Skilled Teaching Works in All Worlds

I was curious about sculpting 3D objects and figured “I am capable, I can do this”.  I downloaded Blender, bought a book and made an attempt.  The multiple tools and buttons in the software were overwhelming and The first chapter of the book discussed how difficult Blender was to learn.  Time for Plan B.  I turned to a RL friend who is not a teacher but user of multiple 3D programs and talented artist in  multiple mediums.  I sat with him for about an hour and watched in amazement as he transformed ordinary spheres and cubes into something more interesting and asymmetrical, still I had no idea how to do it myself.  Fast-forward a few months when a friendly avatar invited me to come along to introductory sculpting class at the Danish Visions Class Group ( ) in Second Life.   We had to hurry as “the room is locked after the lesson begins”, I was told, “and you can’t get in late”.

The Danish Visions Classroom space on SL

What a difference quality instruction makes.  Inge Qunhua, the Danish instructor provided the lesson in voice (in English), as well as in text for those who did not have audio capabilities.  She began the lesson with a quick reminder of classroom norms and  necessary materials with time to download Sculptypaint.  She then provided the objectives of the lesson and explained that at the end of the hour we would all have an individually designed comfy chair with rounded edges and a pedestal table. “A lofty goal – I’m a beginner”,  I was thinking, “how is this possible?”

With a minimized SL screen of Inge’s presentation and a working screen with Sculptypaint software I followed instructions, using a 15 inch laptop.  Inge monitored the students, corrected and provided feedback, and evaluated results.  At the end of the hour we had all met the objectives.

My newly constructed sculpty chair and table

Telling and  showing is not teaching, though it’s part of the process.  Good  teaching must include

• planning meaningful activities to meet objectives
• monitoring students as they practice until they reach a level of success
• explaining expectations and what success looks like
• evaluating results and providing feedback for improvement

The elements of this virtual world lesson included research-based effective teaching strategies and the results were evidence of capable instruction.