Part of the series Giving Second Life a Second Chance
I love teacher’s lounges in the same way I love coffee breaks at conferences. They’re great places to make friends and build professional networks (same people, different roles). The people I meet become my partners in learning.
Second Life feels a lot like a teacher’s lounge. Today, for example, I chatted with teachers in the lounge (actually, the Twitter Clubhouse). We shared tips and resources. When we had a question, we called on more experienced teachers for help. A friend popped in and offered to help with a study group project. Oh, and a student saw that I was in the lounge and came by to say hello. Sound familiar?
There’s one big difference–All the people in this teacher’s lounge were in different countries. I’m in Japan. The other teachers were in Australia and Venezuela. The more experienced teachers who helped us? One was in Hong Kong and the other in the US. My student? He was in Italy. Basically, in Second Life, there’s always someone around if I have a question, want to practice a teaching technique, or just want to play.
For a bit more formal way to learn about teaching in virtual worlds, there are study groups. Teachers in SLExperiments meet every Friday to share tools and lesson ideas, and learn new skills. They’re a nice mix of experienced and inexperienced teachers, and welcome newcomers. Their wiki contains a growing collection of lesson plans, resources, and a great list of teacher blogs (group members who teach in Second Life). One of the group’s founders, Nergiz Kern, also keeps an amazing blog about her experiences, Teaching in Second Life.
The Osnagroup is another study group that welcomes new teachers. It’s a little more difficult to find, but well worth the effort. The group started during the TESOL workshop about virtual worlds in language learning, so they’re still part of the EVO VWLL Ning. They meet on Thursdays. The best way to join this group is to contact Dennis Newson through the Ning.
Finally, you can experiment with different teaching tools on your own. Dudeney Ge’s Educator Freebie Shop is like a toy store for teachers, filled with tools created by Gavin Dudeney. They come with simple instructions and the shop is next to a sandbox where you can try them out. When you want to see the sheer volume of tools available for teachers in Second Life, visit the towers on International Schools Island. If you can imagine it, Shamblesguru Voom probably has it sitting in one of his towers, free for teachers.
You can enjoy some my early efforts as a teacher-in-training in a machinima my co-teacher posted on his blog, Meet Scott Scorbal. You can see some basic tools and techniques that we were learning to use. If you’re interested in reading more about our experience putting the lesson together, you can read about our pre-lesson planning, our post-lesson reflection, and look at our lesson plan. Even if I never teach much in Second Life, the process of learning how has made me a better teacher in real life.