Reaction creates attraction

Harrys_house_004The recent debacle over Jo Kay’s SLEducation wiki has provided a wave of new discussions around Virtual Worlds in Education. It has raises discussions around the idea that Second Life is not THE virtual world for education, just one execution of it – and what if we used something else?

Many of those who have been writing, developing and researching are clearly past the critical flack of the initial beach landing, have overcome the initial ‘yeah but’ barrage from the sand dunes and are confidently aligning virtual worlds and games with learning and assessment.

Unlike a great deal of Web2.0-ness, virtual worlds are long supported by a wealth of academic research to suggest they are extreamly good at motivating students and offer high quality instructional design environments for learning.

Obviously not everyone is going to explore them. The biggest barrier is that in muves the experience has to be instructively designed to create opportunities that extend beyond it and facilitate experiences that cannot be created without it – Who has the time to do that?

Well lots of people actually, not least the students we are teaching and certainly the multi-billion dollar technology industry.

A flood of educators followed Kerry Johnson’s footsteps into Reaction Grid, a community of inter-connected Open Simulators.

The discussions have not been about whether Second Life is better, but how it changes pedagogical opportunities. I am yet to hear from teen-educators that Linden is easy to deal with, or overly keen to help – quite the opposite. But Lindens notice to Jo felt like a wake up call to lots of Second Life Educators.

Maybe it was time to get past what we can’t do and look at what we can. As blog posts appeared online last week over Jo and Sean’s well established (and Linden referenced) wiki there was a flurry of new activity – not about the wiki issue, but in going right around the problem – which was all about ownership and trademarks, not community. We get the idea of trademarks by the way.

The Jokaydia Second Life community flocked into Reaction Grid and Jo Kay has established a new outpost to allow Second Life educators to explore Reaction Grid with the same level of support, resources and expert development you’d expect.

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There’s also an ISTE2010 conference proposal via  Judy and Vicki Davis that was put together via iPhones and Google Docs in a few hours this week to meet the call for proposal deadline.

In the next few months, there will be open resources and open spaces in Reaction Grid created for teachers to explore with students – and this will lead to further instances of students read, writing and making things outside of them. Some will be online – and perhaps some will be downloadable – able to run on local machines as stand alone or LAN learning objects. Imagine being able to download a unit of work around Huxley’s Brave New World and run it on your nice new DER laptops using open source resources – offline. Giving students a zip file to unpack and run for homework, where they have to model mathematical problems. Virtual school in a virtual world.

Change comes from places you least expect and creates opportunities you never imagined. You get into Reaction Grid for FREE. Join us at 9pm AEST on Sunday night – because that is where the new curriculum in being crafted. You can google it.

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  1. Pingback: Virtual Worlds as Scientific Tools | The Learning Collective

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