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My First Teaching Experience in Second Life

In my previous post I wrote about the plans of having virtual meetings in Second Life with our postgraduate students of the E-business Management course. And I’ve got good news! The first virtual meeting tool place yesterday evening our time (12.00 SL time) in Sloodleville. 7 of our students attended the meeting (+ 1 that only managed to be with us for a short time, because her SL client kept crashing), which is more than we ever dared to expect in the first week (and we didn’t even offer extra points for attendance!).

During the meeting students had the chance to ask questions about the course activities that take place in our e-classroom (based on Moodle, which we still haven’t hooked up with SL), and I also prepared a short exercise in which we learned about the use of the SL inventory. I prepared a box that students had to accept, find, drag it in-world, open it, and then copy its content to their inventory. The box contained some notes (instructions on how to use objects, tips and tricks about using SL, and a note with some ideas and questions about business uses of SL), our faculty T-shirt, and two boxes of content (one with animations, and one with useful objects like a cup of coffee, a glass of margarita etc ;) ). The notes contained in our box are in Slovenian, but I can make a translation to English if anyone is interested in reading them. And here’s a picture of me and my students playing with the boxes:
Opening MeP boxes
I must really say all the students did amazingly well, and in no time we were all wearing our official T-shirts:

Everyone wearing FM T-Shirts
Aren’t we pretty? ;) We also had a drink, tried dancing a bit, and we learned that not all boxes are meant to be worn. All in all it was a lot of fun, although we did have some minor technical problems (I think we can officially call technical glitches a SL feature; now I understand what “perpetual beta” means ;) ). I had a lot of fun during our 1,5 hr long class, and I hope the students also enjoyed it. One of the things I really enjoyed was seeing students that thought they didn’t have enough knowledge/experience with computers to be be successful in our course catching up on new concepts in SL very fast. I’m so proud of them, and I think that this experience can help them become more confident ICT users in general. Also, the first student feedback was very positive, so I hope they keep attending our meetings, and that we’ll have a lot more fun in the future.

We plan to use our future virtual meetings to have discussions on themes that are related to the course, perhaps we’ll have some field trips. I’d also love to include some guest participants our students could interact with. For now the plans are still pretty open; we want to give our students the opportunity to choose discussion topics and activities for our virtual meetings. I’d also like to use this post to invite guests to join our virtual meetings. If you’re in any way involved in the business/management field (you can be a student, teacher, virtual entrepreneur,…) and would be willing to have a talk with my students, please contact me (iAlja Writer). I’d also love to meet with other teachers in-world to “exchange notes” as Glynn (who spotted our class in action yesterday) already offered :)

What more can I say? Teaching, and interacting with students in SL is fun! Seeing the students’ avatars adds another dimension to online communication. I usually don’t like text-only synchronous chats with multiple users, but chatting with multiple avatars in SL is really engaging. It still isn’t as good as having a real conversation with the students, but it comes close. Especially if you consider the fact that we were able to meet in a virtual place, while still being in the comfort of our own homes, wearing our pajamas :) So my decision is that I’m not giving up on Second Life. It does have a lot of problems (especially technical), but the learning/teaching potential of virtual worlds that can already be seen in SL is just too tempting to ignore.

Originally published at http://ialja.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-first-teaching-experience-in-second.html