Steve Collis is "a French/English teacher, and 'Head of Innovation' at Northern Beaches Christian School and its innovation arm, the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning" in Sydney, Australia. He recently visited my good friend and colleague Peggy Sheehy at her school in Ramapo, New York, to examine how she has become the nation's premier "virtual pioneer" in using VE to facilitate teaching and learning for her young students. He reported out a week ago at his blog, "HappySteve" (a great name for a blog!, subtitled "Teachers, Technology, Learning"), and I want to urgently suggest (is that subtle enough) that you go visit the particular blogpost (permalink) to view his video documentation. Bookmark it, share it, shout it to the world(s).
Steve, who doesn't know it yet but soon will be roped into my own Professional Learning Network, says of his travels,
"If there is one thing that has stood out to me from her observations on the educational value of a 3D virtual world, it's the notion of a "Psychosocial Moratorium" - a term coined by Erik Erikson. The idea is that the social space of a 3D virtual online world is particularly 'safe', and therefore particularly beneficial for nurturing the confidence of adolescents trying to figure out who they are, what they are good at, what they stand for and what they are are known for. As someone who has spent countless hours in the safety of online environments, I know exactly what she means. As of November 2008 I am seeking to set up Teen Second Life for my school, and can't wait to see how the students respond. Peggy has many anecdotes of students who have 'found themselves' through what is essentially a scaffold to constructing social identity (my wording there)."When I first met Peggy, at NECC2007 in Atlanta, Georgia (if memory serves me correctly), I was struck by the same sort of impression. This is a passionately visionary educator, a librarian by training, who has struck out virtually (sorry) on her own and gathered legions of followers to create a productive, successful model of how teaching and learning can differ--now, in the early 21st century--from the stale, tried-but-no-longer-true, instructor-centered pedagogies of our great-great grandparents' schools.
Go visit "Happy Steve" and see what I mean. Literally!
To warm you up, here's an embed of the first in the series of no less than 7 short videos: