Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Assessing the Student Experience in Second Life

Wednesday, October 29 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.
Teaching and Learning: Assessing the Student Experience in Second Life
Room W230AB

* Tanya Joosten, Lecturer and Educational Technology Consultant,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
* AJ Kelton, Director, Emerging Instructional Tech, College of Humanities
& Social Sciences, Montclair State University
* Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Director of Academic Technologies, University of
Colorado at Boulder
* Wendy Shapiro, Senior Academic Technology Officer, Case Western Reserve

For several years, educational innovators have experimented with using
virtual worlds such as Second Life to enhance student learning. Though
many of these implementations seem successful, few have incorporated
structured assessment. This panel brings together practitioners from four
institutions that have conducted such assessments to discuss their
results. This session will be simulcast in Second Life.


I was surprised at how many sessions were here in Second Life. I am really interested in assessment in SL. We need to do this at Tacoma Community College. We use it mostly for a social learning space and as a simulator.

They played a film that introduced SL to those who are not familiar with SL.

Evaluating virtual worlds using social media theory with seven variables. Survey challenges - only two classes returned surveys. High degree of neutral responses. Failure to build online learning community. They did not have enough time to build the assignments (?). 50% thought is was a rich media experience. I will need to look at the numbers to really see how meaning full the statistics were.

Cleveland has 8 islands. Partnering with the city - museums, libraries and clinics. Classes, office hours and building. They discussed a digital storytelling course. They had a culminating experience in Second Life to show their work and discuss it with others. Gathering data on how many people show up and class reflections. They hire actors to be patients in clinical classes and they decided to do that in Second Life.
66 dental students involved in a study - a comparison of real life patients and virtual patients. They gave a lot of qualifications to their assessment!

CU Boulder: discussion of use of island. No real unity of their work. They are evaluating one course. Problems: cost, updating the program in the lab. It is best to have the person who is using SL "passionately" to do the assessment. Did not get access to the island until 2/3rds into the semester. They asked 5 questions and got three students to respond. There was a disconnect between the subject being taught and SL. They started to ask other students in other classes. The "assessment" is informal and includes emails to lab personnel.

The problems that they encountered - lack of structure and no connection to teaching and materials is a problem not only in SL but in face-to-face classes.

Faculty at another institution said that "they never set up a formal assessment process." His evaluations are based on two classes he taught. They had an undeveloped and a faculty developed island. They divided up part of the island to 22 parcels for faculty. Again, it is "informal assessment." Problems: overcoming technical issues. They are teaching science fiction in SL, two English writing classes, cyber law, and ed dept is using it for media in the classroom and meetings. Next year they will have better assessment. Hired 6 students to work 8 hours a week in Second Life. He says that it is easy to use as long as you have a good orientation. They need to be properly acclimated. When the tool is used just because it is cool it is not relevant. There has to be a reason you are using this particular tool rather than anything else. He used it as a virtual classroom - replacing the classroom experience. Students did not care for that. He asks "why assess one tool differently than any other tool?" Answer: this costs money, we should evaluate all the tools we use. Why not assess it when we evaluate other learning platforms.

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