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Himoff, CEO of Rezzable, politely tossed down a gauntlet to educators. Rezzable was once a provider of some of the best builds in SL, and they continued the tradition of excellence in OpenSim grids with King Tut Virtual and the game Steamfish. Now, Mr. Himoff has changed his mind. http://rezzable.com/blogs/jon-himoff/ied-summit-europe-2011-get-beyond-v... I've answered him, and think others might do so (politely and with collegiality). My reply to Himoff appears as a comment to his post and as a new post on my blog. -- -- Joe Essid, University of Richmond Writing Center Avatars: Smoky Messerschmidt: Glitch Iggy Strangeland: InWorldz, Reaction & 3rd Rock Grids Roderick Usher: Jokaydia Grid Ignatius Onomatopoeia: Second Life blog: http://iggyo.blogspot.com Web: http://virtualworldsedu.info/ ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

I feel like I'm in that well-known proverb of the judge listening to one side and saying, "yes, you're right" - then hearing the other side and agreeing with that argument too. And then agreeing a third time when confronted with the knowledge that both sides cannot simultaneously be right.

Jon
*************************************************
Jonathon Richter, Ed.D.
Director, Center for Learning in Virtual Environments
University of Oregon
P.O. Box 8013
Missoula, MT 59807

406.823.0809

My author profile http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3EtjHd0AAAAJ

http://twitter.com/wainbrave
*************************************************
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

~ Antoine de Saint Exupery




Jon, If the Physicists are correct, we can have two conflicting but equally valid universes, side-by-side. I tend to agree with Jon Himoff that virtual worlds are niche technologies. I think they are likely to remain there. For the dedicated faculty member who places pedagogy first and has a valid reason for a simulation, however, it's a good niche to explore. We might have been better off in 2006 had Nike and American Apparel and Business Week never discovered SL. But we live in the fading echoes of that hyperbole. When I pinged Hamlet Au on this, he responded with a call for more than anecdote about student enjoyment. As my employer only requires anecdotal evidence (in the form of student evals) I leave it to other colleagues to find the empirical data to support our claims about virtual worlds. Best, Joe
at the risk of being accused of trying to sound coy, I agree with you, in principle once again, Joe - though i think some of the perceived clashing of ideals contained in my take away from my sense of your and Himoff's posts are perceived as rather incompatible. Parallel universes may be wholly incompatible combinations, inhospitable to life. :)

for instance, in one universe, the Second Life Education market perhaps could have thrived had Linden Lab decided to sink its teeth into the maturing-but-not-quite-there enough virtual worlds education market. There were some good case studies a few years ago that they probably noted and considered. Scaling up has been a head scratcher though. Not enough reliably cost-effective and evidence-based production of learning, too many unstable, ill-designed, variable efforts, etc. The virtual worlds toolset is complex. Virtual instructional design is still feeling its way out of the protoplasm TODAY. Sure there's a lot of good stuff bubbling up, but as to what the contexts, conditions, audiences, techniques to take advantage of the affordances and minimize constraints of virtual worlds remains a vastly complex enterprise. One well-framed research effort at a time is not getting us there - as the technology is emerging faster than we're able to get our arms even around the initial complexity. And edu research in virtual worlds that meet the Gold Standard frankly, isn't happening with nearly enough frequency.

Markets drive a lot of this - the hyperbole of virtual worlds was predictably unsustainable (as the Gartner Group aptly predicted and explained) - so naturally people got excited and then, as the hyperbole crashed into the Trough of Disillusionment when the reality of what stupid promises the virtual world COULDN'T deliver came to light... the Marketing Hype EdTech News guffaw moved on to the next thing (Augmented Reality! Video Games! etc!). Edu Research markets need to be better tied to practice and researchers need to figure out how to make their trade accessible and pragmatic to online (virtual) teachers.

and that's coupled with the speed of research, the number of people currently able to construct good learning with whatever the current virtual worlds capabilities are - and the slow building of teaching practices, services needed to build those experiences, tools needed across the construction, building, teaching, assessment pipeline, etc.

That stuff was in place with entertainment because Linden just had to move over and listen to Will Wright and blend more better with games - and boosh! they can start Linden Realms and market that, trimming off non-profit and education markets to "focus" their grand SL experiment to try to attract gamer and younger markets with engagement economics.

The "compatibility" of an education market and a casual gamer market may have been good conceptually, but Lindens felt that they had to focus and make a decision about who their audience was.

This seems both a trend / event that had impact on "why" virtual worlds didn't get adopted by education further - as well as a reason that they're in the doghouse in the first place. It's a bit of a double helix, maybe.

does this make any sense or add to the conversation in any way?

best,

Jonathon
*************************************************
Jonathon Richter, Ed.D.
Director, Center for Learning in Virtual Environments
University of Oregon
P.O. Box 8013
Missoula, MT 59807

406.823.0809

My author profile http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3EtjHd0AAAAJ

http://twitter.com/wainbrave
*************************************************
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

~ Antoine de Saint Exupery




Message from ivy.innis@gmail.com

Some other thoughts, sort of connected to this discussion.  I may be rephrasing some of the thoughts already expressed  

I can’t find up to date statistics at this time, but I saw a presentation by Lisa Dawley in the spring regarding who uses virtual worlds.  Clearly the bulk of the users were under 25, even under 18.  The number of users older than that was miniscule (although I know we are all a part of that demographic).  The question isn’t so much getting more people to use virtual worlds, rather that the demographic bulge of the population who does use them is very young.  How can we as 30+ adults who make understanding learning their profession, take advantage of the type of learning this group is engaging in to provide them robust experiences as they get older?

The points about the educational system are valid.  In the US at least, the educational system structurally does not reward, support or invite the type of learning this group of users is engaging in.  Creating a ‘cloud’ of meaningful, enjoyable learning experiences (even in the traditional disciplines) with virtual worlds without consideration of how it will fit in with the curriculum and meet the standards can do at least 3 things.  One - it can provide this young user group with a much broader view of and skills in learning - helping to foster an understanding that learning is everywhere, anytime and not just in the classroom.  Two - this group might learn much content considered to be traditional school related content outside of school in virtual worlds.  Three - it might (I emphasize might)  provide the educational community with a broader view of what learning, and formal education, can be.  I’m not holding my breath on the latter, but you never know.

And, reflecting on Jonathons most recent post - (and I know you know this) education research is at best vastly complex.  I’m wondering if the focus in virtual worlds is on robust, enjoyable and meaningful learning experiences of many kinds -- rather than on those that can be used in a classroom, that teachers have to have professional development in order to implement, and that have to meet standards that were developed before virtual worlds were develop -- will the promise of how they can contribute to our childrens growth and learning be better met?  I don’t think this necessarily means games.  I think the research focus for these kinds of experiences would be different - whether it would be more fruitful, I don’t know.  In general, I think I am proposing that we access the learner, not the teacher or the institution.  Additionally that we access the learner on many different levels - not just ‘games’.

I ask the same question as Jonathon - does this make sense or add at all?


Best,

Beth Wellman
Adjunct Professor of New Media Literacy, mat@usc
Educational Consultant, Virtual Worlds
SL, RG, Kitely, Jokaydia:  Ivy Innis
3DGameLab: SeaHolly



On Dec 7, 2011, at 2:49 PM, Jonathon Richter wrote:

at the risk of being accused of trying to sound coy, I agree with you, in principle once again, Joe - though i think some of the perceived clashing of ideals contained in my take away from my sense of your and Himoff's posts are perceived as rather incompatible. Parallel universes may be wholly incompatible combinations, inhospitable to life. :)

for instance, in one universe, the Second Life Education market perhaps could have thrived had Linden Lab decided to sink its teeth into the maturing-but-not-quite-there enough virtual worlds education market. There were some good case studies a few years ago that they probably noted and considered. Scaling up has been a head scratcher though. Not enough reliably cost-effective and evidence-based production of learning, too many unstable, ill-designed, variable efforts, etc. The virtual worlds toolset is complex. Virtual instructional design is still feeling its way out of the protoplasm TODAY. Sure there's a lot of good stuff bubbling up, but as to what the contexts, conditions, audiences, techniques to take advantage of the affordances and minimize constraints of virtual worlds remains a vastly complex enterprise. One well-framed research effort at a time is not getting us there - as the technology is emerging faster than we're able to get our arms even around the initial complexity. And edu research in virtual worlds that meet the Gold Standard frankly, isn't happening with nearly enough frequency.

Markets drive a lot of this - the hyperbole of virtual worlds was predictably unsustainable (as the Gartner Group aptly predicted and explained) - so naturally people got excited and then, as the hyperbole crashed into the Trough of Disillusionment when the reality of what stupid promises the virtual world COULDN'T deliver came to light... the Marketing Hype EdTech News guffaw moved on to the next thing (Augmented Reality! Video Games! etc!). Edu Research markets need to be better tied to practice and researchers need to figure out how to make their trade accessible and pragmatic to online (virtual) teachers.

and that's coupled with the speed of research, the number of people currently able to construct good learning with whatever the current virtual worlds capabilities are - and the slow building of teaching practices, services needed to build those experiences, tools needed across the construction, building, teaching, assessment pipeline, etc.

That stuff was in place with entertainment because Linden just had to move over and listen to Will Wright and blend more better with games - and boosh! they can start Linden Realms and market that, trimming off non-profit and education markets to "focus" their grand SL experiment to try to attract gamer and younger markets with engagement economics.

The "compatibility" of an education market and a casual gamer market may have been good conceptually, but Lindens felt that they had to focus and make a decision about who their audience was.

This seems both a trend / event that had impact on "why" virtual worlds didn't get adopted by education further - as well as a reason that they're in the doghouse in the first place. It's a bit of a double helix, maybe.

does this make any sense or add to the conversation in any way?

best,

Jonathon
*************************************************
Jonathon Richter, Ed.D.
Director, Center for Learning in Virtual Environments
University of Oregon
P.O. Box 8013
Missoula, MT 59807

406.823.0809

My author profile http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3EtjHd0AAAAJ

http://twitter.com/wainbrave
*************************************************
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

~ Antoine de Saint Exupery




Jonathan, I find myself agreeing with you on several fronts. First, when I pinged Hamlet Au about this, he came back with this, essentially: show me (and by extension, LL) empirical studies that VWs improve learning. He's right. We need those. I happen to work at a place that accepts anecdotal evidence of student engagement, in the form of class responses and student evals. It's up to other colleagues with aptitude and interest in that sort of research to follow up with more studies like that of Ken's Canadian Border Crossing simulation. As for directions at LL, I think we can divorce them from VWs at a whole. Every week, a few educators admit that they are pulling out of SL and ask me for advice about OpenSim or Unity. I point them to folks like Ener Hax, Jokay Wollongong, or John Lester. Will Wright's influence on LL is salutatory to me: I could actually improve an SL-based simulation with a game-HUD. That seems to be part of Linden Realms. Too bad tier is so high. Too bad that the first-hour experience is time-consuming for those conducting orientations. Too bad these worlds don't play well on the devices our students carry around. But I don't think our conversation addresses Jon Himoff's overly easy dismissal of this technology. For the dedicated educator who can spare time to build well, VWs remain a unique technology for designing simulations. We should, if we are able to get the support, host our own solutions instead of being at the behest of companies with commercial interests and ready to chase the latest shiny object to riches and fame. That's not what education is about, as I noted in my reply to Himoff. We didn't get Stephenson's Metaverse, but five years in after arriving in SL, I don't need that. I just need a good sandbox for small groups to run through a simulation. Best, Joe
Joe, With regard to your first point, I have to admit a bit of chafing whenever the Canadian Border study is always brought up as the only empirical study. It's not, and to that end I'll provide you and the list my own study: Hornik, S., & Thornburg, S. (2010). Really Engaging Accounting: Second Life™ as a Learning Platform. Issues in Accounting Education, 25(3), 361. doi:10.2308/iace.2010.25.3.361 Please note while Ken's was done with a small group all in a lab, mine was done with 100's of students (which eventually grew to close to 700+/semester) using SL asynchronously and going through self-directed orientations (using HUDs). The point being that it can be done, and has been done to very good effect. I also think its a bit lazy to suggest that Ken and my study are the only empirical study done to date, I find that very hard to believe, I would ask Hamlet to do an academic journal search and I'm guessing he'd come across some very interesting findings. As to your 2nd point, let me share an anecdotal story. The first few semesters using SL to support my accounting course, I received a lot of feedback from students who did not understand why in the heck they had to use SL and other more negative responses. I used to think my students could be put into 3 groups, those that liked it (cool accounting in a VW), those who just did it because it was assigned, and those that hated it. I thought the distribution was evenly distributed, or if anything skewed to the latter group. But it turn out it was more the fact that those who didn't like SL were the most vocal about it, so that group seemed larger than it was. The point being while you are being asked each week by a few about alternatives to SL, I can say I've met just as many new people learning about and using it for the 1st time - they just aren't as vocal. As long as I'm self-promoting here, I blogged about this a long time ago here: http://www.mydebitcredit.com/2010/01/08/second-life-what-do-the-students... I haven't played around in LR yet, but it seems that for those of us who could benefit with "gamifying" course content, some interesting tools are being developed, and frankly one of the best things about SL/LL that I haven't seen re-produced anywhere is the ease in which regular old educators can create content/scripts. I completely agree that LL needs to focus on access to SL from any device - but that's not an education requirement, that's something they should be focusing on in order to reach more users period. Anyway, those are my thoughts for what they are worth. Steven _________________________ Dr. Steven Hornik University of Central Florida Dixon School of Accounting 407-823-5739 http://about.me/shornik Second Life: Robins Hermano Twitter: shornik http://mydebitcredit.com yahoo ID: shornik ________________________________________ From: The EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Constituent Group Listserv [VW@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Joe Essid [iggyono@GMAIL.COM] Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2011 10:02 PM To: VW@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [VW] Answering Jon Himoff's "Get Beyond Virtual Worlds" Jonathan, I find myself agreeing with you on several fronts. First, when I pinged Hamlet Au about this, he came back with this, essentially: show me (and by extension, LL) empirical studies that VWs improve learning. He's right. We need those. I happen to work at a place that accepts anecdotal evidence of student engagement, in the form of class responses and student evals. It's up to other colleagues with aptitude and interest in that sort of research to follow up with more studies like that of Ken's Canadian Border Crossing simulation. As for directions at LL, I think we can divorce them from VWs at a whole. Every week, a few educators admit that they are pulling out of SL and ask me for advice about OpenSim or Unity. I point them to folks like Ener Hax, Jokay Wollongong, or John Lester. Will Wright's influence on LL is salutatory to me: I could actually improve an SL-based simulation with a game-HUD. That seems to be part of Linden Realms. Too bad tier is so high. Too bad that the first-hour experience is time-consuming for those conducting orientations. Too bad these worlds don't play well on the devices our students carry around. But I don't think our conversation addresses Jon Himoff's overly easy dismissal of this technology. For the dedicated educator who can spare time to build well, VWs remain a unique technology for designing simulations. We should, if we are able to get the support, host our own solutions instead of being at the behest of companies with commercial interests and ready to chase the latest shiny object to riches and fame. That's not what education is about, as I noted in my reply to Himoff. We didn't get Stephenson's Metaverse, but five years in after arriving in SL, I don't need that. I just need a good sandbox for small groups to run through a simulation. Best, Joe
Message from paul.villano@us.army.mil

If you've seen their latest email send, SL seems to have made the argument moot anyway by pandering to game players. They've come up with a combination WoW/Pacman game with objectives to accomplish to give a directedness to being in SL instead of just exploring. I think it's sad, personally and stinks a little of desperation, but either way it seems to say that the argument for making it a platform for education isn't part of SL's agenda. ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
Message from kenny.hubble@gmail.com

Steven & Co.

I always appreciate being referenced in these discussions.

Just for clarity Steve, our initial findings with blended experience in the classroom (published in JVWR v.2, 1) were confirmed by Canada Border Services Agency in a distributed pre-training setting. Those results, including our secondary metrics, are published here: http://www.igi-global.com/chapter/virtual-environments-corporate-education/42233 - quoting a joint poster session between CBSA and Loyalist presented at the NDU FCVW conference 2009. I am happy to send a copy of that poster to anyone who is interested, just email me kenhudson@infinitespaces.ca

That said, it is my understanding that other metrics of success do exist, however, again this is anecdotal, they are corporate results protected by NDA.

kh

Ken Hudson
Managing Director
Virtual World Design Centre, Loyalist College
Belleville, ON
CANADA

Yikes two replies in one day. I just have to say that I never thought, and I'm sure Linden Labs never envisioned Second Life as an education platform. Instead I have always viewed it simply as a platform. Some of us in education are able to leverage that platform for the benefit of our students. I think that is the same way some of were able to leverage the platform of the World Wide Web, or Twitter, or Facebook, etc. for educational purposes. Now contrast those platforms with purposeful built platforms like Blackboard/WebCourses and I'll choose the non-education platforms every time. _________________________ Dr. Steven Hornik University of Central Florida Dixon School of Accounting 407-823-5739 http://about.me/shornik Second Life: Robins Hermano Twitter: shornik http://mydebitcredit.com yahoo ID: shornik ________________________________________
Thank you, Steven. I will, in fact, dutifully cite your study in my and Fran Wilde's next article. When Fran and I published our recent EDUCAUSE piece, I turned up two other studies. One of these, in an engineering course, showed that students did worse than a control group. The instructors accounted for this because of their own poor orientations for students, and the failure to link the VW experience to course outcomes. I'll forward a ref to your article to Hamlet and the abstract, too. He is not an academic but is, as a journalist, interested in seeing if any empirical studies have been done. Being a wooly-headed humanities type who is lousy with numbers, I do appreciate references from colleagues who have done the hard work to provide credible data for large sample-sizes of students. All the best, Joe

Craig Roberts at the Duke Institute for Brian Sciences has been testing how 2D and 3D environments affect learners' ability to absorb, retain, and explain concepts in class. Craig presented findings at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in November, and found that visual learners benefit from a 3D environment when compared to 2D drawings. It should not be a surprise that learning styles are important consideration when evaluating these tools. 

The 3D toolkit Craig used was constructed by the students in my Constructing Immersive Virtual Worlds course last fall semester using the OpenCobalt technology. While commercial virtual worlds have their unique charms, using a standalone virtual world tool (Open Cobalt) for this project allowed us to run the simulation on the students laptops without worrying about how long a game or virtual world hosting company will remain in business. Here are some links to Craig work and findings: 


Title: Evaluating student learning gains from illustration of course concepts in 2D and 3D online collaborative environments
Authors: *D. E. WILSON1, J. LOMBARDI2, M. MCCAHILL2, T. NEWPHER2, R. D. SCHWARTZ-BLOOM2, C. D. ROBERTS1; 1Duke Inst. for Brain Sci., 2Duke Univ., Durham, NC
Abstract: Explaining complex cellular phenomena in lecture format is a challenge for neuroscience educators. Students are also challenged to express their understanding of course concepts, and receive feedback, primarily through text-based assessments. In an undergraduate neuroscience course, we are evaluating how learning is affected when groups of students construct visual explanations of course concepts in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) online collaborative environments. Working in teams of four, students spend 45 minutes constructing a summary figure that visually communicates the principal findings of a given research article. Using either Google Documents Drawing (2D) or Open Cobalt (3D), members of each team simultaneously edit the same summary figure and are then given 5 minutes to use that figure to present the research findings to the rest of the class. Each of these presentations is immediately followed by an objective assessment of concept understanding and a subjective Student Assessment of Learning Gains survey (Seymour 2000). The objective assessment is a short answer question requiring higher-order application of course concepts. The subjective assessment asks students to report on their progress towards achieving both lower-order (knowledge, comprehension) and higher-order (analyzing, hypothesizing and designing experiments) learning objectives. Exercises are administered at the conclusion of the instructional week with each program being used for 3 consecutive exercises. At the outset of the study, students also completed an Index of Learning Styles survey (Felder and Soloman 1991) to assess learning preference along four dimensions (active / reflective; sensing / intuitive; visual / verbal; and global / sequential). All surveys are administered on a computer and coded to protect student identity. We expect the results of this study to provide quantification of how collaborative illustration of course concepts in both 2D and 3D formats affects students learning. Additionally, this study allows for analysis of how learning preference may interact with the format of instructional media. Additional study content and resources for classroom implementation are available at: http://dibs.duke.edu/education/innovation



On Dec 9, 2011, at 8:56 AM, Joe Essid wrote:

Thank you, Steven. I will, in fact, dutifully cite your study in my
and Fran Wilde's next article. When Fran and I published our recent
EDUCAUSE piece, I turned up two other studies. One of these, in an
engineering course, showed that students did worse than a control
group. The instructors accounted for this because of their own poor
orientations for students, and the failure to link the VW experience
to course outcomes.

I'll forward a ref to your article to Hamlet and the abstract, too.
He is not an academic but is, as a journalist, interested in seeing if
any empirical studies have been done.

Being a wooly-headed humanities type who is lousy with numbers, I do
appreciate references from colleagues who have done the hard work to
provide credible data for large sample-sizes of students.

All the best,

Joe

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