Koru is an island (or sim) in Second Life owned by Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, New Zealand. Several other NZ educational institutes including, Weltec, Open Polytechnic of NZ, UCoL and Massey University share the island and are exploring various aspects of the educational possibilities offered by an immersive virtual ‘world’.
The impressive landscaping, using primarily NZ native flora is being created by Aaron Griffiths (SL Isa Goodman) and the ambient sounds include native NZ birds such as tui, bellbirds and at night, moreporks.
Traditional real life buildings are being kept to a minimum.
Current Users of Koru
Koru is administered by Isa Goodman (RL Aaron Griffiths) and Arwenna Stardust (RL Dr Clare Atkins). Koru is the meeting place for the Kiwi Educators group and also provides a public sandbox. Members of the Kiwi Educators can both create persistent builds in the sandbox and use it to ‘set home’ – something which many, otherwise landless educators, find useful. Arwenna has an office down on the shore which can also be used for small group teaching. There is also a large dance floor for those Kiwi parties! and a very large ‘classroom’ area in a skybox will soon be available for public use.
F/Xual Education Services.
This is the consultancy group owned by Aaron Griffiths. Aaron has created the number of authentic native NZ trees for use on the island, including pohutakawa, tree ferns, cabbage trees, nikau palms and the majestic kauri trees that soar above the bush. He has also been responsible for most of the landscaping and lighting on the island and the wonderful terrain textures. His attention to detail is astonishing! Isa also provides land management services for the users of Koru.
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
Universal College of Learning (UCoL) Library Services
Massey University (Albany)
History of Koru
Koru had its genesis in the NMIT Garden of Learning which opened on EduIsland on December 6th 2006. At the time I blogged about it here and I hoped that the EduIsland community would also use the space. The diversity of EduIsland was breathtaking and spending time there certainly helped me to make a number of useful connections with American educators and librarians. The Garden proved to be a space that was widely used by a number of people for quiet conversations and certainly my first students who were visitors from March 2007 commented that they enjoyed the random contact that they had with overseas educators and their students. In some ways Koru seems a little isolated by comparison but I hope that as the NZ community itself develops, so will the number of chance encounters.
The Garden also provided the venue and the inspiration for the Kiwi Educators group which started to meet for informal Sunday chats there. This has grown, particularly with Isa Goodman’s assistance, into a lively and active group of core members who have shared experiences and concerns, trips and social occasions over the past year. Long may it continue! (see the About page for more information on the Kiwi Educators group).