Friday, May 11, 2012

Professional development in SL

One of the most regular professional events I attend is the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) that takes place every Thursday at 7.30pm UK time in the virtual world Second Life (SL). It lasts an hour, and usually looks like this, with us sitting round and discussing education in text chat. It's a magic table,: as soon as a new person sits down it generates an extra chair, and you can expand the table a click.

Most of the people are from the USA (e.g. California, Montana), including Grizzla from Gwinnett College, whose students interacted with my students in SL last semester. A couple of other people are from the UK too. I'm the one with teal blue hair and a maxi dress. This week's topic was "What will YOU do in Virtual Worlds this summer (or winter)?" and people talked about some of their plans and projects, then the conversation deviated into whether people actually HAD a summer break and what encouraged or prevented people from getting things done. We also got into talking about students and what we experience of how they really react to using new technology, with useful books and websites mentioned along the way. Since some of us are regular attenders or know each other from other SL activities there was also some moaning about our workloads etc, some feeble joking and a lot of typing errors (nowadays I never seem to spell "the" correctly first time round).

As I said at the start, this is one of the most regular "development" type events I attend, which is why I'm mentioning it on the blog, as I thought I'd try and note things I'd call "development". Although we are in SL, people talk about other issues to do with teaching, as well. People are pretty honest about their experiences, and although some of the conversations seem to come round again and again, it's also one of the reassuring parts of the VWER meetings; you feel you can relax, and if you do a little bit of wandering off the point it isn't dreadful. It's interesting to meet with people dealing with education systems in different countries, and learn where their experience is the same and where it's different (a lot of the time it's pretty similar).

SL seems to have got rather unfashionable (despite the fact that virtual worlds keep popping up in Horizon reports) but it really has been somewhere where I've been able to discuss and reflect on my teaching, in particular.Also, I do like the quirky visual side of things e.g. seeing what Grizzla will be this week (this time a yellow crash test dummy).


  1. I like the idea of it but do wish it had a browser-based version. The battles I had trying to get it to work with Linux put me off it but every time I see one of your information literacy sessions there I wonder if I should give it another chance.

  2. Well, if you ever want to have another try, do get in touch, I'm in SL a lot...