Schome & Second Life
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Second Life is a 3D virtual reality world. You, or more accurately a representation of you called an avatar, can move around this virtual world, interacting with people and objects. You can build things and program them to behave in specific ways. You can pretty much do anything that you can do in the real world, and a lot more besides.
Unlike other such worlds, Second Life lacks a purpose, there is no mission to complete or levels to move through. As in real life, the only purposes within Second Life are those you create yourself.
There are several aspects to this which link with the first three steps in the schome approach:
Thinking more creatively
There are deep constraints and built-in obstacles to collaborative self-organising and expansive learning in schools. One is the socio-spatial structure based on autonomous classrooms, teachers working as isolated individual practitioners , and the school functioning as an encapsulated unit. Another is the temporal structure of discrete lessons and relatively short standardised time sequences of work punctuated by tests, exams and grading. A third is motivational and ethical - the use of grades and measured success as the dominant motive of schoolwork - which practically always leads to the classification of students as 'weak', 'competent', or 'passive' and 'active'. One of the effects of these constraints is to make it very difficult for school communities to collectively analyse and redesign their practice.
Kieron suggested that we might use Second Life to try out ideas, which we couldn't implement in practice (because of expense, complexity, risks, etc). This seemed a brilliant idea - maybe having a 'lived experience' of something radically different might help folk come up with more creative visions for schome in the real world. So we started to explore ... and we now have islands on both the Main Grid and the Teen Grid of Second Life.
Schome is going to be a new form of educational system designed to overcome the problems within current education systems. It will meet the needs of society and individuals in the twenty-first century and will be a system which values and supports people learning throughout their lives.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
It is often argued that new technologies (ICT) change the things that people need to be able to do in order to be effective members of society in the 21st Century. It is claimed that ICT requires that we learn 'new things' - which we might refer to as 'knowledge age skills'.
It is clear that ICT does provide us with new ways of representing information - in the form of hypermedia, and perhaps even more powerfully as procedures (eg programs that can represent dynamic processes). In effect ICT has provided us with 'new tools to think with'. Most folk would agree that ICT has changed the nature of many disciplines (eg it would be difficult to be a historian or architect today without using ICT).
Second Life may represent another new tool - which may provide us with different ways of representing knowledge and/or interacting with each other - and thus may impact on what we want from our education system (what we think it is important that people learn). Thus in order to identify what we think the aims for education should be we need to have some understanding of the potential impact of Second Life (and other 3D virtual reality worlds).
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