October 20, 2014

Going to Online Educa Berlin

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Online Educa Berlin begins next week. I will be attending for the first time in many years. If you are also going, I hope to meet you.

There are many interesting sessions at the conference. Some of these are highlighted in the Online Educa news service:

The Saudi Arabian Digital Library. The National Center for E-Learning (NCeL) of the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education was launched five years ago. Of its many projects, the Saudi Digital Library (SDL) is perhaps the most impressive. Launched in November 2010, the SDL holds more than 114 000 e-Books and reference works spanning various academic disciplines. It also manages the Maknaz repository which provides interactive learning objects in different formats such as photos, instructional movies, illustrations and so forth. Dr Abdullah Almegren, Assistant Professor of Education at King Saud University and the general manager of NCeL, will be speaking at the conference.

Research on the effective of virtual patients in the teaching of medicine. Martin Riemer and his co-author Martin Abendroth have spent the past year studying the use of virtual patients by hundreds of students at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, and their findings shed light on how best virtual patients should be integrated into the curriculum.

OEB session CUL38, Learning Cultures: An International Perspective brings together speakers representing universities in Brazil, Russia and India in a panel discussion exploring theoretical discourse, technology implementation and factors supporting and hindering developments in open and distance learning.

In session VIR05, The Best Kept Secrets of Game-Based Learning, distinguished speakers will offer insight into how virtual environments and game-based learning can be integrated into school [and college] curricula seamlessly in order to increase learner motivation and enhance collaborative learning.

Lieve Van den Brande, a Principal Administrator at the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission will present a paper entitled EU Policy for ICT in Education: A New Initiative on Creative Classrooms/Creative Learning Environments. The Europe 2020 strategy is an intricate ten-year plan to revive employment and stimulate the economy of the European Union. Such a plan requires educational goals that are simultaneously ambitious yet tenable. Lieve Van den Brande will discuss these in her presentation.

Pasi Vilpas, a biology teacher at the The Sotunki Distance Learning Centre in Vantaa, Finland, is presenting Teaching Genetics in The Second Life with a Large-Scale 3D-Model of DNA”. Pasi invited his pupils to enter the three-dimensional online virtual world of Second Life and walk and fly inside the crucial molecule.

These are just a tiny sample of the 400 presentations at the conference. The main challenge will be working out what I really must attend from all the range of options (and also to handle the bierkellers). Hope to see you on the Kurfurstendamm!

 


New interface for Second Life

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Young, J. (1010) Will Second Life Upgrade Help Virtual Classrooms? Chronicle of Higher Education, February 25

Following Jeffrey Young’s earlier article suggesting some disillusionment of educational users with Second Life, this article reports on the new interface just released by Second Life. I’ve just downloaded it and need a little time to play with it, but it seems at a first glance very easy to use.

From Second Life to authentic educational Virtual Worlds?

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Young, J. (2010) After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds Chronicle of Higher Education, February 14

This excellent article looks at how educational institutions seem to be moving away from Second Life to create virtual worlds that focus on the specific needs of teaching and learning. Interestingly, Young notes:

It turns out that virtual worlds are at their best when they look nothing like a traditional campus. Professors are finding that they can stage medical simulations, guide students through the inside of cell structures, or pre­sent other imaginative teaching exercises that cannot be done in a physical classroom. But for that, they need more control than Second Life gives them.

The article suggests that there is still a long way to go before virtual worlds have the tools and functionality needed for education. Ominously, it even raises the question whether:

‘the very notion of virtual worlds is flawed. Maybe 3-D online environments are just one of those technologies that sound cool but never fully materialize, like personal jetpacks.’

Early days yet though – but definitely bleeding edge rather than leading edge. This article is well worth reading in its entirety at http://chronicle.com/article/After-Frustrations-in-Second/64137/

News on Virtual Worlds: NMC March Symposium and MacArthur Foundation Awards

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Natasha Boskic writes:

I attended the NMC Symposium on New Media & Learning at the end of March (2009) which was completely done in Second Life.

It was an extraordinary experience with good presentations, with things running smoothly and on time. A variety of speakers with diverse topics made the sessions interesting in their own way, even for the novice users such as myself. We had an orientation to Second Life environment and the conference venues prior to the symposium which helped a lot. Many presenters tried to do something with the audience, and the collaboration turned out to be very successful, such as working in Google doc and other google applications, or “composing music” (creating sounds) with our avatar’s movements, just like using  a wii. The sessions were video recorded and they are available to the public, under “Symposium Program”. Almost a hundred photos from the symposium have been posted in flickr

The other “news” I have is about the MacArthur Foundation. A few days ago, they announced the 2009 winners of Digital Media and Learning Competition. Nineteen projects from around the world were awarded $2 million to explore how digital technologies are changing the way that people learn and participate in daily life.  The proposals were submitted by individuals, for-profit companies, universities, and community organizations for projects that employ games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, social networks, wikis, and video blogs. A short description of the projects is available at: http://www.dmlcompetition.net/. There is one project from Canada, “History Game Canada” (Queen’s University).

Report on New Media Consortium in Second Life

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Linden Lab (2009) Developing New Learning And Collaboration Environments For Educators: The New Media Consortium (NMC) In Second Life San Francisco: Linden Lab

The New Media Consortium (NMC), a non-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations founded in 1993, has nearly 300 members, including most of the top colleges and universities in the world, museums, research centers, foundations, and other forward-thinking organizations. Since 2006 the NMC has used Second Life as another medium to achieve their mission – to encourage the use of emerging technologies in support of teaching, learning, research, and creative expression.

This report by Linden Lab (the designers of Second Life) gives an overall description of NMC-supported activity in Second Life, indicating the number of institutional and individual users, the type of projects, and personal assessments of the educational value of Second Life.