SLENZ Project

I was preparing for our Kiwi Educators meeting in Second Life tonight and found that the asset servers are complaining yet again and refused to save my notecard with info on our BIG project. So I decided to post it here instead.!

Would love to hear from anyone who is keen to assist us or be involved in some way or another. You can IM me in world, email me or just leave a comment here!

Engaging with Second Life: real education in a virtual world

In September 2007, Terry Neal and I (Clare) managed to bring together four polytechnics with the backing of IBM, to apply to the TEC encouraging and supporting innovation fund for NZ$500,000 to investigate the use of virtual worlds in tertiary education in NZ. We made it clear that although we were interested in the concept of virtual worlds in general, that Second Life would be the one that was the practical one to investigate.

At the end of March 2008, I received a letter with the magic words, “This application is innovative in terms of the virtual environment and is a platform for the future. Full funding is approved”. I still haven’t quite got my head around it!!

Terry and I are now negotiating the contract with TEC and nothing is final until that has been done – but we see no reason why the project as we originally envisaged it shouldn’t happen!

This note is just to give you some initial information – we will definitely keep you updated as things change.

*********************************************
Who:

(At the moment – others may join us later – let Arwenna know if you are interested!)

Contractors
=========
Project Manager: Tere Tinkel (Terry Neal)
Design/Develop (mainly!): Isa Goodman (Aaron Griffiths)
Research/Evaluation : ?? (Ben Salt)

Polytechnic staff
===========
NMIT: Arwenna Stardust (clare.atkins@nmit.ac.nz) – Project Leader
Open Polytechnic Silel Volitant (John Green)
Otago Polytechnic: Leroy Goalpost (Leigh Blackall)
Dacary Dumpling (Carolyn MacIntosh)
WelTec: Toddles Lightworker (Todd Cochrane)

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What:
These were the parts of the project that we put into the original application

The project has seven parts:
• a literature review to better understand the potential of MUVEs for adult education and how others are using them internationally
• work with ITPNZ forums and stakeholders to identify suitable learning outcomes in which to use this technology
• the four partner ITPs design learning experiences to achieve the selected learning outcomes and discover or develop resources (‘builds’) within SL to support the designed learning experiences
• train staff from across the ITP sector who teach the selected learning outcomes
• pilot the learning experiences with learners from across the ITP sector
• evaluate the learning from the phases of the project
• share the learning and resources on Te Pane Takiao.

and we suggested that while the literature review would help determine the criteria for choosing learning activities, we would also take into account three of the ITP sector priorities:

• sit within qualifications which are level 4 or above
• increase literacy, numeracy, or language levels
• sit within advanced trade, technical and professional qualifications.

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When:

As soon as the money starts arriving! Seriously though, we are expecting to make a start at the beginning of Semester 2 – mid July 2008 and finish in December 2009. Most of the design and development work should happen Jan – May 2009. June – July 2009 will be about helping staff to get teaching in SL, and then the actual trial in July/August 2009.

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How:

This is where Kiwi Educators will come in I am sure! We will be asking you to help us identify good learning activities, perhaps help us build design and test them, later on perhaps helping us to introduce the new staff to SL if you are keen, and helping us to spread the word in your own insititutions. Even if you aren’t currently working at an ITP you might be interested in making contact with your local one (any ideas are very welcome!!). At present the NZ SL community is pretty small and the more connections we can make and the more support we can give the better I think.

****************************************************
Where:
Much of the in world activity will be taking place here on Koru – so expect to see changes here later in the year and also to watch the place become more lively!

*****************************************************
Why:
Well I am sure you all know the reason for that!! Otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far! But my personal opinion is summed up in the conclusion of a paper that I have just had accepted for the ICCMSN2008 conference at Uni of Otago in June –
I say that I believe ” …that our current pedagogy at all levels will be profoundly altered by the possibilities that virtual environments offer. Teaching in virtual environments may never completely replace face to face teaching but it is likely to absorb and overtake the current approach to e-learning. Current MUVEs may shortly seem crude and slow but the work of the pioneers in these environments may well be laying the foundations of new disciplines, a new pedagogy and a new direction and culture for education in the 21st century. “

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