College faculty, Continuing Education, Education Quality, Feature, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, High school / Secondary 2, International, Open Source Education, Publishers, Required, School teachers, STEM / Science, Technology, Education, Math, Students, Technology, University & College - Written by on Saturday, November 5, 2011 19:32 - 0 Comments

Could Second Life Have a Second Life In Education? Teaching Beer Brewing In Greece?

via Tormund via Flickr under CreativeCommons

 

By Paul Glader

LOUTRAKI, GREECE — Whatever happened to Second Life and its prospects for higher education? Some researchers in Greece are melding 3D Virtual courses on Second Life with Moodle and other learning management systems to test the possibilities.

Teaching a class in beer brewing, for example, can work well in such a format, according to academics in Greece who built such a course and tested it this past summer. Ioannis Kostarikas, a recent master’s degree student from Panteion University in Athens,  spoke about the experiment this weekend at the International Conference in Open and Distance Learning on Friday.

He said the 10 students who enrolled in the course between ages 20 and 40 learned about how the beer brewing process worked in the virtual world. Instructors explained the ingredients and processes that go into brewing beer with sessions in the virtual world as well as using written text and materials in Moodle. They also explain the history and nutritional aspects of beer and brewing.

The course took students on a tour of a virtual brewery. In the end, students took a test of making their own virtual beer by putting the right ingredients for the right amount of time in the right pieces of brewing equipment. “Those who passed the test on brewing, were given a glass of virtual beer based on what they brewed,” said Kostarikas.

The surveys of students after the course indicated strong satisfaction with the learning experience. Some thought a real course in brewing would be better. But, at the same time, they said using Moodle along with the Second Life virtual format created a strong learning environment.

I spoke to Kostarikas after his talk. He said his research group is planning more courses on second life in other areas such as astronomy, physics or health care. He isn’t sure if the virtual beer brewing course will happen again as it required instructors. He said Greek-language courses on Second Life are a bit tough because the country has roughly 10 million people and limited high-speed Internet service for that population. That means the market for such courses is small in Greece. But he suggests perhaps larger markets could benefit from combining Second Life or Open Seam with Moodle or other learning management systems.

That brings us back to the question, “Whatever happened to Second Life?”

Around 2007, it appeared to reach the height of its popularity and hype in the U.S. After a spate of articles on Linden Lab and its Second Life program, a host of large publicly-traded companies experimented with shops on the virtual economy and many educational institutions also gave it a whirl as a possible way of the future. This recent article explains some of the reasons for the decline and difficulties of Second Life and argues that it still has a place post-hype.

But it was also reduced to a punch line of jokes and a source of fear about privacy. A joke parody site called “GetAFirstLife.com” that quipped about the seedy side of Second Life and the advantages of real life: “Fornicate with your own genitals.” By the way, GetAFirstLife.com has gone away.

My thought is that Second Life did not really materialize as a place for universities to host full courses. But perhaps it remains a good place for faculty to make a class fun at a traditional classroom setting…. Or as a tool for classes that blend online learning and in-person learning. These researchers in Greece may be on to something by blending it with Moodle and other systems that can deliver readings and other curriculum. Here are some links:

This site from Linden Research gives some resources for K-20 education in Second Life but it stopped in 2009! :  http://www.sl-educationblog.org/ 

Here is another directory of Second Life Education projects happening at various institutions within SecondLife… http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Second_Life_Education_Directory

Here is an article linking to past education projects and possibilities in Second Life: http://dokimos.org/secondlife/education/ Many of the links are expired. But this link to a YouTube video explores the educational uses of Second Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=AU&hl=en-GB&v=TMGR9q43dag

Here is a video from NMC Campus via Second Life: http://sl.nmc.org/2006/06/12/seriously-engaging-movie/

Here is a link to a research paper discussing the potential of 3-D virtual worlds in medical and health education. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00733.x/full

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