Virtual Educational Environments

When I first looked at this week’s set of assignments—some of which were to explore videos and articles discussing educational uses of the computer program, Second Life—I was beyond skeptical.  My exposure to Second Life had only been through the media (including some suspenseful Law & Order: SVU episodes).  To associate Second Life with education appeared to be too much of a stretch (and what I realized later on, beyond my comfort zone).  But, trying to put my derisive opinions aside, I read the articles and watched the videos with a tryingly open mind.

I was happy to hear that when teachers used Second Life, their accounts were used in a safe zone, in which no one from the public can interact with the students.  This was probably my primary concern.  Also, when teachers used Second Life it was usually to explore content in further depth (i.e., virtual field trips, computer programming, etc.), rather than to present video game educational challenges (Knittle, 2009).

As I took in all this new information, I realized that the opportunities for differentiation would be almost limitless in the Second Life environment.  While one student is touring an art museum, another can be calculating various equations to build a towering bridge, and still another student could be reading a digitally enhanced copy of Alice in Wonderland, all in the same “region” in Second Life.

While previous lessons relied on the amount of tangible resources provided, these lessons could be uploaded into the program and carried out; teachers would not have to spend any more money other than the yearly subscription amount to Second Life.  It truly is amazing what students could accomplish in this innovative technology medium.

References

Knittle, E. (2009). A ‘Second Life’ for educators. Retrieved on November 04, 2012 from: http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/01/01/a-second-life-for-educators.aspx

Second Life (2012). Incorporating Second Life into the MPA Experience:
A teaching PA workshop and research agenda. 
Retrieved on November 04, 2012 from: http://www.teachingpa.org/secondlife/sl%20index.htm

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