You can start “grokking” immediately, but to be able to use the features properly, you need to log in, and so I decided to log in and do a search on Virtual Worlds;
Search for Virtual Worlds
- You can adjust the level of difficulty/detail via the slider
- The users’ search history is saved
- Search results are shown as Key Facts, Websites, Videos, Images, Quizzes, and Concepts. Key Facts and Quizzes enable clicks on “more” information leading to original sources. Results can be pinned and will show on the graph, in the journal, and under the visited tab.
- There are 3 displays to choose from
- You can share by e-mail or Twitter (currently there seems to be a bug though; my tweet showed a dead link). Sharing is apparently limited to the original query – not the one you’ve pinned?
Examples of quizzes
Apart from the quiz section, I think it’s a rather nice tool. I like the fact that you can visualize your queries and the journal feature could also be very useful. Edudemic predicts that Google will buy instaGrok, and that seems very plausible. I think the tool has the potential to evolve into something very useful. Some of the improvements I’d like to see would be:
- View History without having to do a search first – make available the History tab once the user logs in
- A “save” tab – it saves instantly, but for the UX I think a tab would seem reassuring (he, but that could be just me ;-)
- Ability to download the different displays
- Ability to share pinned queries
- Ability to co-create
- More image examples
- Some sort of ” summarized result” for the quizzes to increase the gamification element
- Improved search results – i.e. the first pin/example under Key Facts in my search is a wikipedia article on Virtual world language learning …
Anyways, I think instaGrok is a tool to keep an eye on :-) Follow here on twitter.
This is the third 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. On Thursday, January 19th Team C had to present their analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment.
Unfortunately, this session was shattered by technical problems; approx. half of the participants, incl. members from the presenting team and I, had huge lag and/or audio problems. Hence, this post is based on whatever I could pic up via the text-chat, my co-facilitator’s feedback, and the materials Team C had prepared for the session.
Team C and their focus
All of Team C’s members are working with teaching at some level in their organizations, although they have different work backgrounds as Teacher and Educational consultant, Special Ed Teacher, High School Teacher, and finally as a Pacemaker Technician/Nursing Specialist and educator. For their presentation, Team C had agreed to focus on how SL could be used in teaching History:
How can History lessons at High School level be facilitated and remediated through a virtual 3D-medium such as Second Life?
Team C’s target group was junior-high students (thus assuring they’d all meet the legal SL user age limit) with some SL experience and a fair amount of History knowledge.
Team C’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 C’s sandbox:
December 28th also showcased Team C’s investigation question on the use of SL to teach History at High School level.
January 15th; Like some of the other teams, Team C needed more space, and started building on the sides of the sandbox.
Team C’s presentation
Prior to their presentation, Team C sent out information in SL and in our regular 2D-platform. As part of this material, they sent out an invitation to a “Junior-High” class, which was a very appealing way of setting the scene for their presentation, and they received a lot of positive comments from their fellow class mates. Team C’s agenda looked like this:
- 8:00 PM: Take a tour of the sandbox to familiarize yourself with the setting, take a seat in The Arena.
- 8:10 PM: Welcome, short introduction to the agenda for the “class”, and short introduction to historical periods and locations in SL.
- 8:20 PM: Field trip to The Etruscan Museum
- 8:40 PM: Briefing regarding the second field trip in Team C’s sandbox
- 8:45 PM: Field trip to ROMA
- 9:05 PM: Wrap-up of the field trips and the “class”
- 9:20 PM: Team C’s reflections on history lessons in Second Life
- 9:45 PM: Evaluation and feedback
Team C welcomed us, pointed our attention to the agenda on the wall, and then explained that we would get a brief overview of the two historical periods that this “class” would cover. At this point, several participants already had lag and/or audio problems.
The field trips were designed as exploratory tours, where the “students” should gather information, take pictures, and collect freebies. After the field trips the students had to present their findings to the rest of the “class”.
One of Team C’s members, JoeChipmunk, also had audio-problems, and I stayed back in their sandbox to see if there was anything I could do to help. Despite numerous relogs, preference check and so forth nothing really helped, and JoeChipmunk finally encouraged me to join the field trip to The Etruscan Museum, while he stayed and tried to solve his problems.
Arriving very late at the museum, I didn’t really get a good sense of what was going on, and I only took a few pictures.
Team C’s Stinafish at The Etruscan Museum.
As part of the Ars Novalis Virtual Shipyard, there’s a Danish Viking ship in memory of the founder of Roskilde Viking Ship Museum, Ole Crumlin-Petersen (1935-2011).
At approx. 8:40 PM, Team C asked us to go back to the team’s sandbox for further instructions for the next field trip. At this point, I began experiencing heavy lag, and several of the other participants also complained about various technical problems. Nonetheless, we headed off to the next destination; one of SL’s oldest historical rebuilds: ROMA (SPQR) . Arriving at ROMA, I could hardly move and I finally ended up stuck in a wall and decided to relog. Since that didn’t help, I went back to our class sandbox, and here I realized that my speak-button was no longer active. For the next 20 min. or so I tried shutting down my computer, reinstalling SL, I tried the Firestorm Viewer, and relogging – but nothing helped. Meanwhile, JoeChipmunk’s speak came back, but two other members of the team now had inactive speak-butons, as did several of the other participants.
The “lucky” participants, with no technical problems, later said they had experienced the session as one of the most smooth in technical terms. Fortunately, my co-facilitator, Inge was one of the lucky ones with no problems, and the following 4 pictures were taken by her.
Back in Team C’s sandbox, the other teams had to present their findings from the two field trips.
Back in Team C’s sandbox, the “students” had to present pictures and objects from their field trips.
ROMA is a no-speak island, and so several of the participants did not realize that they had audio/speak problems until they came back to Team C’s sandbox. At this point, Team C wrapped up the first part of their session, where we, the audience, had acted as High School students, and now they wanted to focus on their theoretical considerations and design choices in relation to their investigation question and overall theme. One team with audio problems solved it by transmitting one member’s sound via Google Plus, others tried Skype, and from the presenting team only sjostakovitch and JoeChipmunk had voice, and so this final part of the session was a very frustrating and disruptive experience. At this point, I want to acknowledge the resilience of Team C, I was very impressed with their willingness to try to continue and finish their session despite all the technical problems!
Again because of all the problems, I didn’t manage to document this part of the session in detail, but from the team’s manuscripts and the text-chat, I know that Team C, based on their investigation question, started to explain about some of their theoretical inspirations (Dewey and Dede), and they had some very thoughtful concerns regarding the target group’s possible acceptance of/and behavior in a medium such as SL.
Team C had also been inspired by the COI-model, and the different types of presence.
Inspired by the COI-model, Team C had planned to register indications of the three types of presence during their session, but Team C’s Stinafish, who was in charge of this part, unfortunately also had different technical problems, and I’m not sure if she managed to do so, and anyway at this point in the session, she had no voice. On the positive side, the two Team C members with voice, were able to fill in based on the teams well-prepared manuscripts, and this was another indicator of the team’s thorough preparation of their presentation.
Team C’s sandbox was a good example of a respectful remediation NpIRL
The team’s lead designer, JoeChipmunk had some interesting reflections on some of the challenges you face, when trying to replicate our past as the team had tried to do in the sandbox. The point of departure for the sandbox design had been a respectful remediation strategy, but with the target group in mind, the team had also decided to add “mystical” elements such as the rainbow, animated animals, air floating ships, and giant posters. JoeChipmunk also explained, how he had been forced to consider the authenticity of the different objects (e.g. did this kind of plant/animal exist at that point in time/in that part of the world), and in this sense, building in SL had sharpened his perception of history, validity of sources etc.
Despite all the technical problems, there was no doubt that Team C had prepared a very good and interesting presentation. Needless to say, the technical problems completely overshadowed their efforts for those of us experiencing problems, and it was so sad and unfortunate that the team members also had problems and didn’t get to present their hard work in the way they had envisioned. All of us felt terrible for the team, and many of Team C’s classmates sent them supporting comments in our regular 2D (and very stable!) platform afterwards. Having been in SL for almost 5 years now, I have come to expect occasional technical break-downs, but I have to say that this was my worst SL experience ever. Throughout the course, I monitor the students’ activities closely, and I know just how much work they put into these presentations – it’s simply amazing! So to have such a terrible outcome was really, really sad.
We’re still not sure as to why we had so many problems, but it seems to be a combination of Internet instability (at least for some of us with a certain Internet provider in certain areas of the country), and local island problems. The speak problems continued the day after, but were resolved after Inge restarted the island. Next team is scheduled to present tomorrow, and we are crossing our fingers ….
In 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, the students have to do presentations in-world, and this is the first post of five describing their work.
As part of the assessment criteria in the course, the students are asked to do an analysis of SL as teaching and learning environment, and instead of doing a traditional written report, the students have to present their analyses synchronously in SL as highlighted in this slide:
The analysis has to be based on both theory (general course literature combined with literature the students choose for their particular topic), and practice. For the latter part, the students have to explore, experiment, and use SL, and they can also draw on the experiences they get from the other course activities in SL. Since all educational programs at Aalborg University are founded on a PBL pedagogy, they students also have to identify and work with RL problems – the students typically choose to focus on problems they encounter in their work settings. In this MIL11 class, the students have been working in 5 teams, and on Wednesday, January 11th the first team A had to present their analysis.
Team A and their focus
Team A: RickDJ, Ingma, MrsJJ, Ilikespace & Merlin – all dressed up in similar clothes to highlight the team affiliation.
Team A’s members come from very different professional backgrounds, three of them are working in formal teaching (from K-12 to college), one is working in the central economic section of the city of Copenhagen, and the final member works within a special section of the law enforcement. All of the team members work with development and implementation of ICT and learning at some level in their organizations, and this is also why the signed up for the MIL Program. For their analysis/presentation, team A decided to focus on one team member’s work place, an “e-Design” educational program, and based on this context they settled for the following question to guide their investigations:
Can SL be used to facilitate a design process in project work?
In their work, the team tried to rethink and redesign an existing course for 3rd semester students, and they looked specifically at how SL can be used as a supplement to f2f and other technologies. The Team A students were interested in analyzing the particular affordances of SL that could promote certain parts of a design process for students working in groups in a blended environment.
Team A’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 A’s sandbox.
On December 22nd, I had an ad hoc meeting with some of team A’s members discussing the assignment and their design.
December 31st; the more respectful setting started to appear in the other side of the team’s sandbox.
One January 3rd, all teams were encouraged to present a status on their work, and get some feedback from me, my co-facilitator, Inge and their fellow classmates – and Team A chose to do so.
January 3rd; team A presenting some of their theoretical considerations for their upcoming presentation.
Team A’s presentation
Before their presentation, Team A sent out instructions and an agenda in both SL and our regular 2D platform. The agenda looked like this:
- 8:00 PM: Introduction in Team A’s sandbox
- 8:30 PM: Inspiration trips
- 8:45 PM: Group work in Team A’s sandbox
- 9:10 PM: Presentation of the groups’ work
- 9:20 PM: Theoretical input
- 9:35 PM: Closing debate
- 9:45 PM: Evaluation and feedback
The team felt that SL could be particularly useful in some of the more creative phases of a design process, and this was why we were asked to do tasks common to these phases. Because the students are not (due to time constraints) able to try out their hypothesis/ideas on their chosen target groups, it is common in theses presentations to ask the fellow students to act as the target group.
Among the theoretical concepts Team A chose to focus on, remediation and redesign of an existing pedagogical practice, were central – also in the way the team had designed their sandbox. The continuum between respectful and radical remediation permeated both design and activities, and in this way the team managed to visualize what otherwise may seem as quite abstract theoretical ideas.
As part of the research phase in a design process it is important to go out into the “real world” and gather information, and Team A had planned four different locations where each of the remaining teams had to go and take pictures for the following phase. The locations were two respectfully remediated places: Bartlett & Nielsen and Virtual Harlem, and two more radical places: Torley Island and Mysterious Wave .
The time allocated for the inspirational trips was limited and I only managed to go to one of the four places, but judging from the following activities where the teams had to put their photos up for display, and based on this start working on designing a table, all the teams succeeded in completing the tasks despite time and technical (audio) challenges:
… and team B building a table.
After the presentation of the teams’ photos and tables, Team A continued talking about their theoretical considerations.
The way Team A had planned their presentation was meant to showcase how SL potentially can be used in social constructivist learning, and even though the activities were limited due to time constraints, I think the team managed to do so. Evidently, in a short presentation like this, it is difficult to get the full experience, but by way of using the exemplary principle, it was my impression that Team A managed to make a very convincing case.
During the final part of Team A’s presentation concepts from Wenger’s 1998 social theory of learning were appropriately displayed on the floor.
In summary, I think all of the participants ended up having a very good joint learning experience, not least because Team A’s members beautifully demonstrated the value of genuine collaboration, and as one of the students from another team concluded afterwards it will be: “A hard act to follow … :)”
Next week teams B and C will be presenting – and I can hardly wait :-)