Sunday, October 8, 2006

Real learning in a virtual world

The Christian Science Monitor has
an article discussing virtual classrooms in SecondLife.

60 schools and universities have set up shop
inside Second Life - most in the past year. They join a population that
includes real-world business people, politicians, entertainers, and
more than 800,000 other "residents" of the virtual world.

It is an interesting idea, and I am wondering if I am seeing all of
these uses for SecondLife because I have been looking at/thinking about
the Sun Press Conference or if there has suddenly been an explosion of
articles and posts about SecondLife.

learning in a virtual world |

For the past two years, I had been taking classes to complete my a
Bachelors of Science in Information Technology. I have finished all of
my upper division classes but have about a traditional semester worth
of lower division classes that I never completed the first time through
in traditional schooling.

At the moment I am not taking any classes and the dividing point
between the attendance and not was the continuing classes being located
at a different campus, that and the cost at href="">UOP was
significantly higher than say NOVA,
Classes started at 6 and ran until 10, that wasn't a problem.

The problem was the href=",+Ashburn,+VA+20147&daddr=11710+Plaza+America+Dr,+Reston+va&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1">commute,
the campus at Plaza America (Reston, near Oracle), was a 30-60 minute
drive. The href=",+Ashburn,+VA+20147&daddr=9667+Lee+Hwy,+Fairfax,+VA+22031+%28Inova+Fair+Oaks+Hospital:+Thrift+Shop%29+%4038.864221,-77.278170&ie=UTF8&sll=38.983975,-77.42262&sspn=0.487838,1.251068&z=11&om=1">commute
from the office to the Gallows Rd campus (495 and 50 near Fairfax
Hospital)  is probably a 90 to 120 minute drive (This is all
in traffic to get there the return commute is probably 20-30 and 45-50
minutes). It goes almost without saying that the NVCC href=",+Sterling,+VA+20164+%28Northern+Virginia+Community+College:+Information+for+Loudoun+Campus%29+%4039.014590,-77.371315&saddr=20098+Ashbrook+Pl,+Ashburn,+VA+20147&f=li&hl=en&dq=nvcc&cid=39085828,-77478526,17427075337703451187&ie=UTF8&z=13&om=1">commute
is better, either to the Loudoun campus or to Reston (nearly identical
to my previous UOP commute).

Having said all of that it would have been interesting to see if a
virtual learning solution based on SecondLife or a similar venue would
have been useful. The commute is certainly shorter, but I have to
wonder if the level of attention that would have been focused on the
learning would have been the same given that it would be easier for
coworkers and such to interrupt by casually walking into the room.

It seems that only time will tell, but a good first taste of an
organized information centric event will be on href="">Tuesday
at the Sun SecondLife Press Conference.

Now I should go and sign up for classes as the next round starts on Oct
18. Should I be ashamed that I am looking at on the ground classes
working for a technical company?

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