Second Life? Why do I need a second one when I am more than preoccupied with my first? Well, at least that is what I was saying back in February. I was completely new to the concept of virtual world education. Saying that I could not quite see the value was an understatement. I had come through a school system of neatly ordered desks, books and a whole lot of, “pay attention!” The most “immersive” learning experience I had in school was playing Oregon Trail on an Apple computer.
The process began as we split into groups and assembled information about the real pirates of the Caribbean. Our target audience was junior high school students. Lectures included an explanation of how to use tokens and traps in learning. Even then, it took a long conversation via text message with my gamer baby brother for me understand the concept of tokens and traps.
With the concept down pat, I could try and create some, right? For me this was easier said than done. I spent approximately two hours on a Sunday on our virtual pirate ship, creating one pocket watch to use as a trap even with lectures and YouTube videos to assist us in their creation. With many hours logged already in the creation of our traps and tokens, we then had to organize it, create our quiz boards, “decorate” our ship and try and give some kind of flow or sequence to our part of the game. The whole process was extremely challenging to me not just in the execution but also in struggling to realize the value.
Dr. Partridge had told us in class that the students who benefit the most from learning through games were learners who were younger and disconnected. I believe our target audience would fit this description and it could potentially be an excellent tool to engage them in learning about pirates.
What I am still struggling with in this experience is the feasibility. As Dr. Partridge had pointed out, Second Life had created a way for K-12 schools to use worlds in isolation for students to use, but cost was a factor that inhibited its introduction. If a tool like this could be used in a way that is cost effective, easy for teachers to implement and easy for students to use, I think it could be very powerful in engaging younger learners. At this point in time, I do not think it would be a very feasible method of content delivery.
In summary, I enjoyed getting my virtual feet wet, so to speak, in Second Life. I think Virtual World Education is very promising in engaging young learners, but a lot of barriers to its use and implementation in K-12 school settings must be addressed.