Why use Second Life

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Introduction

We had been struggling with how to help folk think creatively about schome - all our focus groups and much of the work within the Aspire Pilot was coming up with visions of schome that could best be described as 'school but a bit better'.
We would like to devise a new form of educational system designed to overcome the problems inherent within our current school system in order to meet the needs of society in the twenty-first century.
We are all deeply entrenched in our experiences of the current education system - and this makes it difficult for us to think creatively about what our ideal education system could/should be like.
Kieron suggested that we might use Second Life to try out ideas, which we couldn't implement in practice (cos of expense etc). Brilliant idea - maybe having a 'lived experience' of something radically different might help folk come up with more creative visions for schome. So we started to explore …

Why have our own island?

Schomezone on CETLment 06-11-19 001.gif There are millions of things to explore and learn from in Second Life. We don't need to 'compete' with these but use them.

We also need a friendly schomezone where we can:

  • collate, identify and share useful resources, places and activities
  • meet to discuss schome issues and topics
  • discuss what we want to learn or try out
  • flag up things we like
  • share Second Life experiences: finding interesting places and using things, how to create things, developing skills such as a new language, publishing a paper, recording music…
  • share photos of the places we have been
  • base ourselves as a group of schomentors, share what we have learned and discuss it.

What should our island be like?

We need to think about the island's purpose. What is it for and who do we want to go there? A space for three year olds will probably look very different to a space for 18 year olds. We need to consider what approaches to learning will be going on, what people are learning, how this will relate to what we might envisage people needing to know in the future. We want to avoid importing theory-driven dullness.
People have suggested that it could contain:

  • A space to help this sharing and discussion occur
  • library space
  • sandpit area
  • robot / play area
  • concert venue
  • virtual pu
  • virtual writers' circle
  • virtual dojo
  • waterpark

It should be enjoyable, and accessible for a wide range of people. Different parts of the island could be designed to be accessible to different age groups. Perhaps a place where they can try out ideas which would not be possible in the real world.
Lot of Second Life educational spaces mirror real buildings, but they do not need to do so, and some people are definitely opposed to making it look like a school. For example, we could have a water park theme with meetings in the pool and an nderwater social area. We have the opportunity to design a space that's the way we'd like it to be.
There are more ideas in Second Life Projects.

Resources

When the island is up and running, Jacquie is hoping to have a package of homegrown and Open Source education tools available on Cetlment island which we can just pick up, put in your inventory and take to the island to use quickly. However, many of these still involve scripting which is not so good for a newbie! Jacquie is currently working on getting these into neatly packaged objects which work 'out the box' so anyone involved in Schome can use them easily.

Timetable

We plan to establish the SL island in January 07 - with the TeenSL island following along shortly after that. We have sufficient funding to get us going - and some staffing to set up 'the OU SL library' from January 07. We will need to generate more funding to sustain this activity; let us know if you are interested in helping with raising funding).