We are now at the end of week 3 of term – time is racing by and I find it even more incredible what was achieved last year now I am on campus and more aware of timescales and student pressures.
The project teams have been allocated and 4 of the 5 teams have met their clients; hopefully the fifth has also. The next stage for students is to develop their specifications for comment by us and their clients. In the meantime, I have divided up the island to set the building plots as specific zones and allocated them to the groups, learning quite a bit about how land permissions and prim counts work in the process.
After 3 weeks focusing on practical aspects and developing my own building skills, I think I can now begin to start thinking again about how the project relates to my research objectives – both short term (what I can get from ILE 09) and longer term (how ILE projects might be used with other student cohorts).
My current interest with the ILE students is how they respond to stuckness and problematic learning. There are various places where students could get stuck. They are working in a medium which is new to them and need to learn basic skills about being, moving and relating in the environment (perhaps not dissimilar to moving into a new real life environment). In addition, they need to learn the specific building and scripting skills necessary to create artifacts in Second Life and make those artifacts do whatever it is they are intended to do. Although there may be some transfer of skills from other environments, the SL building and scripting interfaces are not intuitive and some students may experience a degree of stuckness in these activities.
The project requires students to develop solutions to problems presented by real life clients. As the clients are drawn from a number of different disciplines, students need to be able to understand and interpret client needs and demonstrate this in the production of a project specification. They then need to develop a project in Second Life, using their building and scripting skills and their knowledge of the greater world of Second Life, to meet the client requirements.
The third aspect of the project which also involves new learning is the creation of a machinima for a presentation in the 9th week of term. Machinima making involves creating film clips in Second Life and then using appropriate software to edit the clips and create a sound track. Although some students may be familiar with these skills, it is likely others will find this also presents challenges and may lead to a degree of stuckness.
I am interested in how students respond when they get stuck. What strategies are used to get unstuck? Does the immersive nature of Second Life have any effect on the motivation of students to find solutions? Are there episodes of flow – and does flow experience affect response to stuckness. I need to get back to my pencil and paper and what I want to know, what tools I need to use and how I will collect and use data. This project is going to be iterative if nothing else.