Monday, December 8, 2008

Week 14. Online distance learners in Japan

This week, I reviewed an article “Predictors of Learning Satisfaction in Japanese Online Distance learners.” This article studied the online distance education in Japan. Reading this article, the feeling was complicated, because I could still remember the first day I participated in R685, we all agreed that we are far behind the emerging technology. The article I read here was published in 2008, and according to the authors, we are still far behind. However, the surprising points is that the reason we are falling behind is not because we don’t the access to reach these emerging technology, but because we are hamper to bread the original model such as the author mentioned, the teachers’ authoritative role, culture value. I was also surprised to know that so far, there are still only a few universities in Japan where students can study entirely online at a distance. Because of the invention of technology products such as NDS, PS3, XBOB, I think the technology integration in education in Japan should be very flourish; however, the truth is that they might be more falling behind than other Asian countries, such as China where the open-sources software is supported by governments, and other institutions. As educators, I think though new doesn’t necessarily better, we at least need to give it a try and should not sacrifice students’ benefits just because we are hamper to step forward.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week 13. II Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins – The Pink Hair Lady

This week, we had a guest speaker who is “intellagirl.” I was so fascinated by what she is doing now. The real name of “intellagirl” is Sarah Robbins who is a Ph. D. candidate in Ball state University. She and her husband (Mark Bell) wrote a book called “Second Life for Dummies.” Intellagirl and her husband gave us some brief introduction about the second life, but there are two parts which really caught my attentions. The first part is the identity issue in the second life, and the second part is using second life teaching composition.

I take a “Young Adolescent Development” course this semester, and during the class, we discuss a lot of issues about developing identity during the development, but I never think about by interacting with others and different communities in the second life could be one possibility. Everyone can create their own account and edit the appearance of their avatars; this, according to the intellagirl, is the process of building identity. Maybe most of us will think that online users are more likely to disguise what they should be and create a new one identification; however this is a misconception. According to the research, most of the users see their on-line identity as an extension of their real identities. As a real life, there are hair style stores, cloth stores, and different kinds of fashion stores in the second life, everyone can use these small decorations to create their unique identity. The other interesting part related to identity was that, as the real world, we can distinguish or make assumptions about a person by observing one’s dressing, in the virtual world, such as “World of Warcraft,” we can also distinguish different characteristics by the decoration they have. For example, if you see other players have a crown, you are supposed to know they are experienced players, because those decorations can only gain by participating in and win during the wars. However, if someone who gain that decoration by buying from other players, this kind of behavior is also seen as cheating, and breaking the community rule. Intellagirl use the second life teaching composition which is really a new application for me. This idea even inspired me to have my final project- using second life as an assistant tool or complementary tool to teach EFL multilingual writers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Week 13. Game-based learning experiences – Second Life (SL)

Everyone likes to play games, but not everyone likes to study. In the past, there was a clear cut between playing and learning; however, because of the emerging technology, now we can learn by exploring the virtual world.

Second life is the first virtual learning environment I visit, and it was founded by Philip Rosedale in 2003. SL was designed for users to immersed in a 360 degree virtual world experiences, but later, more and more “residents” (individual as well as institutions)contribute to the virtual world and even create more possibilities and potential. Nowadays, we can experience many learning and teaching applications in the second life, such as Shakespeare Theater, Princeton library, Stanford University, and etc.

From my viewpoint, SL best represents the “Web 2.0” feature among other technologies. The first important feature is the “give & take” culture which I believe is the best and most important feature. All buildings, objects, and resources are created by residents. Later, other residents share these resources, and create more other resources. Second, second life provide a plateform where people can freely login and interact (socialize) with other residents. Third, second life is easy to access. Once you have computers or even mobile devices (ex. iphone), you can download the software and play it anytime. Fourth, there’s not limitation. You are free to explore any island, and participated in any events. As users, you are responsible for your own behavior. You decide what you want to explore and when you want to leave when you don’t like the islands or the events.

The future of the second life is hard to predict, because the community culture in the second life is hold by all residents, and maybe those who haven’t been there; however, maybe one of the residents one day. In other words, it’s the users to create their own culture which is very powerful, and unpredictable. I will be looking forward to see what the second life looks life 5 years after!