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.