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December 22, 2009

Online learning in virtual environments with SLOODLE - final report

The final report from the Online Learning In Virtual Environments with SLOODLE project, led by Dan Livingston of the University of the West of Scotland, is now available.  SLOODLE was one of the Second Life projects that we funded back in 2007, following a call for proposals in November 2006.  Seems like a long time ago now!

Reading the report, it is clear that the project became as much about building a community of SLOODLE users as it was about developing some open source software - which, of course, that is how all good open source projects should be, but it doesn't always work out like that.  In this case however, I think the project has been very successful and the numbers on page 4 of the report give some evidence of that.

I must admit that I have always had a nagging doubt about the sense of bringing together the kind of semi-formalised learning environment that is typical of VLEs such as Moodle with the, shall we say anarchic(?), less structured learning opportunities presented by virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular.  To a certain extent I think the project mitigated this by developing a wide-ranging set of tools, some of which are tightly integrated with Moodle and some of which are stand-alone.  Whatever... one of the things that I really like about the report is the use of User Stories towards the end.  It's clear is that this stuff works for people.

And so to the future.  As Dan says in the Forward to the report:

Although the Eduserv project has now come to an end, SLOODLE continues to keep me busy – with regular conference and workshop presentations in both physical and virtual form. Community support and development remains as important today as it was, and can now be even more challenging – with SLOODLE tools now available on multiple virtual world platforms, and with the approach of large scale installations on university faculty and central Virtual Learning Environments.

Dan, along with representatives of all the other Second Life/Virtual World projects we funded 2 years ago, will be speaking at our Where next for virtual worlds in UK higher and further education? event at the London Knowledge Lab next year (now sold out I'm afraid).

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