By Teachers, For Teachers
There is a shift afoot in education. The wind is changing. This new digital wind is haling from a virtual world.
Students today need to be immersed in what they are learning - not dealing only with static things like pictures, books, and to some degree even movies. An immersive world allows the student to move, talk, build, and connect with the very information that they are learning - they can be surrounded by it and then they can contribute to it.
In real life (RL) you can’t take students out and let them swim in the ocean, listen to whales singing, touch sharks, see the Monterrey Bay Seashore National Park as only a few have seen it, but, in Second Life (SL) you can.
In RL, you can’t have a Native American come and talk to students, walk us around to all the different habitats, homes, and areas that they inhabit or did at one time, in Second Life you can.
In Second Life, you can:
*Visit the Lincoln White House
*Stop by Mary Todd's plantation with out-buildings and information about the Underground Railroad, abolitionists, and differences between lives of slaves
*Fly inside of a hurricane
*Look at fault models and watch them move
*Walk through a cavern on a treasure hunt finding clues to all the different archetypal characters in literature
Your Backstage Pass
You’re not abandoning the Real World in Second Life. Rather, you’re getting a backstage pass to the real world that isn’t limited by space, time, access or location. Second Life is as a portal into worlds that provide options that RL does not make readily accessible.
Touring the inside of a nuclear reactor is not possible for security and safety reasons. However, Second Life opens the doors and allows for more direct conversations on topics like nuclear fission.
It also allows companies and researchers to educate others about their work. Meanwhile, it allows students to connect with those researchers and businesses, to ask questions, to learn more about the way they work both together and separately. In other words, it begins to ease the lines between education and work life that follows.
Amazingly, Second Life is only one of many new virtual worlds that are springing up, ready for teachers to discover and use with their students. Almost every subject will find that virtual worlds will bring depth and breadth to what the students are studying.
Second Life as Assistive Technology & Differentiation Tool
Immersion brings greater, deeper, and fuller understanding of the subject matter. This helps the students quickly move to a synthesis level or higher of Blooms; the very level of understanding that teachers are striving for.
Virtual worlds also offer students a way to experience learning auditorially, kinesthetically, and verbally - meeting the needs of all the learning styles at once.
Math can be an intimidating and abstract subject for many students. With the help of Second Life, you can make math simple. You can easily demonstrate how algebra and geometry apply to building techniques, exchange rates, and scripting. Educators can help students who struggle with math gain a deeper interest by helping them virtually visualize concepts.
Take the Virtual Plunge
Ultimately, Second Life will be different for each one of us. See for yourself what you can do with it and remember students are more adept at using this technology. Remember that SL opens up the creative sides of each one using it. Embrace this concept and see where it takes you.
Stay tuned for a Step-by-Step Guide to bring Second Life into you classroom.
Do you use second life i your classroom? Share your tips in the comments section!
Image: Sistine Chapel in Second Life originally published by Dr. Anthony Curtis – UNCP Mass Communcation