Learnt Lessons from a basically well done Presentation

The presentation on May 2, 2013, of the project team’s work on “Future of Education” as a final completion of the virtual study at Dublin Institute of Technology in between social media and virtual worlds with the title “Is One Life Enough?” has now been done – and well done. All foreseeable technical and other challenges had been taken care of prior to the final presentation and luckily the system and all server sided capabilities worked blameless this night, including the voicing, so that good communication could be carried out.

Round table talk connected to the presentation on "Future of Education"

Round table talk connected to the presentation on “Future of Education”

Nevertheless there also were some lessons to learn from a project show taking place in a virtual world:

  • There could have been the try to promote the event even more intensively, maybe by involving some selected persons personally at an earlier stage of the preparation of the presentation to ensure a wider audience.
  • Bill and me could have designed the presentation form more interactively, maybe by doing parts of it as a role play with interviewing and questions and answers leading to our core thoughts to make better use of the options a virtual worlds holds and to ensure a more lively experience for our guests.
  • We had a lot of topics on the agenda for the short time the presentation could take and some of them we had to skip, such as the hands-on activities, which had been prepared with huge amounts of time. Also the use of supporting music for the event felt unsuitable in our chosen setting of presenting mainly oral and by the slideshow.

With this said, we are pretty satisfied with the presentation as it turned out. It has fostered a fine discussion of the topic of contemporary web 2.0 tools and soon to come hardware inventions entering the traditional scene of education and turning around the requirements for, what the education of the future has to face, e.g. by implementing new roles for both teachers and students in learning processes, that include the use of social media and virtual worlds to a higher extend.

Discussion of the "Marriage" of Social Media and Virtual Worlds

Discussion of the “Marriage” of Social Media and Virtual Worlds

A very interesting discussion was about the question, whether we would see a more advanced “fusion”, a “marriage”, of the use of social media and virtual worlds.

In our project team we had used integrated social media in the virtual environment from the beginning of the study and in our preparing work, so that it also was natural, that the presentation platform at BABEL Language School contained several boards and screens of our content with the ability to be used actively by the use of the “shared media” feature of Second Life, which now also is available on Firestorm and Singularity viewers. For the hands-on activities 6 boards were prepared with documents on Google drive, to offer the option to combine social media examples, which our audience would estimate, would make their way in the future, as well as to add comments on the necessary evolvement of educational practices for inspiration of all and to bring the discussion of the topic further. In the same way, we had our material from Youtube and Flickr on screens and we initially also planned to view our slideshow directly from Google drive. This showed closer to the presentation day sometimes to give transmission delays, so that we changed the slide viewer to be static on SL-premises by the use of forwarded images on the scripted viewer board.

As a good completion of the presentation, and after our collegue Eliza’s presentation was done too, we also got time for a relaxing dance to world music and music of Pink Floyd. Thanks to Elfay for moderating the evening and our lecturers for their constructive comments, as well to our guests, who all, in pirate outfit or not, gave us their attention and contributed to a splendid atmosphere.

Standing ovations to Eliza's presentation at the  presentation platform at BABEL Language School prior to the informal and relaxing dancing time :)

Standing ovations to Eliza’s presentation at the presentation platform at BABEL Language School prior to the informal and relaxing dancing time 🙂

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Wish You Were Here – Cross-Cultural Art Interventions & Documentation

From the last week’s preparations for the presentation of Bill’s & Mike’s and the project team’s work in the “Is One Life Enough?” module it was left to figure out, how they best possible could ensure the documentation of the hands-on activities and the included messages of visitors and audience. The presentation scene was changed to offer a huge space in the middle for the guests to put the bricks of social media together, which they would want to point out for their beliefs of, what future education would contain. The project team’s prepared bricks hang as a web in the ceiling of the platform to be taken copy of and to be arranged on the floor by their visitors.

Hanging Web of Social Media Bricks

Hanging Web of Social Media Bricks

But how would the option for the desired documentation of the brick walls or brick builds the guests would create be established and how would they be given the possibility for further comments?
On Bill’s and Mike’s wish I did some research and looked at, what others recently have done to document cross-cultural interventions and art expressions in a contemporary way.

From 2002 – 2011 “Das Beckwerk” took place:

Introduction to "Das Beckwerk"

Introduction to “Das Beckwerk”

After these 9 years of active work on several world stages, the documentation was put into a website called “Das Beckwerk Museum”, which means as an entirely online documentation of the world affairs which have been touched in Cairo, Beijing, Herning and elsewhere. The intention was to “freeze” the project at the state it had, by the closing day, January 17, 2011.

Closing of "Das Beckwerk" in 2011

Closing of “Das Beckwerk” in 2011

The above mentioned interactive map with the attached content of “Das Beckwerk”’s activities is best explored, by visiting the website: http://www.dasbeckwerk.com/#map .

Closing “Das Beckwerk” down in this way and bringing all information together on the static website’s museum to establish a solid documentation of the work and art expressions, which have been carried out, provides a memorable way of saving the artwork for the future. Anyway, others go other ways with their audiences.

In the book “Wish You Were Here” art & development interventions from Nepal from 2006-2009 are reflected, with the focus, to engage both the readers and the NGO aid workers in mutual understanding:

Introduction to "Wish You Were Here", 2010

Introduction to “Wish You Were Here”, 2010

In the attempt of finding ways to involve multiple cultures in the observed world affairs, they ask:

Consequently they start the book with a 9 pages long questionnaire to the readers with topics to consider such as these:

Questionnaire to the reader

Questionnaire to the reader

This approach definitely intends to involve the readers of a “normal book” and to illustrate the dilemmas we face in our century: There might not be final solutions and truth in many topics of our existence in 2013, but it is essential to take position, to express and to substantiate our point of view.
There are many postcards in this book, which were sent home to increase involvement and cross-cultural understanding:

Postcard from Nepal to Denmark

Postcard from Nepal to Denmark

Even if we have to do with a much smaller project in the presentation of the work in the IOLE module than “Das Beckwerk” and “Wish You Were Here” were, these examples give raise to the idea, both to initiate active involvement in the documentation of the completed work and to open for individual commenting and dialogue hereby.
After bringing these thoughts back to Bill and Mike, they therefore decided to ensure, that they actually would have some documentation by snapshots of the visitor’s 3 dimensional work, which then could be pasted in an open document with space for comments and as a visible inspiration for new guests to come. For this purpose Bill and Mike created 6 interactive boards to be dragged down to the middle of the presentation platform, so that the hands-on and 3D creations easily could be transferred to the 2D open documents, which then could become the start of the project archive.

Project presentation platform with 6 dragged down interactive screens

Project presentation platform with 6 dragged down interactive screens

http://www.dasbeckwerk.com/

Nynne Haugaard & Nikolaj Kilsmark: Wish You Were Here. Revolver Publishing, Berlin. 2010

Additional: http://www.art4change.info/index.html

Future of Education with the accomplished Technology used for a multicultural Approach

Our kids won’t hesitate. They will reach out for whatever technology holds for a new way of learning and socializing. Facebook – love it or leave it, they will think, and get immersed in these communities they find there – most of them. facebookIt’s in fact an overwhelming perspective. Young people striving for ways to identify with something outside their home bound circles can today easily come forward to whatever culture they’d like to know more of or to join. The option of wide spread exploring and orientation is already present for the new generation and will be used extensively. Not only that information is just nearby for searches, also the authentical communication with representatives of other lifestyles is just around and easily established. The competent use of Web 2.0 facilities is what a new generation is dealing with and learning from already.

Schools and teachers experience, that the old ways they know of, to improve their students’ competencies and knowledge acquirement no longer are sufficient. The educational system is forced to move towards the circumstances, the society and technological development offers for a wider practice of knowledge achievement and exchange. National curriculums are undergoing changes according to the overall noticeable presence of multicultural aspects in a globalised world. Job applications may no longer have to be brought forward in the national language, but in the concern language. Working teams are mixed up of colleagues with several cultural and national origins. The future competency, to be capable of team playing in multicultural environments, is substituting former qualifications of a more national shape.

Authentical meetings with others from abroad and their cultures have become more common, both in virtual environments or face to face by the increasing mobility of students or employees in huge parts of the world. Today a cv is better, when an applicant has had periods of study or working in other countries or cultures. For the future an even more valuable employee is conceivable: The multicultural networking individual, who saves time and expenditures by being in touch with her/his communities through the use of social media and virtual environments. The technologies for resource saving approaches of networking across borders are given in 2013: It’s no longer a question of, who controls the mouse – everyone can today explore and learn to use contemporary tools of collaborating in cyberspace. google drawingThe user interfaces of most web 2.0 applications are easily controlled and spending a little time to experience and carry out a common drawing with a friend in Google’s or other’s online spaces will convince most people of the advantages to share thoughts and ideas from one’s own desktop rather than to have to encounter far away meetings for the together idea development.

Blackboard (the former “Elluminate”) offers advancedBlackboard possibilities for conferencing across borders and a lot of educational institutions have begun to use it for online courses and workshops. Virtual worlds such as Second Life are widely used by universities, language schools and educational providers in several fields for simulation of relevant real life scenarios for learning and study. moodleMoodle and second lifeFronter provide complex learning management systems (LMS) and Facebook groups, Google Drive and WordPress offer advanced collaborative applications in the cloud, which gather huge interest for all those, who want to use an updated space for discussions, sharing and education.

Google Drive

fronter

In some of the most advanced educational institutions students today are guided and advised to use web tools for their presentations and portfolios. wordpressPrezi and Glogster are promising tools to increase the student’s motivation to create interesting and individual showcases for their learning process and the working results, which also can engage audiences by the possible feedback.

PreziGlogster

Youtube and Flickr offer huge spaces for personal and creative messaging and voicing and form communities of like minded content creators as well, which can stimulate new creativity and identification for the evolving teenager or young student. Smaller social networking platforms such as Ning, Groups or Spruz can come in use for exchanges of selected groups or classes of students for international exchanges on teacher chosen common topics. Skype or Second Life’s voice function can increase the language learning impact by synchronous communication across borders. In other words, the online universe is consolidating and taking over functions, which have been closely connected to the physical location, libraries or classrooms have had in the past.

Remarkable in the beginning of 2013 is, that the attempts to reduce the “mass” of hardware units are pretty well developed and there is no doubt, that our students will grab the newly presented technology as soon as possible. The Sixth Sense Technology prepares a small necklace alike camera and projector with finger sensors connected to a smartphone in the pocket, which can bring up a holographic representation of a screen anywhere – even sixthsense14on one’s hand if no other surface is around, for e.g. to phone a friend or to search for some internet content. The iWatch technology also is rumored to cast a holographic screen apple-iwatch-first-look-3from the arm as an user interface instead of a heavy computer screen for internet access and controlling of content in the device. The Google Glass technology aims to deliver a small unit on sergey-brin-google-glass-0020_610x407changeable glass shapes and styles to view the use of the integrated computer in the glass frame and to control it by voice. 

It must be assumed, that the use of small wearable body near units to access internet content will make their entrance among the young generation as soon as they are available for a fair and affordable price – as smartphones did. The technology will then have the feature of being accessible in nearly any situation and the option to share the view of content by a bigger picture for mates and peers will certainly meet the desires we already now can notice in between the young generation, when we see them stand around and share what is shown on a traditional computer or smartphone display. In education this technological progress once again will open for new challenges for the teacher, who then will need to know how to navigate in class with multiple and independent learning processes going on to an ever higher extend as we see it today. A future teacher role in this landscape has to be grounded on deep knowledge of the in class used technologies and of the diversity and credibility of sources from multiple cultures as well as on the capability to support and guide individually in the student’s learning process and behaviour in online communities.

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html – The Sixth Sense Technology

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5OV_BJreTA&feature=share&list=PL4DBB7B034EEF650B – Apple’s iWatch

http://youtu.be/V6Tsrg_EQMw – Google Glass

Sweet Student Life and high Expectations

Finally they put me on a study and gave me a break from teaching – wow!

I’m so grateful – They must have felt, that time was running a little too fast and that they needed to adjust and enrich their use of social media. They took me from the class schedules and send me to Dublin Institute of Technology to enrol for the online module “Virtual Environments: Is One Life Enough?”. I had told them for years – now they listened …

It’s amazing. As a student you don’t have to prepare lessons and to attend for classes and there is better time for breakfast too. I’m really full of high expectations to this online course and promise you to get back here frequently with new ideas and episodes from my new ways in sl and elsewhere.

What I always wanted to get the opportunity to learn more about is here:

  • Learn to use the last social media ressources, such as Twitter and Linkedin, which I haven used before
  • Link platforms together to trigger synergy effects and to increase followers, friends and connections
  • Create a better brand
  • Decide and explain, which platforms are best for what
  • Create and add diverse content to different online virtual environments t

    o make my voice heard better

Snapshot _ Dublin 3 - Dublin Institute of T, Dublin 3 (37, 234,

We had the first lecture this Thursday evening. The landmark was fine and luckily one of the lecturers, Sitearm, stood around and pointed to the teleporter to get to the classroom in 1001 meter’s height. The chairs were good and cinema alike. We were 5 students, three still missing, and three engaged lecturers. They didn’t show any slides, but voicet and chattet. I was one of the few to have my voice working but forgot to mute it, when I hadn’t to ask or to say anything 🙂

All the work we have to do for next Thursday was made pretty clear. I made my facebook and twitter accounts by now:

http://www.facebook.com/mike.meltzer.50

https://twitter.com/MikeMeltzer1

Looking forward to the next class and what they will say to my 30 seconds elevator speech – I’ll post it here later on …

Educator’s Exodus from SL?

On Monday, October 4, Linden Lab announced, that the reduced pricing for educational sims would be given up by December 31, 2010. Many educators (Universities, K-12 education providers, Schools and Institutes) have intensively commented on the consequences of a raise of fees in the middle of the academic year on blogs and lists in the first days after the Linden’s announcement. Non-Profit and educational provider’s presence in Second Life seemed to be threatened.

Many institutions commented, that they wouldn’t be able to raise the double fee and the discussion of alternatives to Second Life was drawn out from many angles to get forward to alternative ways of carrying out the splendid experience with activities in a virtual world, which many educators have.

OpenSim was often mentioned as another virtual world, which could offer similar facilties for educational work. On the other hand some insiders could participate with observations of, that OpenSim looks good as a future platform but still misses the technical infrastructure, which residents from Second Life are used to. In this discusssion, parts of the educational scene still announced to leave SL and others declared to stay in the well known metaverse.

Some of the problems seem to be, that it is difficult to export buildings and environments, which have been constructed for and in SL with great efforts. 

BABEL Language School has always paid full fees, as we are a privat language learning provider. But BABEL Language School has also profited from and hopefully contributed to the huge network we got from our togetherness with other educational institutions at Second Life. So, we were about to follow our disapointed collegues or at least share there new experiences with them, by making a big new step towards another virtual environment too.

On Friday, October 8, 2010, Linden Lab by Terrance Linden in an interview took a turn around and opened for continues rabates on the normal land fees, if the providers renew their holdings before December 31, 2010. According to these latest information renewal now is possible for 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. With this statement in hand, educational providers and non-profit organisations now can look forward to maximum 2 years more on the old conditions.

Using a virtual world – a substitute for real life or an extension of it?

Virtual worlds or virtual environments are taking up our minds in these years – what is it, that brings us to facebook, twitter, second life or blogs? Are we about to lose or replace our normal ways of human communication?

We may be fascinated and impressed of the possibility to get so many new contacts and friends abroad and to actively be able to make an agenda. Tv can´t compare with the option to create, to comment our contact’s funny status messages or to actively join groups and discussions.

Some of our new friends will be there and ready for exchange and communication always  – 24/7. Real life friends might be gone to bed a long time ago. Time can fade out this way and we will still be engaged, as we see us in good communication and company. There is a feeling of freedom about taking these new chances to get in touch out there and contacts by time can get pretty close.

Joining virtual worlds is extending what real life holds for us and there is the chance to express us selves in new ways. Instead of following the main track of our real life we get the option to do things different. A virtual environment allows us to try to be the one we always wanted to be in fitting communities without the fear, that our colleagues, partners or families find out about the new aspects of a for us enriched life style we try to establish. Our knowledge of the world and what others have on their minds is increasing and we learn more from the world we are part of. Our language skills are getting better too, as we need to be talk active to explain and to understand. It’s part of the human condition to show empathy and to support good friends – in cyberspace or in real life.

In virtual environments we can do things we hardly could in real life. We can place a message and look forward to the other’s response the next time. We can attend instruction and classes in subjects which wouldn’t be available for us in real life. We can save time and meet the other from our desk or working station at home. Now we also can share nearly everything easily: pictures, videos, music, instruction, virtual events by joining them with our avatar, ideas and drafts. And there is the possibility for real time togetherness.

For educational purposes, a 3D-virtual world like Second life adds great new facilities, as we can stream a broadcasted program to the virtual classroom and let us all comment on it. There’s also the feature to create inspiring spots or rooms, which point out the topic of our learning subject and visualize them. Environments and auditoriums can even be build up around interactive objects, so the learners would be the constructors of their own learning process.

To improve oral skills we would use the voice function and written chat will ensure good writing skills. What we use for lesson is all storable and can be handed out for home practise. The teacher will guide the students not only to good foreign language skills, but also to new competencies in using virtual material for learning.

Does this sound like a vision? BABEL Language School at Second Life has done it since February 2007.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Pak/75.1802/243.052

BABEL Language School – Mike Meltzer

Personal meeting and environment

A virtual world like Second Life lets you appear in a way you want. The avatar, your personal replacement, can carry out a special style in hairdressing, clothes, shape and accessories. The visible profile of your avatar can be filled out by your purposes or wishes for being there; also containing pictures of places you want to tell others about. There also are a lot of groups to choose between and to join. 

Communication is in face to face chat – written or oral – while getting a first impression of the other’s virtual appearance or in long distance instant messaging or group talks. In an educational perspective, the interaction can be adjusted by poses, gestures, whether or not using lip synchronization or the typing avatar animation in talks to optimize the use in class. Instant messaging and group chat is a good tool for making class appointments and for the exchange of information.

The environment of classrooms can get highly inspiring and so can field trips in near or far areas. There are plenty of places in Second Life, which are created by demographical groups of residents, reflecting the places they live at, for educational visits. We can there e.g. talk about what we see and experience in a very concrete approach. Also the near circumstances can invite to educational visits – talking about the colors and plants and maybe animals we meet on our walk through a park around. In a classroom we have numberless and better options than in real life to expose cultural and language training material for the use of engaged students. Basically all visual and audio material can be stored in media boards to keep the red thread in chapters to work through. Additionally on video screens actual input from e. g. broadcasting stations can be shown and there can be objects and chalk boards present, to display the correct writing and even to trigger the proper pronunciation of topics in focus.