Day 1: Relive 08

Keynote 1: Edward Castranova
Looking Economics in SL – and volume of money involved.

Our workshop
Seemed to go well; was well worth the time spent setting up all those training accounts.

Learning to Walk before you Know your name: Ian Truelove & Graham Hibbert
Using OpenSim to let students learn to work within environment – and then start on to the main grid. Also got them to think quite a bit about names – and what your new name might mean in other languages.

Get Real – This isn’t Real this is SecondLife: Margaret de Jong Derrington
Holodecks for language learning! great – can really practice the relevant vocab!.

Fearing your Avatar: Kathy Trinder
Discussing interviews with staff and their experiences of getting an avatar. In particular – one aspect that came out – the difficulties of “lurking” in SecondLife – in the way that you can in forums.

Workshop – Learning together and Learning alone in SecondLife:
Absolutely fascinating set of resources for research skills – though trying to use a shared lift in SL is interesting….

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ALTC2008: Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling got the conference off to a fabulous start with a Keynote. He started from the premise that the hardest time to teach someone is when they think they know. The particular example he used was getting a group of students to select which of a pair of countries had the worst child mortality rates. Of the five pairs, students got, on average, 1.8 correct … i.e. worse than Chimps guessing, as he pointed out. Even Professors only scored 2.4. He didn’t seem to be too impressed with PBL – commenting that students don’t always end up knowing facts.

This, combined with the fact that numbers are remarkably hard to interpret lead him to develop (with his son & daughter in law) the wonderful Gapminder visualisation software, that I’ve mentioned several times before. He demonstrated (with the aid of a ladder & long stick)

some of the misconceptions (in this particular case the idea that “Western World = small family, long life & Developing World = large family, short life). Watching the change from 1951 to today dispelled that theory.
It was both entertaining & educational – a great opening!
(The keynotes are being recorded – so should be available)

Microblogging: F-ALT

Blogging from the F-ALT session – looking at Microblogging

Josie has just explained how F-ALT was born, following a number of twitter conversations with Scott.

Andy’s now talking about Twitter users; about 430 delegates have signed up to Crowdvine, but he thinks that only about 40 or so are active Twitterers.

Helen’s just discussing her use of Twitter & the fact it’s mostly for work related stuff, that she drops people who have too many trivial posts.

James Clay has just confessed to sending his 2000th tweet this evening; however, he thinks it’s going to die soon; (last year it was facebook, this year no-one has mentioned it!), how long will Twitter be here for. will be the next big thing – Twitter is dead. Long live Microblogging.

Scott: It’s the wrong name, it’s not micro & it’s not blogging. It’s presence. That’s what’s important.

Frances: Twitter as a community – not sure that it’s a community, but an illusion of a community – but you only see what you see – who you follow & who’s following you aren’t the same set of people.

Suzi: Twitter as a technology & twitter as a community – will it be the same in 12 months time.

Graham: Follows people all over the world; esp. US lawyers; and also for sending tinyURLs … most useful.

Grainne: real mix of fun & serious; useful for sharing blog feeds.

James: Has put feeds into Jaiku; and then put Jaiku into VLE – which has enabled other staff to see useful posts.

James: Someone used it to take notes from morning session –

Last query – I came for a session about “Twister” – why wasn’t it???

Massively Multilearner 08

Conference Website
A useful day. This was the second of the MML events I’d attended.
Anna Peachey gave an update on the Schome project (which includes more than just SecondLife!) Some useful points – e.g. “Governance” both as learning & real (to work out prim counts, AUP etc). Much of final build (funding now finished) was student built; though initial build was by staff.
Problem based learning: Islands in the Sun?
Maggi Savin – Baden: Education currently very outcomes driven; students see staff as Knowledge patrollers; etc. Therefore looking at PBL (of which there are many different approaches) within SL. Aiming to organise round the scenario, situations with no “right answer”, students have to initially determine what they need to know. The learning, rather than the teaching is central. Currrently are looking at how this can be implemented in SL. In particular they’re looking at PBL for paramedics, Health & Social care.
They are currently working on the scenarios (rather that particular aspects of SecondLife) Some Information driven multiple screens – where the info changes depending on the choices made by the student(s). SOme are avatar driven events – using bots to interact with students.
Before, Beyond & Somewhere to the left of SL
Daniel Livingstone. Over view of History of virtual worlds & current alternatives. At present, all are changing – and also few are interoperable.
Blended Learning with 3D Virtual Environments.
Simon Bignell (Derby: Psychology) Started with SL for games (so students had top of the range PC etc) , now extending to generic issues (e.g. Essay writing – optional).  Looked at various aspects e.g. appearance / marketing/ pedagogy (e.g. US universities tend to replicate campus, UK unis tend to look at activities)

Findings: Innovation can be difficult. Many students don’t like SL. It’s important to relinquish control. Found that “traditional” (i.e. sit & listen to me) teaching doesn’t work in SL. (Not that anyone was particularly surprised!). Often the most useful spaces were empty “mega-prims” [remember a wall if it’s up in the sky, though!] – with tools e.g. Eloise’s spidergram. Things resembling classrooms not popular with staff or students.

Machinima Workshop.


ng Fraps for screen capture (free version lets you capture up to 30 secs) Make sure frame rate (shown in fraps) is reasonable (can drop when connection to server poor). Use Pinnacle (v. 9 perfectly good enough [c£3 on ebay]) for editing; or any other decent editor you have access to. (Not Windows Media Movie Maker!)

Can be used with students to work out good camera angles etc., as well as staff to create demos.


Various issues arose, in particular, how to manage student expectations – e.g. if they’re gaming students, feel that SL a bit poor; need to stress its role as collaboration tool & not game. Also – how to encourage students to use SL (or whether we should…)

Alt-C Thursday am.

One of the best sessions so far this morning…

It started out with “Students aren’t prepared for Web 2 technology, are they?” – which highlighted that students were having difficulties using wikis etc., not really because of the technology (though they weren’t as familiar as one might have expected), but due to the fact that they weren’t used to group working.

Next was Alan Cann, discussing his Biology students and their ability at statistics (which included many “plankton” as well as a few “Penguins” when it comes to learning stats) We got to see “socky” – his sidekick for videos teaching basics of stats; and, interestingly far more students wanted to download the files, rather than using the RSS feeds. He’d felt that was the need for students to separate personal/entertainment [on ipods etc] and work – on the University PC.

Finally, Iain Wallace looked at the SpokenWord project, which is an archive – mostly of BBC recordings (audio/video) – and a way of searching it for educational purposes. Like Alan, he’d also noted that students just don’t seem to like RSS feeds for educational materials; they’d rather have the option to find the feeds when they want to work.

An excellent final session.

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