Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Workshop at Muvenation - How to write on a Board in Second LIfe - Educational tool


Yesterday was my first experience teaching in Second Life due to my participation in Muvenation course.

Participants have to have the ability to pass the knowledge of what you feel most confident with and I decided to teach my colleagues how to manage an Educational Board in their classes. My real aim inside Second Life is to develop Language Courses for different areas: Business English, Legal English, Technical English, so I am always concerned about Educational tools that might help me delivering the content I would like to pursue.

So as I mentioned before, I decided to show my colleagues a very useful and easy to handle board to work in-world with students.

This board is : XyTextNotecard Reader, developed by Gavin Dudeney free of charge.

The workshop started at the time expected : 1.00 pm PST with many participants on show. I have carefully planned the activity and the information sending latest messages to the group announcing the event.

I have announced that way I was going to deliver the workshop was going to be using 'text chat' and voice. Unfortunately two participants could not hear my voice since for not obvious reason for me they did not appear in the list next to the 'talk' button, so I decided to deliver it through text chat.

I had carefully prepared my notecard with the content of the class with 'step' by 'step' guide towards :

following 'text chats'
editing notecards
renaming them
rezzing objects
getting the board from a ball on the floor
editing the board

Instructions started and the audience became bigger. Participants were little concerned at the beginner whether this class was going to be focused on just 'notecards' but I had to be sure that everybody knew how to handle them since it is the 'chore' of the task to manage the Educational Board and the workshop was meant for 'beginners' in Second Life.

Activities started to be developed, as picture shows

Explanation on how to manage the board was given and I had rezzed a ball where it was the board for them to get once 'touched'. The ball showed the flying text ' Touch to get content'.

Participants started rezzing but just 'one' and only 'one' could be rezzed due to
limited space at the Sandbox. The initial idea was that every pair could work with
their board exchanging notecards, but due to this limitation I suggested taking turns
and adding their notecards one by one to the board to see them written.

Participants started feeling fine, seeing what they had written on their notecards was shown on the board so therefore more enthusiasm arouse

As a follow up activity I suggested uses for the board and I tried brainstorming with them what else could be done. We realized that urls cannot be shown as well as SL landmarks, but it's a great tool for :

*developing vocabulary
*building up dialogues
*informing your students about future classes
*displaying information got on notecards, etc.

Most of the participants understood how the system worked. There were few ones who arrived late and I explained the whole process of the class to them again till they mastered the use. The original time for the workshop was accomplished though extra
explanations took longer and on the whole I was 2,5 hours explaining the use of this
'valuable' Educational resource.

As a follow up step, I gave the participants the notecard that was prepared for the class with the landmark from Edunation area where this an other free educational tools can be found as well as the landmark of my launchroom at Virtlantis, where this board is on show.

Stress and anxiety was present while giving the workshop but I think I managed myself to conceal it thanks to the previous preparation of the material for the class. There are always unexpected issues to happen, so the more you prepare your classes the better to handle unwanted situations.

So this was my prize after class....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Second participation on ' Hands on Workshop'

On Sunday I attended my second workshop in Second Life. It was about 'texture' and how to play with the different options.

The workshop was recreated in a similar RL classroom with even a sign outside mentioning the word 'classroom'. According to the advertising of the event, none or little knowledge was required. Just to rezz and build a box.

There were 6-8 participants and the way it was developed was with the instructor sitting at the front communicating with the participants via 'chat'.

The instructor specifically mentioned that questions were going to be posted when she finished each module in where she divided the presentation about how to manage textures and that no IM was going to be answered while the teaching was shown.
This showed a little bit of toughness in the delivery of the instruction not letting participants clarify their doubts while instructions were given.

He/she made a good introduction of the topic so as to let people 'tun in' with the subject. He/she also divided into stages so as to go back to the process that was not understood in a better way.

I tried asking some questions and the instructor replied, though at a certain time of the workshop the instructor started speeding up as if just wanted to fullfil what was programme more than what participants understood about the process.

I personally could just follow half of the workshop,not being able to fullfil some of the tasks that were mentioned near the end.

At the end of it, the instructor handed me out her classplan so as to follow and revise it for any doubt. He/she also stayed for a while for further explanations or doubts that the participants wanted to ask.

This workshop was 'free' though a tip jar was at the stage where the instructor was and it was mentioned at the end that if we had enjoyed the presentation we were invited to tip on so as to help maitaining the place.

After the class finished, I asked the instructor the two questions requested based on : what did he/she consider important when giving workshops, and the instructor emphasized the best way to do a lesson plan is to do it on your own and then record the process to get there. He/she also suggested doing a video and then everybody tune into it.

I also asked about tips for effective workshops and he/she replied :The best way to go is have everyone partipate. Just a lecture is tough in SL even though all the notes can be logged and recorded so he/she uses note cards to keep the info organized.

So, from my point of view the positive aspect I saw from this workshop was the organization and preparation that the instructor had before the class, but I guess he/she should not be so demanding in terms of giving too much content to participants who have little of none experience in the subject they will teach.
I believe that part of this management might be since he/she was not a teacher who was trained to give classes and it was also the second time she/he did so in SL.

This place offers people to volunteer and teach what they feel comfortable with an ability they might have no matter if they are teachers or not.

Would I return to this place to learn more? I guess not. I would be afraid of leaving with the same impression of not being able to understand all till the end of the process.

Instructions in SL should be 'short' and clear' and a lot of reinforcement through different proceedures should be given when there are so demanding classes to be taught. That's my personal view.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hands on workshops in Second Life - MUVEnation task for experienced SL users

Yesterday I attended a FREE workshop on creating HUDs at ICE (Institue for Cooperative Education ).

The workshop lasted 2 hours and the training was available for a limited number of 20 people.
The instructor was really good. I was gladly surprised to see how well she managed the class assiting individuals all the time it was requested.
She was always supportive and helpful and all the content was carefully planned to be followed by attendants.

She tools used were text chat and a board to show images so as to support the instructions she was giving.

By chance we met with Bonbon who was also attending the same workshop and it was really fantastic to have gone together so as to share views about it. Bonbon was very helpful as well since I had a little problem in my PC near the end and could not follow the workshop in the way I would have liked, so, she gladly offered herself to help me with the instructions given.

At the end of the worshop, we interviewed the instructor, Hannah, who continued showing her willigness and involvement in our activity and gladly answered our questions apart from inviting us to join a party at the end of the class where she also suggested us interviewing Lishi, one of the Administrators at ICE. Lishi was also very patient and cooperative with us answering the questions we had already addressed to Hannah and also offering extra information about courses given at her University.

So, my summary regarding the assessment to this task is:

1- The spatial was an emulation of RL mixed with an open space
2- The learning objectives and the instructions were structured and pre-prepared
3- The learning material was given in folders. The course was free mixed with free donations
4- No prior knowledge was requested and the instructions covered several technical issues
5- The communication dynamic was Tutor-Learner-Tutor
6- The activities shown were exclusively to be used in a 3D environment
7- The teaching approach was focused on rules and procedures
8- The follow up evaluation was made through text chat and the feedback was formative
9- The revisions of key concepts from the workshop were systematic

Regarding Hannah and Lishi responses towards what the considered most important when delivering workshops in Second LIfe, Hannah replied : that you have to learn to pace the class for the mayority of the students and that's more difficult without the f2f feedback and the international aspect.
On the other hand, Lishi said that for her 'preparation' was the key aspect in all.

(Bonbon and me interviewing Hannah after class)

About the second question on: Do you have any tip/advice on teaching/presentig workshops in Second Life? , Hannah replied: I highly recommend the 'Teachers in Creation' that will be given here (ICE), once things settle down a bit.
Lishi kept remarking the key element of 'preparation' for all .

I would like to thank Margarita and Steven for the useful grid they've prepared and Hannah and Lishi for the wonderful workshop organized at ICE!