Week 12: RSS Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Lisa Nevoral 12:34 am on November 26, 2012
    0 votes

    Tags: , week 12   

    Hey All, Here is my avatar from Second Life.  Her name is Larovenas.  I found that I didn’t change much when compared to me.  I guess I am not quite comfortable with doing something totally different online.   I haven’t explored Second Life very much, but I did find it disconcerting walking around and seeing […]

    Continue reading Lisa’s Avatar in Second Life Posted in: Week 12:
    • Eva Ziemsen 9:13 pm on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Lisa,
      Great avatar. Mine is also close to what I really look like (well, mostly). I agree with you, it is very odd to interact with complete strangers in SL. I found it much better to meet with my actual classmates. In that situation, it was very gratifying. There are definitely privacy settings for creating educational spaces. I encourage you to keep exploring the educational opportunities of SL.

  • visramn 6:53 pm on November 24, 2012
    0 votes

    On the rubric for A3 there is a component where it says we will be assessed on self evaluation. I am not sure if I missed something. Are we supposed to submit an evaluation with A3?   Nureen

    Continue reading A3 self evaluation Posted in: General, Questions & Answers, Week 12:
    • jenbarker 7:05 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Nureen,
      I plan to add this section within my blog post beneath the links to my pitches. I believe David wants us to take a step back and critically evaluate our pitches, similar to what we did in Week Three. I hope I have been able to add some clarity. Take Care, Jen

    • tomwhyte1 7:38 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I agree with Jen, it is something I missed in the first assignment, and do not plan on missing this time as well. I do not plan on putting it into my pitch, but it will be part of my overall project. Hope that provides some help.


    • joeltremblay 8:11 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      A lot of people I’ve spoken to had trouble with it in the first assignment as I myself did. My “difficulty” section is placed into my pitch as part of the sale.

      • tomwhyte1 8:52 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        “Had Trouble With” is a really nice way of saying, I completely overlooked it in the rubric… stuff I give my students grief for… Oh well, maybe I should be more understanding in the future…


    • jkotler 2:38 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Nureen,

      From what I understand we are also supposed to be submit a self-reflection of our projects in addition to the elevator and venture pitch. I included mine at the end of my venture pitch, but I am sure there are other ways to do so.

      Hope that helps!


    • visramn 3:49 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for the clarification. 🙂


  • C. Ranson 9:41 am on November 24, 2012
    0 votes

    I spent some time creating my avatar and was not successful in creating what I intended to create. This is who I am for now and will re-visit in the future now that I am a Second City resident. Interesting virtual site, does take some time to figure out how to navigate to different regions. […]

    Continue reading I spent some time creating my avatar and… Posted in: Week 12:
  • frank 10:55 pm on November 23, 2012
    0 votes


    Continue reading Frank’s Avatar – Good Tymez Posted in: Week 12:
    • jkotler 1:20 am on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Frank,

      Interesting shot! I am curious as to where you were in Second Life when you took this picture? As well I am curious, have you ever used Second Life before and what inspired this choice of avatar?


    • frank 12:41 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Julie,

      No, yesterday was actually my first time on SL.

      I think it’s easy enough to create a loaded performance of yourself in other social media such as FB and Twitter. An Avatar allows us to do more: to experiment and be playful in a broader sense, maybe from a different perspective; which may land us anywhere from the mundane to the incredible.

      Perhaps fittingly, one of the recommended stages had been designed with a Scary Halloween-ish theme, with several interesting sets such as the one in this pic. As you can see, I was caught by a human sized spider net, and an unearthly fem spider came down to check me out and determine what to do with me. It was interesting example of the creative potential of OLE, and I thought I should share the class.


  • Doug Connery 9:26 pm on November 23, 2012
    0 votes

    Here is my avatar; it is so amazing it looks just like me! In fact it is me in my real world environment. After reading many of the experiences people have had: improper loading pages, slow response, funny colours, wrong graphics card, paying for risqué clothing, slow internet, old computer, addiction to the program, I […]

    Continue reading Doug’s Realistic Avatar Posted in: Week 12:
    • jkotler 1:18 am on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      HI Doug,

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on creating avatar’s, though I would like to add that I am not sure that making or using an avatar is necessarily about hiding who a person is and more about having fun with creating a different persona.

      As for second life, I think that like many other online programs and application the possibility for glitches or slow Internet access is always a potential issue but once accessed it does open you up to an amazing and exciting world (at least that’s how I felt when I started to experiment with it).


    • Jonathan 4:59 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Doug —

      I did give avatar building a try and I’m going to have to concur with many of our colleague’s comments and your own about the difficulties of building an avatar. I think it’s probably important to point out that it is difficult because there are so many possible customizations that you can go through when designing your character.

      Our students would probably be better equipped to deal with a lot of the imperfections in the process. I wasn’t very proud of any of my creations either, but I did sit through the process and create two different avatars. I can say that I have a grasp of the idea now. It is definitely avatar customization to a high degree. The more customization that you can do — the more complicated the process it is.

      I can definitely see that a student or individual that is drawn to Second Life could spend additional time “getting their character” right.

      Perhaps it just isn’t for us 😉 I’m glad that I had a chance to see it though.

      — Jonathan

  • jhodi 5:45 pm on November 23, 2012
    0 votes

    I managed to create an account, but when it came time to modify my avatar, I ran into very frustrating problems.  I could not get to the point where I could customize the avatar because the page would not load properly or competely.  Everything was very slow and so I finally gave up unforunately.  So, I am just […]

    Continue reading Jhodi’s Avatar. Posted in: Week 12:
    • jkotler 1:13 am on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Jhodi,

      Thank you for trying to customize your avatar, even though I know it can be quite frustrating when a program just doesn’t seem to load properly. As well, I agree that creating your own avatar and Second Life does offer many great benefits especially in terms of creativity and introducing students to opportunities they may not have otherwise had like with field trips etc.


    • visramn 11:32 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Jodi,

      I had some similar issues. It was extremely frustrating. It took me over an hour to finally customize mine. It was so slow! By the time I finished customizing my Avatar I did not even feel like exploring. I am not sure why it is that slow. I thought it was just an issue with my access but maybe it has to do with the amount of people online at one or something like that.


  • visramn 1:00 am on November 23, 2012
    0 votes

     I struggled with customizing my Avatar because I found that the program was taking very long to load the different features, etc.  Another issue I had, since I created an Avatar and entered the virtual world is purple shades blocking parts of my screen and even my Avatar’s face. I tried to get rid of these shadows but was not able to. Hence, […]

    Continue reading  I struggled with customizing my Avatar … Posted in: Week 12:
    • adi 7:54 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Congrats on your Avatar. I’m also glad we had to do this project, otherwise I would have never ventures into SL.
      Regarding the purple problem, I found this in the SL community page. It does appear to have to do with your graphics card.

      “Although it is necessary to download the last drivers for your graphics card, here is a solution which seems that works for some residents and it is worth to give a try. In Viewer 3 open Advanced Menu (Ctrl+Alt+D if you don’t see it) –> Show Debug Settings –> click the down arrow and find “RenderMaxTextureIndex”. Normally there you see the value 16. Set it to 0 (zero) and close the window. See if that makes any difference.”


      “Some people who have ATI graphics cards are having this problem with the most recent V3 upgrade. See http://jira.phoenixviewer.com/browse/FIRE-4945 . For a quick but temporary solution, go to Preferences >> Graphics and disable Basic Shaders. For a more permanent solution update the 12.1 Catalyst driver from http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/radeonmob_win7-64.aspx?type=2.4.2&product=2.4.2…. or run the AMD driver autodetect tool to update: http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/auto_detect.aspx”

    • Eva Ziemsen 9:44 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Ah, thanks Adriana. I first thought it was due to a sunset setting, but it seems the graphic card is the issue (as you point out).

    • visramn 11:34 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thank you so much. That will definitely be helpful. The purple on my screen was deterring me from wanting to use the program but now that you have given me some suggestions, I will try it out again.

  • Jenny Brown 5:59 pm on November 22, 2012
    0 votes

    Tags: Avatar,   

    I was quite excited to give Second Life a try after I watched the introductory video on the educational uses of Second Life. I must say though that when I first showed up I did find it cool (flying was fun) but then was quite disappointed. I don’t know if I just had  bad luck […]

    Continue reading Jenny’s avatar experience Posted in: Week 12:
    • Eva Ziemsen 11:15 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Jenny,

      You make a great point – there IS an educational venture opportunity here. Since SL discontinued the teen SL version, I think many of us educators feel it is too risky to allow students into SL unless there is a way to limit them in certain areas. At this point, you cannot use SL with students under 18.

      As for your Internet conncetion, this is very true. You cannot use SL unless you have a very fast connection. I found it much better when plugging into the Ethernet (instead of using wifi) at home. You might want to try that.

      As the sloodle video shows, there are definitely ways to structure a curriculum activity and allow students to interact wtih it in SL.

      I relate to your experience of wondering around and feeling a bit…lonely, actually. As I mentioned to someone else, SL and education is ideally suited to getting together with other students in a class. While we wished we could have arranged it, we knew it would present technical difficulties.

      As for whether it is realisitc in a school system, I think I will be finding out in the next few years. My intention is to develop courses that are held in SL to teach filmmaking. As the videos tell us, many schools are already using SL. What did you think of the Spanish learning youtube video?

    • Jenny Brown 3:12 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Eva,

      I thought the Spanish learning video was very fascinating, just like the introductory video and the Sloodle video. I guess the videos I watched didn’t match my experience as I didn’t have the knowledge base to find the cool, free, educational areas and my computer and connection are so slow that it is very frustrating.

      That is is an excellent initiative to try to use SL to teach film making. I hope it goes well as I think with an invested effort by a teacher and support from the school for the right technology it could be a great tool (I think of students connecting with each other online where at the school they may be in different groups and not connect). As an Educational Venture Analyst – I just don’t see it being viable for most schools.

  • manny 9:15 am on November 22, 2012
    0 votes

    Here is a screenshot of the Avatar that I created. He is a cool, buff, tall, gentlemen who boasts unlimited amounts of swag. In a sense, he is everything I am not :(.  The role playing feature of this kind of software is definitely engaging and I can see where the name “second life” came […]

    Continue reading Manny’s Avatar Posted in: Week 12:
    • jenbarker 9:10 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I like your description of your avatar. Very funny! I think this type of environment can be almost too engaging for some. My husband has a friend who has no “real” life because he spends every waking minute that he is not working, playing WarCraft.

      • Eva Ziemsen 11:36 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jen,

        I thought you might be interested in this, as there are some distinctions between Word of WarCraft and SL.

        Warcraft belongs to what is called:
        MMORPG—Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Game

        “In an MMORPG the player assume a role and identity not typically related to his or her real world self and attempts to earn points to move to a higher level within the game.”

        Second Life is best described as a:
        Metaverse, which “now come to represent the idea of an online 3D world inhabited by avatars controlled by their real-life counterparts.”

        As the website describes, there are similarities, but also differences.
        “A metaverse is similar to an MMORPG but with some big differences. First, in a metaverse, players are not playing a defined role such as a hunter or mage, they are playing a character they have created.

        Second, the metaverse typically does not have specific goals or objectives created by the metaverse itself. Players can create their own goals or objectives but they are not an inherent part of the world.

        There is more useful information on that website. They also highlight that may major companies conduct their training in SL.

        A metaverse environment can be used for training purposes. As mentioned in the opening of this article IBM and Cisco have both established classroom spaces within a metaverse for training purposes. It is also possible to create create other learning environments in which people can interact to learn about items in 3D. One can imagine providing instruction on how to repair a laptop through a virtual tour of the laptop within the metaverse.


        You may like reading about MMOLE-Massively Multi-learner Online Learning Environments (as they are much more tailored to specific learning and likely present less risk and distractions of the full metaverse of SL).

        Let me know what you think. Rest assured there are differences between SL and World of Warcraft. I too know of people who are addicted to this, but they have different incentives than SL entirely.

    • Eva Ziemsen 11:24 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Manny,
      Great avatar. As I mentioned to someone else, Dr. Sherry Turkle writes extensively how we can use avatars to act out versions of ourselves that we do not in our real life. She speaks from a psychological perspective and mentions that this can also be a very useful therapeutic method for certain people. I’m not suggesting that in any case with you, but just saying that it is quite normal to create an avatar that is very different from our ‘real’ self. Thanks for your thoughtful message along with your avatar pic.

  • lullings 6:35 am on November 22, 2012
    0 votes

    Finance, loosing perspective and Second Life.

    Continue reading avatar stuart Posted in: Week 12:
  • rebeccaharrison 11:18 pm on November 21, 2012
    0 votes

    I fell short on this one, but only due to my reservations about this site. I’ve played some video games like this before and seen some not so pleasant things happen to people I know and, almost like a gambler avoiding Vegas (or Gamblor’s effects if you’re up on your Simpsons), I am unwilling to […]

    Continue reading Rebecca’s Avatar Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • manny 11:27 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Rebecca,
      Your reservations about this kind of software are absolutely warranted. I have just begun playing around with some of its features and realized the addictive component built into it. Traditional video games have levels and an ending but this kind of game play (i.e. world of warcraft) only get more complex and addictive as you play. However, if it is designed correctly, I can see a lot of advantages in utilizing certain features for education.

      • rebeccaharrison 11:45 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Agreed. I can see that there is massive potential there. “With great power comes great responsibility,” though, and I don’t know if I could encourage the use of this kind of virtual world in my own classroom, although I imagine in some cases it would be a good fit.

    • Eva Ziemsen 12:01 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Rebecca,
      I do know of addictions to video games, which are very valid. However, did you have a chance to see the videos we posted? I think they speak to what Manny has pointed out – the very structured and innovative use of Second Life. I think it is important to consider the context we are presenting SL – within a highly structured assignment or curriculum. We are not suggesting that our cohort allow their students to randomly hang out in SL. We are asking them to consider entering a virtual classroom or guided tour of certain areas. This is an important distiction.

      For example, in my experience, creating a Machinima video was a highly structured and educational activity. I only logged in to meet my classmates, scout locations and conduct our video.

      I hope that the videos may inspire you to consider using SL in the ways that many other educators have done. What did you think of the SL educational applications?

      • rebeccaharrison 9:37 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Eva,

        Even though there are some fabulous ways to integrate it, and some very valid educational opportunities, I’m more concerned with the bigger moral implications. I don’t like where SL is going, it feels too much like “The Game” the Star Trek: Next Generation episode. Maybe it’s an irrational stand, which is very well could be, as at 28 years old I’m a seasoned gamer who has spent hours, days, weeks, months, and maybe even years playing games (though I do fall short of diaper-wearing to stay playing, I’ve pulled all-nighters and forgotten to eat). I guess I need to examine why I have such an emotional response to it, but thank you for sharing it as a good example of what can be done!

    • Patrick Pichette 7:50 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I agree with Rebecca on this one. Second Life has the potential to be Pandora’s Box. Great rewards with potential negative impacts. Prior to having my two daughters, I would often spend time playing video games of various nature but none were as time consuming as massive multiplayer online games. Although Second Life isn’t as much of a game as an online world, I still feel that it could be very addictive in nature and would never present it to my classrooms. For those who don’t remember, I teach a technology program that focuses on programming and technical support. The perfect type of student that could fall into a downward spiral of gaming addiction. I fully support gaming as an activity and still think it’s a valid educational tool but worry about certain types of escapism games such as Second Life.

  • Peggy Lawson 8:00 pm on November 20, 2012
    0 votes

    I had a 2nd Life account years ago, but never ventured beyond beginner’s island.  Perhaps I’ll give it a better try this time.  You might find me wandering around sometime.  

    Continue reading Peggy’s Avatar Posted in: Week 12:
    • jkotler 7:15 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Peggy,

      Thank you for sharing you avatar. You mentioned that you after you had tried Second Life, you didn’t really continue using and I was wondering why that was? Also, being someone who had seen it in previous versions I am curious if it is different now and if so, would that encourage you to use it more often?


    • Peggy Lawson 5:46 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      It’s hard to remember why I stopped, as this sort of stuff usually sucks me in, like Rebecca’s gambler. I suspect I was too busy with enough other things that it was better to quit before i got too deeply immersed. As I recall I never left the small introductory island where new avatars were born.

      • adi 11:02 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Peggy,

        I myself only checked SL out a couple of years ago, but never ventured further. Thanks to this project, I have now, and I’m glad I did. Like a lot of these tools, you never use them unless ‘forced’ to by circumstance. However, I intend to use it to engage students in my EFL classes. It’s great for role playing in all sorts of environments!

  • adi 11:44 am on November 20, 2012
    0 votes

    Continue reading Adriana’s Avatar Posted in: Week 12:
  • kstackhouse 11:42 am on November 20, 2012
    0 votes

    Here is my new Vehitar look.  I received a few quizzical comments from other avatars on my choice to be a car.  This was particularly funny to me since one of the avatars questioning me was a monkey with a goat head and wings…and I was the odd one?  🙂 The image below is the […]

    Continue reading Ken’s Avatars Posted in: Week 12:
    • jkotler 7:10 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ken,

      Great choice with the car! I wonder though (because I too am still a beginner to Second Life) does choosing a car over a person minimize certain abilities in your actions? Does it change how you enter and move around inside somewhere?


      • kstackhouse 7:14 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I didn’t have any issues driving or flying about…I didn’t spend time trying to figure out how to dance though. Maybe being a car would have caused some issues?

  • Eva Ziemsen 1:07 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

    Advantages, Disadvantages and Future Potential   Post your thoughts on the questions from the ‘Reflections’ section of the OLE site here.  

    Continue reading Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 3: CLOSING THE CIRCLE Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • jhodi 6:06 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      My school board uses Desire2Learn as its main LMS. Most teachers that I have seen use D2L as a mode of delivering classroom notes and lectures to students that may miss a class or want to review a lesson. Very few teachers take advantage of all of the tools that could contribute to an OLE- calendar, dropbox, online quizzes, Elluminate, etc. The advantages that I see of OLE’s are its ability to encourage an independent learner and a collaborative, engaging online learning environment. Students seem to enjoy taking control of their own learning and a constructivist learning environment is designed to foster true understanding rather than rote memorization. Some disadvantages that I see are the potentially time-consuming nature of these projects for teachers to initially set up, which may be a negative factor. Creating an OLE could require minimum technology specifications that may not be available to all students.

      • kstackhouse 5:14 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks for pointing out how many people are not fully using the tools available to them. I often feel this way myself when trying to incorporate new technology. I think the problem often comes down to training and time to learn. I see the many advantages of OLE and as you pointed out collaboration and learner control seem to be the biggest strengths. I thin kthe disadvantages come from teacher/student/parent adoption of these resources. Many perceptions will need to be changed to take advantage of the newer strategies. Some decision makers and parents may have a hard time with these approaches as they might be too far from the traditional approaches that they have become accustomed to. Time and training will be needed if educators really want to maximize the benefits of an OLE.

    • lullings 2:34 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      For me an I am finding that I am agreeing with Hannafin et al (1999, p. 139) as stated in question 2. There are too many technologies out there and the development of new technologies is definitely not slowing down. But then again I think that we as educators are looking for one system delivery to do everything for us. There should not be a catch all system for this because if there was then the complexity would have to be massive to incorporate all of the educational elements required. This then as a result would make it more complicated and more difficult to use.

      I am starting to think that smaller bespoke technologies can provide excellent services to niche markets, still have a viable business model and be less time consuming for educators to develop.
      These then could be able to integrate into a larger system if necessary.

      This modular approach to learning technologies and delivery is the way education is delivered now, for example we dont see teachers being able to teach Maths, science, autocad and non linear editing. It just would not be practical. Why are we expecting a technology to be easy to set up and to do everything?

      • adi 10:33 am on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Great point regarding us wanting technology to do it all. Part of the problem is that that’s how it is often marketed; but yes, it is not easy to set up. One thing is the tool itself, that may be user friendly, but creating the appropriate learning content is another matter. As we say in Mexico ” Feed something peanuts, you get monkeys.” If we don’t want monkeys, we need to start ‘feeding’ these tools more than just peanuts! 🙂

    • visramn 10:59 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      1. As a teacher or student, have you come across situations where an OLE has or has not been used to its full potential?
      I used Desire to Learn with my students for a few years but I did not have much success because I found students did not use the tool to its full capability. I would set up multiple functions in my shell for students but they either did not use them at all or used them on a very surface level. As a teacher, I found his to be very disappointing because there was so much potential to extend learning but I did not get a lot of buy-in from the students. I felt like I was putting in so much effort to customize this tool but not all the students were using what I was putting time and effort into. I did have some students who benefited a lot from this tool and in the end I think that is the main factor to focus on. Not all children will respond to tools in the same way but as long as it is impacting some students, it has worth. I know of many other situations in which D2L shells have been very successful. Hence, I do not think it is the tool. Sometimes it just depends on who you are working with. I want to try using this tool again because I feel like I may have very different results now that I am working with a different population of learners.

      2. Hannafin et al (1999, p. 139) argue that there are too many resources out there, and given the growth in both technology and information, this trend will continue. They ask, “How can we not only make existing resources more available to support learning, but accommodate future developments in each? It seems unlikely that we will be able to maintain pace using resource-embedded designs.”
      I disagree with the notion that there are too many tools out there. I think the more tools there are the better. Different tools appeal to different learners and help with differentiation. As the world changes, elements in our environment need to constantly change and adapt. Hence, educational tools also need to change and adapt in order to meet the needs of individuals in the changing society. It is definitely difficult keeping up with changing technology but the only way to do so is to make sure teachers are offered PD and resources to stay current and trained. Another crucial element would be BYOD. A lot of times the reason there is a lag with technology in educational institutions is because of a lack of funding. Many children already have the latest gadgets at home so it makes sense to allow them to bring these tools to school for educational purposes.

      3. In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of OLEs and what is their future potential?
      Some advantages of OLE’s:
      Differentiation of content
      – Improved access
      Student accommodation
      Engagement of learners (students can relate to digital tools)
      -Increased avenues for interaction
      -Empowerment for all learners (Learners feel comfortable to share their thoughts)
      -Efficient tracking and feedback capability
      OLE’s have some disadvantages such as:
      – Teachers need to put in a lot of time and effort
      -Students lack face-to face interaction
      -Students may engage in off task or inappropriate activities
      -Teachers need to be vigilant and mindful of interactions
      -Parents may be concerned about their children using too much technology
      I believe that OLE’s have a lot of potential in the future because they can cater to the needs of all types of learners and can make learning interactive. Education is moving more and more towards forms of distant learning. For example, they are talking about structuring High school in a different manner in Calgary. They want to allow student sot take courses in the time frame that suits them, to go and write computerized exams when they have completed their course and to complete a lot of this self-directed learning online. The vision is to make High school more of an independent leaning environment where students can choose to take course at their pace and through the means that suits them best. Students will still be able to go and receive instruction from a physical classroom but the majority of their learning will not be based in a formatted school setting. This example shows that the way learning is delivered is changing. Tools such as OLE’s are essential for learning to take place in this manner.


      • Lisa Nevoral 12:46 am on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply


        As I sat down to write my reflections on OLE, I saw your post. You hit many of the points I wanted to make about the advantages and disadvantages of OLE.

        I am interested to see how the high schools in Calgary fair with their new structuring system. I wonder if parents know and are on board with this change. As well, how will the computerized exams look like? All multiple choice? I know from putting exams on Moodle that it takes a lot of time and effort to now insert open or short answer questions onto an exam. Will this be their only assessment? What about students that are not motivated to work on their own? What role do teachers now play? If a student finishes a grade early, so they get to move onto the next one?

        I’m not expecting you to know the answers, but if this was coming to my school district, I would have many questions that needed to be answered first.


      • adi 10:27 am on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Thank you for your very detailed and thorough reply. I agree PD is the way to go, which is why my venture is geared towards that; granted, my one is for English Language Teachers, but local school boards need to start working in that direction. Teachers are often willing to continue their PD, but at the same time want to make the best of what little time they have, so some guidance I am sure would be welcome.
        Your post promoted some interesting doubts that Lisa point out. I’m glad the topic of OLEs and what we’ve learned in this course has raised so many very valid questions. Often the people making decisions to implement technology are not necessarily the best equipped to do so properly. An online OLE is not simply about transporting what we would normally do f2f online. Designing a balanced and well structured OLE is a lot of work; keeping it working properly more so.
        Thanks again for both your posts.

  • Eva Ziemsen 1:06 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

      (ADVANCED EXERCISE)   Post your journal entry about your experience exploring Second Life here and any ideas about how this landscape may lend itself to teaching, now or in the future. If you are a teacher, please give specific examples of how you would consider incorporating SL into your curriculum.  

    Continue reading Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 2B: EXPLORING SECOND LIFE Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • kstackhouse 9:25 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I spent some time walking, running, flying, driving, and teleporting around SL. I even made a couple of friends. I was pleased with the ease of navigating and moving around…although I didn’t figure out how to dance at one of the welcome centres. I found that by using the top picks for destinations I was able to see some interesting places. I enjoyed going into the art gallery and actually going into one of the paintings. It was interesting to see on the wall my username as Artist in Residence. (I have never held that title before 🙂 ).

      While moving around and seeing how much detail has been added to some landmarks and the various museums available I could see using this as a makeshift field trip option. I will not be taking my students to The Globe in real life, but allowing them to explore the stage and wander around would be interesting. I am still a little unsure of how I would set this up. I could see some issues related to content, students being approached by other users, and maintaining a sense of control that I would want to ensure that my students were safe and protected. Are there ways to do this?

      • teacherben 6:46 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        There are quite a few places in SecondLife that have replicas of monuments in there that you can use for a virtual field trip. Here are some links to a couple museums and things:


        Just Google it and you will see more. There is also an ‘international schools island’ that I think is still active where you can meet teachers and students and find out more.

        On a different note, I once write a research paper on social presence theory and non-verbal cues in 3D virtual worlds. I got a lot of good stuff from a paper called ‘A microethnographic analysis of non-verbal cues in Second Life. The author just teleported to random locations in Second Life and would observe people’s behaviour. Interestingly enough, while most of the built-in gestures were ignored by more sophisticated users, positional or proxemic cues were pretty much the same as in real life. So, for example, two people (avatars) might be talking to one another with bodies slightly out-turned to encourage others to come in and join the conversation. Others might be closed, turned away to block others from joining in the conversation. Incidentally, this area of research is called ‘proxemics’ and it’s pretty interesting. Here’s the microethnography paper:


    • Eva Ziemsen 2:34 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thank you for your very thoughtful (and funny) response. I’m glad you had the chance to truly experience SL. I also saw your avatar picture (and your CAR!), which were great.

      Second Life used to provide Teen Second Life, which was for certain age groups, however, it seems this no longer exists.

      However, you can buy or rent land that is for your class only. In other words, other users would not have access to this area. I completely understand that you would hesitate setting this up if you thought they would be exposed to anyone out there. Believe me, I have seen some scantly dressed avatars and would not feel comfortable letting anyone (of any age in a class) see.

      Furthermore, SL has a classification system:

      “Land in SL is marked either general or moderate or adult. Those ratings are something like the ratings used by the movie and television industries to denote the age-appropriateness of behavior, language and creations.”
      Please read more here:

      For example (as stated on the website above),

      “General areas are free from sexually explicit language or behavior, swearing and other forms of aggressive language, violent behavior and imagery, and horrific materials.

      General regions are areas where you’re free to say and do things that you would feel comfortable doing in front of your grandmother or a grade school class.

      There are thousands of general areas in Second Life because adults often seek an experience free of moderate or adult content.

      A region of Second Life may be general if it does not have content or activity that’s sexually explicit, violent or depicts nudity. Sexually-oriented objects may not be located or sold in general regions. ”


      • kstackhouse 6:01 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks for the reply. I was not aware that you good buy “land” or space for your classroom. Are users then invited in once it is established? I did read a notice when I entered one of the rooms for new SL members. It posted a general disclaimer about what type of behaviour and dress was expected in that area.

    • Eva Ziemsen 10:08 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Yes, you provide invitations. Some areas will simply not allow you, if there are those types of restrictions.

    • jenbarker 1:15 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Eva – I am pleased to hear that you can limit access to areas for students. As an elementary school teacher those were my initial thoughts. I found the avatar choices to be somewhat sexual in nature. They reminded me of Barbie dolls with tiny waists, large chests, and long hair. I had hoped to be able to shorten my avatar’s hair but was unable to make this work. I did spend some time walking around and found this relatively easy to do but unlike Ken who found the space easy to use, I found myself quite confused and unsure of where I was and what I was supposed to do while in that space. This was a real turn off for me. I am an A-type personality who likes to know everything up front. I think I may have enjoyed this experience better had I watched the video on how to navigate in the space. I know that some students prefer to learn through exploring but I am not that type of learner. Given that when I teach in the classroom, I teach students under age seven, I don’t see myself incorporating this into my practice. Thinking of older students, I like Ken’s suggestion to use the program for a virtual classroom. I also think the program could be used to let students play and then use their experiences to spark a digital citizenship discussion. The topic of the freedom of anonymity could be a really interesting discussion.

      • jhodi 5:54 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        This is how I felt initially too. The avatar that I chose in the initial step kept flicking her hair are moving around in a very sexual nature. As a high school teacher, I feel that young teenage girls are already in a stage where they are trying to figure these things out for themselves, and perhaps they do not need this as a role model. It seemed like all of the initial avatars were very beautiful and skinny. This does encourage students to filter information and things they find on the Internet, but not something that I would necessarily love to deal with as a classroom teacher. It could potentially distract from the learning process as teenagers love to debate both sides of topics such as these.

    • manny 11:39 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Just piggy backing on the current discussion…

      I also found navigating around pretty straight forward. However, as I teleported around different places, the main thought going through my head was, “ok, this is cool, what do I do now?” Overall it was fun and engaging but I can’t see how I could use second life in its current state in my practice. If you are able to purchase separate rooms with restricted access, it may be possible to structure it in such a way that provides clarity and fluidity for student use. The question then becomes, how much time do we want to invest in the design phase of integrating this technology.

      • Eva Ziemsen 12:15 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Manny,

        I think you are right, it is worth asking about how long it would take to design spaces. From our research of what others have done in SL and educuation, there is a significant time committment required for this type of work.

        As for getting lost on your own after a while, it is true, it is critical to have a goal in SL for educational purposes. From our own learning experience as a group, SL was MUCH better to use when we were all together in a group. It was as if we met on campus and finally saw each other and could interact in real-time. It seemed much more gratifying than skype. In our case, we were collaborating on making a virtual film. However, if our teacher had instructed us to view different stations on the campus and discuss in Spanish (as one of the space was a Spanish course SIM), it would also have been very interesting and appropriate to learning Spanish. We wanted to create a time where people could all meet in the class, but decided against it, as we were afraid that the complexity of learning this in one week would work against the success.

    • Eva Ziemsen 11:51 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Jen, thanks for your reply and sharing your thoughts about using this with a younger audience. I can very much understand some of your reservations. A few things to keep in mind are, that it takes time to get used to SL. When I first used SL a few years ago, I was so frustrated that I stopped using it for a few years! Second, you can curate a highly structured experience for students within a space in SL. Did you get a chance to see the video of Sloodle? In no way are we suggesting that this would be easy to implement or even appropriate for all age groups, (likely better for more mature students), but from our research we felt that there were many professors doing some amazing work in SL to create rich experiences. I would say, similar to what one of the nursing students said in our Duke University video said, going to campus is still her #1 way to interact, but SL is the next best option. Other videos also make the case that one should use SL for things that are impossible in real life.

      As for the look of your avatar – I do think you can completely change the look of your hair to shorter. Since you can have an avatar that is not even in a human form, rather in animal forms, I think you could eliminate the sexualized element of the avatars. if you noticed, our avatars in our intro video were dressed somewhat professionally. For example, Adriana’s avatar was wearing a blazer. In the Duke University video it also depicts the professor in a professional outfit. It is just a matter of customizing the avatar. I do agree, that the initial options are somewhat Barbie-like.

      It is important to note that SL, as your feedback indicates, is used by a wide range of users, and perhaps a greater ‘protection’ of educational areas would be important in the evolution of education in SL.

      Thanks for trying, despite the difficulties and also for sharing your thoughts.

    • tomwhyte1 2:42 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As I have explored Second Life in the past for my personal and potential classroom learning, I always struggled with where the technology was, and where our thinking the technology could take us.

      I agree with others, that the potential for this environment is huge – be it science experiments – doing that which safety regulations no longer allow us to do, or are physically impossible, shrink down to the size cells or molecules, or travel the universe. In History/Social Studies – visit historic sites in their prime, or partake in famous battles, etc…

      And because of these thoughts, I was reminded of the following book:


      A reality where education is facilitated through a virtual environment, where education can happen regardless of budget concerns, or even safety. Where the technology facilitates any pedagogy, not limits it.

      For me, when this day occurs, we will have truly created a virtual open learning environment, that could meet the needs of each kid, providing extensions and remedial work as necessary, quickly and easily.


    • Eva Ziemsen 11:01 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Thank you, Tom, for your visionary response. I get the sense from your response that you see what virtual reality can bring to education. I like your descriptions of shrinking down to cell size. I know that this would impact scientific learning in a revolutionary way.

      Thank you also for the book reference. I have not read it, but now I will. I read the synopsis and it is very much related to this topic. Perhaps how Blandrunner is realted to AI.

      I am glad you bring up budget, as this is truly one of the most limiting factors in education these days. Furthermore, the physical boundaries that exist will be elimited to some degree. For example, my thesis work will research how we can teach film production online. This would normally be unheard of, however, through the process of Machinima (filming in Second Life), we can offer almost all lessons related to filmmaking, online for anyone at a distance, and for a fraction of the cost (essentially, almost free compared to thousands of dollars in the traditional form). There are of course cons to every new technology (such as access, broadband, risks of VR, etc), but I believe the potential of virtual worlds in the context of education far outweight the drawbacks.

      I am interested in your last statement, about providing remedial work. This reminds me of the NYC school (school of one?) that we were introduced to a few weeks ago. Are you perhaps saying that whatever virtual schooling we conduct can be structured in a similar way?

      Thansk for your excitment.

      • frank 11:45 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Eva,

        It’s been fun creating an Avatar and playing around in Second Life.

        It might still be too early for me to speak of the learning potential of this OLE as the Noob that I am to SL. I agree with Tom and others that it shows promise for Research and other creative projects.
        So far however, I do not see how it provides a significant advantage over something like Moodle on its own and other MOOCs projects. I’ve looked at the Sloodle presentation online for example, and there seem some interesting possibilities in scaffolded learning, role-play, and co-creation. But these also come with significant time commitments to this environment, and whether and how much there is to take away from the ultimate experience – anecdotes of meeting the love of your life on SL etc, not withstanding – remains to be seen. Lmk if you have any thoughts and cheers!

    • visramn 1:21 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I actually had a pretty hard time with this activity. Setting up my account and choosing and initial Avatar was fine but once I got into Second Life, I had lots of issues. It took me a very long time to change my avatar because the loading times were very slow. I was getting purple and pink shadow that were blocking out most of my screen. I tried teleporting to different areas but the shadows would not go away and this made it difficult for me to see what was in my surrounding.

      While watching all the videos this week I started warming up to this type of virtual learning because I began to think about all the possibilities. I really liked that students could actually visit places and experience what they were like rather than just reading about them or seeing pictures. However, I have to say that there would be a lot of frustration and loss of interest if my students had to go through the same issues as I did.
      Overall, this was an interesting experience and I really did learn a lot. I am sure it will get easier for me with more exploration and I may not have the shadows if I try using a different device.

      I think I would use the exploration capabilities of this tool to help my Social Studies class to gain an in depth understanding of places we are studying. This way they can actually immerse themselves in the surrounds, artifacts and culture of the place they are studying.


    • Eva Ziemsen 9:42 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Nureen,

      Thanks for your posting. As for the slow times of loading, this is a common issue with SL. It simply requires a fast connection and there is little way around it.

      I’m glad, despite the issues, you were able to see the potential of SL. I think, as many have experienced technical issues, SL requires a very extensive introduction by any professor. However, once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless. I like your idea of using SL for a social studies lessons.It is important to remember that SL is for 18+ at this point. However, you could curate a tour and even have your own spaces that are limited, where other avatars (uninvited) cannot enter. Once you have this set up, it would be a very engaging way to navigate spaces that you are referring to in your class (even if it is you at the front of the class or allow other students to take over).

      Thanks for your point of view.

    • lullings 2:20 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Exploring second life is not natural with the mouse keyboard functionality – but then I saw the suggestion of the 3D mouse and that has opened up a whole new world for me. I would definitely think that using that interaction would be more natural and become almost instinctive.
      At 299 dollars Santa would want to be really nice this year. Fingers crossed

  • Eva Ziemsen 1:05 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

    Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 2A: POSTING YOUR AVATAR PICTURE Please POST your avatar image using the following instructions: How to upload avatar photo from Adriana del Paso

    Continue reading Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 2A: POSTING YOUR … Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • kstackhouse 8:06 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I have created my initial Avatar and have changed the look but I am unable to load my pics here. Any ideas on how to do that? Is there a way to link them from SL so people can go look there? If you want to look for me I am Stack 33. My original avatar was the Male Student. Now I have chosen a Vehitar (the black car). If you want I can create a new post on the main page, but it will cause a lot of traffic there if everyone does that. Let me know what you would like.

    • sophiabb 11:04 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

    • adi 11:41 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply


    • adi 11:49 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Everyone,

      To post your avatar, you have to go to the Dashboard, choose ad a post, and embed the picture of your avatar. Please Tag it to Week 12.

      Sorry about the inconvenience, we did not realize you could not upload pictures to replies.

      Good luck,
      Eva, Sophia, Julie & Adriana

    • teacherben 7:34 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      When I did my application for the ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) program, we had to make a video about ourselves that showcased what we could do (and said lots of nice things about Apple, of course) and so I did mine as a machinima, using a 3D avatar in a virtual world. At the time, you could use a product from evolver.com where you just uploaded a picture of yourself, picked the clothes and stuff and it made an avatar for you. Then, autodesk bought the company and shut down the free site. Here’s the video, if anyone wants to see it. The whole thing takes place in a Teletubbie’s tummy. It was a lot of fun to make:


    • Eva Ziemsen 11:42 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Great image! ? I was unable to find a video on the main page. Not sure if it is on my end, but it was blank. Would definitely like to see it.

    • avninder 5:16 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I haven’t been able to create an avatar because I receive a message saying that my “video card drivers did not install properly, are out of date, or are for unsupported hardware”.

  • Eva Ziemsen 1:04 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

      (Interactivity Question)       As an educator, what does or does not appeal to you about virtual worlds?  

    Continue reading Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 1B: VIRTUAL WORLD AS AN OLE Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • kstackhouse 11:23 am on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As someone that has not participated in Second Life or other virtual worlds I am not that interested in this type of environment. I see the benefits of collaboration, interaction, and user control as being great for certain users. I have found that most of my students (grades10-12) are resistant to using technology beyond FB and messaging. Most of them do not use or want to use Twitter and other features. I have successfully integrated Edmodo but I think virtual space would be a stretch for them. I do realize that many in the gaming world are already comfortable and use these environments. The issues of lag and technology device requirements seem to be big issues for me as well. I have many students that live in rural areas and they do not have access to high-speed connections when at home. This would create a divide between the ones that do have access and those that do not. Of course I could provide them with high-speed access at school but that still limits the amount of time that they would be able to participate.

      Also, I am not sure how to establish environments and resources situated in the virtual environment. How does this work? How much time would be involved in creating resources and collaboration sites? I would want to evaluate this based on something like Bates & Poole (2003) SECTIONS model before moving ahead and implementing this resource for my students.

      Here is a link to a UBC PDF that I was able to find by searching the SECTIONS model: http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CC8QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwiki.ubc.ca%2Fimages%2F1%2F19%2FSECTIONS_Framework.pdf&ei=LXiqUN39DbK60AGJ_4E4&usg=AFQjCNFed6LkgRfIPJHeylq2sJR4i1HLGA&cad=rja

      Bates,A.W. & Poole,G. (2003) Effective Teaching With Technology in Higher Education: Foundations For Success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 79-80

      • sophiabb 3:27 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Ken,

        You make some valid points and points that many teachers grapple with. I agree, teachers should assess technology to identify best fit re many factors including student readiness and ease of use. The Bates and Poole tool is an excellent one; one that I have used just recently in developing an evaluation instrument for an online pilot project. I have found this article: Creating a Virtual World Mindset: A Guide for First Time Second Life Teachers (http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/696/1156) useful in answering some of the questions you posited. I hope that you will continue to explore with us and continue to provide your frank and insightful feedback.

        • kstackhouse 5:15 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks for the guide. I am not opposed to the idea of the Virtual World approach…as I mentioned I just don’t know where to begin and how my students would buy into it. I am sure that this guide will answer some of those questions. Thanks for replying.

      • Peggy Lawson 8:12 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        My thinking is much like yours Ken. While I see a small subset of students (my K12 world), I really don’t see most students as finding virtual worlds such as 2nd Life (which I’ve briefly experienced) a great bonus to learning, or even that engaging once the “cool” factor has worn off. Several of the videos pointed to how virtual worlds promote collaboration, but I would have to see research demonstrating this – having avatars flying around doesn’t offer any obvious benefits to me over other tools such as shared Google docs, wikis, blogs, synchronous webinars, skype. I actually found some of the avatar movement to be more distracting than useful.

        However I can see some cases where virtual simulations would be ideal for learning – flying simulations for pilots and virtual dissections, trying out different musical instruments, and sports are a few easy examples.

        So I see some real value in virtual world, as an everyday classroom experience or for basic collaboration – I’m not yet sold.

        • sophiabb 9:19 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Peggy,

          Thanks for sharing what appeals and does not appeal. Yes, virtual simulations are great for demonstrations or modelling.

        • Paula Poodwan 2:28 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Peggy,

          Last semester, I had an opportunity to pair up for a peer review in ETEC 532 with a fellow course mate who wrote a final project titled “The Question of an Educational Second Life” Through her experimental research and literature review, Crawford ( 2012) interestingly conclude that based on the articles within her review, it is difficult to consider utilizing Second Life in an educational setting with students below post-secondary age due to the difficulties in using the virtual world and the risks once within the world. Although benefits are visible, the risks seem to overwhelm the authors and researchers and leave those studying who follow to question whether the risks of the virtual world outweigh the chances to improve learning. However she suggested that with successful examples being pointed out and praised for their depth of engagement, social elements, and student-centered learning the desire to create such a dynamic learning environment remains, but, as this literature reveals, that desire must be tempered by caution, support and awareness throughout the process of development and use.

          Personally I think Second Life in education is like any new technology that teachers are scared of; if there are fairly minor problems we’ll see it dropped instantly. I think if we can keep it around for a year or two then we can start taking a few more risks.

          • Peggy Lawson 5:03 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Hi Paula –

            When I 1st heard of and tried 2nd Life probably 5 years ago I was pretty excited about the possiblilities. As you said, I thought that like any new technology it would take awhile to take off, but then have great potential. I remember there was a 2nd Life just for Teens – a very good idea. ISTE purchased their own island. But from my own admitedly minor experiences with it, I can’t see it as being any more than having a niche role for the super-geeky among us. I can see myself giving it a real trial – when I have lots of time to play – but I think it’s had enough time to prove itself that for general use – it’s not likely to ever be the next FaceBook.

      • Colin 6:05 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I am presently in the process of introducing my own Virtual Worlds into my classrooms and so far the response I have seen has been very positive. Some students who were never engaged suddenly became very engaged at just the idea of using it. I don’t believe this will be the reaction of all students but I do think that a certain group of students do really relate well to a Virtual 3d world representation of the course material. Like with all technology it is a matter of how you use it that makes it effective or not. For me they will be designing their virtual stores for Entrepreneurship class and then designing displays for Marketing class and learning to create 3d objects individually and collaboratively for media arts. These are just a few of the ideas that I am working with at the moment. However I also want to integrate my Moodle together with the Virtual World where they go in the 3d world and answer quizzes, complete assignments, read virtual materials and much more. Eventually I can have a visual representation of most of the course material and they will have an option of going in world or using Moodle. What I like about virtual 3D worlds is that it is really only limited by your imagination and technical abilities.
        I also noticed a growing trend to using these 3D worlds in business and scientific communities as it allows for collaboration of employees from many different locations. Even schools are adopting this idea with Forsyth County Schools which represents 38,000 students offering a 3-D virtual world environment to every classroom teacher.

        • Peggy Lawson 7:06 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Colin – I’m interested in how you see virtual worlds enhancing communication over other tools such as skype, wikis, blogs, google docs, Adobe Connect – many of these allow video via webcam and/or screen sharing, synchronous and asynchronous communication. Do you feel that avatars interacting in a virtual world adds something that can’t be equally achieved through these other tools?

          • Colin 9:43 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Hi Peggy, yes I absolutely believe that virtual 3D worlds offer more promise than the other solutions you mentioned. I do admit that 3D worlds are still in the infancy stage but I do see this changing over the next 5 – 10 years as it gains more popularity.
            The first key difference is the ability to create accurate simulations.
            “Numerical simulations are playing an increasingly important role in solving complex engineering problems, and have the potential to revolutionize medical decision making and treatment design.” ( https://simtk.org/home/opensim_matlab). This is just one example, you can look at the US department of defense and their use of opensim (similar to Second Life) in training their soldiers or here is another example http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/09/asia-pharma-group-looks-to-protosphere-for-virtual-training/ . Virtual Worlds are being used by some major Fast Food business to train new employees or by nursing programs to train nurses. You can look at Universities that are recruiting students via 3D worlds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ehj9QVP_L8 . I can keep giving more examples and if you are interested you can look at my prezi for the first assignment http://prezi.com/f9v5qdzkoiq4/designing-digitally/ . It is on one specific company in that field but it does give additional videos and even a virtual 3D seminar. The point is that a 3D virtual world allows student to experience replications of the world without actually having to be there. In some cases being there might not be possible (like walking inside a replica of the human body), or unsafe, or just too far to travel (example: replication of the Eiffel Tower).
            Second reason is that a 3D world allows for more people to interact at the same time and that is why they are often used for conferences and other company meetings.

            Third it is more fun and intuitive walking around a Virtual World rather than looking for a command in a program. There is a sense of being able to explore and also having a physical sense of progress as a student goes through completing a course. They are working at integrating Kinect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl2gLw-GJws with OpenSim to make it even easier to use.

            Fourth – Online identity is an important part of online learning and Avatars allow for much more customization and expression than what is possible on those other programs.

            Though all of the above is only possible with good content and design and without that I don’t see 3D worlds as a better option.

            Hope this helps clarify my point of view. Thanks Peggy for the question.

            • Peggy Lawson 5:58 am on November 22, 2012

              Thanks Colin. I have no doubt that virtual worlds and simulations are very powerful tools that have many great applications and uses. I was more focused just on the often mentioned benefits such a world has on collaboration. Your 2nd reason, for example – do virtual worlds really allow many people to interact – effectively? – at the same time? Does seeing multiple avatars roaming about really provide a better collaboration? It’s this one small aspect of virtual worlds that seems to be oft-touted that I’m not sure of. It often seems that people simply toss in this benefit of enhanced collaboration without providing any proof or examples. Virtual training is not the same as collaboration. I don’t doubt there are some examples, however.


          • Colin 7:09 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Hi Peggy, you bring up a valid point and I think that collaboration has more to do with the learner’s willingness to work with others instead of any kind of program or environment. I saw some research showing that scripted environments where students are made to work together does work better at improving collaboration. From my experience some students are more engaged in a virtual world and as a result they are more willing to collaborate. One article that had some interesting points on this subject is. http://chiproject.googlecode.com/files/sdarticle.pdf . I still would argue that virtual worlds are slightly more effective for some students than the programs you mentioned in promoting collaboration or at least on par.

        • teacherben 7:12 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          If you are building your own virtual worlds using OpenSim, you can integrate them with Moodle using a project called SLoodle:


          Your students experience the lessons in the virtual world, but you can grade everything from within Moodle. I never got a chance to test it out because I was running Moodle 2.0 and it wasn’t supported. I just noticed that the new beta version now does so it should be a fun project to try out. Are you blogging about your experience, or documenting it someplace? I am always interested in seeing how other teachers are using vworlds in their classes.

          • Colin 9:53 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Hi Ben, yes I am planning on using Sloodle to integrate OpenSim with my Moodle. Right now the server is up and running in the school and I am loading in several free oar’s to get started. I am trying to create or find a school appropriate skin template and install that over the stock picture. Then I will look at importing in inventory and items for each of the students to complete their assignment. This will be a real learning curve but once I feel that is working I will move on to adding more regions and integrate in Sloodle if it proves reliable. If that works then I will be looking at integrating Opensim and Joomla which handles the social media, forums, chats blogs and project management system. This will be a long process I am sure as I need to do most of the work at school as I can’t access it outside the school. I am not running a blog yet as I don’t have the time but I am considering it later.

            • teacherben 11:29 pm on November 20, 2012

              Fantastic project. At my previous school I had a similar, ambitious play to get a Moodle/SLoodle/Joomdle integration going but after too many arguments with the tech managers about server permissions and firewall stuff, the whole thing just sat on the shelf. I left at the end of the year and my current school won’t let me anywhere near the servers. Good luck to you. I would love to hear more about it as you go. Where are you teaching by the way? There aren’t a lot of schools out there will let a maverick teacher do his own thing like this. Good for you for getting them on board.

              Funny about the skin. I remember setting up OpenSim for the first time and the default avatar is a naked woman (who is apparently called ‘Ruth’). Better idea to replace that before you get your kids in there.

            • Colin 10:15 pm on November 21, 2012

              I understand your frustration as I ran into those same problems. I wasn’t allowed anywhere near our school server so I was able to find a computer in our school that was damaged during a break-in and not being used. The damage was to the video port on the back which I didn’t need if I used remote access. I was going to build my own computer out of spare parts at home but I found out I can only use a district computer on the network. With an upgrade to the RAM to allow for Opensim I finally was able to get a working server. Really none of this wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t the tech facilitator and I had the help of a fellow staff member who was very knowledgeable about the system. Setting up hosting outside of the school is also not a possibility due to firewall restrictions.
              We installed OpenSim in the Window’s environment and Moodle/Joomla using Xampp. Then I needed to load viewers on the student’s computers. The point is that I needed to come up with my own solution in order to make this happen so I am not surprised that you didn’t have any luck implementing this.
              The biggest problem implementing new technology in the classroom has to be the district itself and their restrictions.
              The courses I teach are Business Education as well as Planning 10 and Media Arts.
              I am in the process of trying to get rid of Ruth for the very reason you mentioned.
              I had one “test” student go in-world today to complete a quick assignment on how to create items in-world. Overall he quickly caught on and he was having a lot of fun creating different items.

        • sophiabb 12:02 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Colin,

          Like Ben, I think this is a fantastic project. Kudos to you and your school for this. Great combination of OLE tools you are looking to integrate.

      • teacherben 7:07 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I hate to be the devil’s advocate here, but you say “as someone who has not participated…you are not that interested…” Perhaps you should give it a try. You may change your mind and see some potential after trying it out for yourself.

        • kstackhouse 6:08 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          You are right. As I mentioned in another reply above, I am not opposed to the idea. I am just not sure where to begin. I am impressed by the work you (and Colin) are putting into it. As you say, if I gain more experience in it I might become more comfortable with the concept of a virtual world as an extension of our classroom. Thanks for the insight on the subject that you have provided.

    • Doug Connery 10:02 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I must admit that I have trouble getting my head around how virtual worlds can be used in a post-secondary polytechnic setting. Most of our training and education is hands-on real life based, thus I don’t see how using a virtual world would benefit. I would prefer that the accountant I hire, the carpenter who builds my house, the paramedic who arrives after a 911 call or the chef who prepares my meal at a restaurant has been trained using real life hands-on scenarios rather then trained through virtual worlds. There maybe some benefits to using virtual worlds as a tool while moving from theory to practice, however I am not convinced that cost-benefit is worth it. Nothing beats the EMT practicing in a simulation lab with automated manikins and real people, the student chef preparing food in a program run kitchen and the carpentry students building a house on campus.

      I am also not convinced that students could transfer the skills and knowledge they acquired in a virtual world to the real world as they are hopefully are not transferring the skills and experiences from gaming to reality (car racing, violence and killing for example). I wonder if the norm of the gaming culture as purely fantasy and entertainment could be modified to allow students to take working in a virtual world seriously in an educational setting.

      • sophiabb 12:37 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Doug,

        I totally get your reservations. From personal experience (many years in a tech/voc organization in Jamaica), hands-on real life based training is great and what we encourage within technical and vocational training/education. I have also seen the positive impact of such 3D programs as AutoCad.

        Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (quoted in Kafai 1995: 314) says that “Learning is at its best when it is deadly serious and very playful at the same time.” Check out what she shares in Serious Play (http://www.yorku.ca/jjenson/4303/readings/gaming/seriousplay.pdf). Also check out Brian Burton’s research findings the impact of virtual learning on student collaboration and knowledge creation (http://www.academia.edu/1658831/The_Use_of_Three_Dimensional_Interface_within_a_Virtual_Learning_Environment_and_the_impact_on_Student_Collaboration_and_Knowledge_Creation).

        Ok, that was a very long link. By the way, like you I prefer the carpenter to is building my house to have real world experience, but is there a place for blending?

      • teacherben 7:23 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        This video might change your mind. Here is a group of professional architects collaborating on a building project in SecondLife. They are working from real plans.


        Here’s another one:


        I have a friend who does a lot of this sort of work with his high school students. He has done it with a hosted solution on ReactionGrid and on his own server using OpenSim. Students collaborated in real time on building projects. Pretty amazing.

        I did something similar with my students except that we were using OpenWonderland. It doesn’t include the inworld building tools, but anything that you build in Google SketchUp can be dragged and dropped from your desktop directly into your virtual world. I build a full size 3D model of our school and my students made all the fixtures and furniture. They could communicate in real time using audio, text messages and even leave audio recordings for one another (that looked like an old tape recorder that they would leave sitting on the ground.) The cool thing with the audio was that when your two avatars are close to one another, they can hear each other talk, but if you walk away, then your voice trails off.

        • Doug Connery 9:28 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks Sophia and Ben for your suggestions. I am still not convinced how these virtual world methods would benefit or could replace the hands-on real world experience that our students currently receive. We are driven by industry demand for skills and training, so unless the graduates will be using these virtual tools in the work place, the cost/benefit is hard to justify.

          However I am open to suggestions of how virtual worlds can help. Below is a link to a video that shows a sampling of what our programs are. Perhaps you could provide me with some suggestions on how virtual worlds could help deliver the training and skills shown in this video.



          • Shaun Pepper 12:43 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I think this virtual world can be a great way to engage students who are kinaesthetic or visual learners. These students do not want to write down information, they want to get the hands dirty and test out their ideas. This testing and modelling method is becoming more prevalent in 21st century planning with better software and technology rendering programs (google sketchup, autocad etc..). By creating an avatar, like seen in the video, it gives students the impression or visual information that this would be done by people not computers. I agree with Doug it does not replace hands on learning, but I think it can introduce students to working on projects that are far beyond the scale of what could be affordable to do hands-on.

          • adi 11:56 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Hi Doug,

            I understand what you mean; at first sight it is difficult to imagine how SL could be used to enhance learning, or in a practical way. However, there are some interesting projects out there. I watched the SAIT video; it’s impressive. SAIT looks like a great place to study and very hands on and practical. I can see why so many of your graduates obtain employment so quickly after graduating. You are right that students won’t need to know how to use SL for many of these jobs, but the objective of using SL is not so much about learning to use the tool, but rather using this tool for creating ‘enabling context’ that will lead to learning in context. Some of the examples I found, rather than imply a huge cost, I feel actually allow for an ‘almost authentic’ learning experience at virtually no cost. I once had the chance to teach in a Video and Film school, and I remember that making a short video implied a huge cost (equipment, location permits, transportation of staff etc., meals and more). With SL and Machinima a film student can go through the process of filming something, from making the story board, Call sheet etc. , and then actually filming on SL; like we did for this week’s presentation. Anyways, here are some examples below I hope will help; the SAIT course is on the left, and on the right the link to a SL example.

            1. Environmental Technology – http://secondlife.com/destination/the-frontier-project
            2. Information Technology – http://secondlife.com/destination/capella-next-generation-learning
            3. Architectural Technologies – http://secondlife.com/destination/archi21
            4. New Media Production and Design – http://secondlife.com/destination/depaul-university-college-of-cdm , plus how we used it in our project using Machinama.
            5. Healthcare sector courses – http://secondlife.com/destination/diabetes-guidance-center

      • Pat A Son 1:12 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Doug,
        A the end of the day virtual worlds are just one option that are available to educators today. As appealing as it may seem it may be applicable to all learning situations and it may even boil down personal preference as far as the selection is concerned. Also
        I do not think that virtual worlds were meant to replace reality in the classroom but to enhance the learning experience. In addition your contribution seem to be limited to the acquisition of motor skills however so your position that transfer is not possible may be justified. For cognitive skills transfer is not only possible but desirable.

        • rebeccaharrison 10:57 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I think that the fact that these are “just one option” is critical in this discussion for me. I, too, have serious reservations about using virtual worlds (or the real benefit that can come from them), not to mention my concerns about what other skills could be lost through the use of them. Despite lots of videos and information, I still feel that they are a good strategy for certain situations and certain types of learners, but that they are just one piece, and one piece whose implications we still don’t necessarily understand.

          • Pat A Son 9:10 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Yes Rebecca we have to be careful with the technology overload that we are faced with or else we can make the wrong decisions when it comes to their use.

      • Doug Connery 8:58 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks everyone for your comments and examples; however I am still not convinced. In fact after reading comments in the avatar experience section I am even more of a cynic. We have wonderful hands-on labs, classrooms, reality based simulation labs and real life practicum placements that I don’t see a role for virtual based, especially second life environments. Besides our curriculum for the most part is to full to use something that is not applicable for graduates when they hit the job market. If virtual worlds become main stream in industry and employers start asking for our graduates to have experience in this area, then we will adopt it.

        As virtual environments are still in the early experimental stages of education, most post-secondary’s will probably wait to see what falls out to see which ones will be the flavours of the month and which ones will show promise to stick around before they become mainstream. Take this course and others in the MET program, do you see much virtual world applications occurring here. Perhaps virtual worlds and gaming offer too much play and distractions and not enough focused learning to get the job done. I am probably showing my age here. Besides we can’t all agree on everything; it is more productive for some people to take the opposing view from the majority.

        • Lisa Nevoral 12:13 am on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Hey Doug,

          I also don’t know if I am sold on virtual worlds in a classroom. I would have to really immerse myself into one to see if there are any benefits. I think that hands on is very important and in some areas I really don’t see how a virtual world will help. As Patason has mentioned, getting students to grasp abstract ideas in science and math may be one use for virtual worlds.

          It’s always good to have an opposing voice. It give different perspectives and hopefully we learn from that. Your opposition did provide a lot of comments and examples.


    • Pat A Son 3:40 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As a science teacher and a fan of learning by doing I am really excited by the possibilities virtual worlds can bring to the learning experience.
      For starters science can often be an abstract affair that can be challenging for students to grasp mentally and virtual worlds can provide the only means by which students can visualise and interact with these abstract concepts in an almost realistic manner.
      Then even for those activities and that objects that are possible in the real world the virtual brings the affordances of infinite repetition without using up or destroying a resource and experimentation without exposure to danger thus enabling learner more opportunities for constructing knowledge than in a real world scenario.
      Finally the ‘play’ factor shifts the learning experience from being a tedious task to a pleasurable endeavor therefore serving as a source of motivation for students who are struggling with a difficult problem.
      On the minus side these worlds demand some background knowledge to master and not everyone would be given to them. Also the technology comes with a cost that some would not be able to afford.

      • sophiabb 11:49 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Pat A Son,

        I agree, from personal experience, science can be very abstract. Thank you for highlighting some of the educational affordances that virtual worlds present as well as possible constraints.

      • Jonathan 5:15 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Patason —

        I’m very intrigued by virtual worlds. I spent some time on Second Life (because of this group.. thanks for the opportunity) and found myself making the connection to Minecraft. Minecraft came up again when I read that you were a Science teacher. I always think about the “process” when I am teaching my primary students. It doesn’t matter how they get there as long as the “journey” is there.

        Joel Levin — “Minecraft Teacher” — has been developing a program to allow teachers to easily teach using the Minecraft program. In his demonstrations he has demonstrated how he has been able to show many different concepts and processes — such as demonstrating how synapses work in the body and chemical reactions occurred.

        I haven’t been so brave as to try these in my own classroom yet as the background knowledge that I currently have on the game isn’t strong enough. I doubt it’d be ever as strong as my students — but to learn in virtual environments provide a perfect disguise for learning.

        These virtual environments make learning fun. They take a step away from the typical and allow students to engage in lessons to reinforce and teach ideas. Even if it is just a novelty factor — the novelty is powerful to use periodically.

        These are all ideas that you mentioned in your post and got me thinking more about pushing through and spending some more time with Minecraft.


      • Lisa Nevoral 12:07 am on November 26, 2012 | Log in to Reply


        I haven’t played around enough in virtual worlds, but the idea that you bring up about “abstract affair that can be challenging for students to grasp mentally and virtual worlds can provide the only means by which students can visualise and interact with these abstract concepts in an almost realistic manner” does seem like a good option for students to learn this information. As I was immersed in Second Life, I thought that virtual worlds would be good for such things as taking students into a museum in Paris without actually going there.

        I’m not sure if I will incorporate virtual worlds into my lesson plans quite yet, but I am interested to explore them a bit more before saying I never will.


    • avninder 10:45 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      A couple of examples in the videos did spike my interest in using virtual worlds for learning (i.e.: traveling to another country without leaving your desk or being inside of a computer). However I think that this may be accomplished through video simulations without the need for an avatar. I believe avid gamers would love using second life for learning but I doubt others would be willing to learn and use the virtual world in place of traditional learning methods. Another concern I would have in addition to the potentially steep learning curve and cost would be the time that students could waste navigating through the simulations without focussing on learning. When I did play video games, many many years ago I could spend hours in front of the television which is not the best use of time.

      • sophiabb 9:00 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Avninder,

        I appreciate your point of view. I believe like you that virtual worlds hold a certain appeal for gamers. I do believe however that it is not only avid gamers who would love using second life for learning. According to statistics provided in March 2007 by Pathfinder Linden, there are over 200 universities or academic institutions already involved in SL (Kelton, 2007). Last week I visited the University of Cambridge’s campus in SL. Universities are now offering courses in SL. The cost of time /steep learning curve can indeed be a barrier.

    • Peggy Lawson 8:10 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I can see a real benefit for a virtual world for some students – the shy & misfit students who can be whatever they want to be in a virtual world. Discussion boards, as was discussed in an earlier week, can often allow the quieter students to have a voice that they don’t normally have in a F2F classroom. An avatar in a virtual world can be an even greater liberator for some students.

      • sophiabb 9:05 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Great point about the potential benefit of anonymity for students, especially quieter/shy students.

    • joeltremblay 9:02 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As an educator the idea of virtual worlds can be an extremely treacherous double edged sword with huge benefits and detriments on either side. How many of you know current or former students who stay up too late playing video games and can’t bring themselves to get out of class or work in the morning? How many of us know students who are way more comfortable in virtual worlds and as such don’t spend nearly enough time in the real one? There is definitely a positive draw to them with the opportunities to make the impossible possible. One example is software that I reviewed awhile back that allows the user to do dissections in a virtual space as opposed to having the actual specimens etc. but I think that we as educators need to be aware of the seduction that entertainment software posing as educational can provide. I suppose with this, like most things in life, that we need to take from it what we need and leave it behind when it is no longer of any benefit. Beware the siren song:


      • sophiabb 7:36 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Joel,

        Virtual worlds can be a double edged sword – many arguments can be/are being posited, for the pros and cons. Yes, we need to ascertain the costs/benefits t and pitfalls to inform our decisions. Interesting turn of phrase “entertainment software posing as educational”. Are they really posing ?

    • jenbarker 12:24 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I echo your concerns Joel. One the one hand I bear witness daily to my son who loves playing X-box and wonder how he might react to learning in a virtual world. My initial thoughts are that he would love it, be completely engaged and motivated to learn. But then I begin to wonder if he might get addicted. Would learning in this particular way have an effect on his brain? I think I would want to examine this area more before I would advocate for it. I like the appeal of the creative, collaborative, engaging, personalized, active nature of the virtual environments. I wonder though, similar to other classmates comments how much time would be involved in creating learning in this way. Speaking from experience, elementary teachers never have enough time in their day and from an outsider it appears like it would take a great deal of time to become proficient with the terminology to feel at ease to navigate and teach from this environment. I am not opposed to virtual learning environments and think they deserve merit but for me personally I plan to wait until they are further developed and researched before I engage with them.

      • Doug Connery 9:28 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Jen and Joel I echo your concerns about virtual worlds: addiction, distraction, entertainment posed as educational, too much time in the virtual vs real world…… We also need to consider that learning is not always fun, sometimes it is a lot of hard work and to be proficient in some areas, you need to practice, practice and practice. This should be done in the real world because in the end, you need to apply this knowledge and these skills in the real world.

        We have identified how virtual worlds are used for entertainment and we are now exploring how they can be used in education. However we also need to examine how much virtual worlds are used in the workplace and if they are not used in the workplace then I would reduce the value of them in education. I don’t know of too many employers that operate in the virtual world. Maybe I am being too practical here.

        So I see where virtual worlds can have a place in education, however we really need to think about them as one tool in a large toolbox, and only use them where it is beneficial and not because it is fun for the students or the teacher.

      • sophiabb 9:32 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Appreciate your practical point of view Doug. Great discussion.

      • sophiabb 9:55 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jen,

        Interesting question about the impact of this mode of learning on the brain. You’ve got me thinking about this. I did a quick Google and found this article on Brain Development in a Hyper-Tech World (https://www.dana.org/media/detail.aspx?id=13126).

        • jenbarker 9:28 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply


          First off, thank you so much for searching for this article and bringing it back to the group. When I first made my post I had wanted to search and quote and article on the topic but didn’t have time.

          So it would appear that data on effects on the brain is still quite sparse. But the researchers did suggestion caution. Below are a couple of quotes that as a mother of two technologically connected kids, I find worrisome.

          “Fast is not equated with deliberation. So I think they can produce a tendency toward shallow thinking. It’s not going to turn off the brain to thinking deeply and thoughtfully about things, but it is going to make that a little bit more difficult to do.”

          Several independent research groups have reported evidence that, at the level of neural systems, multitasking actually entails rapid switching from one task to another. Each switch exacts a toll, at least doubling the time it takes to complete a task and decreasing both the level of performance and the ability to recall what you were doing later on. Study after study has found that multitasking degrades the quality of learning.

          Friedlander also wonders if over-reliance on electronic interactions, which are so often marked by unnatural delays, even minute ones as in cell-phone conversations, might wire developing brains to a different baseline set-point for temporal processing–how time is interpreted.

          “We don’t really know how that will affect kids or if it will have long-term effects, but I think it supports the notion that one needs to be careful to not become totally immersed in the cyber world, because it may be a little more awkward interacting with real living people in real situations where those timing delays are somewhat different,” Freidlander said.

    • Mike Rae 7:17 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Interesting reading about the activities being attempted in classes using virtual worlds. I, like Ken, find it hard to picture myself teaching this way, but one day, you never know. I have my reservations a teacher I just met at my new school told me that he spends more time in second life than his real one, he was saying it kinda jokingly, but it freaked me out a little bit.

      I agree that it could give students that are reserved in class an opportunity to come out of their shell in a virtual world, which could be very beneficial to them. It could, however, turn off students that don’t have the interest, knowledge or skill to be successful in a virtual world.

      I think there is opportunity for students who are not in the same geographical space to engage with each other and this is important given the growth of virtual schools education.


      • sophiabb 9:21 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Mike,

        I have heard of people who mortgage their homes in the real world to purchase homes in SL. Now those are true residents.

        I am not encouraging students to become residents; so I agree with many of the posts about being cautious. Virtual worlds do provide an opportunity to engage with each other. My group mates and I met many times in SL to discuss our project; we are all in different time zones.

    • manny 8:49 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Virtual worlds of course have many pro’s and con’s as was mentioned in the Posey et. Al article. Most of the disadvantages seemed to be on the professor/teacher end as it is not always easy to adapt material for online environments. In a virtual world, the problem of synchronism can also be a problem. For a truly collaborative experience, one would think that participants have to be online at around the same time. Sloodle seems to have addressed this problem by allowing students to navigate their virtual environment while completing individual tasks assigned by their teacher. Another downside is the lack of face-to-face interaction that is essential in certain disciplines. For example, music courses require immediate teacher feedback and scaffolding for students to advance their skills.

      On the other hand, there are many pro’s to virtual worlds and simply put, they are just more fun. The anonymity of avatars allows those students who usually wouldn’t speak up in a class to voice their opinion. Furthermore, the game play aspect that virtual worlds afford capitalizes on a playing field that students are already familiar with.

      There was a line in one of the videos in which the speaker stated that the distinction between gaming and virtual worlds is getting blurred. I personally think that this is a good thing as there is no doubt that gaming is a HUGE INDUSTRY worldwide. To put it into context, a game called Call of Duty, Black Ops 2; just came out two weeks ago and broke a record in first day sales of over 500 million dollars. My students came in to class and this game was all they could talk about, many of them hadn’t slept in days. I wondered how neat it would be if we could harness this same energy in education and have students playing while learning at the same time. I have provided a link below that shows some mind-blowing stats on this phenomenon.


      • sophiabb 9:27 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Manny,

        Harnessing the power of play for serious/educational ‘play’ would be neat. Thanks for link. Those stats are mind-blowing.

    • pcollins 11:59 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Virtual World Dangers….
      Okay, as a bit of a tech geek and a member of a MMOG household I get pretty fired up about how great it would be to integrate a virtual world into my f-f classroom. Just reading some of the advances many of you are making in this arena is enough to get me slightly woozy at how it’s going to play out. Coolness factor aside – I can’t help but feel that their are so many “teachable moments” available from helping students to become digital citizens and learning about being involved in this context: gaming or educationally.

      But then I start to go to the dark side

      And think about the issues that are emerging with youth right now and cyberbullying….gaming addictions…over active peer networks….digital marginalizations & divides etc..etc.. I really need to ask myself, not if I am ready and willing, but are the students that I work with ready and willing. And how would the parents and the school boards react to such changes? And should I incorporate their feedback?

      I have recently come from a very reserved technological district. And I think that it’s made me hyperaware of some of the issues that may arise given a virtual world teaching concept. For example, how would I instill digital citizenship in the students that I teach? Would this be something that I had to introduce and moderate, on top of designing the VW classroom and implementing the curriculum?

      As impressed as I am by what I see from everyone else’s adventure into this arena, and as excitied as I would be to get involved as a part of a team, I do find it hard to imagine effectively creating such a venue as a lone-wolf in a big system.


      • sophiabb 9:35 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi PC,

        Thanks for your contribution. Yes, going it alone can be a daunting task. How about test driving by incorporating a small, well defined/structured activity?

        • pcollins 11:32 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          That’s a fabulous idea – I probably tend to get ahead of myself because I can see the merit of really going all the way with incorporating VLC’s. Baby steps right?

    • tomwhyte1 12:11 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As a reflect on the idea of a virtualized component within my classroom and my current thinking on education, I truly believe that this tool has its use. It is not the answer, nor the solution, but another method to meet some students where they are at. For just like with all other tools, it is not a one size fits all, and this is where I have some concerns (which I think are resolvable, but still need to be in for the for front of our thinking).

      – What students, type of students, learning styles would work best within a virtual learning environment?
      – What structures would I have to put in place within my classroom, for this approach to be effectively implemented for those students? And what might the other students be doing, while those students are within the virtual world?
      – What types of activities/challenges work best in this environment?
      – What level of technology is needed, does my IT department support this?
      – How much time will need to be invested, and does the investment provide a sufficient payout at the end?


    • visramn 7:31 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Virtual world


      -Learning becomes more flexible

      -Learners are more confident and have time to process their thoughts before sharing them

      -Learners have multiple ways in which they can interact with their peers and teachers

      -Build in tools such as calender, reminders, task list, help with accountability

      – Feedback procedure is more efficient

      -Everyone has a voice (less domination of conversation or of students being lost int he crowd)

      -Teachers can track progress

      -Resources that are created can be reused

      -Content can be more visual and auditory. Hence, more learning needs and styles can be accommodated

      -More potential for differentiation

      -Students can relate to the online learning environment because it is similar to other social interfaces they use such as facebook


      – Face-to- face interactions are lacking

      -Conversations lack emotion

      – Teachers have to monitor everything posted carefully to ensure their is nothing inappropriate shared

      -Students lose out on tactile interactions

      -Some students may be distracted by other non-educational capabilities on their laptops or tablets

      -Written comments can be misunderstood or taken out of content

      -Students may be tempted to use the internet and not their own ideas due the easy access they have at their fingertips

      -Students who lack technological background may struggle with navigating through the OLE

      -Devices to access the OLE may be limited

      -Some students may be left out because they do not own their own device or some may have better devices than others

      I am sure I missed some. Feel free to add to my list.


    • Scott 1:24 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I am certainly intrigued by the concept of virtual learning using tools like Sloodle, however like a number of my colleagues, I’m not certain if I’m ready, or if my school is ready, for this level of change.

      The opportunities for increased ‘engagement’, (Tom’s favorite term!) seem profound, but engagement does not always equate to learning (as I’m sure Tom would rightly be quick to point out as well). Based only on the video samples provided and without trying any of these environments myself, the curriculum being presented looked like print documents/slides hung on virtual billboards or white boards. While this is novel and visually impactful, at the end of the day, it’s still simply a document or a video. I’m reminded of teachers who just scan a document and display it on a Smartboard and then claim they are technologically savvy – when they could really just stick with an overhead machine. In short, the curriculum design required to make these environments effective will be essential and likely time consuming to produce.

      For online learning, such as our MET program, being offered by higher education instutions with appropriate budgets for technology and curriculum design, I can see these virtual environments being highly applicable. For myself at the secondary level, my guess is we will have some way to go before we are ready to venture into these environments. For example, the network infrastructure at my school has difficulty some days just streaming a simple YouTube video!

      Then there is the concern around virtual classroom management, including teachers being able to monitor students virtual interactions and cyberbullying. Just today, Mashable published a story around this very issue: http://mashable.com/2012/11/23/virtual-lessons-real-world/. On the upside, the article highlights the opportunities adults will have in elementary and secondary education, to teach students about digital citizenship and appropriate online behaviour. “These worlds are truly THEIR worlds –- and the good news is that the lessons learned online can, and should, be applied in the real world… Here’s a news flash: your child is most likely going to online places he or she shouldn’t… don’t assume that because these situations happen in 2D candy colored worlds created out of code that they don’t have the same implications for a child’s social maturation and emotional health. Instead, it’s important to treat the virtual world play as an opportunity to discuss and hash out issues that can easily translate into their real life.”

      Bottom line for me; virtual OLEs seem intriguing, but there are many questions which will need to be addressed before I would implement one in my classroom.

      • sophiabb 2:27 pm on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Scot,

        Excellent points from both points of view. I agree, before we implement any learning technology, including virtual OLES that we should do our ascertain best fit for our students/learning environments.

    • Ranvir 3:47 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Very interesting discussion indeed, one that I have been a part of for the last 2 years or so. To provide some context from my part of the world, medical schools have been exploring virtual worlds such as Second Life for few years in order to provide real life clinical experience to medical students where they can ‘practice’ clinical diagnosis in a ‘safe environment’. It is a fantastic concept and medical many schools such as St. George (London) have been able to make sophisticated virtual patients. However, the truth of the matter is that it is still TBD whether and how much do these simulation environments contribute to learning vis a vis a low-tech approach that aims to solve the problem with less resources and time?

      I agree with Scott that further research is required to determine the cognitive impact and contribution to attainment of learning objectives before one can plan a potential implementation. Recently, I was speaking at a Game Based Learning session we organized at UBC and one of the questions that was raised by a faculty member was exactly this – “Do you have any research information that supports that game based learning contributes to superior learning and achievement of learning competencies? The answer unfortunately is no, there isn’t any concrete evidence available although there is information that GBL contributes to greater collaboration and richer learning experience.

      Thus, I echo what Scott mentioned in the bottom line statement.

      Thoughts on the contrary?

    • jhodi 5:19 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Virtual worlds allow students to immerse their learning in an online learning environment that provides them with potentially life-like designs. Virtual worlds can be intuitive for students and encourage students to interact online as they would in person. However, students can also be creative and create their own avatar representative of what they want to be or something totally different that what they can be in real life (ie. have wings). Students can feel a connection to their avatar and form online collaborative relationships with peers that they may or may not interact with in person. However, this also can provide students with a ‘screen’ of sorts that the teacher must monitor to ensure that students are behaving respectfully. The other major negative could be the reliance on modern technologies that can support virtual worlds and interactions at a quick rate.

    • jameschen 2:16 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      As an educator, one of the things that make me want to embrace the adoption of learning in a virtual environment is the chance to help students see how the rules applied in reality also apply to virtual environments. Many students are unable to make this connection, which results in kids becoming cyberbullies or victims of cyberbullying. A sad example of this the suicide of Amanda Todd.

      Our students are establishing themselves online, mostly without the guidance and support of their parents and teachers. I believe that with parental involvement and teacher guidance, virtual learning environments can help students become more conscious about how their actions online have real world consequences. Only when students make the connection can tragedies be avoided.


  • Eva Ziemsen 1:02 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

      Post your answer to the questions regarding the two videos here.     To what extent are the teachers in these two videos using the components of their OLE? Are they adhering to the values and principles of open learning?  

    Continue reading Week 12: INTERACTIVITY 1A: OLE IN THE CLASSROOM Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • kstackhouse 7:31 am on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Having personally used Twiducate (stopped using because it was too slow to load), Edmodo, and to a limited extent wikis I think that the teachers in this example were using the tools as OLEs. They were using constructivist and connectivist principles in their use of allowing students to work, collaborate, and engage with the materials. One boy mentioned being able to get his quiz results right away so he knew how he was doing. I used the same feature in Edmodo and students could check their score and they could try again if they felt like they had a better handle on the material later on. I also loved the badge feature in Edmodo and we had fun creating badges and how they would earn them. I used this as a way to help them decide what would be considered milestones in the course. I also loved being away from school and having students ask me questions on Edmodo that I was able to answer for them while waiting in the Dentist’s office. Parents loved the fact that their students were so engaged with the course materials and connecting with their peers in relation to the topics and activities. Text notifications and the mobile app made Edmodo a great choice in my high school setting.

    • adi 3:08 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I agree, these platforms are great for keeping communication channels open and immediate, and I can see how parents and teachers love them. It’s also interesting that you’ve used these OLEs; you can give us a hand-on opinion. Do you feel one or the other is better suited for creating an OLE in all the sense of the word? In other words, using it not only as a means of communication or for uploading material, which one teacher mentioned, but to provide enabling context, resources and tools to enhance learning?

      • kstackhouse 5:18 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I am not sure I could speak on one being more suitable for OLE than the other. I think that each one could be used in the sense described by the group’s presentation. I think it depends on the teacher and how they have approached using the resources. I think each one has its merits, and would recommend Edmodo for class use. One of my students said it was like having FB in the classroom. He was excited to be using it…and Macbeth was not his favourite unit, so having Edmodo in place was something that encouraged him to participate when he might not have otherwise.

        • adi 6:14 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I found that interesting, too; that students say it reminds them of FB. I’ve taught English Lit, too. How did you use Edmodo for ‘Macbeth’ that you think made it more fun for your students?

          • kstackhouse 11:49 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            We had links to external sites (videos, virtual tours, recordings, etc…) available in their resources that they were able to follow. Each asked them to respond to certain points in the play. For the biggest part the ability to check with their peers was the most engaging part. Shakespeare should be seen and heard, so reading it at home by yourself is tough for many students.

    • Peggy Lawson 7:52 pm on November 19, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Some of the comments that struck me while watching the videos was how the teacher used the sites to engage the students in various ways. Posting student photos in , for example, Edmodo helped draw the students to the site, which then held all relevant materials – notes, self-test quizzes (great for automatic feedback for students), calendar (to help develop time-management skills), etc.

      Collaboration was another key point – how the students posted questions that other students helped answer, and the wiki annotations that promoted constructivist learning.

      I’ll add one more, regarding how the online discussions and wiki annotating gave students time to think before they posted, unlike live classroom discussions. To me that is a huge plus of LMS systems and other online discussions, like our course blog here. Everyone can have a voice, not just those who can sometimes dominate all classroom discussions.

      • adi 7:16 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        It’s interesting you used the term LMS. Different web sites you look at will refer to these online platforms as either an LMS , CMS or even as Social Netwroks. Then I came across the following PPT that explains the difference between an LMS and a CMS http://www.slideshare.net/ebloomsie/lms-vs-cms-a-summary#btnNext, and what stuck out was that in their opinion, an LMS manages learners while a CMS manages content, and the latter lends itself for greater content creation. Would you agree? Could this be the success of platforms like Edmodo and Schoology vs LMS like Blackboard, Connect or Vistas? Are LMS the best option for creating an OLE?

        • Peggy Lawson 5:48 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks for the link Adrianna. I don’t know if the slideshare convinced me of significant differences between an LMS and CMS, but I’ll admint my own personal experience is much more on the LMS side (Blackboard & Moodle); from the video glimpses of Edmodo and Schoology I didn’t notice much difference in functionality than what I can accomplish in Blackboard with it’s discussion boards, grouping functionality, calendar, wikis (in the newer Blackboard), blogs, etc.

          • adi 9:15 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            I’m also not totally sure of the difference, as I have also only had experience with LMS. However, my impression is that a LMS is considered more on the administrative side and a lot more fixed in terms of content creation than an LMS. However, I agree with you in terms of functionality. If anything, when I first watched the first video, if felt that more the teacher was using it a repository tool. This alone is not adhering to the principles of an OLE, it’s simply uploading and depositing materials but not necessarily enhancing learning. Thoughts?

    • avninder 10:35 am on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I think both teachers used their respective OLEs appropriately as many of the acitivities were rooted in constructivism. There were also opportunities for the students to start new discussions and reflect which demonstrates the “open”ness of an open learning environment. However, it seemed as though the instructor using Edmodo used many other features availble such as the calendar and posting videos. I’m not sure that this means she used the OLE more appropriately but I think it may have resulted in students being more engaged in the site itself not just the subject matter.

      • adi 9:21 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I personally felt the first teacher used the tool as repository, while the second teacher had students constructing knowledge together. Effectively, we do not get to see exactly how the first teacher actually used the tools and what the content of what she uploaded consisted of. For example, what exactly did they do with the videos she posted? Engagement, however, is indeed important, and she does appear to achieved that.

    • Scott 1:23 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I’m working to compare the two videos, however I remain unclear about the definition of enabling contexts, as referred to in the interactivity question and the Slideshare slides.

      The Slideshare presentation notes that enabling contexts can be externally imposed (which I understand); however, both externally induced and individually generated contexts, involve the learner generating the problem – so what is the difference between the two then? Can anyone clarify these definitions with an example perhaps?

      • Patrick Pichette 5:17 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Scott,

        With externally induced contexts, students are provided with a relevant problem space without being given any particular problem to solve. It is clear from the problem space that there are issues to work but students are encouraged to describe and delimit the problems while working towards solving them afterwards.

        For individually generated contexts, students identify their own context based on particular needs and circumstances for the subject matter that they are currently involved with.

      • Patrick Pichette 5:23 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        In other words, the difference is strictly in whether the problem space has been pre-defined by the instructor (externally induced) or if the student is the one defining the problem space (individually generated).

        The similarity lies in the fact that for both externally induced and individually generated contexts, students are the ones defining the processes and tasks to solve the issue. With externally imposed contexts, the student is given both the problem space as well as the processes and tasks.

        • Scott 7:46 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks for your explanations Patrick.

          I’m afraid however, I’m still just not clear on the subtleties of the distinction here. Any chance you can offer a real world example of each?

          • adi 9:07 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

            Probably the best way to describe the three types of enabling context is in terms of how much learning is controlled, and how teacher or learner centered they are. In the case of externally imposed enabling contexts, the instructor/domain provides both the problem and the means for solving it; in externally induced enabling contexts, the instructor generates the context, but the learner generates the problem to be addressed; finally, in individually generated enabling contexts, the learner generates both the context ad problem.

            An example of externally imposed enabling contexts are simulation learning games where students adopt a role within the environment and the problem and/or performance needs are explicitly delineated. A good example of this is “The Great Solar System Rescue” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj0Plod9YjY .

            In externally induced enabling contexts may consist of scenarios, problems or cases where the learner generates the situation to be solved and the means to do it. An example of this is “The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury” http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/disted/week1/5focustc.html.

            In the case of individually generated enabling contexts, the specific context cannot be provided in advance because the instructor cannot know what it will be; the learner establishes the enabling context based on needs. Personal interests, issues or problems guide the strategies employed, be it a graduate student’s research interest, or a person wishing to solve a personal problem, e.g. planning a 3 day hiking trip.

            Hope this helps.

            • Scott 7:13 pm on November 21, 2012

              Indeed, these explanations and examples have helped me a great deal – thank you 🙂

    • teacherben 7:03 pm on November 20, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      it seems to me that most of the people using Edmodo were doing much the same thing online that they already did in the classroom. It was being used as a productivity tool more than anything else, but most of the functionality that has highlighted by the users could just as easily be done using more traditional tools. Students commented on how much they like the calendar features. Teachers liked being able to post assignments and give quizzes. This is nothing really new.

      On the other hand, the wikis afforded the possibility of the collective construction of knowledge that is central to Constructivist pedagogy. Students shared their own original thoughts and feelings about poetry, they contributed their own research through social bookmarks. This teacher was essentially crowdsourcing the unit and students were given much more ownership over how the unit evolved over time.

      • adi 9:34 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        My impression was similar. What’s more, I came across lost of examples where teachers use Edmodo as a repository platform and tool for communicating with students, but do not exploit its full potential. On the other hand, I found an example where a Social Studies teacher creates enabling context that promotes divergent and mediated learning, amongst other things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7scmRQkTaU&feature=plcp
        Thought from people on other ways these platforms could be used as more than just repository platforms?

    • Mike Rae 2:22 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I agree with Ben that the wiki was more constructive than the edmodo, but I think that both would qualify as OLEs. Both platforms encouraged students to work together and ‘off’ of each other. By the teacher in the wiki giving instruction to annotate the poem, we saw how ‘friends’ in the class were able to communicate with each other about the line, building on each others comments.
      I thought that it was cool that two friends in the class would never call each other up at night to discuss what the last line of homework meant to them, but through this OLE, it gave them the opportunity to discuss it.
      The similarity to Facebook is a huge advantage of these environments to make students comfortable and familiar with the idea of logging in and posting, checking notifications, messages, and interacting with each other. I thought the teacher’s idea of posting pictures was an interesting hook to get students coming back to the edmodo, but where does the line get drawn of it becoming a social networking site or an educational site? maybe it HAS to be both?


      • adi 9:59 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Interesting point. In this blog http://www.edmodo.com/public/wazmac-demo/group_id/1224665 , they mention that edmodo is marketed as ‘Social Networking for Schools’ and that Schoology leans more towards LMS with a social network feel to it. As to where the line is drawn, I feel depends on the teacher; both can co-exist. Aside from the social studies example role play I mentioned in a rely to Ben, there’s this one http://www.edmodo.com/public/wazmac-demo/group_id/1224665 where admittedly the teacher has used it a repository platform, but carefully put together to create externally imposed enabling context with a specific problem for students to work on, and aside from the video provided, this teacher also provides additional resources http://www.edmodo.com/folder/456542 . So I guess if properly used, you can combine its uses.

      • teacherben 6:22 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        No question, Edmodo qualifies and I’m confident that many teachers are using it effectively. It even allows students and teachers to communicate across different schools, if enabled. There’s a lot of potential there. I just didn’t see that in the video.

        I had a particularly positive experience many years ago when I set up something called Elgg on my own server. It is a social network that looks a lot like Facebook did back in the early days. Nice, simple, clean. I just threw it at my students with no real idea how they would use it. On their own, they started to meet up in the evenings to discuss homework assignments. Another teacher and I ended up joining in for 20 minute blocks each evening to answer questions and offer support, but it was the kids that originally set things up (grade 5 kids, if you ca believe it.) They created their own groups based on their own interests and some of those did take off. In some cases, a group was created, people joined and within a week, it was dead, but others remained active. This is not unlike what we find on any social network. They used it to meet up on weekends and used it to share music and pictures and all sorts of stuff. At the end of the year, I set up a new system with a new database for the next class and forgot about it. But a few months later, logged in to find out that these kids were still using it–even some kids who had moved away to other schools were using it as a way to stay in touch. I think this was very empowering for the students and really did highlight the power of student-centered teaching tools. These days, all of my kids use Facebook, so anything I introduce would come off as artificial. At the same time though, I don’t want to use Facebook to engage with them since I have my own, private life on there. I know that many of them use it as a tool to share their learning and support one another though.

    • jenbarker 11:34 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      After reviewing the videos, I am in agreement with both Mike and Ben. I found the first video (Edmodo) did NOT demonstrate very many OLE values. The features of the calendar, ability to view grades, and see homework is simply organization and may assist in increasing students self-regulated learning skills. All of these features were imposed by the teacher and didn’t allow for personal inquiry or divergent thinking. Never was it mentioned that students were using Edmodo create or generate content. Although I liked that the teacher mentioned that she was sharing photos/celebrating the learning happening in the classroom on Edmodo I think should she have provided the students the ability to post similar photos, it would have represented learner autonomy and self-directed learning as the students would be able to pick and choose what they would like to share and evaluate the learning by discussing why they chose the photos they shared. Overall the first video didn’t represent to me meaningful values characteristic of OLEs.

    • jenbarker 11:44 am on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I believe the second video is far more representative of the values of OLE. The teacher mediated the learning but by encouraging the students to make their own annotations she encouraged divergent thinking. The students had autonomy to choose which part of the poems they wanted to respond to. It allowed for communication between members of the class and allowed for all the voices of the classroom to be heard. The activity had the students generating content through a concrete experience.

      • adi 9:38 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Your observations are very good. If you look at the slide, and the differences between ‘directed’ and ‘open elarning’, then it would appear the teacher in video one does appear to be ‘carefully engineering external conditions’, while the teacher in the second video provides opportunities for ‘manipulation and experimenting’. In the end, it’s like any tool; it’s how you use it. Before it was blackboards and textbooks, now this. Are there better tools than others? Some argue, for example, that an LMS structure is too rigid for creating an OLE and has to many restrictions for plug ins etc. What do you think given your experience with the different platforms MET uses?

        • frank 8:09 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          I think we are seeing the evolution of some interesting tools in this course, though we may not be using them directly because switching back and forth between them might add confusion given our constraint that we only communicate online. I would love to see our postings get upvotes & downvotes by the class, so that we can each get some sort of feedback on our work, for example.

          I think you are right to juxtapose the differences between (very) directed learning in video one vs. open learning in video two Adelpaso. In that regard, it seems to me that the tool being used does matter. In the Second video, we see much greater application of OLE principles and values as Jen has pointed out, whereas in video one, we pretty much see a typical class do things they would otherwise do, with online tools. If OLE’s have the potential to facilitate an evolution in learning towards say social constructivism, then how they are engineered and designed matters.

    • Scott 8:06 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I have quickly summarize the OLE values of each video presented as follows:

      Video 1 – Edmodo
      Resources: Handouts, Weblinks
      Tools: Quizes, Calendars, Polls, Discussions, Notepad, Grading, Blogs, Help Forums, Notifications
      Scaffolds: Help forums, Quiz Feedback, Notifications
      Enabling Context: Teachers provided some problems and the Edmodo platform encouraged externally induced contexts, allowing the students to generate problems to be addressed using the peer directed forums.

      Video 2 – WiKi
      Resources: Weblinks, Handouts
      Tools: Collaborative text editing and used external social bookmark tool called Digo.
      Scaffolds: Structured Units and Collaborative Emphasis
      Enabling Context: Highly teacher generated problems, leading to externally imposed contexts, facilitated by Digo tool.

      Based on the information presented in the videos, in my opinion the Edmodo platform is richer in its OLE tools and affordances to learners than the Wiki platform. I was already familiar with both OLEs, however I was to unaware of the Digo social markup and bookmarking tool used in the Wiki video. It seemed easy to use, engaging and effective. It’s a site that I have added to my own toolbox of online resources and one I’d recommend to colleagues. It also reminded me, that sometimes the simplest tools work the best.

      As a final comment, while I appreciate that the Edmodo platform was agreeable to students due its similarity to Facebook, I’m not entirely convinced that a Facebook style environment is what I really want in my classroom. It also raises questions about who is going to moderate and be responsible for all the social oriented content that will be generated while students are logging it outside of class.

      • manny 9:00 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Scott,
        You hit a great point in terms of the similarities between such as edmodo/schoology to facebook. The obvious advantage is the hope that the learning curve wont be too much for students and it is something that is comfortable and inviting for them to use. I have tried Wiki’s and WordPress in the classroom and they didn’t quite work to the same effect. The point about discussion moderation is a BIG issue that seems to arise whenever one considers using these platforms. A lot of teachers are against utilizing such platforms as they don’t want the headache or responsibility of moderating discussions outside the classroom. Personal discussions on such sites is definitely a concern and the parameters of usage would have to be clearly laid out before jumping into such platforms headfirst.

      • adi 10:07 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Great summary Scott; you’ve really grasped the concept. I only just recently started using Diigo http://www.diigo.com/ (changed over from Delicious), and it is indeed an amazing tool. Here’s an example of what someone from ETEC 540 did with Diigo http://slides.diigo.com/list/mrspen/collective-wisdom-teaching-blogs-for-elementary

        And adding to your summary, I thought I’d share a mind map I made of what an OLE is; I also find summaries useful http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/254/openlearningenvironment.jpg/

        • Scott 12:50 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Thanks for the feedback and mind map – it’s terrific!

    • manny 8:50 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      The Edmodo and Wiki examples given in this activity strongly emphasize the collaborative features that OLE’s afford. When comparing this style of teaching to direct instruction, it is evident that there is much more interaction occurring between peers than in the traditional learning environment. According to the definition “OLEs aim to provide learners with opportunities to learn by solving both well and ill-defined problems, by interacting with resources, tools and peers, and by collaborating with others. The videos presented showcase students interacting with the resources and each other but the problems presented seem defined. I have seen examples of moodle, edmodo, and schoology used in instructional practice and noticed that it is usually a compilation of teacher activities presented on an online platform. This is still a step ahead of direct instruction but I think the true power of these tools lies in the ability of students to collaborate in inquiry based learning through the presentation of ill-defined problems.

      • adi 10:51 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        I agree, it is ‘a step ahead’ , but we do have a long way to go. Some believe the problem resides in the fact that constructivism (an underlying learning theory of OLEs) is a learning theory, but not an Instructional Design Model. It comes back to applying theory to practice, or teaching as you preach. It’s not easy and often involves a lot more work on the part of the teacher.

      • jhodi 5:08 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        You are correct in that we still have some work to do in moving away from direct instruction. I try as much as possible to create activities for my own students that require groups of students working together to solve a problem. I encourage students to use eachother as learning tools as well as their own math base to learn how others view a problem and how they can learn from their peers. I have noticed however, when the math concepts get more and more difficult, it can be harder to develop genuine activities that fit into the time constraints of a class. Developing these activities can also be quite time-consuming compared to direct instruction, but very worth it!

    • rebeccaharrison 10:46 pm on November 21, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I agree with most that both sites showcase some OLE values, however the second video presented a model I would be more interested in using in my classroom because it allows students to be more collaborative and invested in the process of creating a learning environment. Each individual in the class is then responsible for the content and flow of the site. In addition to concerns noted above with moderation, I would also be somewhat concerned with accessibility for students and also requiring students to have more “screen time” outside of the classroom to be able to keep up with expectations in the classroom.

      • adi 10:55 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        You point out something important: ‘time’. These tools are great, but they do often require a longer time commitment on the part of the student. I don’t know about you, but I have never dedicated so much time to any f2f course I’ve taken as I have with MET. Keeping up with posts, readings, assignments, evaluations; it’s often quite overwhelming!

      • Jonathan 7:41 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Rebecca and Adel —

        From what I’ve observed of the two videos Edmodo is being used as a repository but it isn’t clear how she is further bringing out constructivist aspects. What is exciting in all of this is that she has them engaged. The second step to bring out the constructivism wouldn’t be too far away. While she never explicitly states what types of projects she is engaging in like the Wiki video — she can easily implement the constructivist aspects into her Edmodo. I haven’t personally used it, but I have viewed classrooms that do use it.

        I do, however, have Wiki experience and I do initially use it as a repository and build out from it. As the students get more familiar with it — the projects become more complex (to a certain extent as they are only Grade 2). The important point is to draw upon the engagement because after that having them work in it is simply taking the next step.

        Having used the Wiki, I can say that it is difficult to maintain a dialogue. It is good when students are able to meet F2F and discuss what is happening on a page/project and move forward. I can see many benefits coming out of Edmodo as it provides a more streamlined conversation. These sites merely becoming a launching point for students to engage in more constructivist learning. It isn’t about just using these tools but mashing them all up!

        • adi 8:13 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

          Good point about sometimes needing to meet f2f; blended learning and complete online learning are not the same. A blended learning OLE is probably easier to achieve than one that is solely online.

    • tomwhyte1 11:51 am on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      For myself, both of these tools Edmodo/Wikis(Other Embedded Tools) provide the technology to potentially allow a teacher to create a Open Learning Environment, however it is important that neither of these tools on their own are Open Learning Environments. For it is how the tool is used, that creates the environment, not the tool itself. For a hammer is not a home, but a hammer provides the ability to create a home.

      Contexts – both can be a repository for assignments that have internal – external – or even student directed contexts. However, I do believe that the Wiki environment does provide a better OLE – in that students can use this environment for all forms of the work, where Edmodo at best, would be a delivery mechanism for assignments students completed elsewhere.

      Resources/Tools: Both are web based, and therefore all various internal and external resources to be utilized to assist learning. However, again I believe the inherent functionality of Wiki’s provide more flexibility in this regard.

      Scaffolds – for myself, this is based again on the teacher and the assignments they provide, not the resource itself. Therefore, I feel the judgement on this area should be focused on the classroom teacher, not the resource delivering their pedagogical approach.


      • adi 8:05 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Excellent observation regarding judging the teacher rather than the resource. While putting together material for this project I came across some very creative uses of all these tools, adhering very much to the values and principles of OLEs. So I guess you won’t achieve the values of an OLE unless you use its components accordingly. However, all the marketing out there sell you LMS and CMS as if alone they can enhance learning. Not so, as you rightly point out. Thanks.

    • visramn 7:19 pm on November 22, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      I believe these teacher did a good job of using all the different components of their OLE’s to engage their learners. Both of these online learning environments included tools that allowed for students to collaborate and to have a voice. They both allowed for students to work at their own pace. Students could relate to the OLE’s because they saw them as being similar to social interfaces they use in everyday life, such as Facebook. Therefore, drawing the students in and making them more interested in the information and tasks presented. The teachers posted videos and other interactive and visual tools that helped reach out to different types of learners with different learning styles. The calender feature was a great way of helping students with accountability and with insuring they completed their assignments ( this method sure beats having to run after students and repeatedly reminding them to hand in assignment). I think the teachers did a great job of using the OLE functioning capabilities to set up an effective learning environment. Their efforts and proper use of the OLE was evident from their students success and positive outlook on learning The thing that stuck out to me the most was the comment one of the girls made in the Wiki video about being able to think about what they are writing and post more thoughtful comment. I think this is one major benefits of online leaning environment. A lot of students who may not voice their opinions in traditional learning environment may do so online because they have time to compose their thoughts and they do not feel like they are being watched by their peers or being judged.


      • adi 8:07 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Good observation; time to reflect is important. You probably would not get so much participation in a f2f class; especially with the shy students.

    • jenniferschubertubc 9:50 am on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      One word that jumped out at me in the discussion of these tools was “community.” When I reflect upon my experience as a student in the classroom, I can remember feeling like I was part of a social community but not necessarily a learning one. I feel like, in those days, assignments were handed out and completed. In my case, being a very young perfectionist, there was always a healthy dose of competition involved. I can remember some teachers posting top ten lists of who achieved the best scores on tests. It was meant as a motivational tool, but I can now see where it created a separation, or a type of “every man for himself” feel to our success in the classroom.

      What I enjoy most about hearing about the use of OLEs in the classroom is the excitement from the students in regards to their use. In both videos, students extolled the virtues of collaboration and learning not only from the one teacher standing at the front of the classroom, but from each other. I think, regrettably, that many students of my generation find this a foreign concept. It wasn’t until I started my studies in the MET program that I began to see the value in sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge. Gone was the competition, leaving more room for scaffolding knowledge from that of others.

      One of my main motivations for enrolling in MET studies was to ignite a fire in teachers who are scared/tentative to use new technologies in the classroom. It surprised and saddened me to find so many of my colleagues against continued learning in this realm, relegated and comfortable in their long term teaching routines. Whether we like it or not, the times are changing; students are becoming more and more comfortable with technology and spend a large amount of their free time using it to connect with friends and live their lives. If we can successfully pair social technology with educational technology in OLEs, it will be much easier to reach even the more reluctant students as we’ll be meeting them on common ground and in their comfort zone, so to speak.

      • Lisa Nevoral 11:55 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jennifer,

        I too see the value in sharing ideas, experiences, and knowledge online and think there are some students that may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas or thoughts online than a f2f class. It gives them a chance to think about their responses, search out answers, and reflect upon what others have written. I have found in the MET program that I do all three, as well as learn from others. What I would like to see more of is how OLEs can be used for student-directed learning. I guess what I’m searching for is more “concrete” examples.


    • jhodi 4:56 pm on November 23, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      It seems that these teachers are using these learning tools as OLE’s. These teachers are creating an atmosphere for students to collaborate and that encourage participation and interest from the students. The students seem to enjoy having all of the material outlined for them, but take responsibility for their own learning and ensure that they are using the tools provided to them by their teachers to the best of their abilities. The social networking atmosphere of Edmodo really creates a positive collaborative community space for students to engage with their material and peers. These tools rely on the use of consistent routines for the students that help support each learner to succeed. The online nature allows students the freedom to work from anywhere, but holds them accountable for keeping up to date in the class.

    • jameschen 1:55 am on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      One of the things I noticed in both of the videos is the increased level of engagement for all the students interviewed. By making good use of the affordances offered by the tools they had, the teachers framed lessons so that students found themselves using the platforms to track their learning progress and collaborate with each other even when they were away from school. This shows that the teachers were able to go beyond the principles of OLE.


    • Lisa Nevoral 5:17 pm on November 25, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Hey All,

      In video #1, the school used Edmodo. I think the teachers were adhering to many of the OLE principles. They included resources, such as links to websites and videos or posted their own notes for absent students. They used tools to gauge student levels such as quizzes and polls. The calendar allowed students to see what was coming up, what their assignments were, and when their assignments were due. Students were able to post questions to the teacher or whole class for help or clarification; therefore, collaboration was occurring. What I was unsure of was how much self-discovery was actually occurring or if it was mostly teacher driven.

      In video #2, the teacher used a wiki site. Her example was using collaborative skills where students could post their own ideas or respond to others. Students were interacting and discussing online which allowed them to maybe pick up on new ideas or information that they hadn’t thought about before.

      It appeared to me that there was lots of student engagement and the teachers used the sites in slightly different ways. As well, I think some students may feel more comfortable to participate or answer questions than they do in a f2f classroom.


  • Eva Ziemsen 1:00 pm on November 18, 2012
    0 votes

    Welcome to week 12, and this week’s topic Open Learning Environments (OLEs), prepared by Eva Ziemsen, Julie Kotler, Sophia Barton-Bucknor and Adriana del Paso. One of the principles of an Open Learning Environment is to provide hands-on, concrete experiences with opportunities to manipulate and experiment. Hence, as the topic of OLEs is so broad, we […]

    Continue reading Week 12 Introduction – Open Learning Environments Posted in: General, Week 12:
    • teacherben 6:01 am on November 24, 2012 | Log in to Reply

      Congratulations on having one of the most engaging presentations of the term. Without having specifically measured the lengths of entries, I would guess that you also had some of the most lively discussions. A lot of people felt compelled to return over and over to keep the conversation going. Well done folks!

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help

Spam prevention powered by Akismet