Wednesday, June 04, 2008

10 reasons not to use Second Life in learning

Nice list from Clark Aldrich on why Second Life is not all it's cracked up to be in learning:

  1. Support for a good scripted story.
  2. Support for After action reviews (AARs)
  3. Heads up display (HUD) to support specific , as opposed to navigation.
  4. Interfaces that map to real world actions (see directing people in an educational sim: a case study in balancing "open-ended" with helpful )
  5. Dynamic AI Characters, with which participants can repeatedly try new behavior to see how they react, and any form of interesting computer controlled, scriptable units for a player to influence.
  6. The modeling of functional Work Processes
  7. Levels, tasks, and milestones.
  8. Dynamic systems, with interacting primary variables and secondary variables tied to Actions.
  9. Supporting mentor/supervisor/guides.
  10. Any direct support of Big Skills or Middle Skill (in a way that is richer than real life).
This is heading in the right direction. Closed learning games and tools (such as Caspian Learning) are far better bets in this area.


Dusan Writer said...

Donald - wonderful post and you've identified gaps in Second Life as a platform. In fact, most of the things you've identified ARE supportable. We've developed a system that includes most of the things you've identified, or at least links to the things you talk about, including scripting of stories, learning goal HUD development, scriptable units, levels, and tasks and milestones. We're currently running beta tests on the system now and it works wonderfully - with the addition of the Mono code compiling system it is also lightning fast. Some of the items you talk about are supportable but are more within the realm of instructional design and teaching. And finally, the system can be linked across to an LMS and we intend to support Moodle integration.

While this sounds like promoting our work, I bring it up because it's not that these things can't be done in Second Life, it's that they haven't BEEN done. I'm looking forward to working with schools to fine-tune our system over the coming months and hope you won't write Second Life off entirely.

(By the way, our system is also cross-modality "ready" meaning you can have courseware that runs in SL but also includes, say, a Facebook widget component or integration into other courseware on other platforms).

Damien DeBarra said...

Hmm. I've long been sceptical about Second Life in general (there's been strong suggestions that they wildly exaggerate their user numbers) - about it's educational applications in particular. That said, my MsC. in e-learning offers an option of having 'tutorial' chats within the SL environment. Whilst SL generally drives me nuts (it hangs, it's glitchy and looks about ten years out of date - and don't get me started about trying to get it moving on a Mac) it is very good for synchronous chats - if only because when you have a group of avatars gathered together you can actually *see* who is typing (the hands move). This is handy for stopping multiple threads collapsing on top of each other - something which has always been a problem in an MSN or skype chat window.