Upcoming PD course in SL for teachers at Universidad Nacional, Heredia Costa Rica

In September, I’ll be kicking off a new PD course in SL. Participants will be teachers from The Computing School at Universidad Nacional (UNA) in Heredia, Costa Rica. The main objective of the course is to provide the participants with a combination of conceptual, theoretical, and practical (in-world) strategies with regard to designing, implementing, and teaching/learning courses of different duration using SL as main medium/approach. Unlike most of my previous courses in SL, I will not work alone in this course, but will be joined by an amazing group of co-facilitators;

  • Inge Qunhua – Danish Instructional designer and teacher in SL since 2007
  • Heilyn Abbot – Costa Rican colleague, Post Doc at e-Learning Lab, Aalborg University (AAU), co-facilitator in the COMBLE course
  • Wica Sorbet & Ena Adjani – new Costa Rican colleagues from UNA

In-world the majority of the teaching activities will be taking place in a region with 3 Danish islands; Region Denmark, Innovative Learning, and Danish Visions.

In designing this course, I’ve naturally been drawing on my experience from previous SL courses. However, our Costa Rican colleagues are also interested in learning more about the particular PBL model we have implemented at AAU, the so-called Aalborg PBL-model. Further, during my PhD-research in SL, I’ve found the “Communities of Practice” (CoP) ideas from Wenger, 1998 to be particularly useful when teaching new technologies/media. The goal of the design is to try to establish a pedagogical Community of Practice, wherein the teaching and learning processes will be situated. Core principles in this design strategy therefore are:

  • A strong and ongoing focus on learning as transformation of identity and negotiation of meaning
  • Focus on Legitimate Peripheral Participation
  • A socio-cultural, constructivist perspective on learning
  • Learning is participant-centred
  • Focus on problem orientation where learning combines theory and practice
  • Learning is usually realized in pairs/groups
  • Responsibility of the learning process is mutual – both between learners and learners/facilitators
  • Self- and peer assessment through reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action is central

An important part of this strategy is to respect the newbie experience of the participants. The ontological challenge that is to become an avatar should be acknowledged and designed for. In practice, this means that Inge and I, who will be the main in-world facilitators, will focus on creating a safe learning environment where the newbie participants will be able to learn some of the most important basic SL skills before we actually proceed to focus on the subject matter. Today, Inge invited me in-world to see the sky sandbox, she has designed for the initial stage of the course:

Overview of the sky sandbox


The participants will learn how to navigate their avatars in trying to get their teams across the board that includes invisible holes.


For the building exercise the participants also will have to work in teams.


In the presentation and discussion area all sorts of media can be used; Slide shows, Type-with-Me, videos, and websites are included.

And so, now that Inge has done all the hard work, all I need to do is to take some time in front of the fire to reflect on more fun, engaging, and interesting activities :-)

The dubbed UNA-AAU course starts in-world on September 12th, and I’m sure it will generate some future posts …

/Mariis

In-world presentation @ “Internet – New Media – Culture 2.0” conference

Friday November 5th, I was invited to speak at a Polish organized in-world conference about “Internet – New Media – Culture 2.0“.


Conference site at the Second UMCS island

The conference was organized by colleagues from different departments of Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskie – some of whom I’ve previously worked with in the EU funded research project COMBLE. I was very pleased to get the opportunity to talk about some of my findings, and there were some great questions and comments on especially immersion and media convergence.


Talk about the new assessment method I implemented in my 3rd research cycle.

As promised to the participants, I’m hereby uploading my presentation.

Special thanks to Raf Moczadlo for inviting me :-)

/Mariis

SL presentation in the Danish Ministry of Science

On Friday October 15th, a total of more than 200 museums, churches, exhibition halls, galleries, political institutions, and other venues will open their doors in connection to the annual “Night of Culture” that has been a Copenhagen event since 1993. As part of this event, the Danish Ministry of Science has asked me to participate by presenting research, teaching, and learning in SL.

The event will run from 6PM until midnight (local time), and I will be in the Ministry together with one of my MIL-students, Inge Knudsen, from Business College, Horsens.Inge is a highly experienced SL educator and builder, who has run in-world courses on English, Chinese and Cultural Understanding among other things and last year she won the Danish Research Network’s annual Innovation Prize because of her work in SL.


Inge and I discussing part of her presentation for the “Night of Culture”.

In-world we will be accompanied by MIL alumni, Per Christensen and two of his close colleagues, Nicolai Green Hansen and Erik Hansen – all from VIA University College. Per and his colleagues are currently preparing for a cross-cultural collaboration with a Chinese University on their island Innovative Learning, where it is also possible to see and experience another build that last year won the Danish Ministry of Education’s annual e-Learning award.


Nicolai and I discussing part of their presentation for the “Night of Culture”.

We are all still in the process of planning this event, and there are several challenges. The Ministry has put together an extensive program (in Danish) including lots of interesting activities all night. This means that it is impossible for Inge and I to foresee how many guests will find their way to our presentations. Last year approx. 1000 guests participated in the Ministry’s activities.

We have two rooms at our disposal, and so far we’ve planned for one of them to be the “Teaching and Learning Room”, while the other will be the “Presentation Room”. In the “Teaching and Learning Room” planned in-world session with Inge and Per will run twice the hour, and guests in this room will be able to participate via guest-avatars. In the “Presentation Room” several computers with logged in guest-avatars will enable guests to explore and participate in different in-world places/events covering education, business, art, music, RL rebuilds and not least places/builds NpIRL. Inge and I will oscillate between the two rooms, and in between scheduled sessions, we’ll be available for questions and discussion of the many, different research, teaching, and learning potentials of a medium like SL.

We are also in the process of preparing note cards covering all sorts of topics, events and locations – and I encourage other SL residents to send me (Mariis Mills) suggestions of interesting locations/events. The entire event will take place from 9AM – 3PM SLT. Putting together a program for a 6 hours in a row event is quite daunting, and I personally find that the biggest challenge lies in trying to convey a sense of meaning of SL for RL-guests just passing by…

When we’re done planning, I’ll update this post with SLurls to locations where it will possible to join us in-world.

/Mariis

UPDATE – program

Most of the activities are directed towards the RL guests visiting the Ministry – and they will be in Danish. However, Inge Qunhua will do her sessions in English too, if anyone asks her. Inge will teach the audience how to introduce themselves in Chinese and there will be general lessons in understanding the Chinese culture.

Inge’s sessions will take place on her Island, Danish Visions. The first session starts at 10:30 AM SLT, and she will repeat it every hour until the last one at 2:30 PM SLT.

In between Inge’s sessions there will be live music and other activities on her Island.

For those interested in the Danish VIA-session please have a look in the group “Kulturnat 2010”, where you find all sorts of notices with LMs and further details on the in-world program.

In one of the two rooms in the Ministry, we will, starting at noon SLT, be streaming from Pop Art Lab, Claus Uriza – and later on we’ll visit The Yard Club, where there will be “Open Mic” with Torben Asp.

SLurl to Pop Art Lab

SLurl to The Yard Club

Conference on IT and Innovative Learning Environments

Thursday/Friday his week I’ll be attending a conference/workshop on “It and innovative learning environments” at university level organized by the Danish Ministry of Science in Copenhagen.

I’m especially looking forward to hearing the two keynote speakers:

  • Phillip D. Long, Ph.D. Professor of Innovation and Educational Technology and Founding Director, Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology, University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Renate Fruchter, Ph.D. Founding Director of Project Based Learning Laboratory and Senior Research Engineer, Department of Civil Engineering, Stanford University, USA

I’ve never met Professor Long, but I’ve read a some of his publications concerning design of learning spaces (i.e. Trends in Learning Space Design), and I think he has some pretty interesting takes on educational design. He is scheduled to talk about Open Scholarship and Learning, which should be interesting too!

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Professor Fruchter a couple of times during my recent research stay in the Bay Area. She’s a very energetic and positive woman, and I think it’ll be fun to reconnect with her. During this research stay a bunch of my colleagues from 5 different Danish universities and I attended a 2-day workshop at Stanford exploring the future of e-learning, and since this conference is kind of a follow-up event I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with them and the organizers from Innovation Center Denmark in Silicon Valley.

I’m also interested in hearing the Danish Minister of Science, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen’s thoughts on innovative learning and the future of our universities … On Friday I’ll be attending different workshops, and here I’m especially looking forward to hearing what colleagues from the Danish School of Education, Tina Bering Keiding & Morten Misfeldt have to say on the alignment between learning and physical space – not least since this is a topic I normally don’t pay much attention to due to my explicit focus on virtual space/place in my PhD-project.

Dan Gilbert, Learner Designer Technologist, Learning Innovations Inc. will facilitate a workshop entitled Innovative Tools and Techniques to Enhance Creativity in Your Classes: Connecting Design Thinking with Teaching and Learning”, and this should be interesting too. I’ve previously attended a workshop by Dan and it was inspirational and great fun!

Finally, I’m really looking forward to seeing how conference participants will be using Twitter #itlearning. This will be my first Danish conference organized with the explicit goal of using Twitter and I have no idea how this will be received – but I am expecting a lot of fun :-)

/Mariis

COMBLE – “Project of the Month” at elearningeuropa.info

In July it was announced that the COMmunity of integrated Blended Learning in Europe (COMBLE) project had been chosen as “Project of the month” by the elearningeuropa. info portal. This portal is established by the European Commission to promote the use of multimedia technologies and Internet at the service of education and training, and so all of us involved in the COMBLE project are quite happy about this recognition of our work :-)

In this project several colleagues from e-Learning Lab (Aalborg University) and I worked together with partners from Germany, Poland and Estonia from January 2008 – December 2009.

In the COMBLE project we investigated the following questions:

  • When is an institution (universities, further education, enterprises) ready for Blended Learning?
  • What are the common challenges and solutions?” and
  • How can trainers design for active and collaborative learning?

Together with my PhD-colleague, Heilyn Camacho, I designed and ran a highly successful 6 week course on Problem Based Blended Learning in Second Life and Moodle on which I’ve written several posts (i.e. this one explaining the course concept).


A scene from one of the SLectures in the course.

Besides this the COMBLE project also resulted in:

  • A wiki-based community called Methopedia for Blended Learning experts to share relevant knowledge and experience. Methopedia is available in four languages and contains about 100 different learning activities and an interactive seminar planer.
  • A Blended Learning Readiness Wiki to support strategic planning, change management and the evaluation of blended learning scenarios at the institutional level.
  • The Methopedia Learning Designer: an online flash tool to design seminars.

BTW: we would like to encourage anyone interested in Blended Learning to join our community – either at the Methopedia website or on Facebook :-)

/Mariis