The Teen Second Life Culture Project

Hello Everyone! Like Cari, I elected to make a submission to the UBC Global Minds Challenge as my venture pitch. I’ve included a brief project description and two videos that might interest you. For more information see the link to the project website.TSLland

The Teen Second Life Culture Project was an exciting and unique learning adventure taught within a 3D online world. Students from two Regina Public Schools used their research skills to study various world cultures through seven common cultural patterns: economic, political, kinship, artistic, religious, educational, and recreation and play. Learners then represented their new knowledge by designing and editing objects and land plots to reflect the cultures’ way of life. Students interacted with one another by using avatars in role-playing activities. Guest presenters with specialized knowledge were invited to the virtual world from distant locations to share their insights with the learners.

Students also used blogs to record and present their research in addition to sharing images from their virtual land plots. Readers commented on the blog entries, sometimes offering advice and new information to the students. At the end of the unit, students were charged with the task of creating a multimedia project depicting what a typical day would be like for their assigned culture. The student work is spectacular!

In addition to the knowledge and content learned through this project, students demonstrated sensitivity toward, and an appreciation for, all cultural groups. These values and attitudes are important due not only to the multicultural nature of Canadian society, but also because we aim for our students to be leaders in global citizenship.

To learn more about the Teen Second Life Culture Project and to discover the pedagogical possibilities of virtual worlds, please visit our comprehensive project website at:

If you are pressed for time and only have a few minutes to learn about the Teen Second Life Culture Project, we recommend that you visit the following links; however, we are willing to bet that once you’ve had a chance to learn a little, you’ll want to learn more!

Teen Second Life at Regina Public Schools – 3 minute video

“A Day in the Life of” student made videos:—macneill

November 26, 2009   3 Comments

Would you support implementing FOSS/OSS in your work environment?

Absolutely! Here’s why:

As I mentioned as a comment on this week’s presentation website, I rarely, purchase proprietary software. My software needs are usually taken care of by OSS, so there is no need for me to go out and spend money. I find OSS cheap, easy to use, and very efficient. My instructional designs make use of OSS as well mostly due to the conditions under which I teach.  There is generally no extra funds for software in my school division, unless it is determined that a program is required as a learning adaption.

Having said this, there exists an on-going debate whether to choose PS over OSS as we plan for the future regarding the use of technology in my school division. There are those who appreciate the affordability of OSS and those who feel that the cost of PS is justified due to the support and quality of the software. This was an argument outlined in this week’s module, so I’m going to assume that it is quite common. Another important discussion is occurring in regards to the old “PC vc Mac” debate. Interestingly, those in favour of going with Macs are also strong supporters and advocates for OSS whereas PC lovers praise PS.


October 23, 2009   3 Comments

Second Life Cubed

Second Life (SL),  owned by Linden Lab, is an online 3D world created and maintained by its users (residents).  Click here for a short video. Although not originally intended to be, the Second Life platform is emerging as a learning technology.

Face 1 – Market Focus

The SL platform offers opportunities to all three market sectors on the cube. Higher education institutes like colleges and universities have raced to establish themselves on the SL grid to offer distance/blended course offerings and to create virtual learning spaces. The corporate world serves as another market because companies, both private and government, can establish a presence in SL and use the platform for training and development. To a lesser extent, the K-12 sector represents another market focus. Although the potential is there for profit from the K-12 markets, growth has been slower due to several restrictions and barriers.

Face 2 – Types of Offerings

As a learning technology, SL offers infrastructure as a mechanism for providing online learning opportunities. Although general membership and participation in SL is free, those wanting to create learning opportunities must purchase land and pay other service fees.  Content and subject matter is the responsibility of the users/clients. Varying levels of technical support only is offered by SL to its paying customers.

Face 3 – Who is the Buyer?

Typically, SL as a learning technology is purchased by corporations, school districts, and higher education institutes. According to the cube, I suppose it is either “learning bought for learner” or “learning bought centrally” depending on how the purchaser intends the technology will be used and whether the use of SL is imposed on learners and institutions. Interestingly, there is an opportunity for revenue from individual learners once immersed in the learning technology because SL has its own currency system and market that entices users to make purchases, sometimes costing real world funds.

Face 4 – Global Markets

The SL platform is best suited for regions with excellent Internet infrastructure. Regions where Internet and bandwidth is limited or restricted will experience far too many problems using SL as learning technology. In fact, broadband Internet and above average computer hardware are minimum recommendations for using SL. Regarding the issue of language, the SL platform is available in English, French, German, and Chinese. This could be viewed as a restriction, however, because SL is created and maintained by its users creative ways to translate the interface have been used including an in-world translator.

Face 5 – Development of the Market

I’m hoping this face of the cube allows for some blurring of the boundaries because I’m not exactly sure where SL as a learning technology fits in regarding development of the market. As previously stated, poor Internet infrastructure, potential language barriers and poverty creates unfavourable market conditions for selling SL as a learning technology in some regions. It simply is not a good fit in some countries. However, generally speaking, the global market freely imports  and exports learning technologies. Potential buyers are free to consider using SL. While SL does face a small number of competitors in the virtual world market, its popularity gives it a slight edge.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

SL is a learning technology that “works with a well developed learning system”. SL is likely going to be used to enhance teaching and learning by those who have chosen to explore the benefits of the engaging environment of 3D virtual worlds. In some cases, however, I could see that the use of SL as a learning technology could be imposed on a system as a cost and time saving means of delivering instruction and training. Corporations, for example, might make it mandatory for employees to enroll in professional development delivered in SL as opposed to the more traditional means of expensive face to face training sessions and conferences. In this case, drawing from the cube, the technology is “imposed and competes with existing learning systems”.

September 21, 2009   8 Comments

Internet Resources M2

Just a few links to resources that you may find useful.

Canadian Business Online Get advice, tips and strategies on starting and running a small business in Canada. A decent resource if you can handle the large number of ads.

Instigator Blog Entrepreneurship, Business, Social Media, and Marketing. Down to earth blog articles.

Dragon’s Den TV and Online Business hopefuls pitch their ideas to millionaire investors.

TED TALK: David S. Rose on Pitching to VCs

and I can’t leave this one out:

Richard St. John’s 8 Secrets of Success

September 19, 2009   3 Comments

Royal Roads University Open Courseware Initiative


A pitch is presented to make the case for Royal Roads University to establish an Open Courseware initiative.


Referring to the successful open courseware initiative at MIT, the pitcher presents some compelling arguments in favour of her venture. She suggests that providing open access to courses will help with student and faculty recruitment and the marketing of Royal Roads’ high-quality programming thereby enhancing the university’s reputation. Additional benefits of using open courseware are also mentioned including increased global access and contributions being made to the building of a learning society. The pitcher also sets up and proceeds to knock down what could be the two greatest arguments against the open courseware initiative: a possible decrease in tuition paid by those who are content to learn for free and the chance that others could steal content and profit by resale. According to the pitcher, academic credit is not given to students who don’t pay tuition and course content is subject to copyright laws.

Interestingly, only seven minutes were used to pitch the idea and, as an EVA, I felt the pitcher left me hanging with too many unanswered questions. For example, the pitch provides no information regarding how the plans will be carried out, so an EVA is left wondering what types of resources are necessary to start and maintain the venture. Since the initiative has already been implemented at MIT, it would  help to have highlighted what kind of return was seen on their investment. Lastly, while the pitcher promotes Royal Roads as a place of innovation, specifics regarding the qualifications personnel that will potentially run the venture were missing from the pitch.

Overall, I would not be willing to risk my investment capital on this proposition mostly because I think MIT already has the stronghold on this market. No offense to Royal Roads, but MIT is a well-known and prestigious institute. If people simply want to use Open Courseware for learning, they’ll turn to MIT first. After all, it is free. While I acknowledge that Royal Roads might be rewarded with a modest increase in student recruitment through this venture, I think there might be other ways to promote and market a university if they wish to increase the number of paying students.

September 14, 2009   2 Comments



Ingenia is a consulting service based in Vancouver, which offers “E-learning strategy development and instructional design of classroom and online courses”. Ramona Materi, president of Ingenia pitches a plan to establish her company a major learning services provider in Vietnam.


In her pitch, Ramona mentions several potential challenges to her company. First she states that although her team is based in Vancouver, there is no home market for her venture plans. However, she claims that conditions are favourable for targeting the country of Vietnam because there are presently few e-learning players in the market place, the country’s population is relatively young, and there has been recent global investment from other countries. Ramona is also realistic about her North American competitors stating competition is strong, yet appears confident that some prior experiences in Vietnam and the timeliness of her opportunity gives her company somewhat of a competitive edge.

Ingenia claims to be an industry leader in E-learning comprised of a highly qualified core team. Many members of the team hold masters degrees or higher. Ramona proclaims herself as a “guru” in the field and supports her claim by highlighting her involvement in several international speaking arrangements. The need to host their data on a low-bandwidth server based in Vancouver is mentioned along with the obvious need for quality language translation resources. Although it is unclear whether these resources have been secured, it seems reasonable to assume Ramona will be able to do so.

Though I would need to further investigate the potential E-learning markets in Vietnam, Ramona appears to have done her homework and presents a fairly compelling case. I would to have heard more data and statistics regarding the potential market size. I need to know more information about access to the required technology as well as literacy rates, living conditions, education levels etc.

As an educational venture analyst, I have a few concerns about Ramona’s pitch. First, I would like to know more about the competitors in this market. Ramona mentions that a public/private Japanese consortium is already active in E-learning in Vietnam, but to what extent are they involved? One could reasonably assume that the Japanese consortium would have more experience and background in the Vietnamese market. This doesn’t mean there is not room for Ingenia in Vietnam’s e-learning market; however, the potential for the competition to limit large-scale clientele and revenue certainly exists in the long run.

Secondly, as an EVA, I question Ingenia’s plans to charge its investors $40,000 to fund market development trips to Vietnam for two people, four times in 15 months. If the company truly wishes to establish a presence in Vietnam before the competition does, why limit yourself to business trips for only two people. While I acknowledge times have changed and the beauty of Ingenia’s services is that they can technically be offered from a distance, I would have like to have heard plans to relocate some staff to Vietnam. The plans to only travel there made me question the level of commitment toward the venture. I could be wrong, but since I’m the one deciding to hand over $100, 000 I think I’m entitled to an opinion here.

September 14, 2009   4 Comments

Nice to Meet You!

Erik Van Dusen is the name, and teaching is my game! I’ve been employed by Regina Public Schools for nearly nine years now. Half of those years were spent teaching Kindergarten, the other teaching grade eight. I cherish my work and the relationships I have managed to create with students, staff, and community members.
ETEC 522 is my 8th MET course. I know VERY little about ventures in learning technologies, so I’m really looking forward to this course. Who knows, maybe I’ll even come up with a venture idea of my own along the way!
Personally, I’m a pretty busy guy with work and grad studies (UBC-MET), but I do manage to do some of my favorite activities now and then. If I’m not hanging out watching sports, you can find me wandering around the great outdoors or swimming a few laps (Phelps’ records are very safe).
My family, however, is my greatest interest. I have a daughter (6), a son (2), and a wonderful wife who covers for me a great deal when I’m studying. One day I’ll repay her- promise.
Anybody Tweet?

September 9, 2009   1 Comment