CIT is coordinating with the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Engineering, Science and the School of Computing to redesign and reconfigure about 35 seminars rooms into active learning seminar rooms to support NUS’ technology-enhanced learning strategy.
Think Second Life and images of fantastical avatars or electronic shopping malls leap to mind. David Phang, from the School of Computing, offers another facet of the 3D multi-user online world – that of a virtual classroom.
NUS has had an official presence in Second Life for over a year. NUS is by no means the first tertiary institution to venture there. Neither will it be the last. Part of the attraction is the ability to gather students in one place, regardless of their physical location.
David shares that several tutorial classes for IT1001 Introduction to Computing were held in Second Life during the past semester.
“We thought it would be a good idea because this course is about introducing students to current concepts of computing and also emerging concepts and applications,” David explains, “we wanted to let students experience how it was like to have class discussions in the Second Life setting. Quite a number of universities do this and organizations like IBM hold meetings in Second Life.”
As an introductory course open to students from different schools and faculties, the Second Life tutorials also enabled the students to attend the class without having to traverse the campus. It also helped cross-faculty students to find a common time and place to meet for projects and discussions without having to factor in travel time.
During the designated sessions, students log in to Second Life at the time they would normally attend their real-world tutorial for the week. During the tutorial, David would facilitate the discussion of the tutorial questions via in-world text chat.
Here, things take a slight departure from the norm. Instead of taking turns to speak, David allows more than one discussion to take place at the same time. He explains, “We want to tap on the capability of this kind of virtual world by allowing conversations to flow, even if it is multiple parties talking at the same time, so that students don’t lose their train of thought. I moderate the discussions by asking students to slow down or to focus attention on certain threads of discussion.”
What, then, is the advantage of Second Life over text chat or instant messaging since the classes make use of text feature in Second Life?
David concedes that students tend to be more expressive over both text chat and Second Life. However, he feels students tend to be more careful and thorough in answering questions through text in Second Life.
He surmises two opposing things are going on. One is that the virtual, avatar-based environment provides a non-threatening space for students to speak up. The other is the familiarity of a classroom – the virtual space where the class is conducted represents a physical one – makes them feel that they should be contributing in a constructive and comprehensive manner.
At the end of the tutorials, the text-chats are saved and distributed among the students of that class.
The Second Life tutorials look set to stay, as long as NUS maintains its presence in that virtual environment.
I'm in LT 15 attending Elizabeth Koh's introduction to wikis (and Wiki.nus) for the CS1105 wiki project. Going to live-blog the lecture. Here goes!
- Wikis in Plain English video
(no one's in the LT has watched it before!)
- New way of collaboration - co-authorship
- Editable website enabling many users to co-create a website
- the famous one: Wikipedia
- University of Leeds examples (get the links)
- facilitate process and form the outcome
- info overload
- plagiarism if citations not given
- the fear of editing
- wikis tend not to be too aesthetically pleasing
- Logging in
- Updates shown on the right
- Spaces - a wiki, in Confluence context
- Global vs Personal Spaces
Touched base with Anand Ramchand and Elizabeth Koh from the School of Computing this afternoon to discuss their plans for the CS1105 Computing and Society wiki.
On Wednesday, Elizabeth will talk to the students and lay out the parameters for a wiki-based assignment. Students will form groups and collaborate using the wiki.
One of the things that came out of our discussion was that the students should be using the wiki not just to dump their final submissions there. Elizabeth will stress that they will be looking out for collaborative input, particularly in the form of comments. This can only happen if the students put up early versions of their work in the wiki.
So, while the end product should be relatively polished, the comments will show how they students arrived at their submission.
In a way, it is similar to that saying about the journey, not the destination, being important.
Not to say that the destination isn't important in this case... the final submission will account for the majority of the students marks!
On a related note, I want to highlight a blog post by Dr Eric Thompson, an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology. He has been using a Wetpaint wiki for SC2218 Anthropology and the Human Condition. He discusses the issue of grading collaborative projects and how he grades the wiki-based assignment.
Must remember to check if the Most Active Contributors in Confluence takes into account the amount of edits made, rather than just the number of edits (however minor).