Setting up for Shared Media test in SL viewer 2

This semester I have the pleasure of supervising, PerSecond a Master student from The Master programme on ICT and Learning (MIL). In his Master thesis PerSecond will investigate the possibility of using SL as platform in a Danish-Chinese PBL collaboration he and his colleagues at VIA University College are involved in. PerSecond and I are meeting in-world for our sessions and today I went in to set up for a test of the new Shared Media feature in SLV2.

For unclear reasons* SLV2 really runs slowly on my machine, so for a while there I had to work as a cloud – and let me tell you; that’s a bit distracting!

Anyways, I did mange to set up for a test of … though I seem to have a recurring “bad-hair-day” ;-)

I’m hoping the problems I experience won’t influence our test later tonight, so that I can get back to our experimentation in a future post …

*) I did read Gwyneth’s excellent post on improving Mac performance, but I can’t force Texture Memory beyond 128, and GL tot stays at 67/192 … so I’m thinking it may be a) a PICNIC error or b) my (still) malfunctioning Mac :-(

Evaluation, Literacy and Transliteracy

As previously described I’ll be using my Connective Model for ICT-remediated Didactic Design for the general analysis of my PhD data. A first step in this process is working with the 9 basic elements in the model and in this post I’ll focus on some preliminary work I’ve done on the element of Evaluation as depicted in the model below.

Given that definitions shape the way we think about and practice particular phenomena the very act of defining something should not be done without prudence. I’m quite confident that working with the different elements in the model will refine the way I’ll end up describing them, so for now I settle for working definitions and as such I’ve found inspiration in UNESCO’s definition of Evaluation and after modifying it so that it fits better into my study field of Didactic Design it would read as follows:

Evaluation means arriving at a value judgment on the basis of measures (qualitative or quantitative) considered to be valid and reliable, which compare the actual results of a Didactic Design with its anticipated results.

The element of Evaluation is to some degree connected to all the other elements, but according to the working definition there is a particular strong connection to the element of Goals, since this is where we can derive the criteria for evaluating the results. When dealing with Didactic Design there will always be a least two major perspectives from which we can look upon certain elements, namely the teaching perspective and the learning perspective, and in what follows I’ll present some initial reflections on the particular part of evaluation that concerns the evaluation of learning outcome/results. To do so I want to dwell a bit on the concept of Literacy, which I consider to be vital when discussing the purpose and goals of especially formal education.

In its most narrow sense literacy refers to the ability to read and write, but used as a more general concept literacy refers to being knowledgeable or educated within a particular field. In an interesting UNESCO report on the plurality of literacy and the concept’s connection to the right to education as stated in article 26 of  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the evolving notion of literacy is discussed and defined: “Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.” (UNESCO.2004:13). Above all the plurality of literacy refers to the many fields in which literacy can be employed – specific literacies denominated by prefixes such as information, computer or media to name a few.

In my research on literacy I recently came across a very interesting article in First Monday that explores the concept of Transliteracy, which the authors Thomas; Joseph; Laccetti; Manson; Mills; Perril & Pullinger. 2007 define like this:

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. (Thomas et al. 2007)

What interests me the most is actually not the definition, but rather the idea and purpose of developing some sort of meta-literacy concept. According to the authors Transliteracy can be characterized as:

  • a possible unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century
  • an extension of transliteration that also includes the increasingly wide range of communication platforms and tools at our disposal
  • a concept that calls for a change of perspective away from the battles over print versus digital, and a move instead towards a unifying ecology not just of media, but of all literacies relevant to reading, writing, interaction and culture, both past and present
  • a concept that doesn’t replace but contains both media and digital literacy
  • a possible literacy for (media) convergence
  • a concept of not just computer–based materials, but about all communication types across time and culture
  • a concept that insists on a lateral approach to history, context and culture, an interest in lived experience and a focus on interpretation via practice and production
  • an inclusive concept which bridges and connects past, present and, hopefully, future modalities
  • a concept that pays attention to the whole range of modes and to the synergies between them to produce a sense of a ‘transliterate lifeworld’ in constant process
  • both a concept and a practice productively situated in a liminal space between being a new cognitive tool and the recovery of an old one
  • a concept that deliberately refuses to presuppose any kind of offline/online divide
  • the kind of literacy we require to be able to simultaneously attend to multiple media and modes of communication as well as the kind of literacy we use to apply the literacies of one mode or medium to another one

Based on these characteristics I would interpret Transliteracy as a meta-literacy and I do find the characteristics both relevant and much needed in trying to define some sort of unifying literacy. The authors describe their work with the concept as a work in progress and “a good example of open source thinking between diverse collaborators” and they encourage further discussion and development of the concept. First author, Sue Thomas and her co-writers are all involved in the Production and Research in Transliteracy (PART) Group at the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at De Montfort University, UK and they’ll be hosting a conference on Transliteracy on February 9th 2010, which can be followed via several social media. In the video lecture below Sue Thomas explains the concept of Transliteracy based on the above mentioned article:

Returning to my interest in Literacy and especially new forms of literacy, I believe that there is a strong need to consider and develop new ways/methods of evaluation of learning outcome – not least when the learning processes and products have been facilitated by ICT-remediated Didactic Design. In this process of developing new evaluation methods, I think concepts like Transliteracy can prove quite valuable in giving indications of what criteria to focus on. Especially in Academia we seem to be stuck in using evaluation criteria and methods based on traditional literacy giving primacy to old media and modalities. Quoting Yancey. 2004: 90 “we use the frameworks and processes of one medium to assign value and to interpret work in a different medium”, which obviously is not the most appropriate way of accommodating the use of multiple and/or new media. In my third research cycle in the MIL case, I experimented with both criteria and methods of evaluation, and the results from this experiment will form the basis of a forthcoming post on evaluation of new media productions/compositions…


My first SL screencast

MIL alumni, Carsten Storgaard, recently pointed my attention to Screenr – a nice little tool for creating screencasts. So yesterday, when I was preparing to talk about immersion vs. augmentation in SL as part of the next Didactic Design Discussion in the MIL course, I decided to try it.

One of the best examples of in-world immersion to me was the Tunnel of Light build by Spiral Walcher, but unfortunately that place does no longer exist. Instead I had a look at Spiral’s pics and found myself ending up at his Vision Store where I did my first attempt at in-world sceencasting:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Obviously I have a lot to learn about camera angles, movement etc. and I’m not convinced that Screenr is the best tool for in-world productions.

Nonetheless, I do recommend that you explore this beautiful place first hand – also have a look at Spiral’s Glow Show at Ball State University ll – it’s absolutely breathtaking!

Incidentally, I will be participating in a workshop on Machinima tomorrow at Roskilde University, so look out .. I may just be returning with more machinima-wanna-be-attempts in the future ;-)


Case MIL09: Didactic Design Discussion – 1

In the MIL course my co-facilitator Mew Aeon and I currently are running in SL the students are expected to analyze SL as teaching and learning environment, and in order to stimulate the students’ critical reflections we have prepared 4 discussions on different topics related to ICT-based Didactic Design. Last night we had the first discussion and for this I had prepared some slides (in Danish) focusing on two main topics; the field of Didactics and target groups.

8 students are enrolled in the course and since 3 of them did not have the possibility to participate in our recent f2f kick-off introductions  I had decided to repeat some central points. First of all there is the term ICT-based Didactic Design, which my colleague, Professor Birgitte Holm Sørensen from the Danish School of Education defines like this:

The process by which the purpose, the goals and the content is determined, and where the planning, the organization and the arena for teaching and learning is shaped based on theories and in relation to ICT-based practice in a context.

Via course readings the students are introduced to various didactic theories and models – one of the latter being the so called Didactic Triangle (usually attributed to German Pedagogical Philosopher Johann Friedrich Herbart 1776-1841) that depicts the basic relationships between teacher – content – student. Though all of us can agree that the field of Didactics includes more elements than the relationships in the Didactic Triangle it does, in my opinion, highlight the fundamentals and creates an excellent starting point for discussions on some of the key issues in Didactics.

Key issues in Didactics: content and actors

Now, what I find particularly interesting when you combine ICT with Didactic Design is that ICT not only serve as materials but also as arena or “room” for teaching and learning –an aspect which clearly is amplified when using 3D virtual technology like SL.  Most MIL students can be characterized as being tech-savvy educators/trainers for whom it is relevant to further enhance their competencies in integrating ICT in their practice and we naturally ended up discussing what impact especially web 2.0 tools/services will have on the way we think and practice didactics.

As I see it Web 2.0 tools/services have the potential of changing our perspectives and thus practices regarding:

  • Users – both the students and the teachers with regard to relations/roles/responsibilities
  • Participation – as we shift from consumption to (co-)production
  • Multimodality – new possibilities to design for teaching and learning processes
  • Networks and connections – from local to global citizenship
  • Knowledge management – both from an information and communication perspective and with regard to security and ethics

How does web 2.0 change the way we think and practice didactics?

For the last decade the Danish pedagogical debate has been focusing on learning and learners (in opposition to teaching and teachers) – and this shift in perspective has been highly welcome and much needed. On the other hand this shift seems to have placed the role of the teacher in some sort of vacuum (are teachers obsolete in the future as polemically stated by David Gelernter ?) making the challenges related to especially ICT integration more difficult and complex than necessary. When discussing target groups we therefore also encourage the MIL students to carefully consider the roles of the teachers. Much as anticipated we did not reach any solid conclusions on any of the topics, but I do believe the discussions inspired the students and I’m looking forward to the next session later this week.

As part of our focus on target groups who could benefit from an environment like SL, we ended the night by visiting Health Info Island, including The Path of Support and finished off by investigating the Virtual Guide Dog.


Methopedia – new tool for teaching and learning design

In relation to the COMBLE project where my colleague Heilyn Camacho and I designed and implemented a course on Problem Based Blended Learning using Moodle and SL, other project partners have been working on developing a wiki that focuses on teaching and learning methods and approaches: Methopedia.

As part of the wiki community concept anyone can add and share content concerning teaching and learning activities, methods, approaches and designs.  Complementary to the wiki our partners from University of Applied Science Wildau have developed a flash tool for designing different kinds of teaching and learning events – the Learning Designer.

The main idea is that the Designer tool can import whatever is put into Methopedia and then the user can create visual overviews of events spanning from short activities to seminars and courses.

Learn more about the tool from this video:

The partners have also written a paper on the work with Methopedia which was recently presented at the 8th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL).