Springsteen: We learnt more from a 3-minute record…

A further idea suggested in my talk a week ago…

Because, among the first quotations I ever collected, there were a lot of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen lyrics, I couldn't not include at least one in my talk.

You can go to conferences, find great ideas for using technology on the internet (see for example, some of the Blogs I learn from, in the sidebar, right), but in the end, technology is very, very much a question of learning by doing. I've learnt, really learnt, far more in the hours I've spent actually using it than I have in the hours I've spent listening to people talk about it and would suggest the less you know about technology, the more important it is that you start "messing about" with it.

Keep it simple!

In a seminar, someone once asked me for advice on how and where to set up a "virtual reality house", in which her students would invent and take on imaginary characters and do everything they did in the entire year, every task, in that way; they would "be" those characters.

I suggested that (a) it would be brilliant if it worked; that (b) Second Life would be the obvious platform, much though I loathe it; that (c) Edmodo or a blog, though not "virtual reality", would probably give far fewer technical headaches; that (d), vitally, we should always keep things simple; that (e) probably the way to go would be to try out the idea, but not commit herself to doing so for the entire year, at least not until she had got feedback from the learners.

But I very much liked the idea and think learners would too, partly because it is so obviously creative.

Here's a simplified version…


Have your learners take a series of photos of [motorbikes, cars…] and match these to their owners, who they also have to create

Examples of photos taken by learners: what kind of people would ride/drive these…?


The photos should be shared and commented on (an Edmodo group is perfect for that, but Facebook and Google+ would work equally well, with far less privacy) before we start to invent the characters. If in the comments we brainstorm ideas on "who would ride/drive something like that?", we're starting to create ideas that can then be used to flesh out the characters.

Once we have enough photos, have pairs pick a single photo and work on the character, who should also be shared and commented on.

Your job is to provide the language necessary as well as the ideas; if you work hard face-to-face in providing the language, you'll have less "correction" to worry about in the end-product.

If the idea "works", try getting your learners to take another series of photos [coffees, cars, shoes…] and match these to the same series of owners and/or add new "owners".

Related post
Learning to use Edmodo (or any other technology)

Introduction | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten

The ingredients missing in Second Life

Fifa10: now that's what I call a game!

An article on ASTD caught my eye this morning: Ten Ingredients of Great Games.

Which of those does Second Life not have?

While SL does have "self-representation with avatars" and "three-dimensional environments", obviously, what I found missing until I vowed never to return was "narrative context" (engaging narratives, in other words and feedback — which ASTD describes as "progress bars, zooming numbers, and status gauges, all in a well-organized dashboard that lets players know how things are going, good or bad".

Maybe I've just played too much Call of Duty, but my problem is precisely that Second Life not a game as I understand it. Who was it that said "I'm excited about any technology that excites the learners"? One reason why I'm not bothering with SL is that I just don't think it will, at least not learners brought up on Fifa10 and the like.

ASTD is the American Society for Training & Development, which modestly describes itself as "the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals". Its website will be of interest if you are involved in e-learning.

EVO Sessions 2010

The 2010 edition of the excellent TESOL EVO sessions has just been announced.

Session topics include video, online games, teaching with interactive whiteboards and teaching languages in virtual worlds (including Second Life).

The six-week sessions start January 11th, are free and open to all and do not require TESOL membership. They tend to be a little over-subscribed, but are run by volunteers and are well worth attending.

Registration starts January 4th.

Virtual worlds

Here's an interesting article on Edutopia.org that shows how virtual worlds can provide "a shared online universe in which students can play to learn": Get a Life: Students Collaborate in Simulated Roles,

It mentions Whyville, "a Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students" and some of the projects that schools have done using it, as well as looking at some of the benefits and (ahem) "challenges".

Whyville isn't Second Life — it's not so sophisticated, as you can see from the avatar I was starting to create (above right) — or Teen Second Life, but it's simplicity might just appeal to kids, if you're teaching them.

Edutopia [about] (the cynic in me loves that name! .-) provides "Information and Inspiration for Innovative Teaching in K12 Schools".

CSI in Second Life

I've not been in Second Life for several weeks (and haven't missed it). In fact, I doubt if even my favourite TV show — CSI — will persuade me to head back, though there's a new CSI:NY episode featuring Second Life, though the latter is not named, which aired on CBS in the States October 24.

The episode, says New World Notes, led to "an explosion of new account sign-ups — as many as 100,000" joining Second Life, that is. It would be interesting to know how many of those would rather spend time in SL than they would watching CSI on the telly, once they've experienced SL. Not many, I would guess…

You can watch the promotional machinima on YouTube.

Elsewhere, on virtualworldsreview.com, there's are reviews of some of the (many) alternative virtual worlds, though not many of them are making as big an impact as SL, not at least in the media.