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Page history last edited by Vance 4 days, 21 hours ago

Second Life: Second Chance for Second Language Learning

 

A multimedia brainstorm prepared by Webhead Link

(a.k.a. Vance Stevens)

in preparation for producing a 1600-1800 word article for

The Linguist Magazine, was at http://www.iol.org.uk/linguistmagazine/default.asp

March 2008

The new website, https://www.ciol.org.uk/news/The-Linguist, does not archive articles older than 3 years, so the link below is the only extant archive available.

 

The article has been published and is available as:

Stevens, Vance. (2008). Class of the future: Language learners can now meet up with native speakers in their home country, without leaving their computers. Vance Stevens enters the virtual world of Second Life. The Linguist (June/July), pp. 18-20.

linguist18-21_2ndLife_lo-res.pdf 

 

I created a slide show based on this material for presentation at a distance at the Ohio TESOL conference, at Chris Hill's Technology Session presentation, November 1, 2008.  I'm having trouble embedding it as a plugin here, but here it is online:

http://www.slideshare.net/vances/language-learning-resources-in-second-life-presentation

 

 

More: http://del.icio.us/vancestevens/second_life

 


 

This just in from Dubai:

http://www.itp.net/news/517605-dubai-womens-college-opens-second-life-campus

On the topic of the above article, there were two outstanding presentations on this project at the May 2008 http://slanguages.net   One was by Chris Surridge, and I'm in touch with the presenter and will hopefully have more information here shortly.  The other was by Mark Karstad, and its slideshow as listed at  http://www.slanguages.net/archive.php

can be shared here: https://www.slideshare.net/slanguages/microsoft-power-point-conservative-societies-considerations-from-the-middle-east 

 

 

Excellent annotated bibliography and list of pedagogical resources on Second Life Education here: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~mpepper/slbib

 

There is an excellent, thoughtful article on teaching in SL concluding that "Second Life can be useful, that Second Life can be ambiguous, and that participants may have very different perspectives on a session."  For further explication of those aspects: 

Learning to Teach in Second Life by Diane Carr, April 2008, http://learningfromsocialworlds.wordpress.com/learning-to-teach-in-second-life/

 

 

May 10, 2008 - I joined David Winet and Dafne Gonzalez in Second Life in Christopher Hill's live presentation at a conference put on by the Linguistics Department at Ohio University. He introduced Second Life and talked about how SL can be / is being used in teaching. http://esl.osu.edu/staff/hill/resources/secondlife.html.  The presentation was in the form of a panel discussion. Chris asked in-world panelists to give perspectives on what works well and what challenges are faced there. Chris Hill planned "to spend the first 20-30 minutes introducing SL to the audience in RL on a large projection screen, lecture-style. I'm going to show a couple of YouTube videos and then have the audience watch me navigate my avatar through SL, including the SL version of the OhioU campus, which is hosting the conference . After they're up to speed, I'll meet you at the OhioStateU island, TELRport. Some SLURLs are locked down, so use this one: http://slurl.com/secondlife/TELRport/89/211/24 This is the main entrance area of the island. We'll use SL voice chat for you to communicate with my avatar, which the RL audience will also watch on the big projection screen. You'll each have about 15 minutes, so introduce yourself and what you've done in SL. Dafne has a PowerPoint presentation http://dafnegonzalez.pbwiki.com/SL-COULD08; Dave is thinking of including a tour of interesting sites. Vance based his presentation on this wiki, as can be seen above.

 

Introduction

 

I'm a digital immigrant with a lifelong interest in learning languages, but this has transpired in spite of my early schooling, not because of it. I completed most of my schooling in an era before personal computers. I learned foreign languages in an institutional context where there were few opportunities to meet native speakers, and the methodologies, relying heavily on grammar and translation, were rarely communicative or constructivist. This mentality impacted the start of my teaching career in the mid-seventies, before I discovered computer-assisted language learning. More recently, I have been studying Arabic with teachers from my generation whose techniques have hardly changed since those dark ages. There must be a better way, but enough about my First Life.

 

Reboot. Teleport! Where am I? (not in Kansas anymore!) Could this be Morocco? Egypt? Or a place that just looks like a Middle Eastern country, complete with souk and Islamic architecture? There are some people over there. Maybe I'll just go and have a word with them. Perhaps they speak Arabic.

 

 

 

Speak? As in 'talk to them in their native language'?

 

Quite possibly. Second Life is a MUVE or multi-user virtual environment where anyone can create an avatar for free and interact with other avatars in real time. Now that voice has come to 'the grid' you can speak to people via your computer mic as well as text chat with them. Text chat has long worked there in a number of languages (and in fact you can wear a HUD - or heads-up-display <http://secondlife.com/app/help/avatar/huds.php> called Babbler that enables you to type in one language, and it's translated to one of many languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, Japanese). But the greatest impact on language learning is that many languages are literally spoken 'in-world' as well, with the benefit of being able to text chat for clarification. Immersion in a foreign culture complete with authentic linguistic environment is now within reach of anyone with a sufficiently robust computer and Internet connection.

 

Back in the mid-seventies, teachers had to make do with mimeograph machines and limited resources in the local environment. When technology started to appear, this overcame some limitations but was itself constrained by interface issues, such as having to communicate through verb-noun combinations in text-based games of Zork. With Second Life, the technology is finally starting to catch up with the promise from 30 years ago. Even the limitations of the interface, having to touch and retrieve objects, organize inventories, and navigate in-world, become authentic language-learning opportunities as old-hands help newbies with what they genuinely want to know about interacting in the target language. This is where I would learn all my languages if I had again the opportunity.

 

Torley Linden has an excellent tutorial on setting up voice in Second Life ...

 

 

Education in Second Life

 

   

 

Many opportunities for learners exist there for free, but Second Life is in fact a booming playing field for business. Millions of dollars change hands in Second Life daily as entities wishing to establish themselves there purchase property, hire scripting services, create and sell artifacts (such as clothing, though much apparel is available for free – people tend to outdo each other in dressing up their avatars), and whatever people can think to exchange there as in a first-life market economy.

 

Source: http://lindenlab.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/userusertxn.png

 

But it is also a place for altruism, information dissemination, sharing, and networking. Many individuals and institutions involved in education have established presences there. The NMC (New Media Consortium, http://sl.nmc.org/) is one organization holding frequent seminars and other educational events. In a recent interview on Second Life Cable Network <http://slcn.tv/tonight-live-paisley-beebe-17feb08>. Jokay Wollongong (Jo Kay in real life) noted that there are over 150 educational institutions listing themselves as maintaining presences in the Simteach Second Life Education Wiki <http://www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Education_Wiki>. You can get a comprehensive appreciation of education in Second Life through iAlja Writer's 50-slide presentation (Sulčič , 2007) or from one of my recent articles (Stevens, 2007 and 2006).

 

https://www.slideshare.net/ialja/virtual-worlds-introduction-second-life-and-beyond

 

 

When asked about the difference between Second Life and other chat environments, Jokay emphasizes opportunities inherent there such as role-play and web conferencing environments. She says that SL engages students while providing them a place to hang out together and pursue informal learning. Jokay's own world in Second Life, Jokaydia, recently displayed placards echoing the guiding principles of the Educon 2.0 conference held both online and in Philadelphia in January 2008 <http://educon20.wikispaces.com/>.

 

[Also see Flickr tour of Jokadia: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teachandlearn/2416781789/

 and photos referencing in-world conference event at Jokaydia April 18-20, 2008 http://www.flickr.com/photos/teachandlearn/2419078867/

      and more about the Virtual Classroom Project: http://jokaydia.com/jokaydia-projects/virtual-classroom-project/ and http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2008/04/18/vcpreflection/]

 

 

The video is the work of Konrad March, who researches 8th grade student bloggers under his real name of Konrad Glogowski. Konrad has long espoused the idea of classrooms becoming third places, apart from first and second places, (i.e. home and work, from the work of Ray Oldenburg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Oldenburg). Third places (real life social and recreation areas, according to Oldenburg) are particularly conducive to informal learning in egalitarian environments where social constraints inherent in the first two spaces are relaxed. It is easy to see where Second Life could be a place where participants from all walks of life can 'hang out' and network, and prove themselves equally clumsy in navigating the virtual spaces, and also help each other to become adept to a mutually-functional level.

 

 

 

Free language resources

 

The egalitarian nature of Second Life is apparent when one attends conferences there. At a conference on language learning in Second Life you would likely meet many of the people mentioned in this article. There is one being held at Edunation May 23-24, 2008, <http://slanguages.net>. Registration is free.

 

https://www.slideshare.net/AvatarLanguages.com/slanguages-2008-conference-23-may-2008 

 

 

Edunation is an island established by Consultants-E and its energetic avatar Dudeney Ge (who, pictured in black on the slide show above, resembles a trimmed-down Gavin Dudeney in real life). To recoup the real rent paid to Linden Labs for the server space used to 'build' Edunation, Gavin sublets parcels on a break-even basis, and provides scripting work and teacher training in Second Life on the side. However, in the spirit of sharing typical among educators 'in-world', Gavin has freely provided space for Baldrick Commons to set up a hut in Edunation dedicated to Webheads, a "loosely joined" community which I coordinate (http://webheads.info -- honorably mentioned by Jokay in her interview on SLCN with Paisley Beebe). Baldrick is the pseudonym of Graham Stanley, who's best associated 'in-world' with his work on the Teen Grid, a space for young people to safely enjoy the educational benefits of Second Life without risking exposure to its more unseemly aspects. For more about Teen Grid, see Graham's recorded presentation at http://tesol-spain.wikispaces.com/.

 

https://www.slideshare.net/bcgstanley/learn-english-second-life-for-teens

 

 

Graham gave a rendition of this talk at the IATEFL Conference in Exeter in April 2008, recorded here: http://exeteronline.britishcouncil.org/mod/resource/view.php?id=147

 

Edunation is also home base to http://Study.Com, whose volunteer teachers provide free lessons in English, Chinese, and Spanish. Dave Winet started StudyCom ten years ago, long before his alter ego David Delling startedteaching in Second Life. Daveuses Edunation for short grammar lessons and then sends students out into the various regions of Second Life on challenging assignments like interviewing other Second Life residents and role-playing (e.g., exploring ancient Rome and Athens while pretending to be soldiers or philosophers -- in costume!). Dave says that SL provides "the feeling and learning opportunities of real 3D situations without the logistical problems and costs of sending the students out into the 'real' world. Add to that the beauty and wonder of many of the regions, and SL becomes an irresistible locus for ESL learning, in spite of the considerable technical hurdles that still exist," (e.g. fast Internet connection and a robust recent model computer with fast graphics).

 

Kip Yellowjacket is another character in Second Life, with a creative-commons philosophy. Though he appears as a fox with yellow fur from his bushy yellow tail to his oversized paws, on the Internet, no one knows you're a human, so Kip is safely insulated from his real identity as Kip Boahn, a language teacher living in Germany. Kip is founder of Second Life English <http://www.secondlifeenglish.com/news.php>, where team-teaching events and “collaborative exploration of language acquisition in a 3D environment” are encouraged. Like StudyCom, SLE aspires to put teachers and students in touch with one another rather than act as a school. Any compensation changing hands is strictly between teachers and students operating independently in the community. SLE's free services include ongoing workshops and seminars, an ESL/SL orientation walk, a self-study circuit, in-world quizzing tools, 'launch pad classrooms', and LMS-integrated tools <http://www.claroline.net/>. Teachers and 'buddies' wishing to participate in language exchange, or hire out their services, or simply help others learn a language for free, can place notices on a wall that other passing 'language enthusiasts' will clearly see.

 

 

On a tour of SLE, Kip entertains us with holodecks <http://insidethisworld.com/the-holodeck.html> which make us appear to be transformed suddenly to one different environment after another. The effect, inspired by episodes of Star Trek 30 years ago, is striking <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodeck>. We tour the "Launchrooms," rectangular quadrants used as private teaching spaces. As with Gavin's parcels on Edunation, it is not clear how Kip intends to keep this venture financially solvent, but Daffodil Fargis has requested and been granted a Launchroom for free. The Launchrooms are open air. Architects in Second Life are coming to realize that there is little point to placing doors, windows, and roofs in structures unless one wishes to in fact impede the movement of avatars for whom flying is normal means of locomotion. Kip shows us some scripts there. One displays a grammar exercise above our heads.

 

 

There's an article based on an interview with Kip Boehn in MSN Tech and Gadgets, Using 'Second Life' to Learn a Second Language by Bonnie Ruberg, http://tech.msn.com/products/article.aspx?cp-documentid=6662968

 

Emulating the real commercial world

 

Just as in real life, 'language enthusiasts' can choose to learn as best they can from resources abundant in the environment or try to streamline the process through paid tuition. Languagelab <http://www.languagelab.com> is the first serious language school to establish more than a mere 'presence' in Second Life (Erard, 2007). Its English courses have just launched commercially and Spanish is due to follow shortly.

 

If you want to visit Languagelab, or any other world for that matter, you type its name into a search box in Second Life, and then teleport to the 'drop in zone' where you will be greeted by someone like Jane Zhaoying, a Languagelab employee who says she is Dutch, and who can show you around but can't stay with you long since her duty is to greet others who happen by. She conducts us to a courtyard with round tables where people participate in team quiz events. She points out that the pictures in the adjacent gallery were all done by students and posted by staff as conversation starters for a nicely constructivist language activity. Jane says, “Some I find rather interesting.”

 

 

As I've mentioned that I'm here as a reporter for The Linguist (and also since I'm a Webhead, as is Paul Sweeney, Director of Education at Languagelab.com), Paul is summoned and soon appears to take us on a tour of “the City.”  You have to be either a paying customer, member of staff, or invited guest to access this restricted area.  After a short conversation with Paul we all log off and when I log back in again I see that I am still in the City and my temporary pass is still valid, so I wander around and stroll and fly into the amazing structures that have been created here as simulation spaces for language learning.  The airport is in the middle of town, surrounded by tall buildings, all of which can be explored.

 

There is no one at the airport to check my ticket or stop me at the security gate so I stroll through and board a plane.  Although the plane is not taking off, my avatar can fly so I cruise above the structures there and end up at the hotel.  I'm trying to work out how to slide down the water chutes at the pool when I receive notes from 'in world' that Millie Eames is open for business at the coffee shop and Lane Jarman, roving reporter, is somewhere in the streets nearby.  I take to the air again and land outside the coffee shop. Inside I find Lane there having coffee.  Millie and Lane are two engaging character actors who keep strictly to their roles as they talk to one another, being sure to include me in the conversation.

 

 

Things get interesting when Nicka Okelly appears.  She's a student from Spain who is in the first English course taught here.  When I ask what the courses are like she mentions conventional lessons and homework but she clearly appreciates having a the run of a safe environment where she can converse with passersby in the target language. Soon we are joined by another student on a quest for easter eggs (she asked if we had seen any). Jane needs to get back on the streets and 'look for stories' but as she leaves she gives me a landmark for her printing offices and says they have machines there to simulate how a real newspaper is set up and rolled off the presses.  What an interesting environment for language study, I think

 

One thing very interesting about Languagelab is its teacher training program. Paul says that teachers who respond to their advertisements do so primarily because of their teaching credentials and because they need to work from home. But often they have never heard of Second Life before their contact with Languagelab. This being the case, teachers accepted for the program are taught extensively to become familiar with the navigation and tools in SL so as to use these second-naturedly in augmenting the teaching skills they already have to bring about the pedagogical outcomes that both teachers and learners are there for. Languagelab have just matriculated their first batch of trained teachers, among them Daf Smirnov, or Dafne Gonzalez, an innovative teacher well known in real and virtual communities of educators in Real Life. Dafne, who is teaming with builders and other teachers to develop course materials for Languagelab for Spanish and teacher training, says the existing training covers personal skills, communications skills in Second Life, basics of building and scripting, familiarization with the tools, and uploading of sounds and textures.

 

 

 2400 words up to here!!

 

 

References

  

Erard, Michael. (2007, April 10). A Boon to Second Life Language Schools: New technology will allow high-quality audio in a virtual world. Technology Review. Available at: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18510/page1/?a=f

Glogowski, Konrad.  (2008). Educon 2.0 in Second Life.  Blip TV; video available at: http://blip.tv/file/608699

 

Glogowski, Konrad.  (n.d.).  Classrooms as third places. Internet Archive.  Available at: http://www.archive.org/details/KonradGlogowski-ClassroomsAsThirdPlaces

Kay, Jo, and Sean FitzGerald. (2006). Second Life: Exploring a virtual 3D environment and its possibilities for teaching and learning in VET. Slideshare.net. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/jokay/second-life-for-sae/

Stevens, Vance. Second Life in Education. Web site. Available at: http://www.prof2000.pt/users/vstevens/secondlife_edu.htm

Stevens, Vance. (2007). Second Life and online collaboration through peer-to-peer distributed learning networks. In Stewart, S. M., Olearski, J. E., Rodgers, P., Thompson, D. and Hayes, E. A. (Eds) (2007). Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference for Middle East Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Computing. METSMaC: Abu Dhabi. Pages 295-307. Retrieved November 9, 2007 from: http://www.homestead.com/prosites-vstevens/files/efi/papers/metsmac/Stevens-METSMaC-2007.pdf

Stevens, Vance. (2006). Second Life in Education and Language Learning. TESL-EJ, Volume 10, Number 3: http://www.tesl-ej.org/ej39/int.html

Sulčič, Alja. (2007). An introduction to virtual worlds: Second Life and beyond. Slideshare.net. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/ialja/virtual-worlds-introduction-second-life-and-beyond/

 

 

===============================================

As interesting as it is to work in multimedia, I've had to pare this down to 1800 works for the Linguist, with whom this will be published.  Here is the best I can do so far, 1900 words including the title, references, URLs, and the text box they requested I include:

===============================================

 

 

Article for the LINGUIST

 

Second Life: Second Chance for Second Language Learning

by Vance Stevens

 

1900 Word Text submitted March 27, 2008

 

I'm a digital immigrant with a lifelong interest in learning languages, in spite of my early schooling, not because of it. I learned my first foreign languages in an era before personal computers in institutional contexts with negligible opportunities to meet native speakers. Methodologies relied heavily on grammar/translation and were rarely communicative or constructivist. Now I'm studying Arabic with teachers from my generation whose techniques have hardly changed since those dark ages. There must be a better way, but enough about First Life.

 

Reboot. Teleport! Where am I? (not in Kansas anymore!) Could this be Morocco? Egypt? Or a place that just looks like a Middle Eastern country, complete with souk and Islamic architecture? There are some people over there. Maybe I'll just go and have a word with them. Perhaps they speak Arabic.

 

Yes, speak, as in voice conversation.  Second Life is a multi-user virtual environment where anyone can create an avatar for free and interact with other avatars in real time. Text chat has long worked there in a number of languages (and you can wear a HUD, or heads-up-display, called Babbler that enables you to type in one language, and others see it in English, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, Japanese, etc. But now many languages are spoken 'in-world' as well, using your computer mic and speakers, with the benefit of being able to text chat for clarification. Immersion in a foreign culture complete with authentic linguistic environment is suddenly within reach of anyone with a sufficiently robust computer and Internet connection. This is where I would learn all my languages if I had again the opportunity.

 

Though many such opportunities exist there for free, Second Life is also a booming field for business. Millions of dollars change hands there daily as residents purchase property, hire scripting services, create and sell artifacts (such as clothing -- though much apparel is available free, people try to outdo each other in dressing up their avatars, just as they do in a first-life market economy). But it is also a place for altruism, information dissemination, sharing, and networking. Many individuals and institutions involved in education have presences there. The NMC (New Media Consortium, http://sl.nmc.org/) is one excellent resource for education, and in a recent interview on Second Life Cable Network <http://slcn.tv/tonight-live-paisley-beebe-17feb08>. Jokay Wollongong noted that over 150 educational institutions are listed in the Simteach Second Life Education Wiki <http://www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Education_Wiki>. You can get a comprehensive appreciation of education in Second Life through iAlja Writer's 50-slide presentation (Sulčič , 2007) or from my articles (Stevens, 2007 and 2006).

 

Jo Kay's (her real name) own world in Second Life, Jokaydia, was used for a film at the Educon 2.0 conference held recently online and in Philadelphia (Glogowski, 2008). Glogowski, or Konrad March in Second Life, researches 8th grade student bloggers and has long espoused the idea of classrooms becoming third places, apart from first and second places (Glogowski, n.d.). Third places are particularly conducive to informal learning in egalitarian environments where social constraints are relaxed <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Oldenburg>. It is easy to see where Second Life could be a place where participants from all walks of life can 'hang out' and network, and help each other to become adept to a mutually-functional level.

 

Edunation is an island established by Consultants-E and its energetic avatar Dudeney Ge (pictured at <http://slanguages.net>). To recoup the real rent paid to Linden Labs for the server space used to 'build' Edunation, Gavin Dudeny (in real life) sublets parcels on a break-even basis, but has provided free space for Baldrick Commons to set up a hut in Edunation dedicated to Webheads, a "loosely joined" community <http://webheads.info> mentioned by Jokay in her interview on SLCN. Baldrick is the pseudonym of Graham Stanley, who's associated 'in-world' with his work on the Teen Grid, a space for young people to safely enjoy the educational benefits of Second Life without risking exposure to its more unseemly aspects (Stanley, 2008).

 

Edunation is also home base to http://Study.Com, whose volunteer teachers provide free lessons in English, Chinese, and Spanish. Dave Winet started StudyCom long before his alter ego David Delling started teaching in Second Life. Dave uses Edunation for short grammar lessons and then sends students elsewhere into Second Life to interview other residents and engage in role-play (e.g., exploring ancient Rome and Athens while pretending to be soldiers or philosophers -- in costume!). Dave appreciates “the beauty and wonder of many of the regions, and SL becomes an irresistible locus for ESL learning, in spite of the considerable technical hurdles."

 

Kip Yellowjacket is another character in Second Life, with a creative-commons philosophy. Appearing as a fox with bushy yellow tail and oversized paws, Kip is insulated from his real identity as Kip Boahn, a language teacher living in Germany. Kip founded Second Life English <http://www.secondlifeenglish.com/news.php>, where team-teaching and “collaborative exploration” are encouraged. Like StudyCom, SLE puts teachers and students in touch with one another (compensation negotiable between those directly involved) and provides free workshops and seminars, ESL/SL orientation, in-world quizzing tools, 'launch pad classrooms', and LMS-integrated tools. Teachers and 'buddies' wishing to participate in language exchange, or hire out their services, or simply help others learn a language for free, can place notices on a wall where anyone passing can respond.

 

As in real life, language learners can choose to access resources abundant in the environment or streamline the process through paid tuition. Languagelab <http://www.languagelab.com> is the first serious language school to establish more than a mere 'presence' in Second Life (Erard, 2007). Its English courses have just launched commercially and Spanish is due to follow shortly.

 

To visit Languagelab, or any other world, type its name into a search box in Second Life, and then teleport there. At Languagelab you are greeted by someone like Jane Zhaoying, a Languagelab employee who says she is Dutch, and who shows you around but can't stay long since her duty is to greet others who happen by. She conducts us to a courtyard where students participate in team quiz events. She shows us pictures in an adjacent gallery created by students and posted by staff as conversation starters for a nicely constructivist language activity.

 

As a reporter for The Linguist, I am taken by Paul Sweeney, Director of Education at Languagelab.com, on a tour of “the City.” You have to be either a student customer, member of staff, or invited guest to access this restricted area, but once here I can wander at will, strolling and flying into the amazing structures that have been created here as simulation spaces for language learning. At the airport in the middle of town, there is no one to stop me at the security gate so I stroll through and board a plane. Although the plane is not taking off, my avatar can fly so I cruise above the tall buildings and end up at the hotel. I'm sliding down the water chutes at the pool when I receive notes from 'in world' that Millie Eames is opening the coffee shop and Lane Jarman, roving reporter, is somewhere in the streets nearby. I fly to the coffee shop and find Lane inside having coffee. Millie and Lane are two engaging character actors (employed by Languagelab, I suspect, though Millie insists she's always lived in the City) who keep strictly to their roles as they talk to one another, being sure to include me in the conversation.

 

Nicka Okelly, a bonafide student from Spain, soon appears. When I ask what the courses are like she mentions conventional lessons and homework but clearly appreciates having a the run of a safe environment where she can converse spontaneously with passersby in the target language. Soon we are joined by another student on a quest for easter eggs (she asked if we've seen any). Jane needs to get back on the streets and 'look for stories' but she invites me to visit the printing presses which simulate how a real newspaper is published. What an interesting environment for language study, I think.

 

One unique aspect to Languagelab is its teacher training program. Teachers accepted for the program are taught extensively to become familiar with the navigation and tools in SL so as to use these second-naturedly in bringing about the pedagogical outcomes that both teachers and learners are there for. Languagelab have just matriculated their first batch of trained teachers, among them Daf Smirnov, or Dafne Gonzalez, well known in real and virtual communities of educators for her innovative teaching practices. Dafne, who is teaming with builders and other teachers to develop course materials for Languagelab for Spanish and teacher training, says the existing training covers personal skills, communications skills in Second Life, basics of building and scripting, familiarization with the tools, and uploading of sounds and textures.

 

There's much more to learn about Second Life but the best way is to go there and see for yourself. For what I had to leave out of this article, see Stevens (2008).

 

References

 

Erard, Michael. (2007, April 10). A Boon to Second Life Language Schools: New technology will allow high-quality audio in a virtual world. Technology Review. Available: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18510/page1/?a=f

 

Glogowski, Konrad. (2008). Educon 2.0 in Second Life. Available: http://blip.tv/file/608699

Glogowski, Konrad. (n.d.). Classrooms as third places. Internet Archive. Available:

http://www.archive.org/details/KonradGlogowski-ClassroomsAsThirdPlaces

 

Stanley, Graham. (2008). Tales of mystery and imagination: Teenager learners and Second Life. Presentation at TESOL-Spain. Available: http://tesol-spain.wikispaces.com/

 

Stevens, Vance. (2008). Second Life: Second Chance for Second Language Learning. Available: http://sl2ndchance.pbworks.com/

 

Stevens, Vance. (2007). Second Life and online collaboration through peer-to-peer distributed learning networks. In Stewart, S. M., Olearski, J. E., Rodgers, P., Thompson, D. and Hayes, E. A. (Eds) (2007). Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference for Middle East Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Computing. METSMaC: Abu Dhabi. Pages 295-307. . Available: http://www.homestead.com/prosites-vstevens/files/efi/papers/metsmac/Stevens-METSMaC-2007.pdf

 

Stevens, Vance. (2006). Second Life in Education and Language Learning. TESL-EJ, Volume 10, Number 3. Available: http://www.tesl-ej.org/ej39/int.html

 

Sulčič , Alja. (2007). An introduction to virtual worlds: Second Life and beyond. . Available: http://www.slideshare.net/ialja/virtual-worlds-introduction-second-life-and-beyond/

 

Getting started in Second Life

 

Second Life is for virtually anybody, so how can you participate? Keeping in mind that you need a computer with reasonably robust resources and graphics, and decent bandwidth, download and install the software from http://www.secondlife.com. To get started 'in world' you'll have to create an avatar and give it a name. Linden Labs offers a number of last names. If you don't find one there you can live with, come back another day, as these change. Once you've got your avatar, right click on it and select appearance. The rest is intuitive, except you'll need to get around. Try visiting places mentioned in this article and ask people you meet for help. When you meet friendly people, Offer Friendship. Making friends and connecting with them later is key to a successful start in Second Life. You'll also find a Help pull-down in the Second Life browser with various options, including a link to the Second Life blog <http://blog.secondlife.com/>.

 

 

Edited version:

 

 

Second Life: Second Chance for Second Language Learning

 

Vance Stevens

 

I’m a digital immigrant with a lifelong interest in learning languages, in spite of my early schooling, not because of it. I learnt my first foreign languages in an era before institutions had computers and there were few opportunities to meet native speakers. Methodologies relied heavily on grammar/translation and were rarely communicative or constructivist. Now I'm studying Arabic with teachers from my generation whose techniques have hardly changed since those dark ages. There must be a better way, but enough about First Life.

 

Reboot. Teleport! Where am I? This doesn’t look like Kansas anymore. Could it be Morocco? Egypt? It certainly seems like a Middle Eastern country, complete with souk and Islamic architecture. There are some people over there. Maybe I'll just go and have a word with them. Perhaps they speak Arabic.

 

Text chat has long worked in Second Life in a number of languages. You can also wear a HUD (“heads-up-display”) called Babbler, which enables you to type in one language and others to see it in another. But many languages are spoken “inworld” as well, via users’ computer microphones and speakers, with the benefit of being able to text chat for clarification. Immersion in a foreign culture, complete with an authentic linguistic environment, is suddenly within reach of anyone with a sufficiently robust computer and internet connection. This is where I would learn all my languages.

 

Second Life is a 3-D multi-user virtual environment where users design and create elaborate simulations on server space purchased from Linden Labs, which employs 200 people to manage the technical aspects. Although much interaction there is free, Second Life is also a booming field for business. Millions of dollars change hands there daily, as “residents” purchase virtual property, hire scripting services, create and sell virtual artifacts (such as clothing; much apparel is available free, but people try to outdo each other in dressing up their avatars). Since its launch in 2003, millions of people have created avatars there and interacted with other avatars in those virtual spaces. 

 

Second Life is also a place for altruism, information dissemination, sharing, and networking. Many individuals and institutions involved in education have presences there. The NMC (New Media Consortium; sl.nmc.org) is one excellent resource for education, and according Jo Kay (an educator-consultant in Australia, avatar name, Jokay Wollongong),1 more than 150 educational institutions are listed in the Simteach Second Life Education Wiki (www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Education_Wiki).2

 

Kay’s own world in Second Life, Jokaydia, was used for a film at the EduCon 2.0 conference held recently online and in Philadelphia.3 Glogowski, known as Konrad March in Second Life, researches 8th-grade student bloggers and has long espoused the idea of classrooms becoming “third places”.4 First and second places are home and work, and third places are clubs and recreation areas conducive to informal learning in egalitarian environments where social constraints are relaxed (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Oldenburg). It is easy to see how Second Life could be a place where participants from all walks of life “hang out”, network and help each other to become adept at a mutually-functional level.

 

Edunation is an island established by Consultants-E and its founder Gavin Dudeny (avatar Dudeney Ge). Consultants-E provides space to Graham Stanley (avatar Baldrick Commons), who is associated “inworld” with his work on the Teen Grid, a space for young people to safely enjoy the educational benefits of Second Life without risking exposure to its more unseemly aspects.5

 

Edunation is also home to StudyCom (Study.com), whose volunteer teachers provide free lessons in English, Chinese and Spanish. Dave Winet started StudyCom long before his alter ego, David Delling, began teaching in Second Life. He uses Edunation for short grammar lessons and then sends students elsewhere in Second Life to interview other residents and engage in role-play (eg exploring ancient Rome and Athens while pretending to be soldiers or philosophers – in costume). Winet appreciates “the beauty and wonder” of many of the regions. “SL becomes an irresistible locus for ESL learning, in spite of the considerable technical hurdles," (demands on bandwidth and system resources) he says.

 

Kip Yellowjacket is another character in Second Life, with a creative-commons philosophy. Appearing as a fox with bushy yellow tail and oversized paws, Kip is insulated from his real identity as Kip Boahn, a language teacher living in Germany. Boahn founded Second Life English (SLE, www.secondlifeenglish.com/news.php), where team teaching and “collaborative exploration” are encouraged. Like StudyCom, SLE puts teachers and students in touch with one another, provides free workshops and seminars, ESL/SL orientation, inworld quizzing tools, “launch pad classrooms”, and integration with an open source learning management system. Teachers and “buddies” wishing to participate in language exchange, or hire out their services, or simply help others to learn a language for free, can place notices on a wall in the virtual world.

 

As in real life, language learners can choose to access resources for self-teaching or streamline the process through paid tuition. Languagelab (www.languagelab.com) is the first serious language school to establish more than a mere presence in Second Life.6 Its English courses have just launched commercially and Spanish is due to follow shortly.

 

To visit Languagelab or any other world, type its name into a search box in Second Life, and then “teleport” in. At Languagelab, you will be greeted by someone like Jane Zhaoying, a Languagelab employee who says she’s Dutch. She conducts us to a courtyard where students participate in team quiz events. She shows us pictures in an adjacent gallery created by students and posted by staff as conversation starters for a nicely constructivist language activity.

 

Paul Sweeney, director of education at Languagelab.com, takes me on a tour of “the City”. You have to be either a student customer, member of staff or invited guest to access this restricted area, but once here I can wander at will, strolling and flying into the amazing structures that have been created as simulation spaces for language learning. At the airport in the middle of town, there is no one to stop me at the security gate, so I stroll through and board a plane.

Although the plane does not take off, my avatar can fly, so I cruise above the tall buildings and end up at the hotel.

I slide down the water chutes at the pool when I receive notes from “in world” that Millie Eames is opening the coffee shop and Lane Jarman, roving reporter, is somewhere in the streets nearby. I fly to the coffee shop and find Lane inside having coffee. Millie and Lane are two engaging character actors (employed by Languagelab, I suspect, though Millie insists she has always lived in the City) who keep strictly to their roles as they talk to one another, being sure to include me in the conversation.

Nicka Okelly, a bonafide student from Spain, soon appears. When I ask what the courses are like she mentions conventional lessons and homework but clearly appreciates having the run of a safe environment where she can converse spontaneously with passersby in the target language. Soon we are joined by another student on a quest for easter eggs (she asked if we’ve seen any). Jane needs to get back on the streets and “look for stories”, but she invites me to visit the printing press, which simulates how real newspapers are published. What an interesting environment for language study, I think.

 

One unique aspect to Languagelab is its teacher-training programme, which aims to make teachers experts at navigating and using tools in SL. Languagelab have just matriculated their first batch of trained teachers, among them Daf Smirnov, or Dafne Gonzalez, well known in real and virtual communities of educators for her innovative teaching practices. She is teaming up with builders and other teachers to develop course materials for Languagelab in Spanish and teacher training.

 

Training currently covers personal skills, communication skills in Second Life, the basics of building and scripting, SL tools and uploading sounds and textures. There’s much more to learn about Second Life but the best way is to go there and see for yourself.

 

 

Vance Stevens teaches computing at Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. After a 20-year career in English language teaching, usually as CALL specialist and coordinator, he worked in software development in California as educational technology consultant, before returning to the Middle East as ed tech coordinator for a language school in Abu Dhabi. There he founded the online community Webheads resulting in involvement in many community-based online professional development endeavors which have formed the basis of his professional development life this past decade. .

 

 

Getting started

Second Life is for virtually anybody, so how can you participate? Keeping in mind that you need a computer with reasonably robust resources and graphics, and decent bandwidth, download and install the software from www.secondlife.com. To get started “in world” you’ll have to create an avatar and give it a name. Linden Labs offers a number of last names. If you don’t find one you like, come back another day, as they change. Once you’ve got your avatar, right click on it and select appearance. The rest is intuitive. Try visiting the places mentioned in this article and ask people you meet for help. Making friends and connecting with them later is key to a successful start in Second Life, so “Offer Friendship” to people you like. You’ll also find a “Help” pull-down in the Second Life browser with various options, including a link to the Second Life blog (blog.secondlife.com).

 

 

Notes

 

1 Recent interview, Second Life Cable Network, slcn.tv/tonight-live-paisley-beebe-17feb08

 

2 For a comprehensive appreciation of education in Second Life, see Alja Sulčič, An Introduction to Virtual Worlds: Second Life and Beyond, 2007, www.slideshare.net/ialja/virtual-worlds-introduction-second-life-and-beyond; or read Vance Stevens, Second Life in Education and Language Learning. TESL-EJ, 2006, Vol 10, No 3, www.tesl-ej.org/ej39/int.html, and Vance Stevens, “Second Life and Online Collaboration through Peer-to-Peer Distributed Learning Networks” in S M Stewart, J E Olearski, P Rodgers, D Thompson and E A Hayes, (Eds), Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference for Middle East Teachers of Science, Mathematics and Computing, 2007, METSMaC: Abu Dhabi, pp.295-307, www.homestead.com/prosites-vstevens/files/efi/papers/metsmac/Stevens-METSMaC-2007.pdf

 

3 Konrad Glogowski, EduCon 2.0 in Second Life, 2008, blip.tv/file/608699

 

4 Konrad Glogowski, Classrooms as Third Places, n.d, internet archive www.archive.org/details/KonradGlogowski-ClassroomsAsThirdPlaces

 

5 Graham Stanley, Tales of Mystery and Imagination: “Teenager Learners and Second Life”, 2008, presentation at TESOL-Spain, tesol-spain.wikispaces.com

 

6 Michael Erard, “A Boon to Second Life Language Schools: New Technology will Allow High-Quality Audio in a Virtual World” in Technology Review, April 10, 2007, www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18510/page1/?a=f

 

 

Etc.

===============================================

I was not able to use these snippets due to length considerations

===============================================

 

I'm standing on a street corner talking with Kip Yellowjacket, Daffodil Fargis, and Head Teacher -- or Paul Sweeney in real life, Director of Education at Languagelab.com, the first serious language school to establish more than a mere 'presence' in SL (Erard, 2007). Its English courses have just launched commercially and Spanish is due to follow shortly. Paul says that teachers are drawn to the program primarily because of their teaching credentials and also through a need to work or learn from home, and often have never heard of Second Life before first contact with Languagelab. He sees it as healthy that the technology appears to be only secondary in helping teachers and learners pursue objectives centered only incidentally around technology.

 

 

 

WAOE held a recent seminar in Second Life

 

Entitled Off the grid: Academics in a virtual world <http://www.slideshare.net/nickbowskill/off-the-grid​> it was typical of such gatherings in that avatars gathered at the appointed time in a hall to hear Hector Barbosa (Bill Burkett in RL, faculty chair at Capella University) talk on how he uses SL for office hours with his students as well as for projects. As he was speaking as in audio, I didn't record exactly what he said, but it's easy to find via Google what Bill thinks about the potential of SL in academics: “I am convinced that we are on the cusp of a major revolution in training and learning. Online with near total inter-course between participants - audio and visual.”<sic, from https://lists.secondlife.com/pipermail/educators/2007-March/007630.html>

 

 

Having avatars take seats in meeting places is a good way to keep movement down and thereby conserve computer graphics and bandwidth resources. Another means of crowd control is to have avatars ride some sort of conveyance. This was arranged for us as we left the presentation and wandered outdoors to explore our surroundings AVGI Isle of Awakening <http://www.avgi-isle>. We were offered seats on a sort of levitating platform and those who grabbed one were conducted about the premises while others walked alongside or flew overhead.

 

 

Although visitors to Second Life are able to control lighting conditions through personal settings for sunrise, sunset, mid-day, and night the tour was timed to end on the beach at dusk where all present were treated to a lengthy firework spectacular, complete with realistic 3D animations and sound effects. I decided to fly up for a closer look. Haven't you always wanted to hover right in the middle of a fireworks display?

 

 

Navigating in Second Life

 

When I arrive in-world without any specific plan, as I would log on to an instant message chat client such as YM or Skype, there are two ways I use to locate others in the area.  One is to check my friends list, similar to a buddies list in an IM client, in that both show you which of your online aquaintences are at that moment online.  Making friends by "Offering Friendship" to others is key to getting help in SL.  As with any peer-to-peer network, knowledge is distributed throughout one's personal network in proportion to the number of nodes active at a given moment, so it pays to widen your circle of friends.  You can chat with your friends as you would in any IM, but in SL you can also teleport your friends to you or teleport to where they are, and this can lead in turn to making other acquaintences, and often at the very least to fruitful exploration of yet another alternative learning environment. 

 

In case there are no friends online, another way of finding people is to pull up a mini-map of whatever world you're in and look for green dots.  You can then orient yourself on the map and walk or fly to where the others are.  On a recent visit to Edunation, this was how I located a large gathering in a corner of the island so I went there and found a couple dozen avatars milling about.  The really odd thing was that no one was chatting, either in text or in voice.  People were moving about very animatedly, but there was no discourse evident, which is very unusual at events in SL.  I observed in silence for a few moments then recognized one of the avatars there, Randall Renoir, whom I'd met previously in Edunation, and had found that this was the in-world guise of Randall Sadler,Assistant Professor in the Division of English as an International Language (DEIL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign .  On the previous visit Randall had shown Daf Smirnov and I around his build and explained how he used Second Life in his graduate level course on computer media communications for language teaching.  SL is one of a range of media covered in the course, such as blogs and podcasts, but Randall found SL especially conducive to task-based learning, making use of scavenger hunts, for example. So I asked him what was going on, and he said ... 

 

 

Virtual Worlds and Language Teaching: Real Ideas for a Virtual Classroom

One Day Workshop ($100)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

9:00am-4:00pm

Location: USF Education Building, Room 002

(Windows Lab)

Conducted by: Randall Sadler, Mehmet Sahin, Jacob Larsen, Douglas Canfield, Heather McCullough, Julio Rodriguez, Karina Silva, Samantha Earp, Jessamine Cooke-Plagwitz, and Kathryn Murphy-Judy

Virtual Worlds provide a multiuser 3-D environment for language learning. The workshop will include an overview of available virtual worlds (Second Life [SL], There, Active Worlds) and discuss the pluses and minuses for each. It will then focus on some concrete ways to use SL for language learning and teaching. The workshop will be hands on and will include activities on: creating an avatar, getting around SL, buying things (we'll give you some SL money) an exploration of language learning resources, how to "build" (ranging from simple items to a classroom), and teaching activities. More advanced users are also welcome! 

 

http://sl4calico.pbwiki.com/

invite word is calico

 

 

surely there's more ...

 

but for now, first life beckons .. later .. Vance

 

Notes

 

Debby Fear is a teacher in Atlanta Ga teaching with Study.com

Debby is Darya Zenovka in SL

 

[11:12] Randall Renoir gave you The Second Louvre Museum, Tompson (155, 98, 100).

[11:12] Randall Renoir gave you Virtual Starry Night - Vincent's, Luctesa (111, 134, 25).

[11:20] Randall Renoir gave you Virtual Starry Night - Vincent's, Luctesa (111, 134, 25).

[11:33] Tips and Tricks owned by Randall Renoir gave you 'More SL Guides--New Citizens Incorpo, Kuula (52, 169, 28)' ( http://slurl.com/secondlife/EduNation/87/232/502 ).

[11:42] Randall Renoir: http://secondlife-education.pbwiki.com/

 

 

 

 

 Webheads Headquarters  http://slurl.com/secondlife/EduNation%20III/79/37/21

 

 

 

PBworks reclaims URLs when they have not been revisited for a year.

This wiki was visited and altered by adding this text on June 20 2021 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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