Class in SL

13 02 2008

The more I think about Second Life in education, the more I don’t get it. We have this incredible environment that allows users to develop spaces that represent their understanding of reality. Yet, most classes in Second Life are glorified forms of the traditional class. Granted, there is a cost to building and a learning curve to working and moving around the space. This is a real obstacle to using SL in education in a meaningful way.

Most class spaces seem to be models of first world models- teacher centric. It was interesting that even when there is not a formal space defined for class, like our first journey into SL as a class, the class faced the direction of the teacher. We seem to be creatures of habit.

It was also interesting to see how everyone moved around the space. The ability to move comfortably around the space requires time and practice. While this may be the same in most online environments, it seems like SL is a more complex environment than most text based environments. Considering that most interactions in the space do not leverage the 3-D capabilities for education, it does not seem worth the time to learn the space for educational activities. This is especially true when you consider that there is already a shortage of time in most classrooms.

Now, if the environment could be simplified and if teachers were to take educational advantage of the 3-d capabilities, this might make a better online learning environment. It would be important to be able to correctly identify students in the space and limit access to learning spaces.

I believe, like the Horizon Report, that there is much value to be had in these environments. However, the tools need to improve and like most other technologies, we need to make radical changes in the ways we teach before we can leverage the capabilities of these technologies.

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