While Nicole and Jordan were in Washington DC, I was attending the Immersive Education Initiative London Summit at the London School of Economics here in the UK. Apparently the sessions were recorded so you’ll be able to catch up with them later. However, one of the sessions that probably won’t have recorded well is one that Dr Michael Gardner and I presented on "Using Project Wonderland in your Organisation". We ran this session more like a participative workshop (hence the lack of suitable recording) in which we asked the audience members to identify the current issues facing the deployment of Virtual Worlds in education (not just Wonderland).
We broke the audience into three user categories: educators, developers and learning technologists and asked them to identify the issues particular to them.
Here’s the Educators’ list of issues:
- Cost–education has no resources, getting less. Needs to cost nothing, no time, no investment, no support.
- Current technology in schools is inadequate to run these kinds of worlds. Need to consider lower quality or other kinds of clients.
- Need to demonstrate impact on learning–where is the pedagogical link?
- Help us figure out which platform to choose
- Who is going to build the VW space and look after it. We don’t have the time (or resources). Make it easier/faster, provide templates.
- We have no time to invest in this.
- We don’t want to replicate existing content but repurpose.
- Needs to be accessible, easy to use and intuitive.
Here’s the list from the Developers:
- Mesh animation in avatars
- Track activities of users
- 3D Recorder
- DB access–can we use JDBC?
- Customisability via plugins
And finally, the list from Learning Technologists:
- Installability/deployability. Need to challenge the current "open source" culture whereby it’s assumed that all users are geeks. Need more tutorials and videos.
- Multidisciplanary groups to take advantage of existing eLearning expertise. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
- Recognise different user roles: educator, admin, learning technologist, instructional designer and provide tools for them.
- Simulation tool for labs.
Two outcomes of the session were:
- the desire to find or form some kind of multidisciplinary working group to bring together developers, educators and learning designers
- a clearing house for tested models or approved worlds that had been used in other teaching situations. Compared to the sitiuation of "rather than writing one’s own textbook, want to find one that’s been written by an expert"
Michael Gardner offered to take a look at the various agencies in the UK to see which ones would be an appropriate umbrella for such a group.
I’ve attended several VW conferences over the past year, and this was by far the most enjoyable. It struck the right note about relating pedagogy to technology, rather then being driven by "cools tools".