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Transcript of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable May 3, 2012
Special Interview with Shailey Minocha
Kali Pizzaro: Hi everyone, and welcome to the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. We meet each Thursday at 11:30am SLT for an hour. 7:30pm In UK, 2:30pm EST
Kali Pizzaro: The Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable is a forum to educate and inform the community about issues that are important and relevant to education.
Kali Pizzaro: This is a public meeting, so we will be keeping and publishing a transcript of what is said in local chat. If you’ve not seen our transcripts, you should check them out – they are an excellent information asset.
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Kali Pizzaro: Tonight is a Special voice meeting, an interview with Dr. Shailey Minocha from the Centre for Research in Computing at the Open University. Transcription will be supplied by Sheila and Dan so you will see them post into open chat
Shailey: I work at the Open University
Shailey: in the department of computing, supporting masters and phd students
Shailey: my main research domain is human computer interaction
Shailey: e-commerce etc. plus elearning
Shailey: We wanted to introduce web 2.0 tools, and wanted to evaluate them before and after they were used, and that is how I got interested in use of technology in learning.
Shailey: In Jan 2008 it was suggested I look at Second Life – but I hadn’t thought of using it. I thought at first it was another “fancy” idea.
Liana Hubbenfluff: Dr. Shailey Minocha website: http://mcs.open.ac.uk/sm577/
Shailey: I asked my brother’s advice; he said to give it a try – so I gave myself a deadline, try it for 2 weeks.
Shailey: I then attended the sloodle conference and I met people from all over the world.
Shailey: I met Esme from ISTE, who gave me tours.
Shailey: I met people I would never otherwise would have met.
Shailey: In less than 2 weeks I realised SL was worth investigating – especially since the OU has only distance learners
Shailey: so those 2 weeks were very significant
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): Echo
Kali: Socialization and online learning–getting students engaged can be difficult, what do you mean by socialization and its importance to online learning?
Shailey Garfield: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/10897 is the paper that Kali is talking about.
Shailey: this paper is now in the public domain, open access
Liana Hubbenfluff: Yay Open Access!!!!
Shailey: I wrote this in 2008
Shailey: Socialisation is the process of coming together for a common purpose, learning about norms and rules of social conduct, so before you start with collaborative activity this is the first stage
Kali: In f2f environment that can be easy, but much more challenging online; how do you promote such online?
Shailey: Yes, that’s why I started looking into this: we had introduced wikis and blogs in our courses, the tools in our VLE moodle,
Shailey: What we found in research – despite giving them a place to collaborate – students weren’t using those tools
Shailey: They weren’t commenting on each other’s contributions or collaborating.
Shailey: We asked them why.
Inertial Voom: I suspect they didn’t collaborate because we tend to reward competition
Inertial Voom: Which is the opposite of collaboration
Shailey: They said we don’t know each other well enough to review each others’ comments
Grizzla: This fits so well with what Dan talked about too
Shailey: This made me realise we had to have more than an icebreaker – so they know what their constraints and commitments are, their personal interest and so forth – so we should help them get to know each other.
Edith Halderman: Were these students taught collaboration in high school in context of PBL?
Liana Hubbenfluff: Inertial: opposite of collaboration is ignorance?
Inertial Voom: Currently, I work with incarcerated children or juveniles
Edith Halderman: Liana – I think the opposite is competition
Shailey: We looked at a course with blogs and we found that there was one group where the tutor had introduced social discussion – for example why did you take this course, what were your holidays
Liana Hubbenfluff: Antonym of collaboration = noncooperation
Shailey: We observed that this one group was continuing to use the blogs more than the rest of the class
Shailey: they even took this practice to the next module
Inertial Voom: When we compete, we tend to treat others as enemies, unless they are on your team.
Shailey: so we understood that you can’t expect people to understand the affordances of the tools without familiarisation – so this is where we saw that SL could be excellent for this familiarisation
Inertial Voom: Competition kills collaboration.
Grizzla has the humble opinion, based on experience, that there can be healthy competition within collaboration
Shailey: through hunts, discussions and we indeed find that the students then collaborated with others in other platforms too e.g. in blogs – so this is why I started looking at socialisation.
Shailey: SL synergistically complements other environments. Other educators were asking us – how does SL fits with these other web 2.0 tools?
Inertial Voom: I see the biggest problem with incarcerated people, but most especially juveniles, is a lack of positive self esteem and poor socialization skills.
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): 27 people on sim
Shailey: so that’s why I wrote the paper, showing how to combine with other blogs, discussion forums etc.
Kali: I can see what you’re talking about, however, tutor’s role in socialization?
Shailey: The role of the tutor is on the design of activities. VWs provide a number of affordances: persistant environment etc etc etc
Shailey: The role of the tutor includes making best use of these affordances.
Shailey: When we designed – we had quizzes , hunts etc when we were designing together in SL we got to know our students better
Shailey: You must design activities which exploits these affordances
Liana Hubbenfluff: I wonder how “play” affects education
Shailey: Indeed you may still have tutorials and seminars; some people like them.
Shailey:But integrate activities e.g. go on a trip, then have a panel session
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): panel discussion, good idea!
Inertial Voom: Kairos prison ministry does this, and truly creates socialization in prison.
Liana Hubbenfluff: oh interesting Inertial
Inertial Voom: We have the creation talk which tells the individuals that they are a special creation improving self esteem
Inertial Voom: we next have masks, which we use to hide from each other
Kali: A number of activities/tasks you can do here that can’t be found in 2D online venues, like social presence, how do you see socialisation and social presence working into knowledge construction?
Shailey: We were looking at the literature while we worked on the paper.
Shailey: What I noticed interaction and social presence, they influence each other if there is a high level of interaction that results in more social presence.
Inertial Voom: We have skits of 6 negative masks, with two in a skit or 3 skits
Edith Halderman: Liana – watched a toddler play recently? what is happening? ah, they are learning. who says we all don’t learn well this way?
Inertial Voom: “I do not need anyone” and Religious
Liana Hubbenfluff: I’m with you Edith ^^
Inertial Voom: King of the Hill and Victim
Inertial Voom: finally anger and laughter
Edith Halderman: like I said, great minds think alike
Shailey: You get to know more about norms etc and also a sense of sharing same time and space
Liana Hubbenfluff: wow Inertial
Shailey: The lit say that asynchronous communication forms cannot build up social presence
Shailey: there are not such well defined norms, more options for lurking, there is low immediateness
Shailey: So that is the problem with asynchronous technologies
Shailey: socialisation is the antecedent to interaction
Edith Halderman: how does the level of trust here compare to the level of trust experienced in a RL classroom?
Shailey: An icebreaker is NOT enough; socialisation must be done throughout. Also using blogs and wikis as well as SL
Edith Halderman: socialization -> let’s dance!
Inertial Voom: In Kairos we create “Table Families” which create a safe place for people to open up, and allow others to know them.
Shailey: So you design it through the course so socialisation can lead to knowledge construction
Shailey: When looking at this we remembered the Nonaka and Takeuchi model of knowledge construction
Kali Pizzaro: do you have a copy of that?
Shailey: tacit knowledge being converted to explicit knowledge
Shailey: tacit knowledge being the knowledge you have in your head, not expressed outside you
Shailey: socialisation is the first element in the model
Shailey: this leads to externalisation, the 2nd box in the model
Shailey: the tacit becomes explicit, out there
Spiral Theas: SECI Model: http://www.12manage.com/methods_nonaka_seci.html
Kali Pizzaro: thanks Spiral
Shailey: having done the externalisation activity you can combine the knowledge e.g. by putting it on a wiki
Shailey: then the 4th element is Internalisation where you internalise the knowledge, make it your own
Edith Halderman: interacting with the content at each stage
Shailey: so I thought, you can do the 1st 2 stages in SL, the third in wiki or blog; the final one can be done anywhere
Liana Hubbenfluff: sounds like life
Edith Halderman: doesn’t it?
Liana Hubbenfluff: yesssss
Liana Hubbenfluff: it’s how I learn
Shailey: I wanted to show how you could combine these web 2 tools; this models enables you to demonstrate that
Shailey: our learners and tutors because they are in different locations, students have jobs etc
Inertial Voom: What I would like to see is a plan to allow incarcerated juveniles into a virtual world where these kids could learn good values, and socialize successfully
Kali Pizzaro: nice point Inertial
Shailey: so this means not everyone can attend all the time synchronously so you can’t have anything synchronous
Inertial Voom: I have been working as much as I can for this concept.
Shailey: that is impossible
Liana Hubbenfluff: oh I like that!!! can’t do everything in SL but combine! lol
Edith Halderman: Inertial then SL is not the place for this
Liana Hubbenfluff: *facepalm
Shailey: but with the structure of these 4 stages you can construct activities using all the tools – so I could situate VWs distinctly and properly with the other virtual tools
Edith Halderman: I would go to OpenSim
Inertial Voom: Not necessarily SL, but a virtual world that has many of the the tools of SL.
Edith Halderman: less “Las Vegas” elements in other words
Liana Hubbenfluff: awesome Shailey!
Inertial Voom: With the use of machinima the kids could actually see how they respond to specific phenomena or problems
Kali: We are still many years after you wrote the paper, still faced with the challenge of convincing colleagues this is an effective place to learn.
Edith Halderman: Inertial : would be interesting to measure the empathy, integrity, or whatever we call it, levels of people in VWs
Edith Halderman: do these differ?
Inertial Voom: I do not think it will be an effective way to learn, until the avatar can interact with objects directly and not through scripts and animations.
Inertial Voom: I see this coming with mesh technology.
Liana Hubbenfluff: Edith: I wonder if there’s really much difference; we are who we are
Kali: some questions from Moderator:
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): “Have you done any research comparing social presence between virtual worlds and 2D conference apps or software?”
Shailey: comparison of the social presence of these 2 elements
Edith Halderman: ProfDan – How do we move forward convincing colleagues of the engagement level of VWs?
Inertial Voom: if we can not show a simple thing like removing a nut from a bolt.
Shailey: I introduced it to a level 2 undergrad course. They had been using Skype and some other tools
Inertial Voom: we can not truly train people how to do things.
Shailey: Then we compared their experiences… I will just look this up
Shailey: as some of the students said how it differed e.g. from videoconferencing
Edith Halderman: Liana: Yes, but doesn’t exposure to addictive elements negatively influence certain personalities?
Shailey: Here in SL we feel like we are sitting in a real space
Shailey: Another said – we could communicate as if we were in the same room
Edith Halderman: there it is – no judgement applied
Shailey: Another said it was like meeting them but even better as we are not influenced by ethnicity
Edith Halderman: THAT is key
Kali Pizzaro: Please try to keep the text free for the transcript and we will have open chat for q near the end
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): cool
Shailey: Also that it is better than videoconferencing because you don’t have to worry about appearance, what you are wearing
Kali Pizzaro: thanks
Shailey: So I didn’t compare social presence explicitly but the tools in general, including conferencing software: http://oro.open.ac.uk/23512
Liana Hubbenfluff: Edith: need to think about that… sometimes you discover things like your addictions in SL and then can see it better
Edith Halderman: back-channeling
Kali Pizzaro: How important is a “handshake” period (where people get to know each other) in subsequent collaboration?
Kali: question from Edith.
Shailey: I don’t think I could define a definite period, but it shouldn’t only happen at the start, especially when it is distance learning
Edith Halderman: continuously throughout – great thoughts!
Edith Halderman: that is best practices
Shailey: Perhaps have them at different milestones in the course, because the sense of presence can diminish over time if you are not collaborating all the time.
Liana Hubbenfluff: Many instructors think just have socialization in the beginning then it’s done
Shailey: If it is a large class it may not build so quickly, it depends on the learning space and the design of activities
Shailey: The space also impacts on the sense of awareness of the students
Liana Hubbenfluff: The activities are a challenge which the students all share: experience builds familiarity
Inertial Voom: I think you can have several teams working together on a project with different focus on the various aspects of the problem.
Shailey Garfield: http://oro.open.ac.uk/23512/ is the paper that compares VW with other conferencing tools (response to Dan’s earlier Q)
Kali Pizzaro: Were these students taught collaboration in high school in context of PBL
Shailey: We have a very diverse population of students in terms of age and background experience
Al Supercharge: <copies and pastes chat – for the best argument for SL vs Skype/Webex/GoToMeeting >
Spiral Theas: Shailey, have you found that there is a preferred or recommended order in which to use the various tools. Blogging following a virtual world experience? before? Wikis when?
Sheila Yoshikawa: they may be looking for a better career etc
Shailey: We can’t make any assumptions about their background
Shailey: also the courses are diverse
Shailey: When we first introduced blogs etc in courses, we couldn’t assume students knew about them
Shailey: Also students take different routes, so we introduce everything afresh. Lots of OU students are working, not straight from school
Inertial Voom: which OU, Sheila? I live in Norman, OK
Grizzla: 28 here for the transcript
Sheila Yoshikawa: I can say that the open uni is THE distance learning university in the UK
Kali: does the level of leadership play a part in the learning?
Tori Landau: www.open.ac.uk
Shailey: We were investigating the relationship between the design of learning spaces and the design of learning e.g. the level of “realism”
Shailey: There were different kinds of Realism: photorealism, artistic realism.
Shailey: For distance learning students, some kind of realism helps because they don’t visit the university itself except perhaps for summer schools
Shailey: Students prefer learning spaces that are realistic to start with. Only when they are more familiar with VWs and how to interact with VWs, then they feel more comfortable with fantasy spaces.
Shailey: these fantasy spaces foster creativity and fun so whenever we gave them a set of spaces we gave 10 or 11 choices
Shailey: they chose boardroom style etc to start with, then in the middle of the course they liked treehouses, finally building themselves houses in the sky etc
Shailey: So, for design courses, we conduct them in sandboxes as then people can work together; you can see what people are doing
Shailey: so this also inspired colleagues to take this approach
Liana Hubbenfluff: would love that!
Kali Pizzaro: How often did students meet? Once a week? Twice? An hour, two hours at a time? What is optimal
Shailey: It depends on the type of activity. Once a week, for the software engineering course i’ve been talking about, as it involved teamwork
Shailey: but we noticed they were coming in more. They enjoyed being here – though of course not all, but those students who had fewer constraints on time
Shailey: In another course it was whenever the coursework was due, so targeting sessions for when the students needed the support and face to face most, giving them tutorials
Shailey: So whatever we’ve done, it depends on the learning activity, it depends on the learning design
Kali Pizzaro: Galileo asks: how do the more negative aspects of VWs fit into the socialization calculus? e.g. griefing seems as common as collaborative activities, negative experiences in collaborative activities?
Shailey: I have been very fortunate! I have never had these difficulties
Kali Pizzaro: I have no problem either
Shailey: I don’t know whether it is because our students are adult learners, or to do with the venues, the islands we used
Shailey: In fact I normally take students to different spaces to match different spaces. Very difficult to do this in RL, but can in SL, but still I didn’t have the griefing problems
Shailey: http://oro.open.ac.uk/21267/ is the paper that discusses the relationship between design of activities and design of spaces (in response to the realism Q earlier)
Kali Pizzaro: Is there a place in SL you might suggest new SL users could go to learn the basic skills to feel at ease with their avatar?
Kali: NAVY project came out with guidelines for navigating the world. Please tell us about….
Shailey: Normally we impart these skills ourselves, so they can do communication of different types, designing our own activities, imparting basic skills through tours
Shailey: otherwise, I would say Virtual Ability island
Shailey: Looking at the project on navigating, we found Virtual Ability island was at the top in our evaluations on a number of factors
Shailey: coming back to the NAVY project conducted by an MSc student: we evaluated 11 islands, developed a set of guidelines from the usability literature and also from RL way-finding and from virtual reality literature
Shailey: We kept adding guidelines so now we have 200+ guidelines on how to design navigation, how to use teleports, landmarks, notecards, landing points …
Shailey: and as part of the project we observed users, we gave tasks to people e.g. find the library! and noticed where they struggled to find their way
Shailey: We used post-observation interviews, and various other things
Al Supercharge: can’t download report without logging in
Shailey: also there are different navigation preferences –
and this won a best paper award ;-)) at a conference
Shailey: one thing was that the designers of the islands started immediately REdesigning the island
Shailey: People adding tour guides and so forth, so the reviewers were impressed by the impact of the research
Kali Pizzaro: applied research woot
Shailey: and this shows how the SL community works together
Liana Hubbenfluff: yes applied research wow
Shailey: Nothing would be feasible without the community we have here. I feel that it cannot be replicated in other VWs
Sheila Yoshikawa: yay
Kali Pizzaro: When do you think it will be time for educators to migrate en masse out of SL to other VWs?
Shailey Garfield: http://oro.open.ac.uk/29864/ is the paper on navigation and wayfinding
Kali: tell us about STEM project in Unity 3D?
Shailey: I give you a story of how we got this funding. I had to present on Tuesday
Edith Halderman: a timely subject
Shailey: I was told the Friday before! I contacted SL people over the weekend. Over that weekend they give me so many examples of how I could demonstrate, so by tuesday I had a poster prepared
Shailey: I was told you can only speak for 8 minutes, and just one demo, so I picked on genome island
Shailey: I presented this cell so I was only supposed to stay for 8 but the trustee kept me for 20 minutes! he was so interested he could see how the environment could provide extra over 2D
Shailey: But SL was not the preferred platform. It is a large project, 1 million funding for the whole thing
Kali Pizzaro: woo 1 million
Shailey: BUT only a little bit of that for VWs
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): wow, and that’s not linden dollars!
Shailey: It needed to be integrated into a web portal so, Unity 3D. We design this virtual trip of a RL mountain, going from a birds eye to microscopic view. Unity 3D keeps within constraints e.g. available on mobile devices
Shailey: The project just started; by jan 2013 we will have something to show
Shailey: some people averse to VWs have come around from seeing Unity
Graham Mills: marvelous
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): sounds really cool!
Shailey Garfield: Many sincere thanks for your time and attention.
Kali: times up, thanks so much to Shailey for sharing her wealth of knowledge and research on virtual worlds!
Shailey: and also want to thank Graham Mills
Sheila Yoshikawa: yay for Graham
Graham Mills: yay me ?
Prof. Dan (profdan.netizen): Your papers sound outstanding, Shailey.