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Holodecks in Second Life

28/11/2011

Presentation at the ICELF 2011 Conference

The Slide Show

 

The Abstract

Learning a Second Language in Second Life –  using ‘holodecks’ for the language classroom

In this paper we provide an overview of multi-user virtual environments and how they can be used in education. We then focus on Second Life and its application as a medium for teaching and learning English as an Additional Language (EAL). The use of multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) is on the rise, (Gamage, 2010) adding a new dimension to the use of the Internet where people from different corners of the globe can participate in live synchronous communication in a shared virtual space through their virtual representations or ‘avatars’. Language learning relies on role-play, to create situations that are as realistic as possible for the application of communicative practices. Second Life (SL) can be used to create those situations, in the form of holodecks. Possible scenarios can vary from having a job interview for a big corporation to being a supermodel on the catwalk.  One advantage of the use of MUVEs for such role-play is that the focus is on the avatar not directly on the language learner.

The paper will report on how and why certain scenarios were created and used in an EAL classroom at a regional Polytechnic. Informal feedback from the students and the teachers will be provided, along with conclusions from the authors and suggestions for further development.

Overall response from the learners were positive. As in any language classroom, set-tasks and objectives guide and motivate students. SL is no different when it comes to these pedagogical aspects and a well-planned, structured and executed lesson is important in any world, real or virtual. However, issues such as availability of necessary software, time-zone differences, steep learning curve and rate of adaption can create barriers to the adoption of this new medium. The authors will also comment on how some of these barriers may be addressed.

 

Dr Clare Atkins & Belma Gaukrodger

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