Second Life Workshop – Spring 2011

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Are you an instructor interested in using Second Life in your course? Educators are consistently searching for ways to increase engagement, establish presence, and build learning community in their courses. They are also looking for technologies which facilitate active learning and engage a new generation of learners. A virtual world, Second Life, assists faculty in meeting these needs.

The UW System Learning Technology Development Council is sponsoring 8 workshops on Second Life.  The workshops are designed and scheduled to serve faculty at all skill levels and to provide a progression from beginner to “teaching with Second Life.” The workshops run for 90 minutes. The first 60 minutes are for instruction, with the last 30 minutes for Q & A, and extra one-to-one assistance with difficult topics. Note that Workshop 1, or equivalent knowledge (including having an avatar already) is required for participation in Workshops 2-4. Each workshop is limited to 15 attendants.

Workshop Schedule
Date Description
3:00 pm – Mon, Feb 28 Workshop 1 – Getting Started with Second Life
2:00 pm – Tues, Mar 29 Workshop 2 – Inventory Management, Appearance & Profile
10:00 am – Thu, April 14 Workshop 3 – Creating Your Virtual Environment
2:00 pm – Thu, May 12 Workshop 4 – Best Practices for Teaching & Learning in SL

Workshop Descriptions

Educators are consistently searching for ways to increase engagement, establish presence, and build learning community in their courses. They are also looking for technologies which facilitate active learning and engage a new generation of learners. A virtual world, Second Life, assists faculty in meeting these needs.

Workshop 1 – Getting Started in Second Life

This workshop is for instructors that are familiar with virtual worlds and are interested in implementing Second Life in his or her course in the coming semesters. In this workshop, instructors will learn how to perform basic Second Life functions, such as navigating, teleporting, searching, and creating networks, and gather course materials and information that you can use in your own course.   [Note that Workshop 1, or equivalent knowledge (including having an avatar already) is a pre-requisite for participation in Workshops 2-4. ]

Workshop 2 – Inventory Management, Appearance and Profile

In Second Life, you navigate through the environment by controlling a character, or a virtual representation of yourself called an avatar. This avatar can be your likeness, or it can be anything you want. Some people have avatars that are a different gender or race from themselves, while others are more extreme and have avatars that look like animals, dragons, or robots. In this learning activity, you will see and practice the steps involved in creating and saving a new look for your avatar that is modeled after the blockbuster film “Avatar”. You will also learn basic inventory management and learn how to edit your profile.

Workshop 3 – Creating Your Virtual Environment

Do you know what a prim is? What kinds of settings should you consider in a group build? These questions and others will be answered in a beginners workshop around what it takes to build in Second Life. The same software that you use to interact with and communicate inside Second Life also comes with a suite of tools that can be used for creating virtual learning spaces.

This workshop will focus on general build terminology, a tour of the building tools Second Life provides, and the considerations you should keep in mind when embarking on your own build project or orchestrating an in-world classroom activity. Faculty and academic staff interested in learning more about the tools possible for creating virtual spaces will have an opportunity to experiment with the tools as well as walk away with a simple creation they could use to handout course information.

Workshop 4 – Best Practices for Teaching and Learning in Second Life

Second Life provides access to a network of information, organizations, people, cultures, and languages not easily available in RL, has the potential to increase retention through engaging and interactive activities, creates a status-leveling effect for students from diverse backgrounds, increases social presence by providing a 3-D environment that is media rich, and offers an immersive environment for experiential learning.

In Second Life students can participate in simulations and role-plays taking advantage of the 3-D immersive environment, students can exhibit their work for a small group of people or the entire world and receive feedback on their work, and students can take virtual field trips to meet various pedagogical needs like gather information, performing research, or practicing a skill (like a foreign language).  Further, students and students can hold group meetings or give presentations using the voice and audio functions.

In this workshop, we will discuss pedagogical best practices in using Second Life and discuss the potential of Second Life to meet certain pedagogical needs effectively. Specifically, we will share Second Life orientations and learning activity templates.

For more information contact Pat Fellows (patricia.fellows@uwex.uwc.edu).

UW-Green Bay Second Life Nursing Complex

As of May 1, the UWGB Nursing Complex Island is now available for the public. Until now, it was a private “invite-only” region as we worked on the initial development and construction.  While the various projects and buildings are not yet complete, progress has been tremendous.  Some of our Nursing staff have become very savvy with Second Life as they have been actively exploring other regions, experimenting with audio conferencing in Second Life, decorating offices and other spaces, and getting used to the settings and controls of the interface. 

The Nursing Complex region includes a replica of Mary Ann Cofrin (MAC) Hall, complete with classrooms, offices, furniture, and textures that were created from still images of the real MAC hall. Our region also has representations of other notable features from the GB campus like the arboretum and Lambeau cottage as well as some structures that take advantage of the creative freedom afforded by a virtual environment e.g., a custom-built amphitheater with a large display screen.

Two of our Learning Technology Center Students, Kyle MacDonald and Julie Harvey have been involved in the development of a poverty simulation with one of our Social Work/Nursing instructors, Christine Vandenhouten.  The simulation involves very innovative use of Second Life scripting language in order to assign avatars to different families and keep track of their finances and health.  The poverty simulation includes many buildings including a police station, grocery store, and others.

The initiative is supported with a WI-TECNE grant and the involvement of the UWGB Nursing department in conjunction with the Learning Technology Center. We have learned much about virtual island management, group settings, hardware settings, 3D design, and even a new scripting language. There are plans to use our Second Life region for course activities in Fall 2009 (and perhaps sooner) by our Nursing Department.  Eventually, we will have a virtual nursing lab and other health-related items, and other GB faculty and staff have expressed some interest in future possibilities.  We look forward to seeing instructional activity in our Second Life region.  Feel free to stop by the island and look around. SLURL:http://slurl.com/secondlife/UWGB%20Nursing%20Complex/93/107/35  I’ll give you a tour if I’m in world.

 

Submitted by:

Leif Nelson (SL name: Alf Alter)
Learning Technology Center
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
nelsonl@uwgb.edu