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July 04, 2007

Learning activity management for avatars

I'm giving a presentation entitled When worlds collide: learning activity management for avatars at the 2007 European LAMS Conference tomorrow in London.

When I originally agreed to give this talk I was, naively, hoping that I'd have done some real work experimenting with how LAMS and Second Life might be integrated.  But I haven't, so tomorrow's talk will be somewhat more theoretical than I would have liked.

No matter - I still think it's a potentially interesting area.

I posted a message to the Second Life Educators (SLED) list a few days back, asking if anyone was doing any work in this area.  It seems that not much is being done.  Peter Miller from the University of Liverpool responded with his ideas about how

learning spaces could be rapidly rezzed from transparent prefab sculpties incorporating the necessary seating/gadgets to support a particular activity/stage in a learning sequence/design. These could be arranged LAMS-like in a sequence but students have the option of walking through walls as well as following the pre-determined path.

There's also the work going on with SLoodle, some of which we are now funding.  It is clear that there is a lot of potential for Open Source collaboration in the area of Moodle/SLoodle/LAMS integration with Second Life.

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I'm not sure there's much merit in my newbie thoughts, Andy, but I guess they're all part of a journey. In fact, they don't sound that different from Sloodle and you can already play LAMS sequences within Moodle so there's a degree of integration already. Of course, LAMS handles text and the web a bit better than SL does currently but support for co-creation (and the implied specification and design stages) are, I would say, limited. In other words, I think your views re the central role of building are spot-on; the challenge is to find ways to make it happen in a productive way for students.

Note that when I gave this presentation to the 2007 LAMS European Conference I added 'Role play' to the list of bullets on slide 5 - the slide that list collaborative activities in SL. I think role play is an important aspect of what SL may be good for - and it came up in the previous talk by Michael Begg (University of Edinburgh) in reference to the use of game-informed approaches in the design of healthcare-related learning activities.

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