Monday, May 3, 2010

To the left! To the left! To the right! To the right! And do the tootsie roll!

This K12 Online Video about resolutions to 2nd Life orientation problems was hosted by Alan Hudson, an e-learning professor at London Metropolitan University. Hudson found that using the 2nd life program as a teaching tool was sometimes problematic because students had to learn how to use the system before they could use it as a learning format. He then described the trial and error process he has used to try to combat initial user's confusion with the 2nd life program. He initially created a handout with instructions, but quickly found that students were too overwhelmed by the information on the screen to read it. Hudson also created an orientation space, but found that it had too much information, and as there was no set path to go on they could easily miss information.
Hudson then introduced a company of volunteers that they work with, called Virtual Link. Virtual link created an orientation space that was familiar to most Londoners because it was modeled after Hyde Park (which is London's Central Park). New users can then speak with volunteer avatars, or walk the park paths to view instrucional signs. Virtual Link's theory was that users who are in a "familiar" space are more likely to have better orientation with the system. Hudson also introduced a grad student who also worked on the learning issue. Hudson also introduced a grad student who tried a different, more visually appealing, handout. When it didn't succeed, he tried to pare it down. He then turned to a differnt type of orientation space. His orientation space is self-led, and is very similar to the initial stages video-games use. This process assures that students do not miss any information because there is only one path to take.
I feel that no matter which method is used, there are pros and cons, but the best is the grad students work. The reason is that it in effect combines the best of all three options. While the "place" may not be familiar, the format is. Even as a person who does not play video games, I am familiar with the orientation method they use. BUT! What really matters is that there are options for all learning types. As a teacher, that is what is important. Knowing that through trial and error I have done the best I can to reach each and every one of my students.

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