spaces, all the while adapting it to our needs.

In researching how Second Life can be utilised to promote digital collections and open repositories, I am also looking at how 3D virtual spaces can be incorporated within ‘real life’ curriculums. Students are used to accessing virtual learning spaces, like Moodle and Blackboard but the 3D virtual learning space is unfamiliar territory in most Australian University libraries.

Pinchot and Paullet (2014) says that visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles benefit from learning through the use of technology and that curriculum developers should aim to include more aids to cater for those areas.

Breaking my thoughts ‘as teacher’ down into the R.A.T model, I propose that 3D virtual learning spaces has a lot to offer those learners more visually inclined. Many virtual learning spaces are already able to handle cross-platform collaboration, and 3D spaces are sure to follow suit.

‘R’ – Replacement: More options for students to collaborate online, and the option for students to incorporate a range of aids within their assignments. As an educator/Librarian, my knowledge of different platforms help students to think of different ways of presenting assessments by incorporating different technological elements.

‘A’ – Amplification: This is where I think 3D learning spaces will excel as the option for immersion into the environment can bring a new dimension of exploring learning material to the curriculum. In Second Life, full libraries have been replicated and ordinary museum exhibitions are amplified as historical characters come to ‘life’. To date I haven’t had the opportunity to prepare materials for a 3D learning space but it is a goal I am working towards.

‘T’ – Transformation: Presenting students with material in a format other than summarised text, give them the opportunity to memorise more facts. I often create visual material for my son’s classes in preparation for exams. The teacher presents me with a word document, and I then restructure the content to fit visual aids, source images through Creative Commons and build the students a multimedia site.

In my role as ‘teacher’, I value the importance of networked and global learning. Not only because I find multiple sources of inspiration but because it offers me connections to knowledge across the globe. NGL offers me the opportunity to research what other libraries are doing abroad. Referring to Second Life again, the collaboration of hundreds of volunteer Librarians, saw the creation of the Community Virtual Library.

Academic libraries in Australia was not so enthusiastic about building digital collections within Second Life. The University of Western Australia however did built exhibitions in Second Life but in 2008, overall the idea of Second Life was considered a virtual failure.

Forwarding ten years, I believe 3D learning spaces are about to be embraced by higher education providers, and I for one wants to be part of the educational revolution. In my opinion, learning about Second Life is a good place for me to start in understanding where the idea of transmedia collaborations in education can take us.

References:

Hughes, J., Thomas, R., & Scharber, C. (2006). Assessing Technology Integration: The RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation – Framework. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber, & D. A. Willis (Eds.), Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2006 (pp. 1616–1620). Orlando, Florida: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/22293/

Pinchot, J., & Paullet, K. (2014). Different Keystrokes for Different Folks: Addressing Learning Styles in Online Education. Information Systems Education Journal, 12(2), 29-37. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1140787.pdf

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As a learner, participation in NGL was useful to me

“Discovering Second Life”

I have always been fascinated by emerging technologies and have chosen to research 3D virtual learning environments as my learning activity for NGL. Study spaces are continuing to evolve, and as I have discovered, magnificent libraries have been built within Second Life.

Researching academic articles, I have found that a fair bit of articles have been published about libraries within Second Life, and quite a vibrant online community of real-world libraries are collaborating in this 3D virtual world. Some researchers consider Second Life to be a dated concept, and have raised questions about its nonexistent cross-platform capabilities but since 3D learning spaces are completely new to me, I thought it a good idea to start my learning journey towards 3D learning space expertise with Second Life.

The first thing I have learned is that Second Life requires viewer software to be downloaded onto your computer. It required around 1GB of space and a reliable internet connection .. with an ‘Important Notes’ section stating it is not compatible with dial-up internet. Technically, I don’t have dial-up internet but I am on the NBN and currently that speed quite often equals dial-up speed!

It is free to join and explore but to build a library, you must provide real money in exchange for Second Life’s currency called Linden dollars. Since this is a learning journey (and I’m frugal), no money will exchange virtual hands!

After creating my ‘Avatar’, a free ‘people’ version called Amy, I tried to venture into Second Life. I say tried because navigating is definitely a ‘learning to drive’ experience. Think Minecraft vs. Mario Kart. I’m incompetent in both according to my son! I have chosen my screen name to be Cyberspace Librarian, and upon first entering you ‘land’ in front of a tutorial board. Which I would have read in more detail weren’t I offered my first bite by a vampire.

I kindly declined the offer.
I haven’t stayed much longer in Second Life after that brief ‘conversation’. Mainly because I was ran over by a Pegasus. Unfortunately that was too quick and I couldn’t get a screenshot. So, what have I learned from my first venture into Second Life?
As a ‘learner’, it is clear that there’s a steep learning curve to navigating around Second Life, and it will take more than a handful of sessions to become adept in travelling virtually around this world. I am enjoying this learning activity quite a fair bit even though navigation is not straight forward.  I do however wonder how much time must have been spent by students attending lectures in Second Life before they felt comfortable utilising it?
As a ‘learner’, I can see the value of utilising Second Life because of the nature of the beast – so to speak. It is captivating and students that are already used to computer games will find it fun to attend lectures in this type of virtual setting. If I were a school teacher, I would probably not encourage the use of it seeing that my first encounter was with a vampire!
Researching literature in preparation for assignment 2, I came across various opinions and observations on utilising Second Life as a 3D learning space.  Mon (2012) studied the impact of “avatar-mediated communication” on the professionalism of librarians, and found that in creating avatars, librarians still prefer to portray themselves as similar to their real-life appearances. On the other hand, Webber and Nahl (2011) said that librarians are more concerned about establishing communication and trust in their Second Life library, exactly as they would in their physical library space.
Mon (2012) found that librarians built their virtual libraries to look similar to those in real life because even virtual patrons still perceive books to be the key to knowledge, even though picking up a book in Second Life could be designed to link to an outside web source.  What I found quite interesting was that Mon (2012) after an interview with a librarian, quoted her in saying that “when I once provided volunteer reference service, someone created a very futuristic looking reference desk. The funny thing was, no one ever used it. Not librarians. Not patrons”.
Taking all these points into consideration, I do think the idea of a 3D virtual space would appeal to students and teachers alike. I can see a real benefit for students with disabilities that prevent them from travelling to traditional libraries and classrooms. In a 3D learning space, they will be able to browse texts and attend lectures, exhibitions and access a community of like-minded individuals.  In conclusion, I might not ever use my new-found knowledge of Second Life to build a digital collection there, but through this learning activity, I have acquired a good understanding of 3D learning spaces within a networked and global learning community.
References:

Mon, L. (2012). Professional avatars: librarians and educators in virtual worlds. Journal of Documentation, 68(3), 318-329. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00220411211225566

Webber, S., & Nahl, D. (2011). Sustaining learning for LIS through use of a virtual world. IFLA Journal, 37(1), 5-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0340035210397137

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Online Learning Communities

This week, our reading by Riel and Polin (2004), focus on Online Learning Communities and discusses the various types of learning communities and the community dimensions associated with it.  To summarise it briefly, I have created this image to explain:

In my opinion, our little group of NGL members are a task-based community of learning, as we’re all working towards a common goal – which is to complete another unit towards our degrees. However, Riel and Polin (2004) defines the membership as one where members knows each other, and since we’re all online students, we actually don’t personally know each other – more a case of we know about each other. So, while our group within NGL fit the description for task-based, we also fit the description for practice-based, in that we don’t know each other personally but we are all seeking to become more experienced within our chosen professions. My fellow NGL group member Samanthi, place our group somewhere within a Practice-based and Knowledge-based community, as she views our connection to be strongly linked to our professions.

For my learning activity, I have chosen to learn more about Second Life, as I have mentioned in my previous post. Second Life is a 3D virtual world that are already been utilised by various organisations for online collaboration, networking and training spaces.  As a librarian, I am curious as to how Second Life can be used to promote digital collections, and upon researching, I have found that various libraries already exist within Second Life.

As we are looking at CLEM (community, literature, examples, models) this week, I conclude that learning more about Second Life and 3D virtual learning spaces fit this description I have created:

CLEM :

C: I have found a Google+ community (Seanchai Libraries) and an education Wiki that has been created to support people learning/working with Second Life.

L: The blogs is more extensions of the wiki page but several excellent peer-reviewed journal articles have been written, which I will reference in my posts dedicated to my learning journey about Second Life.

E: Various videos have been created in YouTube about Second Life, and even full lectures have been recorded in virtual class rooms. Elearninglearning.com has several articles and videos created by educators about Second Life, and how they use it in their practise.

M: Forums about the use of Second Life in education are useful for finding ideas and how these ideas have been organised before putting it live in Second Life. Technically, I won’t venture as far as learning to code within Second Life but I am interested to know in what language was used to create the world. Linden Scripting Language was created by Linden Labs (creators of Second Life) and it is largely based on Java and C. (Samanthi is learning to code for her activity, and she might be interested in the coding side of things if she was to investigate Second Life). The coding templates for Second Life is mainly tutorials in the Second Life wiki, and some videos are also embedded within the wiki.

References:

Riel, M., and Polin, L (2004). Learning Communities: Common Ground and Critical Differences in Designing Technical Support. In S. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.). Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

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