If you have not had the chance to visit EduNation Islands in Second Life, this is a great place to meet fellow educators. It is managed by a community of educators, focusing on using virtual world in teaching and learning of languages.
I found Second Life is very effective in language teaching. Teachers can constructed the lessons exactly the same as face-to-face traditional classroom if that is desired. Furthermore, virtual world can provide even better experience in teaching and learning. For example, if you are teaching a tour guide English training course, it is impossible to take the students to visit all different locations in real life. But this can be easily done in Second life. You can take your students to any popular tourist spots around the world. Molka-Danielsen & Deutschmann (2009) had suggested that beyond replicate traditional classroom language teaching, there are additional suitable tasks specifically for language learner and educator for teaching in Second Life:
- The social/communicative/cognitive dimension
- Tasks that enable learners to share and build on their knowledge
- Tasks that are embedded in socail interaction
- The affective/creative dimension:
- Tasks that explore identity
- Tasks that explore cultural norms and values
- Tasks that encourage artistic expression or representation
- The spatial/Physical dimension
- Tasks that use SL as a source of information
- Tasks that use SL as a space for navigation and movement
- Task that use SL as a space for cross-linguistic and inter-cultural contact
- Tasks that encourage exploration of existing artefacts. (p.26)
Teaching in second life is not without challenge. As educators, I found it take can be intimidating for some people. If you are familiar with MMORPG type of game, adjusting to walk around in an avatar is easy, however if this is the first time you walk around in a virtual world, it takes time to adjust to the avatar, and even the idea of going around as an avatar. The teachers have to be very comfortable in the environment first before they can teach.
Molka-Danielsen & Deutschmann (2009) had outlined five steps in preparation for teaching in Second Life
- Familiarising yourself with the Environment
- Preparing Course Content Suitable for SL
- Giving Explicit Instructions
- Technical Guidance and Socialisation
- Taking Prior Attitudes and Expectations of SL into Account
If anyone is interested in learning more about using virtual word in teaching and learning language, here is a great scoop it Curated by Graham Davies
Molka-Danielsen, J., & Deutschmann, M. (2009). Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life. Tapir Academic Press.