NEW: Wiz Nordberg

I knew Second Life’s education conference would be good. I didn’t know it would be that good.

Teach your children

Last week I told you about the Second Life Best Practices in Education Conference. I hope some of you attended. I expected it to be a good Second Life event, but I had no idea the speakers would be such authoritative figures in their field. To be honest, I was blown away. Not many groups could pull off a 23-hour marathon conference event designed to give people in all time zones a chance to attend.

The most striking aspect of the conference was the commitment to Second Life as a teaching tool. Among such a well-respected group, there were no doubts, no hesitations – only stories of successes, how to improve, and what rhetoric can best be used to persuade funding bodies and administrators to invest more time and money in Second Life.

Sometime this week, we will have complete video archives of the event for viewing on SLCN.TV. In the meantime, conference attendees have been blogging furiously. Just do a Google search to see the activity surrounding the event.

Probably the best summaries are on Topher Zwiers Blog. He gives in-depth reviews of most of the important keynote presentations. His blog is an excellent place to look for a quick overview. If this piques your interest, there are some speakers that I personally think you mustn’t miss when scouring the video archives.

Intellagirl Tully gives one of the most compelling presentations about her use of Second Life in teaching. Her words are full of the knowledge and understanding that only experience can bring. If you doubt that Second Life can be effective, listen to what she has to say. Her approach insists on quantifiable, repeatable results and has done side-by-side comparisons of face-to-face learning and Second Life learning. She goes so far as to say that “… anybody who teaches online in [online universities] should absolutely be paying attention to Second Life. If they’re not, they’re being negligent.”

If you want to understand why Second Life “clicks” as an educational (and immersive) tool, then Pirate Shipman’s presentation is one of my favorites. He clearly indicates the special psychology of Second Life, how it mirrors essential elements of the real world, and where the strengths and weaknesses are right now.

Although most of the presentations are fairly academic, there is one that stands out from the crowd. Barry Joseph of Globalkids did an interactive audience-participation presentation about their experiences with Second Life. The session has a carnival atmosphere. Barry insisted that all members of the audience wear special “light bulbs” above their heads, which would light up based upon audience choices made during the presentation. Seeing the bulbs light up as Barry asked the audience what to do next made everyone here in the studio laugh and smile. There wasn’t a slumped avvie in the house. By the time you read this, his presentation should be available at SLCN.TV. Beware, you’ll be confused. There are lots of stumbles, accidents, fun.

The list of speakers goes on and on. Make sure you check out the whole list. Read Topher’s blog, read about it on the web, and watch some video sometime. When you see things like this happening, and realise how fundamentally important Second Life is, it makes it a lot easier to simply ignore the confused hype in the media and just “get on with what needs to be done”. Not only are the lessons of the conference relevant to education, but also to business, as many speakers point out.

If you do anything in the online world that involves people, understanding what went on at this conference is essential.

To read more Wiz Nordberg blogs, click here.


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