Thursday, 25 September 2008

From Habitat to G-Plan

Intrigued by a PhD student that I am advising, inspired by a conversation with Graham yesterday, and supported by this article I've just stumbled upon, I think we have the plan sorted.

Reality Check.
The reality of meeting all 127 first year students on Monday, and discussing the schedule of projects, activities and assessments with the Level One staff has really focussed my thinking. The original strap line for Open Habitat was "Real learning in virtual worlds." Some real learning happened in the phase one pilot, but if we want to integrate the second pilot into our student's programme of study, much more real learning needs to take place. The harsh reality is that unless the work produced in a virtual world counts towards assessment, and is seen to be directly relevant to the other activities that are going on in the first year, we won't get any real learning, as nobody will turn up. With this in mind, I have abandoned my immersionist dream of totally disconnecting the avatars from their students, and instead have decided to take a more integrated approach. I am in the process of writing a virtual worlds element into both the induction and main module that will be running at the same time as the pilot in level 1. Students will be given an option to work in the virtual world, either bringing in the real world project activities to explore, or to work on specific tasks and negotiated activities. All of the work will be assessable.

The other slightly vague area in all of our previous pilot plans was collaboration. I think Graham has cracked this one. One of the things that many noobs want to do is create a place to call home. I suggested that we enable collaboration through peer support by splitting the participants up into teams, and Graham suggested that each team should first be directed to build a home for the team. This home would force collaboration, as team members would need to discuss the implementation of their home building. I see each home becoming the focus for subsequent activities, acting as a shared studio, meeting place, exhibition space and crit area. The idea of collaboration through a team can also be the basis of other activities, such as more competitive quests (the Spartosophy idea that I still have under wraps).

Anyway, the initial plan of the 1 day OpenSim induction on the 8th October, with a period of exploration guided by 'Kisa's 50 micro-quests for Noobs', will now be followed by team and plot allocation at the first in-world meeting on the 17th Oct, and an initial home building quest. Further details to follow.

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