In the PBBL course we have planned 10 lectures in SL and a number of optional informal meetings. Last night we had the first lecture and in this post I’ll reflect a bit on some of my observations. We have 23 participants from 5 countries and an unknown number of Danish on-campus students enrolled. As one of the requirements to pass the course we have asked the participants to attend a minimum of 5 lectures of their own choice (for the students the requirements are different) – so first of all it was interesting to see how many participants/students would actually show up. I’m using the MystiTool to keep track of this and at a certain point in time I counted 22, incl. my colleagues Heilyn, Thomas and Jacob, but some attendees did unfortunately have technical problems so my estimate is that 17 is the most reliable number.
SLecture 1 in session …
Based on my experience from the two other courses I’ve run in SL and our preparation meetings last week, I anticipated some voice and text chat problems, so I had posted the following program and guidelines for in-world communication in our Moodle platform prior to the SLecture and of course had these slides on the CZ presenter:
My overall impression is that the SLecture went well, not least since those who managed to get voice and text working engaged in eager questioning and commenting on the different topics for this SLecture; BL, PBL and the various course elements. But there were also challenges and some serious technical problems:
· The voice and chat check lasted 45 min. which was longer than anticipated. I did point out in the beginning of the SLecture that it should be regarded as a test lecture, but I’m still somewhat surprised it took that long. There were, however, completely new faces in this SLecture and there are still some participants struggling with general voice settings, use of headset and unstable Internet connections.
· There are still a few of the enrolled participants who have not yet joined our in-world COMBLE group, and a few who do not know how to change their Active Title. The course preparation week was optional and I expected people would join the activities based on their own judgments. This is something I would seriously consider revising in a future course …
· Since none of the participants or us as facilitators are native English speakers we all struggle with the language. It’s the first time I’ve personally run a course in English and I must say I find it very time consuming and challenging. With 7 open chat windows, lots of new names, and the language barrier I did find it rather difficult to stay 100 % focused on my presentation. But this is just a matter of experience, so I do not worry too much about it. According to the feedback my main points came across reasonably clear.
· When we sent out the initial materials for the course, I had made a tutorial for creating the SL account, and in this I recommended that they created their first names so that they would be easy to say/write in English. But I don’t think this message came across clear enough. At least there are a few names I find very difficult to say/write. This could also be a cultural thing and for sure my Polish, Estonian, German and Argentinean pronunciation needs work ;-) I also suspect that for some of the participants the fact that I address them by their first avatar names takes some getting used to – most likely many of them do not identify with those names (yet) and some seem surprised when they discover that I’m actually speaking/writing to them. This probably will change in time. In a future course I would try to explain the name issue more detailed, though.
· It was the first time I used the CZ presenter and it worked fine. Nonetheless, I will try to find some sort of podium to place the laptop on, so that its position is fixed and I can return to it more smoothly without having to adjust its position.
· In the two previous courses I’ve run in-world I’ve been the only facilitator and I must say I enjoy having my colleagues with me this time. Not only are they able to help and answer some of the questions (that I might miss!) in the chat, but it is also very beneficial to be able to get their immediate feedback on these SLectures afterwards.
After the SLecture my colleague, tryberg and I stayed and reflected a bit on the event…
Next SLecture is tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to that, because this has turned out to be a great learning experience :-)