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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

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.

Teaching and Learning Options in the Virtual World

The virtual environment offers students alternative ways of learning concepts.  Educators understand that differentiating instruction is important and that we should not limit ourselves to telling and explaining.  The information in a lecture or demonstration is magnified when students are given an opportunity to actively engage in an activity that provides a way for students to practice, apply or even play with the new content.  A community college professor demonstrates a virtual world activity designed to follow a lecture and provide  students a chance to “build a molecule” in virtual space.

VWBPE 2011 Machinima Finalists Announced

The First Machinima 4 Educators Appreciation Contest finalists are grouped into 3 categories with a fourth being the “People’s Choice”.  VWBPE participants will be able to cast their votes for this last category during the VWBPE Conference beginning on Thursday March 17.  Screening of all submitted videos will be on Friday, March 18 at 8 pm SLT on Machinima (East 1) East 1/2  http://slurl.com/secondlife/VWBPE%20East%202/56/116/32.  You can see ALL the entries and cast your vote  for the people’s choice on the electronic Ballot.

Best Educational Machinima

Each of the following three entries uniquely demonstrates educational media.  Muinji Becomes a Man, written by Chief Mi’sel Joe is aimed at preserving and sharing the history and culture of the Miawpukek people of Conne River in Canada. SWIFT Virtual Genetics Lab is a product of University of Leicester and depicts the use of a genetics lab in the virtual world used to orient first year students in the safety and best use of the lab to prepare them for the use of the actual lab.  The lab also provides opportunities for students to use the lab for what is impossible in the real world.  Kansas to Cairo Projectis a blend of Machinima and traditional video and allows the viewer to become acquainted with both the real-life participants and their avatar representations in this depiction of cross-cultural collaboration between university students in Los Angeles and Cairo solving real world problems.

Best Production

Machinima  production incorporates traditional as well as new digital and animation techniques in both capturing action and in the editing process. Click: Immersive & Interactive Art, written & edited by Lori Landay for University of Western Australia Imagine 3d Art & Design Challenge, zooms in and around stunning examples of virtual art that is immersive or interactive.   Munji’j Becomes a Man is a beautifully crafted Machinima with traditional language and music of the Miawpukek people, English subtitles translate  much of the dialogue.  The build eloquently depicts the habitat, the animation and color provide a sense of being, and the voices of the young boy and his mentor are realistic and well synchronized.     The skillful blend of cinema and machinima in Kansas to Cairo Project allows the viewer to see architectural students and their avatar representations in their collaborative work in a virtual world.

Best Story Line/Narrative

Each of these machinima entries had a compelling story.   Muinji’j Becomes a Man is a story about a Miawpukek boy coming of age.    WB Yeats – An Irish Airman Foresees His Death is a narration of the story of the Yeats poem with the same title, filmed on the  flight sim, Rise of Flight with vintage war planes. Time Travelers – Episode 1 – The Time Machine is an adventure story about teenagers, a time machine, and fighting evil in the future with sequels to describe scholarship and funding opportunities for college.

Be sure to attend the screening and vote for your favorite.

Machinima Learning at the VWBPE Conference 3/17-3/19

The VWBPE Conference has a number of events to support machinima endeavors for both novice users and experts.  The sessions are being held at different locations on the VWBPE 20 sims built in a Steampunk motif, just for this event.

20 Sim site on SL built specifically for the event 3/17-3/19.

March 17, 2011

March 18, 2011

East - Location of Screening of the VWBPE Machinima entries (popcorn is included)March 18, 2011

  • 3:00 – 4:00 PM SLT-  Machinima 4 Mere Mortals: Machinima Working Group – Intro. to Machinima East – EM 1/2
  • 3:00 – 4:00 PM SLT How 2 Use Machinima as Part of Your Class: East 1 – East 1/2 Teen Fair
  • 8:00 – 9:00 PM SLT-VWBPE Machinima Screening: East – EM 1/2

March 19, 2011

3 Days (53 hours) of Virtual Education Sharing

The VWBPE (Virtual World Best Practices in Education) Conference will be held in Second Life and other grids on March 17-19.  The Conference offers:

  • Theoretical and research presentations
  • Content-based describing the use of VW for teaching and learning
  • Workshops  offering technical guidance
  • Tours of virtual spaces used for education
  • Panel and roundtable discussions
  • Tools for both newcomers and experienced virtual world users
  • Game and simulation demonstrations
  • Poster presentations
  • Machinima screening and competition

Experienced virtual world participants will have the opportunity to learn and share with a global community of educators. This is also an opportunity for experienced users to introduce more reticent colleagues  to an environment that offers an alternative format for teaching and learning.

Gallery

Sharing Educational Machinima

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Multiple sites exist for sharing video, including Machinima, Wikipedia has an ‘almost’ comprehensive list. Each has benefits and drawbacks, selecting the right one depends on your goal, there are special considerations when the focus is education rather than entertainment, though … Continue reading