Nice to meet you! I received an email about this conference, on the last day of the deadline, and thought, "jeez, where have I been?" I am definitely interested in global education. I help English learners practice speaking English in the virtual world of Second Life. If you've never heard of Second Life, or virtual worlds for that matter, then you probably live in the countryside with 56k access. haha. Just kidding.
Wow! This discussion thread is being featured at the moment. Fantastic! I'd love to hear any questions or topics you think I should bring up in the presentation. What would you like to know about using virtual worlds to create community within your learning environment?
I wish to show educators just how close global connectivity is to students. With the use of a PC and a headset microphone, students and teachers can learn and share with other global citizens from the comfort of their home. Creating a virtual "park" in which students, teachers, experts in their field, friends and guests from around the world can all meet and share makes education immersive and meaningful.
My English students in Japan do not have enough opportunities to practice speaking English. They also don't have a purpose for using the language. This means my students are losing the motivation to improve. Virtual worlds can be used to give students anonymous identities which allow them to explore and experiment with the language. They're able to visit "destinations" around the "virtual" world and speak to local residents (avatars) using a microphone. Students can actually speak to the world! FOR FREE 24 hours a day! This is really the most amazing part of using virtual worlds for language learning.
The main point of my presentationt will be to show how school districts can have communities created by students. I'll use my own community, Cypris Chat, as an exxample of how one person, with the help of a few dedicated members, can accomplish seemingly daunting project.
I predict, as the popularity of virtual worlds and online social networking increases, "avatars" and pseudo-names will become synonymous with student identity. Virtual worlds will become their home away from home.
What do you think? Sound interesting?
What age are your students? I was working with Skoolaborate doing some work with teens in Second Life, but the elimination of "Teen Second Life" and then the educator discount are making this sort of work more and more difficult for middle and high school folks, I think. But I am always keeping an eye open for new opportunities!
Hi Laura. I teach undergrad English majors in real life, but the community of Cypris Chat is open to the public and for all ages. We maintain peace in our community by making sure all members know and follow our four principles and have a good understanding of our mission. I'll include it below.
As for building a community in a K-12 environment I think it is absolutely possible to do in OpenSim. http://opensim.org Full sims can be rented for as low as $5.00-$10.00 per month. Other grid owners are even offering free sims to educators and non-profits. Shools can set up a dedicated PC for a sim very easily with the help of someone who is a little more tech savvy.
Here is our mission and principles:
We strive to provide an educational yet fun and interesting environment for English learning and teaching. Our members have the chance to be part of a living community surrounded by others who are learning, teaching or simply interested in speaking English with people from around the world. We believe learning should be a way of life instead of a struggle to achieve.
Our 4 Principles
After joining our family, members should find ways to share what they have learned or done in Second Life. Tell us where you have been, what you have seen. Show us your safe toys, clothes, avatars and gadgets. Sharing promotes communication.
Second Life is very different from real life, but it is real for many of us. We all come from different cultures, different backgrounds and with different reasons for spending time in SL. We might not understand each other but we both have the same goal, to learn or teach.
Share your opinions about Cypris. Let us know what you think. Help us make this community a better place for you. Your feedback is what makes Cypris so great. Your opinion matters the most. Help each other with learner/teacher feedback. Communicate mistakes and successes.
Speak. Talk. Ask questions. Say something. We are not passive learners, we are active! In order to improve, we must practice. To practice we must participate. To participate we must SPEAK! Less text chat and more voice chat. We are here to help our members improve their ability to communicate in English.
Group: Cypris Chat
Island: Cypris Village III
HI Mike! I am teaching ESL students (online) in China. I am VERY interested in your topic. We are currently using a moodle course...but I am looking at alternatives to engage the learners and improve their communication skills...specifically conversation (text and speaking...)
I know nothing really about Second Life....can you tell me if it works well in China? I'll try to be there for your presentation!
Verena Roberts CEO www.GlobalEd.ca
Excellent. Hi Verena. Thanks so much for replying. I would love to help.
I use Moodle in my courses also. You know, if we could tell our students to go to the library and jump in a book to learn about the topic we are trying to teach them half of my struggle to educate would be relieved. I believe we can use virtual worlds to do this but most just simply don't know how or even where to start.
We have MANY Chinese English learners in our group. You would be surprised. I think they might be the most aggressive English learners in our group..
You can use Second Life (http://secondlife.com) and connect it to Moodle using SLOODLE (http://sloodle.org) SLOODLE is Second Life + Moodle = SLOODLE so your students can complete tasks in the virtual world that are recorded on your Moodle site. Here is a tour video I made to help show some possibilities.
Looking forward to it your ideas....