Second Life As a EdTech Tool
Does the space have an identifiable instructional design?
Second life does have an identifiable instructional design with a variety of tools to allow for students to contribute to course discussions or virtual learning explorations. I found the chat, speak, and camera controls useful and can see how these tools could aid learning and engage post secondary and secondary students.
What helps or hinders communication of what they want the users to understand, learn, or do?
Some of the features in SL are not as user friendly and can be confusing to first time users. The experience is fun, but it does take some time for users to find locations, partners, and learn navigation features. Having detailed instructions and the orientation lesson is a great idea to help users better understand communication protocols and procedures.
What tools do learners and designers use in the system that are effective? Ineffective?
Tools and instructional design ideas that SL offers includes chat features, photo scavenger hunt, instructional videos, extended field trips, and the speak tool for student led presentations.
Does the 3-D contribute to learning according to what you know from psychology or pedagogical practice?
Communication and learning communities are always stronger when a variety of communication platforms exist. So, I do think that the 3D experience that utilizes speak, video, and/or chat features does meet the needs of a variety of student learning styles. Learning how to deal with a variety of cultural and diverse backgrounds can be a challenge for some students and instructors. SL is a great way to have students learn to think globally.
Could you link this to some form of e-learning instructional design?
SL is full of learning scenarios where students can role play and/or experience life in a variety of environments. SL offers the opportunity for the learning environment to be extended.
I did a little research on SL a few years ago to see how it could be incorporated at the high school level. I found that students did enjoy SL.
Does the immersive experience contribute to the learning for you or the members of the group?
Yes, the SL experience does force users to work together and can contribute to the learning experience of the entire group. The experience does take time, but I think students love this environment.
Are you the intended audience? Yes
Would it work for another audience? I think this environment is suitable for upper secondary audiences and post secondary environments. Safety issues do exist in this system that would lead many to question the use with audiences under the age of 13. The SL environment is somewhat confusing. SL is a free system that educators can tap into, but the cost of maintaining the system may soon cause many higher ed institutions to rethink their investment.