Archive for June, 2010

Alternate Reality Graduation

June 14, 2010

One of my students, well 2010 graduates, captured our 2010 Certificate in Virtual Worlds program at the University of Washington in a mixed reality machinima. As a consultant in virtual worlds for 2b3d, I round out my expertise by keeping involved with the University of Washington as a half time lecturer in the iSchool and leading the curriculum and instruction in virtual worlds. Having one foot in academia and the other in industry allows me to be neutral in my platform choice, and grounded in theoretical research for how virtual worlds work as information systems.

Well, the pay off of course is the student talents that emerge. For example, Valibrarian, appropriately named for adding “Val”ue to virtual world explorations, the future of libraries and commencement speeches as student speaker, demonstrates the integration of graduating from her home office with her virtual graduation. She pulls her hair back, dons her graduation cap to get into the role, and turns on the camera to poke a hole into the internet into her home and watch graduation.  With her family in attendance, and every device turned on around her, she brings you right into a place in our graduation in Second Life and you are there with the class sharing our experience.  Her family in attendance, she participates in the ceremony directly. You can see her there in real person manipulating her controls, her avatar, and her experience. Your experience.

With her pan in and pan out of her school mates, she captures the unique spirit everyone is simultaneously enjoying. She blends the iPhone with the Laptop, with a big screen and video of her watching her avatar in a virtual worlds. It seems so out of body experience watching it on a YouTube video.

There certainly is a revolution happening right in the very home of the individual learner. When you ask the question 2b3d or not 2b3d, the answer is really why not. If you can go to school, spend one entire year with a group of people all over the world, meet in a singular location that is your home base, create an entire sim with a partner like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories called Cybersecurity island, and get your 3 part video – showing Cybersecurity Island, Club One and a Public PTSD Consultation island shown at a White House Briefing, you know that you have changed the outcomes of the world. Way to go class of 2010, and way to go 2b3d.

On-Line Learning Pumps it Up

June 7, 2010

Michael Horn, author of Disrupting the Classroom, has got some talking points:

Talking Points

•The U.S. has shifted to a knowledge-based economy which requires students to master higher order knowledge and skills.
•Our current education system was designed in the early 1900s for an industrial-based economy that needed a standardized system for processing students in large batches with a fixed amount of time for each stage in the process of assembling an educated person—time is the constant, and learning is the variable.
•Online learning is a disruptive innovation that has the potential to help transform the current monolithic, factory-model education system into a more affordable, student-centric system for the 21st Century.
•Every student learns differently and benefits from a customized learning approach to maximize his or her potential.
•To be successful, a disruptive innovation must not initially compete against the existing paradigm by serving existing users—it should first target those not being served. In education these include rural schools with limited or no access to advanced/specialized courses, urban schools with scheduling conflicts and overcrowded classrooms, home-schooled students, students needing to retake failed courses, etc.
•Florida is a leader in the online learning movement. Florida Virtual School alone served over 70,000 students in the 2008-2009 school year.
•In an apples-to-apples comparison of per-pupil instructional costs, the Florida Virtual School is less expensive than traditional bricks-and-mortar schools.
•There is early evidence that the absolute cost of online courses is also lower because providers can use teachers and other staff resources in novel ways.
•Online learning has the potential to help push education reform toward an affordable, mastery-based, student-centric model where time becomes the variable and learning the constant.
•Policymakers must avoid replicating the old factory-model system online and shift to new metrics for the emerging education system: change the focus from inputs (money being spent) to outcomes (content mastery), redefine policies that were based on traditional classrooms (such as student-teacher ratios), encourage learning innovations, etc.

My response:

On-line learning can be significantly augmented with on-line living. The visual environment that supplants the classroom has to be as compelling, engaging, informative, measurable and educational as possible. The technology has risen to a level in which the human world becomes the real platform, and is accessed through 3D virtual world technology, mobile technology, and tablet technologies that wrap the school room into a single device. Working together to build virtual worlds, linking humans with human systems, teachers and mentors with students, avatars to performance and attendance, we are presented with an evolution of virtual learning. My point has always been to go to school where the kids are, not bring them to where the teachers are. Want to have an impact? Pick a virtual world in which the user can be a content creator, pick a couple of mobile devices that interact with those worlds, and link together people in virtual places in which they will create their education. That would be fun, scaleable and certainly a model that supports the trend in social computing, gaming, and Internet omnipresence.