[SLED] Playing Devil's Advocate: SL vs Virtual Worlds vs Better Learning

Ellen Marie Murphy murphe1 at sage.edu
Mon Feb 23 09:45:22 PST 2009



Hi Sarah,

You ask a very important question, but in truth it is still a question that focuses on getting more instructors interested in the use of virtual worlds. This is an observation:  many of the "free" tools that instructors can receive in-world, are not tools designed for student-centered teaching.  Instead they are tools like slideshows or posters (just to name a few).  Buildings are not user friendly (you have to try to find a door), and why do we need buildings any way?  So, a lot of the behavior of educators in-world would lead one to believe that they wanted to use SL in their classes for the sake of using SL.  That they didn't really consider all of the options and then choose SL because it met a specific need, or because it's use particularly suited the content. Many don't seem to truly understand what student-centered teaching is.  Maybe conference tracks should be labeled "Tools for Student-Centered Teaching" rather than "Use of Virtual Worlds in Teaching and Learning" (but would anyone come?)

So how do we back the discussions away from SL and refocus to make the move in SL a symptom of a larger change?  

I would say that the first thing is to honestly evaluate the obvious drawbacks of teaching in SL, of which there are some.  If teaching is truly student-centered then the student experience is important, especially if it is negative.  We need to be willing to look at how an MUVE might help learning as well as how some uses might hinder learning (and there are times when it can hinder learning). It would seem that this group would be the best ones to pick that up, since most are very interested (if not committed) to using MUVEs for instructional purposes. 

Sadly, and this could just be my impression, the reaction of many in this (and other forums) is that any criticism is reacted to as if it was an attack, rather than a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. If we, educators who have found the technology to be a vital tool in our instruction, do not do this, then we might find the technology abandoned especially by those (students and faculty) who jumped  in believing it would be a utopian solution to all educational ills, only to find there were real problems here as well. Winning them back could be next to impossible.

Ellen











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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Ellen Murphy, Director of Technology Integration
 The Sage Colleges, 45 Ferry St, Clark Library - 2nd floor, Troy, NY  12180, 
Office Phone: 244-4580 : : Cell Phone: 698-9507
SecondLife: Elani Matova






That we aren't out there arguing for larger change rather than just arguing for SL. I KNOW we are. But yesterday's debate and the audience reaction proves that, at least in limited circles, the argument is being misinterpreted as a "Pro-SL" argument rather than a "Pro-learning" argument. How can we change the way the argument is being percieved to make it harder to dismiss so easily as saying that "SL is the second coming of stupid"? After all, NO ONE in education would dare say that student-centered, active learning was "stupid".
 
Let's talk about it!

PS. I'm also posting this to my blog over at http://www.ubernoggin.com in case you'd rather react there than on the list. Either is fine.
 



Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins
PhD Candidate, Ball State University

Director of Emerging Technologies, Kelley Executive Partners at Indiana University

www.ubernoggin.com
 http://www.intellagirl.com
Yahoo: Intellagirl
Skype: Intellagirl
SecondLife: Intellagirl Tully
 


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