ORIENTATION for the super-secret spy class (I still have no idea what they do) was held in Evergreen tonight for distance students preparing for a role-play assessment task. This is actually the space for Scott Merrick and Co’s MUVERS activities in simulations and assessment. It’s got this great feel to it and has very simple, but effective instructional design. It took only a few minutes to get off the landing area and to a point where the students had configured their audio, learned how to move in the space and interact with the environment. The session then moved to Jokaydia to the role-play area and students were able to walk though the actions that they will soon be doing under assessment.
Like the rest of the internet, Linden has made massive leaps forward in terms of functionality and reliability this year. Macquarie University has access to all the usual video conference tools – so there has to be a pedagogical reason to choose Second Life!. That becomes obvious when students are engaging with the environment that has been designed specifically for a purpose, not repurposed. There is a purity in Educational Second Life away from the duplication, and noize of the 2D web.
The ability to conceptualise yourself in spaces and situations that are impossible otherwise provides a clear focus, and readily allows the alignment of outcome, activity and assessment. For distance learners; this is affords an opportunity to experience a ‘shared reality’ – and has been warmly welcomed. Of the few comments the spooks made “this is so much fun”, and yet they were learning. The level of stress and effort to get them here and prepared for their assessment has been absolutely minimal. Perhaps the game-like space brings an assumed understanding that not everything will be explained or prescribed. Seriously if all you are using in distance education is a forum – you are at the telegram level of engagement with learning online.
Designing assessment is Second Life is possibly the most rewarding and creative parts of instructional design for me. Watching avatars interact and explore puzzles and problems, talk and work together to solve them in real time is amazing. Even if they won’t tell you anything about their course or what they do. Spys are not the most sharing people to teach. I’m looking forward to the role-play sessions.