23 May 2007

Teaching space at EducationUK now well developed.

Milton's teaching space and office is now set up for small lectures/presentations and seminars via PowerPoint, streaming video and audio so that students can see and hear the lecture in real time. There's also the ability for the students to raise there hand so that the lecturer can stop talking to let them ask questions (after 30 seconds the student's arm starts waving). The teaching space works best for small groups of up to eight. For larger groups EducationUK offer well-resourced lecture theatres and seminar spaces that are just a stone's throw away across the 'Island'.

We now also have a multimedia library in the form of the bookcases where students can click on individual books to access .pdf journal articles, text files or course related web content. Students can now also jump out (or back into) Blackboard or the University web pages via a virtual web terminal on the desk. They can also access many related academic web pages from here as well. I've included some pictures of the facilities including the Freeview TV on the wall(for video streaming of module content) and the whiteboard for PowerPoint presentations to which it's also possible to annotate directly onto the board.

The lectern is particularly useful as it hold the presentation pages in a book so the lecturer doesn't keep having to turn towards the board whilst presenting. Another neat teaching feature are the pictures of the top 30 Psychologists of all time, from Bandura to Zimbardo. Clicking on the pictures automatically gives the students a text file with an in-depth biography of the Psychologist.

The whole set up is much the same as a regular teaching environment at present so it's not really using Second Life to its full potential. Future developments will exploit the advantages of virtual teaching space by integrating demonstrations that one couldn't give in a real-life space.

Although the technology exists to make the student experience much richer in 3D virtual worlds, and we can teach in ways that are not possible in real life, the fact is that the principles behind good teaching remain. It's about engaging student interest with enthusiasm and knowledge, inspiring students to develop their own informed opinions.

For me it's important not to get too hung-up with the technology, as the saying goes "The Fool Looks at the Finger that Points to the Sky". Second Life is only a teaching tool and it's best use is when blended with other engaging teaching methods. The virtual teaching space is located on EducationUK Island within Second Life. SLurl here.


  1. Have you done any SL lectures yet ?
    I'm working in the Research and Innovations team (part of LIS) at the University of Derby and would be very interested to attend a SL lecture. I'd be interested to find out how well the lecture runs during "laggy" periods on the Grid(of which there are many in SL from my experience)and whether it is still viable as a teaching medium during these times.
    I've joined the University of Derby SL Group (my SL name is Gypsum Kidd)so you should be able to see when I'm online.
    Thanks in advance,

  2. I am a fifty-some year old educational specialist and teacher for students with disabilities. I have been reading about teaching and education in SL, and took the plunge a few days ago and now have an avatar. I have visited the UK campus several times and have been reading your blog.

    I also have a particular interest in ASD.

    Being of my generation, my skills on the computer and abilities to use "gaming" techniques are somewhat limited. I need the help of the tech-savy younger people.

    One of my teachers, is in graduate school majoring in instructional technology. She, too, just joined SL. Our school was recently named a demonstration high school for inclusion by the state of Florida. As part of our school's plan, we are looking at the use of technology for our students, beyond the usual assisting devices. Claudia, the graduate student, is investigating grants to perhaps allow us a place in SL and hopefully will turn some of this into her thesis.

    Can you point me in any direction? I am most interested in the social inclusion of students with disabilities in such simulated educational environments. It seems to be an area with very little information out there. I have seen some references to the "wheelie" events in SL, but that seems to be the extent of things.

    This is linked to my blog, which was recently formed to unite the teachers in my district and help communicate some of the political concerns we currently are dealing with in Tampa.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work on your blog.


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