In the development process, each project in the SLENZ development follows 3 steps.

1. Articulate the context in which the educational development is for

2. Design learning activities based on that context

3. Develop technical specifications for the production or educational resources for those learning designs.

In the official document that we use for this process, these 3 steps are called:

1. Develop the Conceptual Understanding (Who?, When?, Why?)
2. Develop the Learning Narrative (What?)
3. Develop and Implement the Technical Design (How?)

This post is to outline the context, or the conceptual understanding for the development of orientation resources for using Second Life educationally.

Background

The SLENZ project is interested in developing educational experiences using Second Life, and 3 projects are being used to develop a process for such development.

1. Foundation studies – interview skills

2. Midwifery training

3. Second Life orientation

Context for Orientation

When the project team first considered second life orientation, Clare Atkins presented a list of skills that if a person had these skills they would be competent in using Second Life. (need to find a link to that original document of Clare’s)

Orientation resources are intended to be useful to people attempting to use Second Life as an education tool. People will therefore be using Second Life in a variety of settings such as computer labs or personal home computers. Some teachers will prefer to use orientation resources on an as-needed basis as support for what they are already doing, others will be looking for a place to point their students to and trust that by “going through” the resource the students will develop an understanding of how to use Second Life. Students will also be looking for a resource that meets both these needs, depending on their approach and self directedness.

Most people working from within an organisational network have restrictions on accessing and using Second Life, and so need to negotiate this access with their network administrators. Further, many people do not have computers or Internet access capable of running Second Life. All that the orientation resources can help with in regard to these issues is point to, or provide the best most usable information on how to work around these barriers.

Finally, with many of the people we might expect to use Second Life based educational resources, there is an observable barrier in the form of their motivation to use Second Life for educational purposes. Enthusiasts for Second Life can cite a number of examples and evidence of improved learning outcomes through the use of Second Life, but it may be first necessary to convince people of the learning returns they might expect for investing time and energy in this particular technology. See Open University’s Ormond Simpson and his work on student retention and return on investment for considerations about this in eLearning generally.

Summary

In short, this context has outlined 4 areas for contextual consideration that should help inform the design of learning activities and resources for orientation into using Second Life for educational purposes:

  1. The motivation of both students and teachers to want to consider and persistently engage with Second Life for long enough to recognise the returns.
  2. Access and usability in organisational networks, as well as home computers and Internet connectivity
  3. Resources that are useful in a wide variety of settings, including for teachers showing people how to use Second Life, as well as teachers and students learning how to use Second Life self directed.
  4. A list of skill competencies that the SLENZ project team thought would be useful in framing the orientation resources development.