Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Internet2 in New Orleans

It went great. I was particularly impressed with every single one of my co-presenters. You have to look and see the esteemed company I was with. I'm flattered, challenged, and humbled.

I went first, doing my best to honor the 5 minute (what happened to the 6-7 minutes we'd planned for?) but hearing that Oscar play off music in the final of my 6 minutes in the form of Ben Fineman sneaking up behind me at the podium. My slideshow is here for you (see below) and as you see I'd prepped mostly images to talk over; and though I sounded to myself somewhat deranged racing through what I'd prepped to say (I'm normally yr average drawling Southerner) the audience response was good and my panel colleagues were smiling and nodding their heads as I raged on about Second Life and its value for teaching and learning, MUVErs' nearly-ready-for-prime-time work with learning objects in Second Life, and my own upcoming work with 4th graders in Quest Atlantis.

Merrilea Mayo, Director of Future Learning Initiatives, packed her brief presentation with dramatic stats and graphs, beginning with the graph speaking to the difference between the impact potential of traditional learning institutions and practices to the impact potential of games and gaming. This is one that I hope she will share for broad distribution and I take the liberty of reproducing it from her presentation here:

Rob Rothfarb, from the Center for Learning and Teaching at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, took the podium next, and his talk centered around the work done by that group on Second Life's SciIsland, detailing in particular his group's work with the recent total eclipse of the sun, when around 150 avatars stayed for the full 5 hour experience, replicated verrrrry slowly, as in real life, in virtual space.

Margaret Corbitt, on staff at Cornell University, is another pioneer on several fronts, including the SciCentr Online Museum of Virtual Worlds. For her presentation she quickly downloaded her group's private Active-Worlds based browser on my laptop, and I'm glad to say I still have it! She mentioned the high security standards of the project during her talk and mentioned that if I wanted to continue using it I must send in a letter of request on my school's letterhead. I'm on that like a cheap suit. She showed some GREAT video of at-risk 6th graders gleefully immersed in here virtual environment, and supported Merrilea's research citations of children who were D students improving into the B range by means of their engagement in virtual environments.

Finally, friend Kathy Schrock led us, through the laptop talents of self-described "autodidactic techno artsy craftsy eclecticist" George Brett working the local Second Life interface, through an inworld powerpoint presentation detailing the history of her Nauset Public Schools teacher ProfDev work at Lighthouse Learning Island.

At the end of it all there were only a few moments for Q and A, and there were some good ones, centering around the differences in using VEs as stages for learning objects or using them as sociala networking platforms. Also there was a very nice little conversation about balance, coming from Tom (I didn't get your last name or your card) from the University of Michigan, who wonders, as many of us do, just how we can keep our lives in balance and still benefit from and participate in these brave new worlds. My response was that it's a work in progress, but we need to learn how to model the importance of balance for our students, "because there's not going to be any less information coming down the pike at them in the future."

Here's the slideshow from the few pics I've taken. I'm going to upload to Picasaweb as I go so be sure to check back.

All the presentations will be available at the Internet2 site soon. I'll post the link here when I get it. My own presentation is at Slideshare, or it should be. I left it rendering. Let me check...Ah, yesssss there it is:

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