Torley Tutorials

If you’ve never watched any of the Second Life video tutorials from Torley Linden, you are missing out on the joy of creation that infuses each of them. Torley describes himself as a “happy person,” and that obvious happiness is infectious. You just can’t get frustrated with the build features if you go to Torley for advice.

Here’s a good one on using/creating gestures:

principles are principles

In the past few weeks, I’ve run into two presentations that relied on Chickering and Gamson’s “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” I suppose that you’re not surprised, given the title, but you might be surprised to know that the article that introduced these principles was first published in the dark ages of 1987. If you were all caught up in the big hair, bigger shoulder pads of that era and missed the article, here are the big 7:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these really are still good principles. But maybe you’ll be surprised to know that I heard them referenced in presentations about education and technology. In late May, I heard Steve Gilbert of the TLT Group speak at Gannon’s symposium on teaching, and his entire presentation focused on how technology can enhance these principles. You can find Gilbert’s resources here.

Then I heard about them again at the Second Life Best Practices in Education 2007 conference from Sarah Robbins (Intellagirl Tully, SL) in her presentation on “Engagement in Second Life.” You can view a clip of her presentation here, and find her slides and download them here.

Maybe I should remind you more often that using technology is not a substitute for thinking about your course design. There’s nothing worse than being presented with dazzling gizmos that are expected to speak for themselves–why are you in the classroom or online with your students if that’s the case?

Isn’t it great to allay fears that the teacher isn’t needed anymore?

it’s Wednesday

You’ll know what “it’s Wednesday” means when you start working in Second Life, because the grid is updated, spruced up, de-bugged, etc. on Wednesdays. You’ll learn to plan around Wednesdays, to take a mid-week break to do those real-world tasks that need to be done.

I’m blogging, for example, about Wednesdays, because . . . it’s Wednesday!

to begin

In the genre of putting the cart before the horse, I’m beginning this blog on experiences in Second Life before the island arrives.

A few of us have been observing, playing, and experimenting with the possibility for education in Second Life, and we will be making more permanent plans this summer. Until then, I will venture a few posts on my experiences.

About the title: The concept of presence in a virtual world, the idea that the person at the keyboard acquires (rather quickly) the sense of being her avatar and experiences whatever she does in that world is a powerful effect that can be of great value in education. More about presence later. To try it out yourself, download the free software, create an avatar, and have a go at it.

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