Aktuelle eksempler på social læring online – #skolechat og #itddchamp webinar

I en ny serie af blogindlæg genbesøger jeg ideer, begreber, koncepter og designovervejelser fra min phd og opdaterer med ny viden, hvor jeg finder det relevant og i øvrigt kan finde tiden og overskuddet til det.  Det første indlæg var blot en introduktion til nogle af de emner, som jeg vil komme nærmere ind på. I dette indlæg #2 vil jeg fremhæve et par aktuelle eksempler på social læring online og sætte dem i relation til nogle af mine egne phd-tanker.

  • Det første eksempel er synkron chat, sådan som det aktuelt foregår et par gange om ugen under #skolechat på Twitter
  • Det andet eksempel er synkrone webkonferencer (fx gennem Zoom, Teams, Google Meet o.l.), sådan som det aktuelt foregår i regi af rigtig mange uddannelsesinstitutioner

Jeg begyndte at anvende Twitter tilbage i 2008 via min originale, engelske profil. I første omgang handlede det mest om at have en backup-kommunikationskanal til Second Life (der ofte gik ned). I starten havde jeg noget vanskeligt ved ellers at se formålet med Twitter, men lidt efter lidt opsøgte jeg de mere generelt teknologiorienterede fællesskaber, der opstod i synkrone chats fx under #edtech. Omkring 2009/10 begyndte jeg at lægge mærke til tre danske brugere, som var særligt aktive under #edtech; hhv. Trine Juul Røttig (@Trinejr), Mathias Poulsen (@mathiaspoulsen) og Ove Christensen (@oveucsj). Trine, Mathias og Ove havde/har en fantastisk, smittende energi og stod bag mange nye tiltag som det danske #skolechat og lidt senere de såkaldte EdCamps, hvor den første danske EdCamp foregik i 2013, hvilket Mathias har skrevet om her. I mange år var der ugentlige synkrone chats under #skolechat, hvor danske uddannelsesfolk livligt debatterede store og små spørgsmål – ofte, men bestemt ikke altid, relateret til anvendelse af teknologi i undervisnings- og læreprocesser. De senere år har #skolechat dog mest fungeret som et askynkront ‘sted’, hvor der stadig deles erfaringer, tips og tricks og debatteres.

Webkonferencer har også eksisteret i mange år, og aktuelt er det især betegnelsen webinar, der har vundet indpas. Typisk foregår webinarer synkront med både lyd og live billeder (af deltagere og materialer), og mange programmer giver også mulighed for, at deltagerne kan tekstchatte undervejs. Ofte optages og arkiveres webinarer mhp. efterfølgende repetition og bearbejdning.

Synkron chat under #skolechat er for nylig blevet genoplivet og foregår i øjeblikket to gange om ugen. Mathias, Ove og Thomas Dreisig (@thomasdreisig) skriver her om, hvad der kan komme ud af at deltage i sådanne chats. Og i dette indlæg nævner Anne Hammer (@AnneAnneAnneH), hvordan hun bla. gennem deltagelse på Twitter og #skolechat finder inspiration og hjælp til sin aktuelle nødundervisning.

Typisk varer en synkron chat en time, og der vil være en moderator(-gruppe), der har forberedt et par spørgsmål, som kan inspirere og sætte gang i diskussionerne og udveksling af erfaringer – se fx her. Man behøver ikke at tilmelde sig, men dukker bare op og bidrager. Ofte vil diskussionerne bevæge sig i mange forskellige retninger og bidragene kommer i en lind strøm. Udover at være tekstbaserede, så er sådanne synkrone chats altså karakteriseret ved høj hastighed og ukontrolleret turtagning. Ifm. chatten d. 19/03 skrev Ove eksempelvis, at der var omkring 45 tweets på 1 time med 9 tweets i gennemsnit pr. deltager. Det er udtryk for stor aktivitet, og det kan være vanskeligt at følge med i det hele. Derfor vil der ofte også være twitter-brugere som blot følger med på sidelinjen (lurker) uden at deltage aktivt, men som stadig bliver inspirerede og klogere af de øvriges bidrag. Hertil kommer, at moderator ofte er så venlig at opsamle diverse tweets – se fx her – så man kan få et overblik og evt. vende tilbage senere.

Synkrone webinarer kommer i mange forskellige udgaver, men her vil jeg for eksemplets skyld fremhæve de webinarer som Rikke Toft Nørgaard (AU) og en række nuværende og tidligere studerende fra uddannelsen It-didaktisk design gennemfører i øjeblikket. Jeg har ikke selv deltaget i nogle af disse webinarer, men jeg har deltaget i mange andre og typisk vil det være sådan, at der er en moderator el. koordinator, som har forberedt et emne og sat nogle rammer op, som det er tilfældet herunder:

Her er der også udarbejdet en opsamling. Som det fremgår af programmet, er der både et kort oplæg og en efterfølgende åben dialog, hvor deltagerne kan byde ind og diskussionen således kan gå i mange retninger. På visse områder minder det om synkrone chats, dog er min erfaring, at webinarer typisk er karakteriseret ved en mere kontrolleret turtagning. Lyden i webinaret gør det vanskeligt at forstå, hvis der ‘tales i munden på hinanden’, mens den tekstbaserede kommunikation i chatten bedre kan holde til, at der ‘skrives i øjnene på hinanden’.

Både den synkrone #skolechat og det synkrone #itddchamp-webinar er for mig at se rigtig gode eksempler på, hvordan der kan designes mhp. at skabe betingelser for social læring online. Det vender jeg tilbage til. Der er heller ikke tvivl om, at de to designs kan noget forskelligt og har hver deres styrker og svagheder – fx. også ift. hvem, de appelerer til og hvilke (sociale og faglige) behov, de kan understøtte.

I min phd udarbejdede jeg nedenstående oversigt over de forskellige typer af Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), der var relevante for mit arbejde:

Oversigten kan sagtens udfordres, men her og nu vil min pointe være, at den giver et overblik over nogle af de ligheder og forskelle, der er mellem de forskellige teknologier. Her under karantænen, hvor så mange undervisere pludseligt har skulle transformere deres undervisning til noget, der kan give mening online, er det ikke overraskende, at vi har set i boom i anvendelsen af det, jeg i oversigten kalder ‘Desktop VC’, hvorunder webinarer ville høre til. Det er den type teknologi, der umiddelbart bedst kan understøtte det, vi genkender fra ansigt-til-ansigt undervisningen. I denne type teknologi deltager vi som hele mennesker (som regel typisk kun med hoved og overkrop, men pointen er, at der er ‘krop’ med i kommunikationen). Der er også mulighed for at få navne vist forskellige steder på skærmen, og her er det ikke uvæsentligt, at man kan bruge sit eget, ‘rigtige’ navn (det giver en vis troværdighed). I disse teknologier kommunikeres der gennem tale og typisk i et ‘normalt’ tempo, og således er det i en vis udstrækning muligt at afkode, hvad andre mener via tonefald, mimik og gestik. Altsammen elementer, der er med til at skabe genkendelighed og dermed tryghed.

Kigger vi derimod på Twitter, hører den teknologi til under ‘Social Networking Sites, SNSs’. På Twitter er det ikke alle brugeres, der vælger at identificere sig med navn og/eller et vellignende foto, og mange vil opleve, at der er meget lidt ‘krop’ i kommunikationen. Typisk for Twitter er, at kommunikationen er tekstbaseret og den foregår tidsforskudt, dvs. asynkront. Umiddelbart er det således en meget anderledes kommunikationsform, end den vi er vant til, og derfor ser vi også, at mange brugere supplerer med fx emojis, gifs og billeder for at kompensere for de manglende muligheder for at afkode budskabet. Netop fordi kommunikationen er asynkron, kan der gå lang tid inden man får en respons, fx et like eller en kommentar, og i mange tilfælde kan det opleves som om man sidder og taler ud i et tomt rum. Når Twitter så bruges til synkron chat, ændrer denne oplevelse sig markant (for de fleste) idet, der nu pludselig er masser af respons.

Når min vurdering er, at både chatten og webinaret er gode eksempler på, hvordan man kan designe for social online læring – også trods forskellighederne – så hænger det sammen med det overordnede perspektiv på læring, som jeg læner mig op ad. I min phd, og i megen af min forskning i det hele taget, er jeg inspireret af sociokulturelle teorier om læring, ikke mindst sådan som det kommer til udtryk i Wengers (1998) sociale teori om læring i praksisfællesskaber. Jeg vil ikke i dette indlæg gå i dybden med teorien, men blot fremhæve enkelte centrale aspekter, hhv. domæne, fællesskab og praksis:

Oversat fra Riis (2016, s. 127)

Wenger, McDermott & Snyder skriver om praksisfællesskabet, at det

… er en unik kombination af tre fundamentale elementer: et domæne af viden, som definerer et problemfelt; et fællesskab af mennesker, som kærer sig om domænet; og den delte praksis som de udvikler for at være effektive ift. domænet. (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, s. 27 – min oversættelse, opr. fremhævelse)

Pointen er her, at fx ift. #skolechat, så deltager brugerne i et fællesskab gennem tweets mhp. at udvikle deres viden og praksis fx om, ‘hvordan man skaber et socialt rum, når undervisningen foregår online’, sådan som vi så det i Mathias’ indledende tweet ovenfor. Og ift. #itddchamp-webinarer vil man kunne hævde det samme. Det vil sige, at i begge tilfælde, er der umiddelbart skabt betingelser for, at deltagerne kan lære noget i fællesskab.

Alligevel vil det være min antagelse, at deltagerne i de to forskellige, digitalt medierede praksisfællesskaber oplever deres deltagelse (og dermed også udbytte) meget forskelligt, hvilket bla. hænger sammen med, at der er tale om to fundamentalt forskellige kommunikationsformer. Min forskning viser, at noget af det, der er meget væsentligt for at kunne føle sig som del af et praksisfællesskab online er, hvorvidt teknologien giver oplevelse af hhv. (self-)presence (tilstedevær af en selv) og co-presence (tilstedevær af andre). Det er to begreber, som jeg vil vende mere udføreligt tilbage til fremadrettet, men når man kigger på, hvad der karakteriserer hhv. chatten og webinaret, så er der fx forskel på, hvordan og hvorvidt, de giver oplevelse af ‘krop’, hvilket for mange mennesker er væsentligt for, at de kan føle sig tilstede og sammen med andre. Oplevelse af ‘krop’ (embodiment) er imidlertid ikke det eneste aspekt, der har indflydelse på oplevelsen af tilstedevær. Hurtig respons, sådan som det foregår fx i chatten, kan også give den oplevelse og vedvarende respons som i den alm. asynkrone twitterbrug kan give det samme. Men det er og bliver en anderledes måde at kommunikere på, og derfor er det også noget som typisk kræver en del tilvænning, før man oplever, at det kan have værdi.

Jeg opfatter undervisning, hvad enten den foregår onsite eller online, som et kommunikativt og dermed relationelt fænomen, og set i denne optik, er det altså ikke overraskende, at så mange undervisere aktuelt føler sig pressede ifm., at de har skulle transformere deres undervisning. Social læring kan sagtens fungere online, men det kræver tid, tilvænning og i mange tilfælde også en redidaktisering, hvis det virkelig skal give mening og værdi.

/Marianne

Design for *social* læring online?

Fjernundervisning og læring online er blevet aktualiseret i disse usædvanlige tider. Min phd handlede netop om, hvordan man kan designe med henblik på at skabe betingelser for meningsfuld undervisning og læring medieret af forskellige typer af digitale teknologier.

I en ny serie af blogindlæg vil jeg genbesøge ideer, begreber, koncepter og designovervejelser fra phd’en og opdatere med ny viden, hvor jeg finder det relevant og i øvrigt kan finde tiden og overskuddet til det.

Afhandlingen, der er en monografi på knap 300 sider, er skrevet på engelsk og har titlen ‘Avatar-mediation and transformation of practice in a 3D virtual world – meaning, identity, and learning’ (Riis, 2016). Som titlen antyder, så er der fokus på undervisning og læring gennem 3D virtuelle verdener. Jeg forestiller mig ikke, at der er ret mange undervisere, der pt har tid, overskud eller lyst til at prøve kræfter med undervisning gennem den type af digital teknologi. Men i phd’en indsamlede jeg også empiri gennem en mere traditionel 2D teknologi (et LMS), og da jeg i øvrigt har mange års erfaring – både som studerende, underviser og forsker – fra 2D, vil jeg kombinere mine overvejelser hermed.

Phd’en blev gennemført som et aktionsforskningsprojektet med stærk inspiration fra design-based research. Jeg arbejdede ud fra et sociokulturelt perspektiv på læring, og med udgangspunkt i bla. Etienne Wenger og kollegers sociale teori om læring gennem praksisfællesskaber udviklede jeg bla. et teoretisk rammeværk, en designmodel, designprincipper og flere forskellige modeller og oversigter vedrørende det, som jeg her for nemhedens skyld blot vil kalde for online læring. Når man afvikler undervisningen og læring gennem 2D og 3D virtuelle miljøer, så er det væsentlig at have blik for, hvordan man gennem design kan skabe gode betingelser for at deltagerne oplever tilstedevær (presence), så det er også noget af det, som jeg vil fokusere på fremadrettet.

Slideshowet, der er indlejret herunder, stammer fra mit phd-forsvar og giver en meget god fornemmelse af, hvad det ellers er for emner, jeg vil fokusere på:

Bedømmelseskomiteen til mit forsvar bestod af Siân Bayne (The University of Edinburgh), Nina Bonderup Dohn (SDU) og Thomas Ryberg (AAU), der alle tre har forsket i fjernundervisning og online læring gennem mange, mange år. De er også alle tre med i fællesskabet omkring Networked Learning, der både udgiver publikationer og afholder konferencer (hvor alle bidrag fra mere end 10 års forskningskonferencer er frit tilgængelige). Hvis man ønsker at vide mere om fjernundervisning og online læring, så er det fællesskab et særligt godt sted at hente inspiration. Siân og Thomas er endvidere aktive på Twitter.

Jeg var en aktiv del af et helt fantastisk professionelt læringsfællesskab inde i Second Life i knap 7 år, hvor jeg mødte og interagerede med forskere, undervisere, studerende, entreprenører og kunstnere fra hele verden.

På tværs af vores mange forskelligheder, var vi enige om vigtigheden i at huske på, at der inde i avataren (eller i hvert fald bag skærmen) er mennesker – sådan som min avatar-kollega, Bev’s t-shirt her indikerer det*.

Og det er nok den væsentligste lære, som jeg tog med mig fra Second Life. Selv om vi – og måske særligt, når det er tvunget af omstændigheder som nu – rykker vores aktiviteter online, så er vi stadig mennesker, når vi mødes; hvad enten det er gennem tekst, billeder, video(konferencer) eller som 3D avatarer i spil og sociale verdener. Netop derfor bliver det også meget væsentligt at fokusere på, hvordan vi kan skabe undervisnings- og læreprocesser, der har det sociale aspekt og fællesskabet online som det centrale omdrejningspunkt.

/Marianne

*) Selv om vi i Second Life satte stor pris på at mødes online, afstod vi ikke for muligheden for at mødes fysisk, når lejligheden bød sig. Et eksempel herpå var de årlige community conventions. I indlægget her ses Bev og jeg ‘in-real-life’ i foto #2 tilbage i 2009 :-)

PhD accepted for public defence

phd_frontIn November 2016, I finally managed to hand in my dissertation, and earlier this week I received the preliminary assessment, which was positive insofar as the assessment committee unanimously recommends that my dissertation should be accepted for public, oral defence – BIG YAY :-)

The defence will take place at Aalborg University in Copenhagen (AAU-CPH) on January 26th 2017 . The assessment committee consists of the following people:

My PhD-supervisor, Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld (Aalborg University) will moderate the defence, which is set for three hours:

phd_defence-programme    

The abstract of my dissertation reads as follows:

The purpose of this study is to understand and conceptualize the transformation of a particular community of pedagogical practice based on the implementation of the 3D virtual world, Second Life™. The community setting is a course at the Danish online postgraduate Master’s programme on ICT and Learning, which is formally situated at Aalborg University. The study is guided by two research questions focusing on the participants’ responses to the avatar phenomenon and the design of the course.

In order to conduct and theorize about the transformation of this community of practice due to the 3D-remediation a research-led Action Research approach has been chosen to enable research with focus on both actions and critical reflections carried out in four consecutive research cycles from 2007-2011. 53 master students, one main teacher (the author), and several guest teachers have participated in the study. The findings are predominantly based on analysis of asynchronous student discussions in FirstClass™ (1.104 postings) and synchronous participant observation in Second Life (130 hours). A Grounded Theory-inspired approach has been used to generate and analyse the data in this study, meaning that no predefined theoretical framework was used to guide the design of the research cycles from the onset of the study. However, as the research progressed more and more elements from situated learning and the communities of practice theory influenced the design.

The study has demonstrated the importance of the avatar as pedagogical design element given that it is through the avatar the participants identify themselves and others, create meaning and experience learning in the virtual world. Furthermore, the findings show that the avatar cannot be understood devoid of context, devoid of other pedagogical design elements.

In summary, the study contributes with knowledge about 3D Virtual Worlds, the influence of the avatar phenomenon and the consequences of 3D-remediation in relation to teaching and learning in online education. Based on the findings, a conceptual design model, a set of design principles, and a design framework has been developed.

The preliminary assessment is 3 1/2 pages long and includes a summary and a critical evaluation of my dissertation. In my lecture, I will present my research while trying to address some of the critique given by the committee. Based on the evaluation, I anticipate a discussion of some of the following topics:

  • The concept of virtual/virtuality
  • My literature review strategy (State-of-the-art review)
  • My analytical strategy, Grounded Theory (GT) and the role of theory in GT
  • Insider research and positionality
  • The differences and similarities between Action Research (AR) and Design Based Research (DBR)
  • The Communities of Practice framework
  • The challenge of using learning theory for pedagogical design (and perhaps a discussion on the difference between anthropological and psychological perspectives on learning and education)
  • Socio-cultural vs. socio-material theories and approaches to understanding the world (of education)
  • The status and future of SL and other 3D virtual worlds in education

I’m currently in the process of preparing my defence, and I have to admit that I’m somewhat nervous. The main text of my dissertation is approx. 250 pages long, so there are a lot of issues to consider. I am, however, hoping that I will be able to put aside this nervousness and enjoy the whole thing. It truly is a unique opportunity to discuss some of the issues I care deeply about with some very clever people :-)

/Mariis

MUVEs for learning

In the beginning of his book “Being There Together – Social interaction in Virtual Environments” Ralph Schroeder (2011) provides a definition of Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs):

The VEs discussed here relate to virtual reality (VR) technologies. In a previous book, I defined virtual reality technology as ” a computer-generated display that allows or compels the user (or users) to have a feeling of being present in an environment other than the one that they are actually in and to interact with that environment” (Schroeder 1996: 25; see also Ellis 1995) – in short, “being there”. (Schroeder, 2011, p. 4 – original emphasis)

And from this follows that MUVEs can be defined:

(…) as those [virtual environments] in which users experience other participants as being present in the same environment and interacting with them – or as “being there together.” (Schroeder, 2011, p. 4 – my emphasis)

In line with Schroeder’s definition, the term MUVEs is sometimes used exclusively to characterize virtual environments designed on a 3D spatial metaphor (i.e. Ketelhut, Dede, Clarke & Nelson, 2006), because this is seen as a precondition for experiencing presence when there is an emphasis on the “there” component in the understanding of presence. However, in the field of distance education, the concept of presence has been debated for decades, and has included the sense of self and sense of others that do/do not occur also in 2D virtual environments. Most notably the work of a Canadian research project referred to as “Community of Inquiry” (COI) that ran from 1997-2001,  managed to bring focus to the concepts of cognitive, social, and teaching presence as being essential to especially distance educational experiences. The COI project started with a focus on presence in text-based computer-mediated communication (i.e. Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000; Rourke, Anderson, Garrison & Archer, 2001), but has since moved on to also study these particular types of presence in 3D virtual environments such as Second Life (i.e. McKerlich & Anderson, 2007; McKerlich, Riis, Anderson & Eastman, 2011). The difference, between Schroeder’s perception of the presence concept and that of COI research, highlights the fact that there is no (cross-disciplinary) consensus on the definition.  In fact, many definitions and sub-categories of presence can be identified, and this is evidently something I’ll discuss thoroughly in my PhD.

It is important to notice that the primary focus of my study is on Second Life. Nonetheless, other types of MUVEs cannot be ignored simply because both the research literature and the participants in my study often refer to these other types in an attempt to make sense of Second Life. In the table below, I’ve provided an overview of the different types of MUVEs that are relevant to have in mind as part of the overall context of my study.

Clearly, learning happens in all these MUVEs, but from a formal educational perspective, there are some very interesting differences between these different types of MUVEs. Among critics of VWs, I’ve often heard the argument that “VWs are just virtual learning environments based on a spatial metaphor”, and while it is true that VWs, such as Second Life, are based on a 3D spatial metaphor and that this is an important difference, it is not the only one. To me, the communication modalities, the interaction frequency, and not least the content creation possibilities offered in these types of virtual environments, are just as important.

In my study, the teaching and learning processes have been situated in a blended environment consisting primarily of a combination of Second Life and the more conventional 2D virtual environment called FirstClass. At the Master’s Program of ICT and Learning (MIL) that I have used as case for my study, FirstClass provides the ICT infrastructure in this distance ed program, this is were the majority of the administrative and teaching activities take place – the students tend to use complementing technologies for their learning processes. During my research period (2007-2011), the use of FirstClass and Second Life has changed: in the first research cycle, the majority of both teaching and learning activities took place in FirstClass, whereas in the final, fourth research cycle, Second Life provided the setting for the majority of the activities. Regardless of this, I still believe both environments contribute with some unique affordances that are important to ensure high quality teaching and learning – and ideally, none of them should be used as stand-alone environments.

/Mariis

References

Garrison, D., Anderson T. &  Archer, W (2000): Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2: 87–105

Ketelhut, D. J., Dede, C., Clarke, J., & Nelson, B. (2006): A multi-user virtual environment for building higher order inquiry skills in science.Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

McKerlich, R. & Anderson, T. (2007): Community of inquiry and learning in immersive environments. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. 11(4).

Rourke, L, Anderson, T., Garrison, D.R., Archer, W. (2001): Assessing social presence in asynchronous text based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 50-71.

SL as learning environment for Midwifery education

This is the fourth post of five describing the work of the students from the PD class, I’ve been running since December 5th, 2011 with students from the Master’s Program on ICT & Learning (MIL) at Aalborg University where the students have to do presentations in-world. Background information on the course/the presentation task can be found in this first post, and here’s the link to the second post, and the third post.  On Monday, January 23rd Team D had to present their analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment.

Team D and their focus


Team D; tomsteff, danamaia, mouritzen & Saxodane.

Just like the previous presenting teams, Team D’s members come from very different backgrounds working as College Teacher and IT-consultant, Midwife and Educational consultant, Assistant Engineer and AV-Lab consultant, and finally as Cooperate Psychologist and HR-consultant. danamaia was already familiar with some of the people behind the SLenz Virtual Birthing Unit-project, and the team decided to further investigate the use of SL as a supplement in Midwifery education leading to the following investigation question:

How can immersion facilitate Midwifery students’ learning of clinical skills and competences in a 3D-mediated learning environment?

Team D’s sandbox
To support the MIL students’ work in SL, each team was assigned a sandbox on December 9th (after they had learned the most basic SL skills), and the pictures below show the progression in team D’s sandbox:


December 17th; Team D has set up a shared media screen.

January 1st; Team D’s sandbox now only contains my building instructions …

However, a few days later on January 4th Team D’s building process has really taken off.

And a week later on January 11th, Team D’s sandbox is starting to get filled up with a nice addition of phantom walls based on transparent/green binary codes.

January 12th; Plywood here, plywood there – the basic building material of SL now seems to fill up Team D’s sandbox.

January 13th; The Matrix inspiration continues with the addition of a video-trailor for the movie.

On January, 20th part of the sandbox has been removed in the NW corner.

A closer look of the interior of Team D’s sandbox on January, 22nd.

Team D’s presentation

 Team D’s agenda and investigation question on display.

Team D’s agenda looked like this:

  • Intro
  • Historical perspective on 2D and 3D
  • The psychology of immersion
  • Learning in Plato’s cave
  • Didactic Design
  • Tour
  • Reflection/discussion
After we were welcomed in the team’s sandbox, Team C’s mouritzen gave us a brief overview their investigation question and of some influential games/systems in the field of 2D/3D VR/VE.

Posters with some of the influential games in game history,

and Cisco’s TelePresence system .

We were then asked to move up-stairs where Team D’s Saxodane literally walked us through Wirth et al.’s model of Spatial Presence that focusses on the construction of a mental “spatial situation model” as a prerequisite for a satisfactory user-experience in new media and VR-technology.


Team D’s representation of Wirth et al.’s Spatial Presence model.

By the end of Saxodane’s talk we were asked to take a step forward, the floor disappeared, and voila!:


… we were now prisoners in Team D’s Matrix/Plato-inspired cave!

In the cave, Team D’s tomsteff, made a very interesting comparison of Plato’s cave allegory, SL, and Beaudrillard’s thoughts on Simulacra and Simulation.


Plato’s cave allegory displayed on the walls in the cave – meta-meta?

Evidently, ontological questions on reality/virtuality/hyperreality come to mind when entering an environment such as SL, and tomsteff challenged us to consider what impact such issues would have in relation to learning.


Presence and learning – what’s the relationship?

Based on Qvortrup, tomsteff reflected on different kinds of knowledge forms in SL.

Next up was Team D’s own Midwife, danamaia, who gave us a nice introduction to the Midwifery-project in order to set the scene before visiting the place. The project has been well documented, and it was very interesting to hear about some of the research results, and not least how participating students had reacted to the project.


Team D’s danamaia explaining the didactic design behind The Birth Place (displayed on the walls) based on Riis’ model on the floor.

MIL11 students gathering in front of  Te Wāhi Whānau/ The Birth Place .

We were asked to take a tour and explore the premisses. The place is highly informative with many clickable objects leading to the extensive wiki and other materials.


Up-stairs danamaia explained the role-play that two students had to try based on materials from the purple pyramid.

Anina volunteered to become pregnant-in-a-click.

Even an avatar-pregnancy can be exhausting!

Anina gave the tub a try, but no luck in delivering the baby there …

With the help of “midwife”, JaneOlga Anina finally gave birth to a boy :-)

Big congrats from the cheering crowd …

Due to time constraints, we were not able to explore the role-plaing possibilities in full detail, but we did get a good impression of the potentials. After the successful birth of a new Netizen, we all went back to Team D’s sandbox, where Saxodane wrapped-up their presentation.


Saxodane presenting Team D’s final comments on SL as learning environment.

Team D has has had a strong focus on games throughout the course, and as I told them, I don’t think comparing and judging SL too much based on gaming theory/practice is appropriate. In my experience, the absence of a gameplay makes SL a very different VE – especially in terms of teaching and learning potential. Nonetheless, there were many fine elements in the team’s presentation and in their design, and once again, I think we all ended up having a very good and fun joint learning experience.


MIL students celebrating Team D’s presentation with some wine,

… and some dancing :-)

/Mariis