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As The Virtual World Grows, Shrinks and Stabilizes

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Virtual Environments are plentiful and increasing. With  dozens of Grids on Opensim such as Franco Grid, Jokadia Grid, Reaction Grid, and ScienceSim, and a rising number of additional stand-alone virtual worlds there are hundreds of engaging environments, many of which are used for teaching and learning … Continue reading

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EDUmachinima Fest Expands Categories for 2012

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The Internet is changing the world of journalism, publishing, the music industry, education, storytelling and moviemaking.  Video capture and editing tools provide an opportunity for anyone to create, entertain and inform using video and audio.  Machinima, originally used to capture … Continue reading

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Virtual Pioneers To Host History Conference 2012- Virtually

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The Virtual Pioneers are hosting the Second Annual History Conference 2012 on Friday, January 20 – Saturday January 21.  All educators, particularly those who teach the Social Studies are invited to attend this fun, free event online. You will need to … Continue reading

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Assess the Past Year and Plan for the New One

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I’ll leave  predictions and trend reporting to others, but I can assess my activity and plan for what I hope to learn and do this coming year.  Perhaps it will be helpful for teachers with ambitions in innovation for teaching … Continue reading

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Edublogs Awards Not So Short List

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This morning as I sat down with my morning coffee and iPhone I had a pleasant surprise, someone had nominated this blog for the “Best ed tech / resource sharing blog 2011” and….. this very blog is on the list … Continue reading

Student Machinima at ISTE 2011

Almost half (17 out of 40) of the entries in the ISTE 2011 Machinima competition are student created and range from a 5-year-old working in Minecraft to university students working in Second Life to demonstrate their learning. Attendees in Philadelphia as well as those attending virtually can view the machinima at the iste Wikispaces .  Machinima was created in a number of virtual worlds, including Second Life, Reaction Grid, MineCraft, World of Warcraft and WolfQuest and covered a variety of curriculum areas including history, social issues, creative writing and science..  Be sure to access the ballot at http://bit.ly/j8Amyj  and vote for your favorite student created machinima.

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Living Literature in Virtual Worlds

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The use of Virtual Worlds to explore and enhance the literary experience is a useful activity for pre-reading, ongoing as a specific piece is read, and/or  as reinforcement after the reading is complete.    The value of a virtual world in … Continue reading

Middle School Students Build A Virtual World

The students in “Norma Underwood’s” class in an Arizona public school are building and scripting in a 3D environment, sculpting in Rokuro, collaborating on projects, and communicating with their peers and interested visitors.  I had the opportunity to visit Norma’s  virtual class space on Reaction Grid,  never having to leave my home state over 2000 miles away.  What a treat  to see 12 and 13 year olds assembling, communicating and cooperating in a medium that many are completely unaware of.

The class is an art class, lucky for these students they have a teacher who acknowledges and has taken the time to learn an art medium for the future.  The young architects and 3D artisans have used floor-plans to build 3D homes, decorated them and added items like video games and chess sets. Learning objectives  focus primarily  on standards in the area of art and mathematics. Additionally, Norma is incorporating 21st Century objectives like collaboration, communication and problem solving.  These are not as easily tested in the traditional assessments required by the state but obvious in the products the students have created and obvious as well when you watch them engaged in their work.

The 1st Question 10 April 2011

My appearance on The First Question was an experience welcomed in order to better understand Virtual World possibilities for teaching and learning.  It was fun…but I do have to admit I was a little nervous, it was a “publicly broadcast” show.  Once I got over the very real feeling of “how do I look, how do I sound” I played my role and enjoyed the moment.  Implications for education are obvious.  Of course there is the game scenario with factual questions, a common strategy for quizzing and reinforcing curricular knowledge.  But more subtle was the actual experience that students could benefit from.  Essentially all the behaviors employed to make the show work; public speaking, taking part in a studio show with a live audience, following a set of rules, preparing, listening, being a cordial loser, being on time, following direction, collaborating and communicating effectively.  All skills and behaviors helpful in any workplace.  The one that really stands out is public speaking.  In all of our standardized testing of reading , writing , math and science – we never really assess public speaking.  Not that I advocate yet another test, but providing instruction and practice in this necessary skill is clearly lacking.  Just take a listen to some public figures, company chiefs, spokespeople and even some news reporters.  We often hear inadequate articulation of ideas, distracting verbal tics, and poor grammar.  So maybe a fun virtual TV show giving students a chance to play different roles, articulate ideas, converse with each other and instructors would provide some valuable practice in the language art we take for granted, speaking.

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Virtual Worlds as Part of a Transmedia Literacy Experience

Transmedia Storytelling is a strategy that uses current and emerging technologies along with traditional strategies to enable the participant to become immersed in a story to increase engagement and understanding.  Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communications, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California, explains that “In transmedia, elements of a story are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, each making their own unique contribution to the whole.” It is a strategy that is used in the world of marketing and entertainment, still lagging in the education sector.

Telling stories across multiple platforms and formats addresses multiple learning modalities, encourages participation and motivates participants.  Stories are used to teach a wide variety of concepts at all levels of education.  A virtual world with a sim designed to draw students into a “game”  could potentially result in a high level of learning of a literary work, historical event, or scientific phenomenon.  The compelling attributes of transmedia storytelling are the capacity to engage participants and the capacity to promote creativity among the participants.  Engagement is crucial to meaningful learning and creativity is identified as a 21st Century skill necessary to solve problems and be competitive in a global environment.  As we look into school reform and teacher preparation for 21st Century schools it may be beneficial to ensure that teachers have some knowledge and skills in the the use of Transmedia storytelling.