Research suggests that nonverbal behavior plays an important role in theoverall communicative process. Interesting insight from this article: "Body language is very limited in SL, but SL requires one to use language in a very precise way and to use more language to compensate for the lack of body language. One interviewee expressed the view that teaching a language might be one of the most suitable subjects in SL because technical issues, such as the inability to hear voice chat or lag, can all be used to generate language use and therefore become a lesson in itself."
So. would the lack of body gestures in SL hinder L2 learning?
This article investigates research on the use of network-based three-dimensional virtual worlds in computer-assisted language learning (CALL). While remain mostly positive about the affordances of Second Life and L2, significant issues are raised, including the influence of task, technical affordances, and sociocultural factors on learner behaviour. Also of note, this article mentions that the most effective role of the teacher in supporting learning during learner interactions in these environments remains an area in need of more research.
I was first introduced to Dr Wenger's work in Dr. Robertson's Leadership course. We looked at Communities of Practice from the lens of a real-world educational organization. But, in reflection, many of the practices are transferable to the virtual learning space. For instance, Communities of Learning are nodes for the exchange and interpretation of information, can retain knowledge in "living" ways, can steward competencies to keep the organization at the cutting edge, and provide homes for identities.
This article does bring up some great points. While focusing mainly on the benefits of LL and virtual worlds, it warns "Second Life is host to a large-scale pornography industry, and cyber bullies known as "griefers" have been known to create unpleasant disturbances for users." (p.99) Steps must be taken to ensure LL don't feel threatened in this new space.
1. Introducing the students to netiquette, so that they can interact with other avatars in the virtual world without causing offence
2. Supporting the students in-world by offering note cards with SL URLs, instructions etc.
3. Providing a framework of modules and deadlines that explain the task
4. Several teachers took part in this project. This meant a lot in terms of supporting each other in the process of getting to know Second Life and in terms of supporting the students in-world. The group of teachers counted both English and Computer Science teachers.
5. Virtual worlds add an international dimension to language teaching
6. The AVATAR course proved to be virtual competence development for the participating teachers.
Can an engaging learning experience to foster communication skills within a 3D multi-user virtual world work with minimum teacher assitance? This article suggests that if a problem presents itself and there is no teacher to offer a solution, L2 students will lean on eachother more, thus promoting deeper learning.
Great read from our library database. The article starts of positively, listing how professors are using SL. The article ends with a pretty scathing list of reseaons to not bother with the tech, including technical issues, the overt sexual nature of common rooms, and that the software offers nothing that can be done with other convential means.
Gliddon's Hierarchy of TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning), as on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is an interesting litmus test to consider for any TEL your plan to introduce. It includes Functinal Technoogy, Reliability/Usability, Training/Culture, Recognition, and Professionalism. I'm wondering if for many educators, SL won't make it past tier two?
Practice and enjoy speaking or teaching English for free in a realistic virtual world with English learners from more than 50 countries.
Warren Griffiths's insight:
Cypris Chat is a group in Second Life. They are an active not-for-profit community offering opportunities for people from around the world to either learn or teach English. There home is Cypris Village, and members are Cypris Villagers. Tutors and Hosts provide our members with "Practice Times" to give them opportunities to practice speaking English. It is all voluntary and very well organized. This website is used to invite tutors like yourself, to give our members a chance to practice reading, listening, and writing, and provide tools and incentives for learning and teaching.@Warren Griffiths@Warren Griffiths's comment, October 9, 9:54 AMWhat a fantastic way to merge technology and LL! I wonder if this creates a digital divide between the technological haves and have-nots? Second Life does require a fairly robust set of minimum requirements for connection speed and computer specs.
This article mentions that SL offers much to the constructivist approach to L2. As mentioned in the article: "Studies have found that SL is a viable platform for learner-based CALL projects involving small groups (e.g., Peterson, 2010). In addition to practicing language skills, the realistic environment of SL can also provide language learners with the opportunity to be immersed in the culture of the target language". The article also mentions one of the concerns I have around SL in general, that SL creates a digital-divide. Some researchers have concluded that "unless you have a top-range computer, it is not practical to use SL. Also, educators need to consider if their students are "digital immigrants". If so, some deep training on SL may be necessary.
In an educational context, SL offers a space for educators who are struggling to find out new ways to supply appealing and beneficial learning in virtual contexts. virtual worlds are highly interactive since they offer dynamic feedback, learner investigation, real-time individualized task option, and analysis. Virtual worlds have other instructional benefits, such as allowing for creativity within a powerful media environment, presenting opportunities for social interaction and community creation, paving the way for cooperation, maximizing a sense of shared presence, dissolving social boundaries, decreasing social anxiety, increasing student motivation and involvement, and accommodating millennial generation learning preferences.
So, how do we address so not of the millennial generation. Is SL in L2 technically elitist?
This article does address some drawbacks such as the cost of renting out a piece of land or a developed property to conduct virtual classroom activities, the need for high end technology, frequent technical failures, complex operational tasks and lack of user awareness
Results PRO: The greatest advantage for, in EFL or ESL classes, it gives non-native speakers the opportunity to speak with native speakers. A lot of them have for example; in China they have Chinese learners who have learned English as a second language teaching them. And they never have contact with a native speaker. And for that, Second Life is effective.
Results CON: Regardless of the situation, it is evident that in SL, student teachers must be prepared to steer both the nature of the conversation as well as prompt students’ ideas and conversation when necessary. There was general agreement that many of the challenges could have been avoided had they had more background information on the program objectives and had a full curriculum for the six weeks been developed or disclosed beforehand.