It may sounds a bit outdated. However, I consider this interview a good way to see a technology based on practitioner’s perspective. Professor Mattar is a researcher of technology applied to education with a long experience about Multi-user Virtual Environment (MUVE). His thoughts shows a positive attitude toward technology and education balanced with a critical view about the topic.
- How do you define MUVE for learning purposes?
Digital natives live in to multi-users environments, so using MUVE’s for learning means connecting with them and occupying their habitats.
- What´s your experience with second life as user and teacher?
I started using Second Life in 2007 and immediately saw a strong potential for educational use. I took a graduate course at Boise University as a student in 2007 and offered 3 versions of an online course in Distance Education in 2007 and 2008. I took as a student several quick courses, collaborated as a teacher in several courses, and was member of the organization committe of the 2 versions of Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (2009 and 2010), besides using Second Life in other meetings.
- What’s context in which you use the second life for teaching?
- Why use second life as learning environment?
I gave a long answer to that question on:
- Which learning theories do you think underpin it use?
This is also answered in that post, as on My Theory of Learning (theories discussed there are very well supported by Second Life):
- In your view, which are the affordances, risks or limits to use SL?
Besides what was already said in the previous posts, Second Life offers a terrific combination of tools: text, voice, images, videos etc. A 3D virtual world engages users in a very different way than traditional virtual environments like Moodle, Blackboard etc. I really do not see problems on the use of the tool for education, not even lack of control, discussed by many authors. If you think of a constructivist learning theory, there is no need for more control than what is offered by Second Life. But, actually, more than Second Life, what really counts is a 3D online virtual world.
- How your students respond to this innovation?
All the students I taught in Second Life were really excited by the pedagogical potential of the tool, learned a lot during the courses and were intensely engaged in the learning process.
- Some experts consider SL not developed as a learning environment, this is one of reason to do not have assessment tools. So, How do you evaluate your students? Do you see specific assessment options in SL?
I have somehow answered that on one of the previous posts. If you take constructivism as your learning theory, you will assess your students through construction of objects, for example, and Second Life is perfect for that purpose, as it is for simulation and performance assessments. But if you want more traditional assessment tools, you can use tests in world, you can use essays delivered through notecards, you can work with portfolios etc. And, if you are not satisfied, you can use Sloodle (moodle + SL) to have more control over your students.
- Do you have suggestions for future teachers? What kind of internal or external elements do you think are crucial and determinant to warrant effectiveness?
There is a learning curve to learn how to use the tool, so first you should learn the basics: camera control, sound, basic building etc.
Second, you should take some of the free courses offered inworld, to check how people already teach in Second Life.
There is a lot of bibliography available on teaching in virtual worlds, so read and watch videos.
After that, go for it: test it with your students, offer free courses to learn how to teach in a 3D virtual world.
- How SL could be improved to make it more effective?
To be more effective in education, Second Life could include a forum option inworld and simplify video watching.
- How do you see the future of MUVE´s for learning purposes?
I see MUVE’s, together with games, augmented reality, and mobile learning as the key elements in the near future of education.