Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reinventing the wheel.

Yesterday I was talking to Dr. Kapp about Second Life and e-learning. The discussion centered around what in the instructional design field is called stand up training. Stand up training is the term used to describe the keystone of education: a teacher in front of a group of pupils. This method of education has literally been used for centuries around the world. And that is the huge barrier anybody who attempts to implement e-learning in either 2-D via a program like Centra, or in 3-D via Second Life has to overcome. The issue here is not the simple reluctance of the learners to use e-learning, but the ingrained idea that education only takes place when you are sitting in a chair in front of a person who has the credentials to educate. This is why a lot of people who teach classes in Second Life teach them the same way they would in a regular classroom with student avatars sitting in chairs arranged in rows and looking at a PowerPoint presentation. What these educators fail to recognize is the ability to use Second Life in a way that is impossible in real life. For example, one of my favorite places to visit in Second Life is Virtual Starry Night, a Vincent Van Gogh museum built by a Dutch company. One thing that makes VSN so special is that they recreated some of Van Gogh's paintings in 3-D. So if an educator decided to hold a lecture on Van Gogh they can hold it in a cafe from his painting The Night Cafe. This is, in a way, reinventing the wheel because it would still be a form of stand up training but conducted in a way that incorporates all the wonderful things Second Life has to offer.