• 12Jun

    Gwyn’s summary of the Workshop on Communication, Education and Teaching has got me thinking about education, and reflecting on my past experiences as an Instructor in Second Life.

    [The researchers are] stepping over the barrier between the “teacher on one side, students on the other”, and all working together collaboratively — and very informally. The teacher becomes a “mentor” — a friend — not a “remote authority”. And this leads to better results for the students: they learn more, they ask more questions, they work harder.


    And since teacher will have to type a lot… they will be better prepared, hand out notecards and presentations, and the students will have access to all notes — instantly. A chat transcript can be posted and archived.

    Hah, well, I did type a lot while teaching, true. But better prepared I was not: never once did I hand out a notecard before class covering all the material I would teach! At the end of class, I would paste the chat transcript into a notecard and hand it out to any interested students, but the fact is that there was no pre-prepared notecard—not even for my own reference!

    My teaching style was highly informal, and involved quite a bit of improvisation. Some would call it disorganized; more diplomatic people might call it flexible. I had a general flow of the topics I would cover (especially after the first month of teaching the same topic weekly), but I wasn’t a robot copying and pasting text from a notecard without regard for my student’s questions or interests. Because nothing I said was pre-planned, I had the freedom to make playful jokes, to refer to things that students had said, to tie their questions into the lecture, to elaborate on topics that students didn’t understand or wanted to know more about.

    Instead of a lecturer reciting from the script in front of an audience, I was just a person who wanted to share what I knew with the students. Somehow, despite the apparent lack of preparation, the feedback from my students did not suffer. Maybe they were just taking pity on poor old disorganized Jacek!

    On a text-based classroom, shy students will speak up, be participative, and will behave absolutely normally.

    This is also true for shy teachers! I’m not sure I could stand to speak in front of 20+ people I didn’t know in RL, but in SL it’s much more comfortable.

    You can add my name to the list of people who don’t plan on using voice to teach (or do much of anything else, actually). That is assuming that Linux users even get the choice: voice has been conspicuously missing from the Linux beta viewers.

    Posted by Jacek Antonelli @ 11:55 am


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