Friday, June 20, 2008

project proposals

Being on the edge of something new is exciting...and a little daunting. I've filled out two project proposals in the past week, and each group wants different information. Although the process is time-consuming, filling out this paperwork is good for me in that it forces me to approach this project from different perspectives, giving me a deeper understanding of what I want to accomplish. The proposal for our local BOCES asked me to apply the idea of education in virtual worlds to the NYS Learning Standards...and when I did, I was amazed to discover this proposal covers almost every single one. The few it doesn't, can easily be picked up by future classes as more subject areas begin to develop in-world projects.

I've created the avatar I will be moving over to the Teen Grid and am in the process of loading him up with all sorts of goodies. Yes, I said him. I'm curious as to how the students will react to a male teacher vs a female one. Most of my students at this point are boys. A little sociology experiment of my own.

Anyway, I visted the ISTE island the other night and met a wonderful docent who gave me lots of clothing to pass out to the kids when they get onto our island(s). She also made a good point about the teacher needing to have things to hand the girls as well as the boys, so my inventory is now overflowing with clothes for both genders. I need to make some time to go through it all and toss the junk and organize the rest into folders that make sense to me. I've also rented a small apartment so I have a spot to change my clothes in (was changing behind a tree...probably not a good example to set!) and to rez the boxes I need to open. I also will make boxes of things to hand to the students (or to let them fact, that might be more fun. A scavanger hunt to find outfits? hmmm...I sense a lesson plan coming on...). It's costing me about $1.50 US a week right now to give Thespis a place to call "home".

Off to find the moodle where I will also post my virtual educational journeys...happy explorations!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I am lucky enough to teach in a district that has a very forward-thinking gentleman in charge of our IT department. He's often pushing us as educators to not accept the status keep abreast of the newest technological innovations. The kids are fast outpacing their teachers in this field and he knows it.

I call myself one of his thorns...because I'm always pushing just a little bit further than most. While I can't embrace all the new technologies (who has the time?), I certainly like to find the edges of the box...then color outside the lines. To that end, I've proposed a course entitled "Virtual Worlds" that will be taught starting in September 2008 in which the students (and I) will not only hold thoughtful discussions on the future of these worlds, but (eventually) enter the Teen Grid of Second Life and start realtime explorations into the very real educational possibilites of this virtual world.

I'm no stranger to SL. I've had an avatar on the adult grid since October 2006, so am quite familiar with the incredibly steep learning curve. But as I've told everyone, it might be steep, but is well worth the climb. Someone once said, "if you're going to be on the leading edge, you should expect a few scrapes, cuts and bruises." Lags, crashes and downtimes are all taken in stride.

So I've taken the first steps toward making this course a reality. First up...creating an avatar that can move from SL proper to the Teen Grid: Thespis Thespian. Saw the surname and couldn't resist the first. Who better than the very first recorded actor? And in that vein, I made my avi a male rather than a female (in RL I am a woman). I've several reasons for that, but that's a blog post in and of itself. I've been traveling around and picking up freebies that I know I'll want on hand when I transfer over, although that means scouring through the offerings and dumping anything not PG in nature.

Second step...the background check. Since I know this process can take several months, I registered at Ascertain today in hopes that I can actually get moved over by early to mid-October. We'll be using islands created by our local BOCES district for our forays at this point.

I've also done a bunch of research ("bunch"...I think that's the official term for the number of hours I've spent reading blogs and research reports) and downloaded a ton of data ("ton"...another of those official terms) to support both my reasons for taking the kids in-world and for the discussions the kids and I need to have prior to their entering the Teen Grid. Soon I'll start on actual lesson plans, although there's so much exploration I want THEM to do, I hesitate to structure the classes too much.

So perhaps it is good we can't get in-world right away in September. Gives us time to talk, to plan, to research, to think. Then maybe when they get to the point of developing their own avatars, they will be happy with who they are.

See you in-world (in the fall)!
C. Duprey (Thespis Thespian)