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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Exploring Second Life for Teaching & Training

I am taking my last official class, an elective, (Encouraging Communication in Online Courses) before my practicum this semester towards my Master of Online Teaching certificate. I thought I would share my findings on a technology I explored as a follow-up to the series I posted throughout the summer.

After watching:

My instructor asked if I thought Second Life could be an "Exciting & Dynamic Opportunity to enhance communication"-Perhaps. I am still exploring in my mind how I could use it in my HR, OB, & OD classes. I spent the evening last Friday exploring Second Life with my 10 year old son. Since I was a first timer, I thought his experience might be helpful to me as I attempted to learn how to get around and such. He has played in many similar venues over the last few years such as Wizard 101, Lord of the Rings Online, Animal Crossing, and Roblox, etc. I did not pay the extra money to get the advanced version which apparently is where you can create your own Second Life surroundings and I assume class environment situations. I also did some searches to see how it was being used teach similar topics to what I teach (management related). The closest thing I found was on team building:
Another questions I was asked: How might this tool engage learners and enrich communication in online classes? I think it would be an obvious way to teach the Gen Y generation since apparently that is how they are learning now (especially the younger of that generation as they move into college). If you think of the types of learners: Visual, Kinestetic, and Auditory. Second Life engages all three which most likely has the potential to improve retention long term.

Here are some examples of teaching and learning in Second Life that I found in my research:

UIS Professor using Second Life

Big Business Mentioned As Using Second Life

Training Simulations in Second Life

Finally, I was asked: What potential (and challenges) do you see to using this technology?
From a management perspective, I was thinking I could set up some scenarios with an employee situation. Then have three other optional selections of how a manager could chose to react to the employees situation. Of course there would be a better choice. As far as theory application, the choices could be presented so that students would have to identify which type of manager they chose. For example: Employee has a problem meeting production goals. Management reactions could be presented as theory X, theory Y, and other modern management practices, etc. The biggest challenge is learning the technology and evaluating its effectiveness once it has been implemented. I would definitely love to hear from anyone using Second Life in their management development classes to expand on this idea.