[SLED] Barriers to student use of SL for learning

RILug RILug rhodeislandlug at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 11 05:07:31 PST 2007

I agree with you Barbara, but this question itself lingers on. I am finding intriguing responses from faculty - the resistance is very amusing to me but some are actually finding that this might merit some further investigation. 

BUT, as far as students go, they all think I am crazy. The very fact that I have an account on SL makes them wink, whisper, roll their eyes and giggle... and what I did was just come right out and say it: yup, SL HAS a reputation [well-merited I must add] of being a sex platform, but that is not why I am introducing it. Here is the potential for you: more job opportunities [I gave examples of companies that are springing up creating building stuff for organizing events and others]; more opportunities to be creative and unleash a creative side for something that is still brand new and needs creative people to take it steps further; more networking capability; more conferences to attend that they would normally not be able to attend for financial constraints... etc. etc.... I even tell them it is up to them to discover what they can do with it and where they can take this technology.  

I began showing them videos from youtube and others on cisco, ibm, etc etc... all the 'biggies' who are out there using it. 

For the most part, they shake their heads in disbelief but are willing to give it a try. 

Now one thing we ought to remember though, that unlike World of Warcraft, for example where the average age is 18-25, the average age on Second Life is between 25-40 [I heard that stat at a conference I attended last month]. Why? simply because it is more of a 'chat forum' than it is a game. When I first discovered second life about 8 months ago, my son who is 19 looked at me like I had lost it. He said he knew about sl all along from chat forums on world of warcraft which he avidly plays, and that second life to him/them represents two words: sex and boooo-ring.   This same attitude is what I got from my college students. 

Now they have a reluctant readiness to try it especially as a poetntial for all what I mentioned before, and also when I showed them the stats: 9 million users on SL, 70 million on Habbo Hotel, etc etc... 

We'll see how it goes.

Barbara Pittman <barbarap2 at mac.com> wrote: Wow, Tony, that's such a good question for us all. Certainly, virtual-world course design must be sophisticated enough to engage even our most resistant students. We won't get to them with a speech about how they are participating on the edge of new learning environments. Much online teaching is done asynchronously, and while that would be a goal for work in SL, initially, the instructor/facilitator might have to invest time in being present to guide the work.

I'm currently just in that process of trying to inspire some faculty to imagine what might be done in their disciplines in SL that couldn't be done in our traditional classrooms. Sophistication is a challenge, even if you're just imagining. I think that's why we still see a lot of RL in SL. I can commit to not rebuilding our RL campus in SL, but when your faculty only have limited experience in SL as visitors, it's a long road to quality learning experiences.

One response to your question from my position, then, would be that it will take a high level of quality in the tasks we ask students to perform in order to motivate them.�

Thanks for asking that question.

SL Grinn Pidgeon

 Barbara L. Pittman, PhD | Director, Center for Instructional Technology | Mercyhurst College
Phone: 814.824.2339 | Email: bpittman at mercyhurst.edu | Website: http://cit.mercyhurst.edu


On Nov 11, 2007, at 3:13 AM, Tony Ratcliffe wrote:

 An immediate question comes to mind. How motivated are the learners to accept the challenge of working in SL? Without this, I suggest there is a psychological distance and potential barrier involved.


 A.E. (Tony) Ratcliffe, B.Admin., MDE, CFE
 Online course development and teaching interest in policing, security management, and investigations

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