EdTech in Second Life

Today’s adventure involved exploring EdTech

communities in Second Life. These

communities included:

Since it is so very easy to wander off the beaten path, I ended up in other communities, too, as you can see from my teleporting history. Some were my choice. Some…well…not so much.

If you are interested in going on a similar adventure, I highly recommend that you start at the place I visited last, the AECT Destination. This location includes a teleport map that allows you to choose specific places to visit.

AECT Teleport Map

I discovered that the AECT hosted part of their 2011 convention in Second Life in November. I wish I had been aware of this event. Some of the sessions involved presentations of research in virtual worlds.

In my wanderings, I came across presentation boards that must have been from the convention, though I didn’t know it at the time. These presentation boards were sometimes helpful, but most often not. The presentation boards showed something similar to powerpoint presentations. It took me a while to realize I had to click on the refresh button to reset the presentation to the first slide. If the creator of the presentation had created a title slide, that helped me understand what I was looking at. But, even so, many of the slides were notes that only made sense if someone was there to give the presentation. A few of the presentations provided notes that were available by clicking on an object next to the presentation board. I appreciated this greatly!

Here’s an example of a presentation board.

Example Presentation Screen

This is what it looked like when I arrived. Only after clicking on the refresh button below the presentation did I discover that this was a presentation titled “Online Learning: A Global Perspective.”
Notice how blurry it is. That’s not just because it is a screen shot. This is often how presentation boards look. You have to zoom in on it to get the text to be any clearer. Then you are looking at a small portion of the slide, rather than the entire slide.
I suppose my age is showing, but I find trying to view text and presentations in Second Life frustrating. Maybe there are other options I’m unaware of as a newbie to Second Life that would make large text displays easier to read. I certainly hope so. The option I would like is to be able to click on the presentation and have it take up my entire screen. I could flip through it and read it without having to squint. Then, by hitting the Escape key, I would return back to the view from my avatar’s perspective. If you happen to know that this, or a similar feature exists, please let me know.
When I discovered the ICT Library, I was impressed,

ICT Library

by this bookcase. It looked like it held some helpful information. You can’t see it in the screen shot, and I could barely see it in person, but there’s text hovering over some books. If you click on highlighted books, you receive information and a link to a site with more information. Sadly, this resource has not been kept up to date. Some of the links were extremely helpful. I bookmarked them for later review. But others no longer worked or took me to what seemed to be unintended places. This is one aspect of technology that is often overlooked. It’s easy to think that once something is created it will always continue to function the same way online. But with updates to websites constantly occurring, links often change, content is updated, and what you thought was a link to an educational site could become almost anything.
On the second floor of the library was my greatest

Free Scripts in the ICT Library

find. (At least, I expect it might be helpful later this semester.) I discovered a resource of free scripts. These scripts will be helpful if I want to build my own setting and/or presentation in Second Life.
I haven’t spent much time in Second Life yet. So far, I’ve discovered a lot of ads, beautiful scenery, and places where I could wander for days. I have not reached a level of engagement yet because I’m spending way too much time navigating and not enough time doing something I consider useful. As my time and experiences in Second Life increase, I expect my engagement in increase.
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Elements of Educational Technology

Educational technology classifiedTechnology is ever expanding. Each year brings us new tools and gadgets and formats. As technology changes, the definition of educational technology expands to accommodate new options.

The current definition of “educational technology” by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) is shown below.

Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.

When I consider educational technology tools to use in the classroom, what I want to know first is if the tool improves student learning. I have seen time and money wasted chasing after the latest technological advancement only to discover that student learning was not effected, or worse, student learning declined.

As our society has become more technologically advanced, we have expanded student learning goals. For example, skills I did not learn until college are now introduced in basic algebra classes. In order to meet this demand, our teaching must become more efficient. Technology is one means we can capitalize on to increase efficiency.

Wordle Image of "Improving"

The AECT has written a more thorough explanation for each of the key words in their definition of educational technology. Taking their commentary for how “improving” is key in educational technology, I created the Wordle image to the right. This image graphically shows the top 50 words used. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. Notice what stands out. “Goals” and “learning” are most obvious. The next levels down include “efficiency,” “efficient,” “claim,” and “time.”

From this image and my reading, I take away the following. For educational technology to improve learning, the technological tool must help students meet learning goals efficiently. This increase in efficiency should decrease the time needed to master a skill or objective. And before a tool is used in the classroom, claims related to learning improvement must be backed by better results and better student application of a skill or objective in the real world.

References:
Januszewski , A. (2007). Educational technology: a definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wordle image created at Wordle.net.

Technology graphic made by dougbelshaw on Flickr.

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