Attendance and time
First time that I actually left out a major stage.There were only two students attending the class for the first half hour. Which was not good for my lesson plan but on the other hand, I could voice chat with them and we could take our time. They are my weakest students and it was the first time that one of them had said so much in voice. So, it was worth the time. I did the review with the two of them and when I started the news topic some more students arrived. Another reason for “losing” time was that the homework presentation took longer than I had expected (see below).
In order to review the shape names, I was naming objects and asking students what shape that object was. One of the things I said was “donut” but both students didn’t know what it was. So, I quickly opened my browser and searched for pictures. Within seconds I had found several and students could give me the correct answer. This a huge advantage of online teaching and learning.
Transition between places
In this lesson we had to teleport several times to different locations. There were no problems and no time was lost. In a Real Life class it would have cost a lot of precious class time. This and the fact that one can simply teleport from the classroom to Reuters’ bureau, back to the classroom, over to the sandbox is amazing and can make lessons so much more interesting.
Students in SL love to visit different places and love to move, walk and fly and do things. In this lesson, they had to explore the Reuters building after we had established the fact that it was a news agency. We all had fun, especially when we discovered a picture of a veiled lady (see pictures) that looked like one of my students 🙂 We sat together in the lounge and talked about what they had found. Then we discussed what journalists do and the qualities and characteristics they (should) have and the students came up with some great vocabulary.
Back to our class garden
We looked at a picture of a row of photographers and students commented on how they would feel being the person photographed. Then, we played the “Hot Seat” game. In order to decide in which order they would sit on the hot seat, they had to find out when everybody’s avatar was born in SL and line up accordingly.
The students loved this game and asked many questions. The girls, who are RL friends and study at the same university, were more daring when interviewing each other. This was great practise for asking questions.
Corrections and feedback
I corrected immediately but only in local chat without interrupting the flow of the activity. This is another great feature in SL. In RL I would have to either interrupt students and correct or opt for delayed feedback after the activity. In SL I can correct in local chat if it concerns the whole class or I can IM (instant message) a student and correct discreetly. Another advantage is that the chat log is recorded for everybody to see what they have said and for me to analyse later and use for future lesson planning or for individual and class feedback on the course website.
This time most students had done their homework. I was expecting simple objects with a script but I was surprised and amazed with what they had built. You cannot see it on the pictures but the transparent shapes on the built with the checkered floor and the chairs arranged in a circle actually rotated. The ice-cream cone was another lovely idea to use a shape and an object that is named after it.
Students did probably not use much English while building their objects but they had fun and they had to talk about their objects when presenting them. The most complicated built was by one of the weakest students and it was important for him to get praise for his work.
Be flexible and skip or add activities when needed.
Use Second Life’s strengths fully instead of thinking of its limitations. Most limitations only exist when we think of RL classroom activities and want to transfer them to SL.
Give your students control and let them teach you something they know better (e.g. building).
Update – 11 August 2008
Most say they learned a lot of new words in this lesson and practised speaking enough (one says “a lot”). For most the lesson was at the right level of difficulty except for one who found it too difficult.
All students liked all activities in this lesson. What they liked most was the Hot Seat game and visiting Reuters.