In fall of 2007 I decided to take this blog in a different direction…. Here’s my old “about me” page:
You can find me in Second Life as Buzz Dinzeo or in RL as Shawn P. Calhoun. In RL I am a second-year Ed.D. student at the University of San Francisco in Learning and Instruction. My research interests include peer-tutoring and learning, assessment and exploring educational research in Second Life. I can be reached at calhouns @ usfca . edu
I began this blog as a resource guide project for a course in Constructivism and Technology. This page includes my reflections on why I chose blogging as a way to build a resource guide, how I hope to use this blog/resource guide when the course is over and what I’ve learned about constructivism and education by constructing this guide.
1. Why I chose to put this resource guide together.
Second Life is unique in many ways and education is one of the inworld activities receiving significant academic attention. I chose to put together a resource guide focused on SL because I feel that this environment offers educational researchers opportunities that are nearly impossible to replicate. While there have been (and will continue to be) numerous technology-based educational platforms (web, video etc.), SL has properties (e.g. immersive, interactive, low/no cost, large user-base, open-source etc.) other systems do not offer in a similar form.
SL is a very new medium. Scholars have conducted research on MUD’s and MOO’s considerably longer than MUVE’s such as SL. Illustrating this point is the relatively small amount of research that has been published with respect to education in SL. At this stage, many researchers are at the first steps and are building environments in SL to conduct future research. In the absence of comprehensive educational research using SL, building this blog has helped me construct my own understanding of where SL research is and perhaps the directions it might be going.
2. How you hope to use this resource guide.
Initially, I see this blog as a platform to collect and discuss research and other ideas related to constructivism, education and SL. Using a blog as a resource guide format, as opposed to a traditional literature review or research paper, allows me to create a multi-media annotated bibliography. This blog is a place where I can develop ideas in many forms related to constructivism, SL and inworld educational research as I come across them.
While there are a number of published SL resources and hundreds of websites related to education and SL, once I have a more specific line of research related to SL, I will be able to focus my blog even more on the research areas I am interested in while at the same time being able to reflect on this early work.
3. What I’ve learned about constructivism and education by constructing this guide.
I have found building this blog helpful on many levels. One of the most important uses has to do with finding a systematic, yet flexible way to build an understanding of this relatively new platform for educational research. Blog posts allow me to create a taxonomy related to constructivism, technology, education and SL that is personally meaningful. This approach to creating my resource guide forced me to organize (and reorganize) my thoughts by writing brief posts and created a focal point for my research into SL. Constructing my first blog was a new experience and one that helped me to better understand how constructivism and technology can interact to form a powerful learning experience.
Looking back at the theories discussed at the beginning of this course, this blog helped me to create a new schema within which I have constructed my view of on-line education. Before investigating Second Life I had a very different perspective of how on-line learning worked and what its benefits and limitations were. My old schema revolved around a model of web-based replication of classroom instruction, serial text-based communication and no environment that come close to a real-world experience. Older technology held students and instructors back at least in part because it lacked the immersive, interactive dimensions found with SL. While my past views were constructivist to a large extent and clearly involved technology, SL is unique. It allows students, instructors and educational researchers the ability to construct their own experiences by providing active, constructive, intentional, authentic and cooperative learning opportunities.
One can’t just go out and buy a book, download a few research papers, spend a few weeks writing a 10-15-page paper about what’s happening in Second Life and “get” education in SL. You have to go there (a lot), dig around, experiment, test your preconceptions and form new schema for SL to make conceptual sense as an educational research environment. Building this blog helped me to use technology in a constructivist way through documenting my research – all I wish is that I had more time in the day to spend in SL and think about future research projects.