Friday, 11 July 2008

Projects, Cool

Student project events attended: 1 (v. good); Blog entries on RL train: 1 (good)

Am blogging this on RL train which feels cool (though not as cool as felt when leading LTEA conf from Sydney ;-) However fear that wireless network provided by National Express East Coast line may not be fastest and most stable in entire universe so am making sure Save, Copy etc. at frequent intervals.

On Wednesday, or in fact early Thursday morning in my now UK-based RL world, attended v. good session in which North Lamar’s latest batch of students were showing off their projects and talking about their work. They are students at Texas University who are studying a module concerned with virtual worlds, and it is very project-based, indeed I would say it is an example of Inquiry Based Learning, or at any rate Problem Based Learning.

There were 3 projects, namely a Wellness centre, a Quidditch arena and a bar (or as I might call it, pub). Wellness Centre had many favourite features e.g. meditation cushions, ocean views, pools, hot tubs. After leaving us time to wander round, we were directed up to skypad where we all did relaxation exercises: v. nice.

Students who made the Centre said that when their classmates came up here to chill out it was agreed that it made people more relaxed in RL as well. This somewhat reassuring as certainly find floating on the sea or in the hot-tub on the island v. relaxing.

Next up was the pub which was a welcoming and atmospheric building well provided with exotic booze, pool tables, comfy seating, authentically difficult-to-read signs and even toilets, although the Ladies had innovatively open cublicles. However, was sipping some sort of cannabis cocktail as I wandered round, so perhaps the doors were there really, and it was just my mellow haze that made them invisible.

Finally we were called in for a short Quidditch match, v. cool.
Since I was using my work laptop again (which is seems SO SLOW and cludgey after the shiny new laptop I bought for myself at no inconsiderable expense to tour Australia with) - anyway, I was moving at the speed of glue and somewhat erratically so I didn’t volunteer to be a player, but managed to lodge myself in one of the towers to watch.

It was only when I panned out my camera that I realised I had put myself in the Slytherin tower. The Hogwarts House that has Alan Rickman heading it would be my choice, though, so it was obviously Fate (I mean, I can’t even remember who heads Hufflepuff, and frankly who wants to be in a House called Puff).

The final session was a Q and A with the students. I wished that I’d been recording the session since there were lots of really nice quotes from the students that I would have liked some of the sceptics at my uni., or at the presentations I’ve made, to have heard.

One student had started her introduction earlier by saying it was an “incredible” experience and there were lots of positive comments in terms of skills learned (with application to study and future life), collaborative working, convenience element (logging in from home) and fun factor. The learning curve was mentioned though, and the need to create a storyline to engage some students (which North did in an initial exercise; to tell a story from your life by decorating a SL apartment room).
This gave me more to think about in my own teaching and left me with admiration for North and his students ;-)))

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