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Case Study 1

Page history last edited by sarah.guth@... 13 years, 10 months ago

Title

Virtual Harlem: Building a Community[1]

 


Student cohort

 

  Group 1  Group 2 
academic level  University students in the US  University students in an online course based in Sweden 
major  varied  varied 
course subject  Composition II  Oral Production / Business Talking 
mean age 18-19  20+ 
location of students University of Central Missouri, US  varied 
native language US English varied (mainly Swedish)
exchange language English English

 

Brief description and intended outcomes

Composition II takes place online in Second Life as does Business Talking, though in different 'islands'. Students in the former course have to  integrate into their essays some aspect of interaction in Second Life, and students in the latter have to improve their conversational skills in English. Therefore, the aim of the exchange is to meet the objectives of both courses by creating informal situations that would encourage students to visit places with one another in Second Life using English as a means of communication.

 

 

Technologies used

 

Tool  Mode  Other

Second Life - Kamimo Island )[2]

 

synchronous 

proprietary

requires significant memory, headset with microphone and broadband Internet access

 

Tasks & Phases

 

  • Students are placed in small groups consisting of one or two members from each class and are asked to make arrangements on their own to meet one another in SL based on their respective schedules. Students exchange basic information about themselves, as of course is expected, and start asking questions like “how do you say […] in Swedish” or, “please correct me if I say this wrong”. Students share their collective schedules to arrange when they will meet one another in SL which, given the time differences, is not an easy task. Students typically arranged to meet two or more times per week. 
  • During their meetings, the Americans take those from Sweden to the various locations in SL related to the essay topics of the US students, including Virtual Harlem (e.g. Cyber Feminism and Gender Roles, Social Interaction, Religion and Spirituality). During these excursions out on the SL Grid, students engage in discussion about what they have done, seen or experienced during the trip. They also, however, learn quite a bit about one another, their respective cultures and, from the US student perspective, some Swedish words and phrases. The essay topics are designed to encourage students to reflect critically on their experiences in SL and the ‘culture(s)’ of SL.

 

Assessment

Student interaction in SL is incorporated into the assessment for all the students involved in the projects. Students enrolled in the Business Talking course are required to incorporate their experiences into an oral presentation in English at the end of the course. The American students have to integrate some aspect of the interaction with the Swedish students into their final essays.

 

Evaluation of the Exchange

Positive

 

  • American students: the opportunity to meet and interact with students from Europe; an effective tool for promoting study abroad; he attrition rate in these courses is far lower than other Composition courses taught at the university and there is often a list of students waiting to enroll into the course

  • Kalmar Uni students: losing their inhibitions about speaking English in front of other people when it was their avatars doing the talking; the Autumn 2009 iteration had more applications than places available.

 

Negative

 

  • the technology itself: the requirements are rather steep and some students often do not have high-speed connectivity at their residence or if they do, their computer is not powerful enough to run SL; voice communication requires either a headset or microphone, which some students do not have.
  • learning curve: students usually catch on to navigation and interaction within SL in less than 3 days, but have to go through a 2-3 day orientation

 

Author's conclusions

"Overall, this is one of the most dynamic learning environments available today. The interaction, possibility for international collaboration and communication and the constructivist learning that is possible from within SL is nearly unmatched in any current virtual environment. The skills we learn through teaching in SL can be transferred into any new or emerging virtual world. As more of these become available and as they mature, I am sure that eventually there will be more choices and an even more engaging world in which we can interact with our students, and where they can interact, collaborate and construct with peers both near and far."

 

Extra Notes

 

Is the exchange the sole focus of the course or integrated with other aims and activities? 

integrated 
Is participation compulsory or voluntary? Assessed?  compulsory and assessed 
Is online work carried out in class/lab or from home?   from home 
Class/lab time dedicated to project?  No. 

 

Back to Telecollaboration2workshop

Footnotes

  1. Carter, B. (2010) Virtual Harlem: Building a Community. In S. Guth and F. Helm (eds.) Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, Literacy and Intercultural Learning in the 21st Century, pp. 365-374. Bern: Peter Lang.
  2. (an island that was designed for interactions between students at Kalmar, Sweden, Molde, Norwary and the US)

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