[SLED] SL's #1 problem for .edu is...

Eloise Pasteur eloisepasteur at gmail.com
Fri Jun 1 17:12:09 PDT 2007

I broadly agree with Chris here... but then being another UK based  
educator I might have different expectations.

It's easy enough to set up reflective systems, if you insist on fully  
in SL, then by notecard is easy enough after all, if you take a more  
wide-ranging approach to distance learning then on wikis, in word  
documents whatever. It's easy enough to create blogs after all.

You're complaining that SL doesn't create all the same tools as a  
dedicated LMS - well perhaps that's because it isn't one? But, if you  
treat it more like a RL classroom than a virtual one those issues  
start to become rather easier to surmount. If I attend your class in  
meat-space I don't have a blog integrated into my body, but I can  
point you to one and write one asynchronously out of class time. The  
same works just fine with a class that runs in SL. If grading group  
work is hard, don't set group work as grading exercises. In fact  
people face all the problems you are describing in any form of group  
work. I have some ideas how we cope in this county, but how do you  
cope in yours to meet your standards? The two commonest approaches we  
have to group work over here are that it's set as a small % of the  
overall marks, so if you get 4% instead of the 2% your effort was  
really worth, it doesn't appreciably affect the overall result, or we  
do the work together, and write individual reports on it, and we're  
graded on the report rather than the work directly. If you freeload  
on the group work it's unlikely your report will produce anything  
like a decent mark. I would be happy marking, and being assessed to  
such a scheme, and have been on both sides of them and find they work  
quite happily.

If you make presentations a part of the final grade, you will have to  
set out guidelines for attendance and make them clear. You clearly  
expect your students to show up to the "book-ends" sessions IRL, so  
you have some ability to make some attendance compulsory. Add in, or  
replace, these with a mandatory SL attendance for presentations time.  
It's *easier* than forcing RL attendance after all, they don't have  
to travel for it.

I'm struggling to remain polite to the idea that SL doesn't allow for  
structured assignments. You write the damn things, so you write them  
in a format that suits your teaching style, your marking needs and  
the rest of it. It's eminently possible that LMS's force you to do  
this whereas SL doesn't, but if you want to replicate that sort of a  
structure then think about how you break them down for your LMS and  
apply the principles to how you write them for SL. To (possibly  
misquote) Beth - don't concentrate on the technology, concentrate on  
the content and the outcomes. Other people are managing it rather well.

I'm left wondering just how significant this quote "I just can't  
imagine spending ALL my students' time in SL parking their avatars an  
nyawning [sic] through excruciatingly slow chat interactions" is to  
the overall tone of this email. You can't imagine it, but maybe your  
students can. I certainly can, except I might describe it as  
"students attending SL classes for a chance to learn in an  
environment where they focus on the content and have a chance to  
engage in deeper learning." I  have, as a direct quote from a student  
recently, "You know it's much better sitting here and chatting this  
way. I don't feel like I get lost and I can go back if I need to.  
Even stuff I hate I understand better after a class here." I happen  
to like text-based chat, as I'm sure you know, and so I use it  
comfortably and confidently, and my students respond to that and seem  
to respond well to chat-based interactions. You obviously don't, how  
much do your students pick this up? I have, in one of my less-proud  
moments, taught students who I was convinced were just wasting my  
time. I gave up putting effort in to preparing for them, and it  
showed to me, and they picked up on it very, very quickly. If you go  
to teach your SL classes with the attitude "This is a waste of time"  
then they'll respond to your disinterest, even in SL.

One of the strengths, to my mind, of SL is that sense of presence  
that we all get. Presence kind of implies synchronous learning. If  
you wish to move to a totally asynchronous learning environment, then  
why are you in SL? There are custom designed tools to do it better  
after all, I'm certainly not arguing that. If you want to get the  
most out of SL then surely you need to exploit its strengths? To my  
mind that would suggest that you set it up like face to face learning  
with tweaks, as I've already said. And before you poo-poo that idea,  
consider in constructing a f2f course how much learning time is  
actually direct contact time. I recently completed a CPD course that  
was 60 learning hours according to the contract. It was 10 contact  
hours, and 50 self-study hours. Admittedly that's extreme in my  
previous experience - I trained as a scientist and those practical  
classes rack the contact learning hours up. (I'm not advocating SL as  
a tool for learning practical skills btw, practical classes require  
contact, but that's not the main point of having them.) In one of my  
student houses I lived with an English student and a History student.  
They had about 6 contact hours a week, but were regarded as full time  
students, and expected to add 20-30h/week of private study to the mix  
to make the hours up, which is pretty much back to the 10 + 50  
pattern. You might need to tweak that for your students, but it's  
hardly an impossible schedule for them to make if you're a bit  
flexible in meeting their time needs.


On 1 Jun 2007, at 20:59, Chris Hambly wrote:

> Well Jeremy, in the UK we are big on Learning Outcomes, as Im sure  
> you know, i.e. at the end of this path, whatever that path is, the  
> student will have an outcome of z.
> So the journey, or social construction of knowledge, can differ,  
> and typically does in my case, as I encourage it to, from learner  
> to learner. For me it makes little difference how we all arrive at  
> roughly the same spot, as long as we all arrive, this of course  
> also accommodates differing instrisic reasons for studying. If the  
> focus is objectives, it becomes harder to accomodate differing  
> approaches.
> Social construction of knowledge, or constructivist approaches are,  
> in my mind, high-maintenance, and in need of high-levels of power  
> releasing back to the student, something which not all educators  
> enjoy, yet SL can be perfect for this.
> The relfection can come with careful logging and publishing on  
> traditional wikis, and forums, save chat to notecard, blog  
> notecard. Agreed there is no in-world reflective board, but what of  
> voice, when it arrives, save the dialogue, put it in an rss feed,  
> it's there and logged and available in a parcel in the future,  
> switchable even.
> In a future release of SL text could be auto-saved, and auto- 
> plumbed into a parcel dialogue history inventory, fully searchable,  
> much like gmail.
> Chris
> On 6/1/07, Jeremy Kemp <jeremykemp at yahoo.com> wrote:
> ...not sin (porn, gambling etc.)
> ...not accessibility (tech reqs, tools for the
> disabled, complex interface)
> ...not disruptive strangers (griefers, unaffiliated
> interlopers, etc.)
> ...not commercialism and corporatization
> ...not legal issues with Intellectual Property and the
> legally questionable Terms of Service
> But the MOST troubling feature of this setting for
> education is the lack of affordances for reflective
> learning and asynchronous tools in support of learning
> communities.
> Many class sessions in SL seem to wander into the
> realm of decorative chat.
> But the vast majority of online learning at the post
> secondary level is NOT synchronous. Here at our
> university, only a small percentage of faculty add a
> chatroom tool to their LMS designs.
> Students who flock to distance learning for
> flexibility and time-shifting are loathe to set aside
> a specific time for meetings - especially nano-band
> activities like instant messaging. I just can't
> imagine spending ALL my students' time in SL parking
> their avatars an nyawning through excruciatingly slow
> chat interactions.
> Blending RL synchronous meetings and online
> asynchronous reflective activities such as threaded
> messaging and project work seems to be the most
> successful model. I've used the "book ends" approach
> in my elearning classes from 2002 on. Students meet
> for a longish in-person session on campus, arrange
> teams. This also allows for in-person pre and post
> assessments and also public speaking training at the
> final session. Students get the face-to-face benefits
> but are able to spend less time on campus tied down to
> a schedule. Each mode has its strengths and their work
> is tightly integrated RL/online.
> So virtual environments for learning represent a
> two-legged stool when used by themselves. We benefit
> from an engaging feeling of presence and also from the
> visualization and modeling. But the missing third leg
> of the stool is reflectivity. The platform is woefully
> lacking ways to integrate in-world learning with
> existing distance learning tools for reflection such
> as threaded messaging, blogs, portfolios, assignment
> structures and assessments.
> In my own class work, I'm struggling to create a
> multi-modal experience where my students may choose
> how they devote time to the class. Grading is a pain:
> How do you assign grades for a team when 1/2 of the
> members want to meet in-world to give chat
> presentations while the others cannot commit to
> meeting times and prefer building on their own and
> leaving items for the others to work with?
> Does anyone have advice for instructional design in a
> multi-modal setting like this? For connecting your
> previous LMS instructional designs with this new
> synchronous-centric tool?
> Ideas?
> --J
> - Jeremy Kemp, M.Ed., M.S.J.
> Assistant Director, SL Campus
> School of Library & Information Science
> San Jose State University
> (408) 393-5270 Cell
> (408) 924-2466 Office
> "SJSU SLIS" on the SL map
> SL Avatar: Jeremy Kabumpo
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> -- 
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Chris Hambly MA ODE (Open)
> SL: audio Zenith
> http://audana.com - new media design and marketing
> http://www.audiocourses.com
> Events coming soon, you coming?
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> http://www.chrishambly.com/
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