Tuesday, 31 March 2009

More thoughts on running e-safety courses in Second Life

It has been the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conference over this last weekend so I have had many opportunities to listen to inspiring talks about what and how educators use Second Life for teaching. I have also been following a thread on SLED about whether old world tools (PowerPoint) are worth using or not – all very interesting and far too demanding of far too little time J

We took a booth in the VWBPE to advertise the e-safety course and chatted to lots of people about the need for training. This is an area of interest that is growing.

Re the Powerpoint discussion in the SLED list – I recently ran a course in Second Life and used a presentation as a prompt for myself – something to hang my planned timetable onto, plot all of the video clips into, telling anyone interested in watching the slides when group discussions are taking place – it works for me - so apparently what I do is not worth doing in SL? Okay – one person’s view, but the consensus of my student’s thoughts is that my e-safety work is good and useful. As time goes on I may be able to improve it and not use PowerPoint but for me it was a start and useful prop.

The internet and social networking sites have the potential to make hugely valuable additions to the lives of today’s young people, providing vast quantities of useful information and an amazing number of opportunities for virtual social interactions. We need to empower parents and young people with resources and understanding that help put them in control of their digital experiences so that they are safe and can benefit from the experiences. We, as educators need to prepare young people to deal with any undesirable side effects from their digital encounters and for that reason education of both young people and their parents and carers is essential.

Running e-safety courses in SL may be unimaginative use of Second Life, but it enables lots of people to take part in a course, in their own time, at home with children around, playing or in bed, no baby sitters needed, no petrol, no travel costs etc.. It brings people from a wide geographical area together with no thought or worry about time wasted travelling, the four one and a half hour sessions are all either social, getting to know each other sharing thoughts, ideas views etc. or learning!

The delegates from the last course are all now interested in learning more about Second Life, many have returned to the monthly meets ups since. I really think that if I had required more from delegates, made the course all singing and dancing and expected avatars to be able to take part in them I may have frightened many of them off in the first week.

I have confidence that what I am offering is useful and reasonably successful when presented in Second Life, I guess time will tell!

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