Participation in VET Congress 2017 with extended summary about our TBOC-model

sfivet_logoMy colleagues, Mette Allermand, Anna Brodersen, Carsten Lund Rasmussen, and I have an extended summary accepted for the SFI VET Congress 2017.  The congress takes place at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) in Bern/Zollikofen, Switzerland from March 14-16 2017. The theme of the congress is Unleashing the creative potential of VET, and Danish Professor, Lene Tanggaard Pedersen is one of the keynote speakers.

Our extended summary is entitled Technology-mediated Boundary Objects and Boundary Crossing in Vocational Education and Training – an instructional design model, and the abstract reads as follows:

In this extended summary, we propose an instructional design model aimed at using technology-mediated boundary objects and boundary crossing processes in vocational education and training. The model is based on preliminary findings from a current research project (2015-2017) on vocational teachers’ perceptions of transfer and boundary crossing and their use of information and communication technology (ICT) in relation to such processes. Theoretically the model is inspired by Akkerman & Bakker’s (2011) proposal of four dialogical learning processes, which are attributed boundary crossing potential. Empirically the model has been field validated among Danish vocational teachers attending continuing professional development courses at The Metropolitan University College in Denmark. While the instructional design model has been positively received among the vocational teachers, we still consider it to be a work-in-progress, and further research on how to scaffold the use of the model is needed.

As seen in this abstract, we aim to present an instructional design model we have developed based on findings in the first phase of our research project on ICT, transfer and boundary crossing in vocational education and training that we are currently conducting at the Metropolitan University College. Based predominantly on boundary crossing theory, but also with theoretical inspiration from Henningsen & Mogensen (2013) in relation to mediating tools, we have developed an instructional design model. Figure 1 below shows the model in its initial conception:

tboc_vers1

Figure 1. The TBOC-model version 1.0.

In figure 2 the TBOC-model is shown with examples of technologies that can be used in relation to different boundary crossing processes.

tboc_vers1_examples

Figure 2. TBOC-model with examples.

It’s important to notices that our work with the model is still very much in progress. Carsten and I have used the model in pedagogical exercises with in-service vocational teachers this fall, and we are still in the process of analyzing data from those design experiments. Furthermore, we are revisiting data from previous interviews and observations in an effort to further validate the model. In the spring of 2017, we plan to collect more data at vocational schools, and we’ll continue our work with the model – also based on new theoretical insights (e.g. this study by Marheineke).

/Mariis

References

Akkerman, S.F. & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. In Review of Educational Research. June 2011, Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 132-169

Henningsen, S.E. & Mogensen, F. (red.) (2013). Mellem teori og praksis. Om transfer i professionsuddannelser. [Between theory and praxis. On transfer in Bachelor’s Degree and Academy Profession Degree programmes. ] VIA Systime.

Alice and Dorothy play together – but what about Wendy?

In a recent post I wrote about why I don’t consider SL a game, Richard Bartle was very kind to comment and point my attention to one of his articles entitled “Alice and Dorothy play together” (Bartle, 2009). I’ve now read it and together with some of Bartle’s other works, I find it very useful in relation to my own work with what I prefer to call open-ended Virtual Worlds – so thank you again, Richard for stopping by and pointing to various resources :-)

In the article, Bartle describes three philosophies or design approaches that have influenced the work of designing Virtual Worlds. Based on three major fictional works, Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from Oz, and Wendy in Neverland, Bartle identifies differences and commonalities and discusses their ability to “play together”. It’s important to notice that Bartle is addressing a game (world) designer audience, and that Bartle’s work in general has focused on Virtual Worlds designed with the explicit intent to entertain the players – fun is the key motivation for using such worlds. In the table below, I’ve tried to summarize some of Bartle’s points.

Without going too much into detail with the table here in this post, I think it’s important to notice a couple of things in order to understand what follows. In terms of “appeal” this should be seen in the light of immediate attraction, does the world attract and more importantly retain newbies? Evidently, a Dorothy world like WoW (with millions of active players) also appeals to oldbies, the kind of players who find joy and interest in “leveling up”, the kind Bartle calls “Achievers” (as we shall see further down). The table also shows why SL has problems when it comes to retaining users (with approx. 20 mio. accounts, but less than 100.000 concurrent users on a daily basis, there is a problem). Judging from the table, SL’s credo “Your World, Your Imagination” becomes a double-edged sword. The lack of a fixed narrative leaves the SL-user completely on his/her own to come up with a reason to play/stay. This problem, however, is not unique to SL, but points to a classic dilemma between the different needs of newbies and oldbies. Following from this, the next question that comes to mind then is: what motivates Wendy? or more precisely, why do users find interest in SL and what do they do in SL?

In “Designing Virtual Worlds” Bartle explains how he in the early 90’s, based on a long-lasting debate between senior players of MUD2 regarding the motives for playing, analyzed the ideas of what constituted fun and found that players could be categorized into four major types:

  • Achievers, who are interested in doing things to the game, i.e. in ACTING on the WORLD. (later sub-categorized in Opportunists and Planners)
  • Explorers, who are interested in having the game surprise them, i.e. in INTERACTING with the WORLD. (later sub-categorized in Scientists and Hackers*)
  • Socializers, who are interested in INTERACTING with other PLAYERS. (later sub-categorized in Networkers and Friends)
  • Killers, who are interested in doing things to people, ie. in ACTING on other PLAYERS. (later sub-categorized in Griefers and Politicians)

Based on continued refinement of these categories, Bartle created the so-called Player Interest Graph depicted below:

The Original Player Interest Graph (Bartle, 1996/2004 – see references)

The graph describes players in terms of two dimensions: how they prefer acting on things as opposed to interacting with, and how they prefer to direct their attentions toward other players. When trying to apply this graph to SL, I see three issues that don’t match.

  • The term “players” indicates that there is a game to be played**.
  • The category “killers” implies a combat game-type world.
  • The category “achievers” is also closely tied to the existence of a game – Bartle highlights their motivation: “These people put the game-like aspect of the virtual world to the fore. They like doing things that achieve defined goals, thereby progressing their character through the world’s built-in ranking system.” (Bartle, 2004, p. 130)

Regardless of this, I still think the principal idea of the graph can be used in relation to SL, and so I have re-designed the graph:

SL User Interest Graph

  • Users is my personal preference. Linden Lab calls its users “residents”, and many experienced users in SL refer to themselves as “residents” – I do too. It is, however, a problematic term. My observations and research data clearly show that many (especially newbies, but not only) feel homeless and marginalized from the general SL community (but this has to be the topic of another post).
  • Griefers is a term borrowed from the game worlds, it is, however, how we define trouble-makers in SL too, and the term is also used in academic writings on SL (i.e. Boellstorff, 2008). I did consider the Internet term “troll”, but since trolls seem to be deliberately malicious, and my experience with (some) griefers is that they often have more humorous intentions (albeit still annoying to those they act upon), I discarded it.
  • Designers refers to the SL users, who well … design things (buildings, art, clothes, animations etc.). I did consider the term “producers”, but in my opinion the socializers also produce and contribute to the content of SL. Compared to Bartle’s achievers, there are some interesting similarities. Designers also aim at mastering and acting upon the world, and even though there is no leveling system in SL, the mastery also results in high scores in terms of social capital (cf. Huvila et al, 2010).

Given my particular focus on education, I would also categorize teachers (and to some extent students) as designers – we design for learning, but that’s another story :-)

/Mariis

*) Bartle uses the term to refer to skills, rather than (malicious) intentions.

**) Yes, I’m aware of Linden Realms and the many RP-communities in SL, but that still doesn’t make it a game per se.

References

Bartle, R.A. (no date): Virtual Worlds: Why People Play.

Bartle, R.A. (1996): Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who suit MUDs.

Bartle, R.A. (2004): Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders.

Bartle, R.A. (2009): Alice and Dorothy play together. In: Harrigan, P. & Wardrip-Fruin, N. (eds) Third Person – authoring and exploring vast narratives. The MIT Press. p. 105-117

Boellstorff, T. (2008): Coming of age in Second Life. An anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton University Press.

Huvila, I.; Holmberg, K.; Ek, S. & Widen-Wulff (2010): Social capital in Second Life. In: Emeralindsight, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2010. p. 295-316

Student perceptions of Presence in a Virtual World

Together with Ross McKerlich, Terry Anderson, and Bard Eastmann I have a paper out in the Journal of Online Learning and Technology (JOLT). The paper is entitled Student Perceptions of Teaching Presence, Social Presence and Cognitive Presence in a Virtual World, and is based on research collaboration we started back in 2009. Back in January 2099, I participated in a Master Class on Learning 2.0 and Knowledge Media at Aarhus University, where Terry Anderson (Athabasca University) was one of the guest lecturers. When Terry learned about my research in SL, he invited me to participate in a research project that was aimed at investigating the use of the Community of Inquiry (COI) model in 3D environments.

The COI model was developed in the late 1990’s as framework for evaluating educational experience in text-based online environments by D. Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walther Archer. Given the COI model’s wide spread use in different educational settings it is by no means coincidental that one of the original founders, Terry, has found it important to explore the applicability of the model in new online environments such as the 3D virtual world, SL. Together with Ross McKerlich, Terry conducted a preliminary, qualitative exploratory study in SL in 2007, and basically confirmed that the model also can be used in assessing educational experience in 3D virtual environments (McKerlich & Anderson. 2007).

As part of our collaboration, Terry & Ross, participated in one of my in-world classes with the MIL09 students – something both the students and I appreciated very much.


Terry explaining about the COI-model in the MIL09 class


Discussing different COI concepts in the MIL09 class

Anyways, after such a long time, it is great to finally see our paper published, and I want to thank Ross, Terry, and Brad for the collaboration – it was a very good experience :-)

Here’s the abstract of our paper:

Presence – or having a sense of active participation – in distance education has increased with the expanding use of and affordances of communications technologies. Virtual worlds have been on the forefront of popular and education technology in the last three years and innovative methods of teaching and learning are emerging in these contexts.  Using the recently validated community of inquiry (COI) instrument, this study focuses on students’ perceptions of teaching, social and cognitive presence in virtual world contexts. The authors examine whether the COI Instrument can effectively be applied to virtual world learning events. The results are exciting: in a diverse sample, virtual world learners perceive teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence.

/Mariis

Perceived properties of SL in relation to ADHD-patients

On Thursday, January 20th Milo Spot and Viola Stonesoul from the “MILOVIOLA” group did their presentation and analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment for pupils diagnosed with ADHD. Both Milo and Viola have previously investigated more general use of ICT as tool for people with ADHD in coping with daily activities, and so were interested in exploring if and how this multi-modal medium could be applied with regards to such a target group. We started off in a sandbox up in the sky, where we were asked to switch to sunset setting, and Milo and Viola made it clear that they wanted to focus on different affordances of the teaching and learning space.


The  sandbox above the Danish Visions island

In the NE corner of the sandbox, Milo and Viola had set up several display screens with information about ADHD, and Milo gave us a short introduction, so that we could better understand the background for their design thoughts.


Milo explaining ADHD …

One of the major challenges for people diagnosed with ADHD is their problem with staying in focus if too many impressions are perceived simultaneously, and in the space depicted below Milo and Viola wanted to show us how multiple impressions could become overwhelming because of lacking ability to filter information – the many pictures sort of “coming toward us” in this space illustrated this point very well.


After this short introduction to some of the challenges involved in designing for ADHD-patients, we were asked to fly up above the sandbox to sit down and listen to Viola’s more theoretical presentation of using SL. Viola and Milo explained that it was on purpose they had chosen to place this part up in the air to illustrate the common perception of Theory, and as one of the other students subsequently noted it was hard not to think of Aristophanes’ “The Clouds” ;-)

Scaffolding (as depicted in the slide above) was one of the key words in Viola and Milo’s analysis, and in a related manner, they referred to a model illustrating the stages of learners’ participation in virtual worlds created by Dr. Mark Childs as part of his PhD dissertation. Childs visited the class in-world as Gann McGann on January 3rd, and his thoughts on avatar identity, presence, and embodiment really seem to have influenced the students (and me!).


Gann McGann and one of his alts visiting the MIL Class.


Childs’ model in the horizon …

Back on the ground in the sandbox, Milo and Viola walked us through some of the designs/objects they had considered as part of their teaching and learning design for this particular target group. ADHD-patients tend to become frustrated if their daily routines are disrupted, it is not a target group that handles change well, and as an example one of Viola’s pupils demanded there be a clock in a classroom – otherwise she wouldn’t enter the room.


Chess with its meticulous rules appeal to some ADHD-patients, and strengthen their ability to stay focused. Many ADHD-patients also need private space, even when in a social space, and the tipi in the background could accommodate this need.


In the next part of their session, Milo and Viola divided us into three teams, Red, Blue, and Yellow, and we were asked to enter the similar colored boxes/spaces set up in the south end of the sandbox. We all got note cards with case-scenarios each describing someone with ADHD. Our task in the boxes was to identify learner needs and write them in a shared document.


Petter and I writing in the typewith.me-doc that was shared among the 3 groups enabling us to see real time what the other groups were writing.

One of the concerns Milo and Viola expressed with regard to using SL in relation to their specific target group was the amount of information that the SL-user constantly is expected to cope with. To exemplify this they asked us to go to a freebie store and see if we could find and buy some doors ….


A typical example of a Freebies Store

and another example, which also includes sounds and animations  Tropical Paradise Designs


Lots of screen info – tuff .. not only for ADHD-patients …

Next stop on the tour was the holodeck on the Danish Vision island. In the setting below ADHD-patients could practice social and communication skills in a safe environment.

We ended the tour visiting the Al Andalus Mezquita, which could be used in teaching more general life skill and as a setting for discussing different perspectives on culture, religion, life, and death.


Al Andalus Mezquita

Finally we all went back to the sandbox for the feedback session. Through this highly packed program Milo and Viola splendidly showed how the space in SL can be transformed into meaningful teaching and learning places, and we all appreciated their effort to use different features in the environment such as audio-visuals and shared media. The connection between pedagogic underpinnings and practical use of the medium was very strong and well reflected. Furthermore, Milo and Viola clearly demonstrated how an educational setting could be designed with free objects found in various freebie shops in-world.

This was the fourth and final student presentation in the course – and I do think that Milo and Viola managed to leave us all with a very good impression of the teaching and learning potentials of SL – not only in relation to ADHD-patients, but in general.

/Mariis

Thinking out-of-the-box … from inside the box!

Monday, January 17th, Inge Qunhua & Severin Nordenskiold from the second group in my current SL course, “milis” did their presentation and analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment. The theme for Inge & Severin’s presentation was various types of remediation, and we started off in a respectful remediation of a classroom on the Innovative Learning Island.


All seated in the classroom on Innovative Learning.

Here Inge and Severin asked us to reflect upon our experience with being located in such type of setting. The notions of avatar-friendly and innovative design were also discussed. After this we were asked to go outside and ride the school bus to the next location.


Severin was driving, and in mouse-look it felt like being on a roller coaster ;-)

Next stop was on the island Danish Visions,where we were asked to enter a flying tea-cup to transport us to the next location.


For unknown reasons – avatar-overload ;-)? – the tea-cup refused to fly!

Inge & Severin then sent us tp’s to the next location that turned out to be quite a surprise …


The MIL-group located somewhere in white space!?

Being immersed in what seemed to be infinite space was really a peculiar experience – the lack of orientation struck me as being both appealing and frightening. In this space Inge & Severin now asked us to co-create our own classroom. First off we had to build “chairs”, and Inge instructed us.



For some of the features in the building menu, Inge & Severin had prepared slides.

And so the “chairs” ended up being colorful building blocs with illuminating glow.


All seated in a NpIRL classroom.

Subsequently we were asked to turn our settings to “midnight”, Inge turned off additional light, rezzed a Mega-prim presenter, and then we were all set to listen to Severin & Inge’s presentation in what turned out to be a very intimate, powerful and truly radical remediation of a “classroom” setting.


Inge talking in the dark …


Severin talking …


Inge & Severin’s analysis of Genome Island.

For their analysis, Inge & Severin had chosen to look closer at the teaching and learning potential of the Genome Island, since Severin works as teaching associate professor in the field of Medical Biochemistry. Professor Mary Anne Clark of Texas Wesleyan University (Max Chatnoir in-world) created the island with a special focus on teaching genetics – the video below gives a short introduction to some of the possible activities available.

In preparation for their analysis, Inge & Severin had managed to get an interview with Max Chatnoir, and so were able to share some interesting insights gained from student feedback on the use of the island. Their presentation also focused on different pedagogical strategies underpinning different fields/subject matters, and Severin finished off by explaining the next steps where we were to go to the island to try out some of the activities. When their presentation ended Inge turned on the lights, removed the texture from the space, we had been located in, and much to our surprise, we had actually been inside a wooden box!


Our classroom setting turned out to be the inside of a wooden box


Exploring molecular structures …


and mating cats.

Back on Inge’s island we were introduced to some of her learning designs, and this was also where we had the feedback process. Inge & Severin had organized a packed program based on different examples of both respectful and radical remediation, and thus succeeded in bridging theory and practice very well. I found the fact that we had to build our classroom from inside a to be an especially clever detail, and they also succeeded in demonstrating that a playful approach to learning can be very efficient, something that truly resonates the nature of SL.

Uh, and big thanks to Max Chatnoir for taking the time to talk to the students :-)

/Mariis

Additional resources on Genome Island:

Dr. Mary Anne Clark on Genome Island in Educase Review

Dr. Bertalan Meskó’s interview with Max Chatnoir