Phase 2. Develop the Learning Narrative

Purpose:

This phase deals with the design of the learning experience and the activities that it contains.  This phase will be repeated for each stage of the project and identify where it is building on work from the previous stage.

Building on the work of the previous phase and using the Context Summary as a base, this phase will identify and describe, in some detail, the actual learning activities that will take place in support of the specified learning outcomes. One major purpose of this is to identify the resources that will be required.

Continue reading

Phase 3. Develop and Implement the Technical Design

Purpose:

This phase deals with the design of all the resources required by the learning activities of the stage both those in and out of SL.  This phase will be repeated for each stage of the project and identify where it is building on work from the previous stage.

The purpose for this phase is to ensure that all resources needed to create the learning experience are identiifed, designed effectively and constructed.  Based on the learning activity or activities identified in the Develop the Learning Narrative phase, and on the list of required resources derived from that, this phase is primarily concerned with the questions around ‘How will we fulfill these requirements?and documents the final answers to those questions. It thus considers the design of all the resources that are required for the final construction both those that will be built in SL and those that won’t.

Continue reading

SLENZ Project Development Roadmap

Much of my time over the last few weeks has been concerned with attempting to bring together disparate needs and views into a workable process for the development of a learning experience which is primarily but not completely delivered in Second Life. The process has been tough at times! but then the task is complex and there is very little previous experience or best practice reports to draw on.

Continue reading

Designing and creating SL ‘builds’

One of the interesting issues that the SLENZ project has highlighted is just how do you go about creating a complex build in SL with several developers in an organised and systematic way.  As good IT developers we are always thinking of what methodologies, techniques etc to use.  Of course, SL builds have their own levels of complexity incorporating code, objects, textures, sounds, animations and interactions and as far as we can tell no one has yet described a good way of managing the development of these. (If anyone has I would love to know!).

Therefore we have had a first go at putting together some initial thoughts on the priniciples, processes and techniques that we might use for an educational build and they can be found here on the SLENZ blog.  Would love to have useful comments back about what we are proposing!

Catching up with SLENZ

I was horrified when I saw yesterday how long it was since I made a posting on this blog!  I can only blame it on having been so busy with the SLENZ project that I haven’t had time to write about it.  John Waugh has been blogging about SLENZ though and many other related things too 🙂

It has been an exciting time for the project.  We had a number of excellent proposals for pilot projects to be supported by SLENZ and great difficulty in choosing the two that we would work with.  We were very tempted to go with three pilots but our Project Steering Group, very wisely I am sure, encouraged us finally to go with only two! At least that way we know that we can fund them!  The pilots will be announced tomorrow and I am looking forward to working on them……after all the talk and the preparation, it will be soooo good to finally be building something real!

The literature review is almost complete and is with two external reviewers – we await there feedback with great interest.  It was a real challenge to try to bring together useful literature especially when there is so little as yet published in ‘academically recognised’ publications.  We made the decision that we had to include many non-traditional courses of information, such as blogs, mailing list postings and personal communications.  Even though they are not peer-reviewed as such, they include so many useful thoughts and guides to good practice, that to ignore them would have rendered the literature review fairly worthless in terms of informing the project.  It was particularly noticeable that much of the published research, although only a year or so old, was already out of date in terms of the where the technology is currently at.  It became clear, to me at least, that the lag between the conduct of research and its publication (often a problem in IT generally) is a major issue when attempting to gather valid data on a very rapidly evolving technology.  I wonder if there is a way of creating a ‘peer-review’ equivalent for blogs! It may be exactly what we need.

Speaking of believable blogs and bloggers,  I am always impressed by Steven Warburton’s Liquid Learning blog and try to check it out as frequently as I can.  His current posting, while both amusing and highly pertinent (I immediately recognised the herding cats situation he described!) gives some very useful ideas on how to ensure a successful tour of SL.  Compuslory reading if you are thinking of doing the same!

An opportunity for NZ educators…..

Today saw the issue of a very special request for proposals! Special if you happen to be interested in teaching in Second Life that is, and especially if you are currently teaching in a New Zealand tertiary institution.  The SLENZ project was set up to design, develop, build and pilot learning activities that could add educational value to the experience of NZ tertiary students. In order to do this, the project team needs to work with at lest two groups of NZ tertiary educators, preferably spread across the sector and with access to a reasonable number of students (not too many and not too few!).

Today the SLENZ team issued their call for proposals from educators who would like to work with the development team.  Full details are here .  Realising that there may well be individuals out there with a passion but, as yet, no community, the SLENZ team are happy to help put individuals in touch with each other in the hope of creating a working team.  So if you are interested just get in touch with either Terry Neal (terry.neal@blendedsolutions.co.nz) or with Clare Atkins (clare.atkins@nmit.ac.nz) or of course just leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you 🙂

John Waugh has also posted about this today on the SLENZ blog.

eFest08

Members of the extended SLENZ team at eFest08

Members of the extended SLENZ team at eFest08

I have just returned from the 2008 eFest conference at SkyCity in Auckland. This conference brings together educators, instructional designers and many others interested in all forms of e-learning and blended learning in New Zealand.

As it was just over a year since Isa Goodman and I presented our thoughts on Second Life for education to eFest07, we spent a little while discussing how far the thinking around education in virtual worlds had come since then.  Delivery of the NMIT island Koru was being eagerly anticipated at the last eFest and there were attendees who were highly sceptical of the value that this might bring to our students.  A year later, our second island has arrived and for the first time we were able to present some real experiences of teaching real students in a real course using a blended approach which combines real and Second Life delivery.  Toddles Lightworker, otherwise known in real life at Todd Cochrane has been demonstrating how this can be done effectively in a first year degree course, and he was able to join us in providing some personal observations on its effectiveness (Thank you Todd!).

While there are still doubters and sceptics within the community, Dr Scott Deiner inspired many with his from the University of Auckland inspired many with his presentation of the build which he has created for the delivery of course material to medical students, both with a simulated Intensive care unit and a sohpisticated HUD driven system to simulate in real time the pressures of an emergency unit.  All members of the SLENZ team, and many in the audience, were inspired by the approach that Scott (otherwise known as Professor Noarlunga or just ‘the Prof’) is taking and the opportunities it creates for possible collaboration not only between medical students but also perhaps between nursing students as well.

Part of the purpose of the presentation was to highlight to interested educators the areas in which our literature review is suggesting that Second Life may add value to student learning and to encourage all to think of ways in which they might be able to contribute to the development of the SLENZ project.  This will be the subject of a separate post over the next few days as the SLENZ team are just about to issue the request for proposals to work with us to develop learning activities to trial in Second Life.

One other bonus of eFest was meeting up with Dr Melanie Middlemiss, who is managing the ONGENS project.  This project is a collaboration between the University of Otago and the the University of Canterbury and is looking to investigate the creation of a virtual grid for New Zealand to support the use of OpenSim.  I have been investigating OpenSim over the last month and will post some of my intitial thoughts later.

So a final thanks to all who contributed to eFest, especially those who took the time to come to our presentations and to talk with us further about the project and Second Life in general.  Great to meet up with some old SL friends (Iphi and DebZee) and also some new ones (Lianna) and some who I am sure will become friends over the next few months!  And thanks to ITPNZ and all other sponsors of eFest and particularly to Amy for making it all happen! You did a grand job!

Wellington Railway Station

Thanks to some exciting and innovative work by my colleague Rollo Kohime (aka as Mike Baker of NMIT’s Visual Arts team), Koru has sprouted a new and rather interesting build over the last few months.

Wellington Railway Station on Koru

Wellington Railway Station on Koru

Mike is currently studying for his Masters in Art and Design, majoring in Dance and Video through the Auckland University of Technology. His project, “In the Company of Strangers” comments on how strangers negotiate the parameters of meetings, exchanges and conversations in urban spaces. The build, which utilises Mike’s own photographs, blog entries, comments, soundscapes and which will include his video, explores this in one urban space, Wellington Railway Station. The effect is mesmerising and highly immersive. Take a trip to Koru to contemplate the existence or not of some of the boundaries between the virtual and the real, and those between strangers. If Rollo is there, he will happily chat to you about his work in progress and he plans to have a more public display of himself working in Second Life during the Nelson Arts Festival.

Wellington raliway Station - Interior

Wellington raliway Station - Interior

Watch this space for more details on this!

or you can visit Mike’s blog for more information or to leave your comments. Below is a SLURL to Mike’s build on Koru: And if you come visiting feel free to look around the rest of the island too, listen to the tuis or the morepork and if you are really lucky you may catch the whale song in the bay. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/86/77/22

The SLENZ Project

Well the SLENZ project is finally up and running and is really the main reason why this blog hasn’t been updated for way too long!

The core development team met a few weeks ago to set out the arrangements, understandings, roles and general pattern of the project. It was an inspiring meeting in which we all met for the first time in real life, although we had all met in SL. One major outcome of the meeting was the agreement that we needed an official, impartial communicator – particularly blogger – for the project. Johnnie Wendt’s (aka John Waugh) name came immediately to mind as Isa Goodman and I had known him for a long time in SL and I had had the pleasure of meeting him once for a wonderful coffee in downtown Nelson as he was passing through! John took little persuading to join the team and the SLENZ blog was born, with its first entry on Aug 1st to coincide with the real start of the project.

Work was already underway on gathering and absorbing resources for a major literature review focusing on the pedagogy of virtual worlds as well as on other’s experiences of teaching and studying in that environment. That work is continuing and is proving to be an exciting challenge. As yet there is still little peer reviewed literature on Second Life or virtual worlds and of course what there is, is often very out of date by the time it is published. We have to be careful not to place too much weight on such studies, despite their provenance, just as we have to carefully assess informal literature. At the TELSIG conference, there were some interesting comments from Mark Brown on the rise of the ‘amateur’, particularly through the ease of online publishing, and how dangerous relying on such anecdotal information could be. I am constantly reminded of that admonishment when trawling through the amount of online information about education in Second Life. However, I cannot ignore the fact that a huge number of valuable insights and a large amount of incredibly useful information based on practitioner’s experiences and reflections are contained in these informal publications. While such literature may not be rigorous in the usually accepted sense, we cannot afford to ignore it!

Last week saw the first of the project steering group meetings. It was so encouraging to know that we had such a supportive and friendly governance group. Drawing together senior managers from 4 ITPs (Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics), the TEC (Tertiary Education Commission) and 2 of NZ’s biggest corporate presences (IBM and Telecom) and with a link to the University of Canterbury – this is a group of people who know what they are talking about! It is going to be fun working with them!

TELSIG – 2008

I am currently attending the Tertiary Education Libraries Special Interest Group’s (TELSIG) biennial meeting In Palmerston North – once again, a friendly interesting conference with some very interesting speakers, particularly Ass Prof Mark Brown of Massey University views on emerging trends in eLearning and some useful information on such things as recent developments in NZ copyright law and institutional repositories.

Not a conference that I would usually have attended but one where I had been invited to coordinate to session on Second Life in education and its potential for libraries in particular. Having been given a 2 hour session, we managed (with valuable assistance from Tim Darlington and Rob Mooar – thanks guys!) to create a truly inter-world presentation!

I provided a short overview of Second Life using in a standard form (i.e. powerpoints and speaking to the RL audience) but then it got interesting! Having mentioned the value of real time interaction, we were able to move almost seamlessly to Jo Kay in Sydney or rather to Jokay Wollongong on Jokaydia in Second Life. With the assistance of Timothy Greig‘s avatar Aramis Maginot, we were able to project Jokay on to the screen while she showed us around the Jokaydia islands, talked to the audience about what we were seeing, and answer questions put directly to her. Impressive technology indeed!

We then moved to Emerald Gerant (in real life Kathryn Greenhill of Murdoch University in Australia) for an insight into libraries in Second Life and for a quick view of what Murdoch are doing. The audience was also treated to a little view of themselves as Timothy had taken a photo of the conference which he then uploaded to SL and which Kathryn then used to decorate a cube which revolved beside her as she was speaking! She had also arranged for her webcam view to be projected into Second Life – cool!

At the end of her talk, Emerald then teleported to Koru where Aramis Maginot was waiting to present his slides both to an inworld and a real world audience while Timothy provide the voice over in the conference room transmitted back into Second Life. His talk based on the work from his Master’s thesis was very interesting and hopefully he will find time to give us some help with the SLENZ project.

I finished up with a very short conclusion on the future and our SLENZ project plans. By far and away the most complex technical presentation that I have been involved with, and I am still a little in awe that it worked with so few glitches!

Everyone seemed to have found the presentations interesting and thought provoking and much of the rest of the day and evening was spent answering sl questions! Exactly what I had hoped for!! Sure hope some of you will find your way into SL!!