Wednesday, 9 July 2008

United! United!

According to Christine Kenneally (New Scientist 21 May 2008) the only things that are uniquely human are art, cooking, religion, humour, sport and world wide domination. I can't help wanting to combine these things together somehow. The art bit is already there. The world wide domination thing is relevant to the sorts of global technologies we are messing about with. Graham and I spend quite a lot of time laughing about our preposterous plans. Someone once suggested that I start a virtual cult, with my hologram of Clive Egginton as the God of Second Life (I think Philip Linden has already claimed that one.) Not sure about cooking, although mixing up prims to a recipe for a tasty dish of art might be an interesting line of inquiry.
The one that I am really intrigued by is sport.
I must point out at this point that I always got picked last for the team at school, and I can barely throw a ball let alone catch one. I also have little interest in sport as a spectator, except the odd football game on the tele. However, my interest in sport as a potential model for learning in virtual worlds has been stoked up by two things. The first is the need to find a more effective way of getting productive collaboration going in phase 2 of the project. The other is the announcement that Leeds Met is to become the UK Centre for Coaching Excellence.
I have been interested in coaching ever since I attended three coaching sessions as part payment for a website I made for a life coach (This was no cowboy coach. She had qualifications and everything, and usually charged £200 quid an hour). These sessions had a profound effect on me. It helped to reveal to me what I really valued, and gave me permission to be brilliant as me, not what other people thought was me. I certainly wouldn't have got involved in JISC if I hadn't had those three one hour sessions. I realised when I was getting coached that there were many similarities with life coaching and the negotiated learning/tutorial based approach that is central to the way we do things. I also stole some her techniques and tried them out on colleagues and students, with some success. So, I'm a fan of coaching based approaches to personal development and the subsequent learning that is unlocked as a result.
Back to sport. As I was spilling 50 ideas for Phase 2 onto the floor of my last blog post, I found my mind wandering towards sport as something that might provide a possible framework for creative collaboration in virtual worlds. I like the idea of teams with different skills working together. I'm interested in two or more teams competing. I'm wondering what the rules of art/design sports might be. I like the fact that teams can compete globally. I can see how the tutor could be like a coach, picking the team, structuring the training exercises, motivating and encouraging, but ultimately standing on the side line whilst the students put in the effort and perform.
Another issue that is limiting the potential of the Open Habitat project is working with Noobs. I wonder how we might recruit good players for a team? Can we look outside of the University, in the same way that clubs sign players from abroad? Oh, the brain's working now. More on this soon.

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