My presentation at My So-called 2nd Life was about new possibilities in the market for 3D e-learning platforms. I focused on what Second Life (or analogous platforms) could become, and why there are some interesting opportunities in the education market right now.
We can summarize the history of internet-based e-learning as a progression from asynchronous communication to synchronous: Initially, teachers adopted the older models of correspondence courses and distance-learning by putting course content online: First, virtual course books and handouts (static HTML), then virtual classrooms (e.g., WebCT, Blackboard), and now “blended learning” in a distributed learning space encompassing both classrooms, tutorials and online interaction (face-to-face, online support materials, email access to tutor, discussion boards, class blogs, etc.).
In practice, teaching is about 3 key elements: Content, supporting materials, and most importantly dialogue. Conversation, as we know, is inherently unpredictable and off-topic. The strength of the conventional seminar, from Plato onwards, is that it allows for digression. Learning is not the linear acquisition of content. It’s the activity of leading the student around an area of interest, knowledge or skill so they can explore it and acquire it themselves. True pedagogy, in that sense, can’t bee too much “on the nose” – it has to incorporate a sense of potentiality, of the unexpected and unrehearsed. (more…)