Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Coffee with Gavin Dudeney

Sunday evening saw the start of a new series of seminar type events on EduNation - A Coffee With...

The first of these was host Nik Peachy interviewing Gavin Dudeney about language teaching in Second Life. 

As I arrived the two men were just getting set up, the audience quickly gathered with a few people who had arrived early coming back. The change of clocks around parts of the globe had confused timings.

Nik introduced Gavin who talked briefly about his work. He was to be talking about language learning / teaching in Second Life. 

Nik asked about how successful langauge learning is in SL and Gavin said that he felt there were problems with trying to learning the basics of a language in Second Life but benefits of actually practising the language once the basics are acquired. He talked anecdotally of his own experiences. After my attempts to learn Spanish I am inclined to agree. I am pretty well convinced that I need to find a real life Spanish class, I can’t converse with anyone in Second Life in Spanish without rapidly resorting to using Babel Fish or an in-world translator to translate for me. That somewhat defeats the object but enables a meaningful conversation. After about nine months of attempting – sort of – to learn Spanish I still have no clue :-)

Nik asked about the use of Moodle, and was it still important with teaching in Second Life. Gavin responded that it is important as a tool to be used alongside Second Life, it facilitates much of the learning process. It is quite possible for people from a variety of places to work together in real time and in-world but each of these sessions ideally should leads to work that can be done either individually or in small groups as follow up, Moodle can help in that process, it can be a store for digital resources and enables a discussion forum so that course participants can communicate with each other asynchronously. 

One of Gavin’s main concerns about language teaching in Second Life is the less than adequate text facility. Voice is well established and is very stable but text facilities still leaves a lot to be desired with note cards being the only really safe means of exchanging written information. To try to overcome this problem he has been developing a whole range of word games which people can use. They are all freely available from Dudeney’s shop on EduNation 11

It was well attended and a very pleasant event, the atmosphere lovely although quiet. The audience is still a little shy. There was text chat asking Gavin various questions but none of the audience spoke.

It was entertaining to listen to and watch - especially to watch Gavin throw his coffee over his shoulder with amazing regularity   :-)

Addendum 1st November - a video clip from the event filmed and poduced by interviewer Nik Peachy http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2008/10/filming-in-second-life-1.html

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