Tag Archives: SLENZ project

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.


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!

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.


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

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)

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.


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.


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.

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!

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. “