Time was again an issue because of late arrivers. However, a lot of time was also lost because my security presentation board did not allow others to use it although I had given them the rights and it said so. This meant we had to find another solutions for students to be able to show their pictures. I did not want them to have to pass them on to me for me to to show them. They should be able to do this independently. I was very happy, that the Island manager, Breathe Swindlehurst, came to visit and he gave the class members the right to rez objects so that they could use their own boards or those present in the conference room. Unfortunately, it meant also that I had to rush two students during their longer presentations and there was certainly no need for the alphabet game, which I had planned in case students would not have done their homework.
Amazingly, most students had done their homework and prepared a presentation. Nobody volunteered to be the first presenter so I thought of a way of deciding who goes first and asked them for the first letter of the street they live in (we had done SL birthdays and names already). It turned out that one student didn’t know the street’s name 🙂 I was so speechless that I didn’t ask how that was possible. Will have to do that.
As they had been free to choose the topic, they were very different. Most students used visuals and one even streamed recorded audio through her microphone. This was the first time that we heard voice from “her”.
Students said that they were nervous before and during their presentation like in Real Life. This is for me one more proof that SL is immersive and students do take their lessons seriously . It does, however, also mean that shy students can still be shy and it does obviously not eliminate nervousness.
The presentations where a kind of assessment test about the progress they had made in the course. I took notes and sent them a personal detailed feedback letter the following day.
This session was extremely stressful for me as the teacher. I had to deal with IMs from students and observers while listening to the students’ presentations and taking notes for later feedback and trying to help them with technical and other questions.
When I look back, it seems lost time at the beginning was the main issue. There is not all too much I can do about it because, as in Real Life, some students will always be late but in SL they have more (valid) excuses. In a paid course, and if the activity planned for the beginning allowed it, I would be a bit stricter about starting punctually and would talk about and agree on a a late-arriver policy with the students.
In this course, I did not plan to teach much grammar or had specific system lessons (with two exceptions). Most of it was review for most of them and most teaching was incidential. The course was short, the needs different, levels different, and there had been no pre-course assesssment. So, I had to find a middle way. The main aim was to get students speaking, using what they knew actively and, thus, becoming more confident.
I was totally real-life exhausted after the lesson and the never-ending graduation party (see next post) but very satisfied and happy about how everything had gone. This course was a wonderful experience and I have proved to myself that teaching a language in Second Life is possible, in many ways in a much more immersive, interactive and collaborative way than in Real Life but, of course, also with some drawbacks. For me personally, it was definitely immersive but I am aware of the fact that this differs from person to person. You have to allow it to be immersive and be a little playful and pretend at times (that the food is real, the fall was dangerous, etc.). Students’ feedback and their performance during the course shows also that learning does take place.
Finally, I do not see Second Life as a tool or place for learning that will replace Real Life schools. However, especially for distance and online learning, it means a huge opportunity to enhance the learning experience which no teacher should dismiss.