Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) 2011

WooooWW!! VWBPE is back! Pio is so excited to participate again but this time as a presenter with the good help of two of her best friends in SL.. Ana Begonia and Elaine Khandr ... of course we'll be introducing Artstonia at this very important world conference. Well, I will tell you  more about it when we have a confirmation of our proposal to participate. But, now... what's the VWBPE 2011? smiles... it's a conference .. "the conference" will take place – March 17-19, 2011 as you can read in their site:

The Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants in all virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning, and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Presenters will focus on the identification of best practices in education designed for 3D virtual world technology.

Ok, Now the fast facts about the 2011 conf:

1. Theme is You are Here.
2. It's a 53 hours conference.
3. Involves all virtual worlds:  Second Life, OpenSim, World of Warcraft, Eve Online or Club Penguin
4. They want participants to tell their stories of what works well and what can be done better. Where does learning happen for them? Who do they teach? How to they engage learners? Why is learning within the virtual important to them? What is the key learning they want to share with others?
5. Registration is free to all conference attendees thanks to the generous support of their conference sponsors.
6.  Submissions are due no later than 23:59 PST Monday, January 31, 2010.
7.  The Proposal Streams are.. just in case you want to participate: Theoretical and Research Presentations, Content Based and Informal Presentations, Workshops and Tutorials, Explorations of Virtual Worlds, Panel Presentations and Roundtables, Tools and Products, Games and Simulations, Posters, Machinima, Teen Fair.

We are thinking on participating in proposal stream: Explorations of Virtual World. This stream includes tours, orientations, and  introductions to spaces in Second Life, other social virtual worlds or MMORPGS. Our tour will last  20 minute intro + 90 minute tour including Q&A. 

Since our project is related to the use of medieval roleplaying sims for learning and practicing a new language. We'll demonstrate what roleplaying is about by roleplaying with the participants to the tour. 

Checking back on last March conference Pio found this interesting conversation about Virtual Worlds, Culture, and Change. On that conversation Blogger Dusan Writer interviewed anthropologist and author Tom Boellstorff and they looked at the way a unique culture has evolved within Second Life.

Also had the chance to revisit what she posted at that time and found that she has posted another really interesting presentation By Lindy McKeown (Decka Mah in SL) where she explained How Action Learning works for staff professional development across organizations, how it narrows the 'Knowing - Doing Gap', and how it relates to  Heutagogy, the management of self-managed learners. 

Pio feels embarrased that the author of the presentation has posted a comment to the entrance and she hasn't noticed that until now. Lindy shared two wonderful blogs to read more about her presentation: See this blog post for Pedagogy, Andragogy and Heutagogy compared. and this one on the Roles for Virtual Worlds in Education. Anyway, It's a good thing that this conference post all of the participations and that eventhough you are not in Sl, nevertheless you can benefit from the wealth of material produced in these conferences. 

Well, this is just a little example of the quality of knowlede that'll be happening in March 2011.
Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Introducing Cypris Chat!!!

Well, on her traveling and adventuring Pio got to Cypris Chat Island, a Virtual World English Learning Community in Second Life and what she found there was a wonderful community of educators and students. Visiting their website, Pio read their credo:


and also found a really smart idea of what learning English should be about: 
"Learning English should be a way of life instead of a struggle to achieve."
- Professor Merryman, Founder

Today she received an invitation on the chat group to join a class on grammar and also to participate in a Christmas group photo. Of course, she loved the idea, since she's been there before observing classes. After the class and before going to the photo place, she found a note card that explains what this community is about... Professor Merryman wrote it. But let's Pio introduce this wonderful educator first:

Also known as Mike McKay M.Ed Tech - is the founder of Cypris Chat, a not-for-profit English speaking practice community. He's an American living and teaching English in Japan as an adjunct professor. He's researching ways to help adult learners learn English.

Mike's Philosophy:
Teaching helps us discover new strengths and weaknesses.
Learning is something we do to keep us looking forward.
Home is a place where your mistakes are forgotten.
Reaching the peak late in life gives us enough time to enjoy the ride.
The first question, then would be.... What is Cypris?
The name Cypris comes from the island where this group first formed. It is actually a type of moth we find to be very beautiful. The symbolism also fits well with our community because a moth or butterfly represents the freedom to choose. Moths can listen while clinging to a wall or fly in to the middle of a conversation. Members of our group come and go as does the Cypris moth. We are not a school. Cypris is a co-op learning community supported solely by donations. group members who are studying are referred to as learners. Teachers are referred to as tutors. We believe language learning is best when experienced within the context of living. For this reason, a community which lives together for the purpose of helping one to learn or teach languages makes for a more engaging and memorable learning experience. 

Something that Pio agrees with 100%. She smiled after reading this part of the notecard and thought ... this is my kind of place.. from her experience visiting communies in SL or in the web... Setting times to get on line is somehing really diffiuclt to do.. Real Life is always demanding and even if we want to be a full time participant of these communities we find we can't. Open programs help students to come and go and give tutors freedom to select topics or activities that fit more the needs of the participants, so when they do come they just join a welcoming community that supports each other because they are used to have new comers all the time.

Who are the participants? Professor Merryman says:...
Our group is made up of people from all over the world but the bulk of our members come from Japan. That is because the founders of the group live in, or are, Japanese. The age range of our members seems to be between 30 and 50 and their level of English competence ranges from intermediate to almost fluent. With this in mind, it is best to tailor lessons for intermediate speakers and then make adjustments for each group meeting. 
......Pio found out that  it's open to students from all the world and newbies are welcome, too. She's there observing classes, that's how she learns best. So educators are welcome to volunteer and observe and maybe later on give it a try with their students. Pio is considering to offer herself as a tutor and bring URBE's students to practice.

Taken from:

What is a typical chat meet up? Now, this is really interesting and helpful. Next, professor Merryman provides a model of best practices...

We try to be consistent with every meeting so learners and tutors know what to expect from every lesson. Each lesson should include the following content within the given timeframe.

15 minutes - Welcome and warmup
Give a little time for late comers and technical difficulties while introducing new members and getting to know each other.

45 minutes - Present, practice, perform
In each lesson, the tutor should present the topic, vocabulary, phrases or related material to be learned. They should then have a section of the lesson dedicated to practicing those points. Finally,  learners should perform what they have learned. At this point there should be a wrap-up with a little feedback to the group and questions if there are any.

30 minutes - Activity
This activity does not have to relate to the lesson all though it would be best. The purpose of this time is to give learners a chance to interact with the group and practice chatting in English. Activities should be group centered and give everyone a chance to participate.

30 minutes - Travel Time
This time is used as if going on a field trip together. There are two reasons for doing this:
1. It's fun! Do you remember when you went on field trips in class. The teacher was responsible for organizing and telling the class where to go and when while learning something at the same time.
2. Our group shows its support to the community by bringing people to places that appreciate our visits.

During this portion of the meetup, all members need to be in group chat before leaving Cypris. We do this because group chat lets us keep in touch with everyone no matter where we are in SL. Also, we do this before leaving Cypris due to technical problems that can in other sims while joing group chat. Local chat and text chatting is discouraged.

Tips to make the experience better
Below is a list of tips and suggestions to help us all enjoy our community even more.

- Be on time. Start the chat and finish the chat on time. Consistency is most important. Some members only come to study, others for the activity and others for the travel time. If we are late or early at any of those times then we are doing a disservice to the community.
- Make lessons interesting, fun, active, and above all...nice. We are here to have fun and learn something at the same time. If you are having fun, then our members are having fun.
- Be patient. SL is a crazy place to teach in. So many different people means a lot of different learning obstacles. The group officers try to monitor who becomes a member of the group and whether there is anyone we feel does not fit in our community. But to do that we need to give everyone a chance to fit in.
- To manage large groups, try to introduce your learning objective and then seperate the group into smaller groups with one native speaker wishing to help. This gives a chance for native speakers who are interested in tutoring a chance to try teaching.
- Send out a notice card the day before your lesson and a group text chat notice 5 to 10 minutes before your lesson starts.
- During the Travel Time, copy the SLurl into group chat so everyone in the group can access it.
- Be sure to thank everyone for joining your lesson and encourage them to show their support by leaving a few lindens in the donation box (Wishing well for now) at the entrance to Cypris Village.

Those are wonderful tips that will certainly give us an idea of how classes can be conducted in virtual worlds.... The last tip is also really important... smiles.. everybody can contribute to keep places like this open to everyone. So if you go visiting, please... a little something would be appreciated.

The Photo shooting!!!

But now, let me tell you about the Christmas photo.. It was fun.. well, this a slide show of the adventure of taking the photo.. giggles... The most difficult part was to have all the participants standing in their pose balls. Participants were supposed to stand infront of the Christmas tree and around Santa's chair. was harder than poor Professor Merryman expected. Anyway it was great practice, since all the directions were given in English, using voice .. students had to follow directions and practice their prepositions of place. Some of the students helped their partners by providing support and laughing...

After the photo .. we had fun ice skating... They have a ice skating tour around the Sim.. and the music is wonderful.. Pio had a great time.. so if you want to come..let her know .. we can ice skate together.

Monday, December 13, 2010

EduNation Housewarming Party

Pio was invited to attend a really special party. The House warming Party at EduNation. But, what's EduNation you might ask yourself.  Well, that's great place for educators and students in SL. There are three EduNation islands and according to what we can read in their wiki, they are focused on the potential for Virtual Worlds (VWs) to enhance the language learning process and is maintained by a community of educators who contribute towards paying for the rent of the islands in Second Life.

These islands are owned by Gavin Dudeney, Randall Sadler, Heike Philp and Paul East, educators and visionaries that dedicate their time and resources to provide this virtual space in a not-for-profit manner.

So, this Sunday, 12 December 2010, Pio teleported to the first Island: EduNation I, there she participated in he opening of the Webheads HQ. Webheads in Action is a woderful CoP, (Community of Practice). The Webheads are a world-wide, cross-cultural, and vibrant online-community of educators with an open enrollment for anyone who wants to join. In their site you can read:

Webheads in Action was created in 1997-8 by Vance Stevens, in Abu Dhabi, Maggi Doty in Germany, and Michael Coghlan, in Australia, for ESL learners and facilitators as a student-teacher community. It has expanded to encompass a myriad of educators involved in e-learning in TESOL EVOnline (Electronic Village) and other language or cultural-based curricula. Webheads meet online regularly to explore the latest synchronous and non-synchronous communications technologies, including video and voice, to adapt and demonstrate new innovative ideas for e- learning and classroom curriculum. These educators also display a deep warmth and dedication to helping others. They are evolutionary and enterprising scholars who are harmonious and know how to have a lot of fun.
Doris Molero is a Webhead in Action and she's really proud of it. She's been a Webhead since 2002. She got to know about SL thanks to Webheads, that's how Pionia was born. 

Carol, Pio, Randall, Vance
Next January 10 - February 13, 2011. Webheads will be hosting "the village" a 5 week workshop on how to use virtual worlds for language teaching and learning. (VILLAGE is an acronym for Virtual Language Learning and Group Experience). Pio has already registered, so .. what are you waiting for to register? it'll be fun. Click here for more info: VILLAGE Language Learning and Community Building in Second Life. The organizers of this course will be: Dr. Kalyan Chattopadhyay (Kalyan Horatio), Dennis Newson (Osnacnatab Nesterov), Heike Philp (Gwen Gwasi) Mary Pinto (Mary Roussell), and Nahir Aparicio (Nahiram Vaniva)

Pio was happy to find  Vance Stevens (A.k.A Webhead Link) as well as her dear webhead friends, Nahiram Vaniva, Gwen Gwasi, Cyber Placebo, Karelia Kondor and she had the chance to make a new friend Mary Roussell.

Well, next thing we did was to go on a tour in Edunation I that included:

 Karelia's collection of games and tools
1.Language games at Karelias: There our Karelia showed us he collection of tools and games to teach languages. The most popular was a scrabble game to learn Italian words.

at the Piazza
2. Inauguration of the Piazza: There Gwen invited us to participate in a fun activity where avatars were supposed to rezz their most comfortable seating along, carpets with cushions, beanbags, chaise longues, anything was allowed. Gwen told us that was to imitate the famous 'Wohnzimmer' in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, a cult pub with old comfortable lounge furniture contributed by students resulting in a crazy mix of settees.  A famous and popular place.

Cyber Placebo.. a Lady Orc.
So we did, each one of the educators brought their favorite seat,  resulting in a very chaotic experience for many. Pio didn't have any problem with chaos.. she liked the chance to contribute with a piece of furniture she loved and that she got from her dear friend Anna Begonia. There was a really funny seat rezzed by Cyber Placebo that at the time has changed into a lady Orc. At the end of the activity, the result was a really nice eclectic seating place to have conversations. Where as a community everybody shared something they like and feel comfortable in. A place that in Pio's view represents what SL is about. Anything can happen. All the things we are used to when educators get together to share get a new light and freedom to be creative, cooperate, collaborate, share and learn by doing something and leaving your mark.

Later, Randall Renoir showed us the Holodeck tools. This is the recording of the tour: RECORDING: (34min). We also visited The Underwater Research Pod where we can scauba dive. I got a really nice scuba dive outfit there. Next we went to a sky platform where ther's a Go-Kart racing track.

We finished our party at a winter wonderland. We ice skated and  rode some slides. It was a fun way to finish the day. Once more this is the recording of this part of the Housewarming Party

Edunation Islands  are a wonderful place for educators and students. I am sure Pionia will be writing more about the great things she'll be doing there.