Then the educator 'came back' and the ‘lesson’ continued. Again, I asked myself ‘why in SL?’
I am still learning about SL but like any tool, the question to be asked first is who are your learners, why do you need it and what will its use bring to the learners, and if you need it, how are you going to employ it, and then you can think about moderating it.
BTW, the example I gave was an informal observation of an EFL instructor.
Following on from Moira's posts, perhaps there is a need for two moderators in sessions/situations where students are still learning the technology.
I have heard experiences of two tutors at the Open University, UK who conduct the tutorials in Second Life in a pair - one tutor facilitates the activities while the other tutor helps with the technological problems that student(s) might be experiencing via IM. The two tutors also remain in touch with one another via the IM.
I am a long time lurker coming out out of hibernation. By way of a quick introduction, I work as a technical writer with a software / hardware company. I wrote training material for 4 years prior to this and this is what got me interested in online learning. I am a Masters in Distance Education learner at Athabasca University and I am doing my final course this term.
I am reminded of a synchronous course that I took where the instructor required that we do an individual tech check at a scheduled time before the first session with his assistant. We had to demonstrate that our hardware was working plus do some basic tasks (known in advance) using the interface. It took 15 minutes if things went smoothly.
During the session, the instructor had another person to handle technical issues with predefined ways to do back channel communications. I was struck by how well this planned and prepared approach worked compared to other sessions. The session had little of the typical overload of technical issues at the beginning.
The technology was in the background where it belonged but it did require time and resources to get to this stage. It helped that the prof was a 'relic' [Grin] with 20+ years of synchronous experience including telephone, audio graphic, satellite etc. and really knew how to create an excellent synchronous learning experience.
With SL, there is less of a knowledge / skill base on how to use it effectively - unfortunately it takes time and mistakes to develop this. Many SL sessions are less than wonderful due to technical and navigation issues. The sessions never get beyond Stage 1: "Individual access and the ability of participants to use CMC are essential prerequisites for conference participation (stage one, at the base of the flights of steps)" as defined in The Five Stage Model that Gilliam referenced in her initial post.
Hello Robert and all: yes, preparations before-hand and having a helper is key especially when people are still getting used to SL and the its audio facilities. Perhaps we need to think about competencies for SL-Faciliator (Moderator? or presenter?) and the competencies for the Technical-helper. Also, how can the various communication modes - IM (individual or a small group communication), chat (broadcast), gestures, and audio be effectively combined before the actual session (for set-up) and during the session.
In some large-group SL sessions, I have come across another role: 'guide' - who welcomes you and directs you to the right 'place' for the event or gives you a note-card with the schedule of events- very much like a registration desk at a conference.
So I think that there are other 'roles' (and their competencies) in virtual worlds that need to be considered in addition to the moderator role. Thoughts? Thanks.
yes, preparations before-hand and having a helper is key especially when people are still getting used to SL and the its audio facilities. Perhaps we need to think about competencies for SL-Faciliator (Moderator? or presenter?) and the competencies for the Technical-helper.
I've been thinking about this, as we've had groups in SL; and have found that it's often easy to get sidetracked into helping someone do something. Of course, in a face to face class, students can see that you're helping someone else, and just get on, or put their hands up & wait.
In a virtual setting it's different, as seeing a "sleeping" avatar, or, worse, not seeing the avatar doesn't really let the student know what you're doing.
A second person is a help - though of course if they're busy helping x you have to encourage y to wait..
I've had groups of both staff and students in SL. In both cases it was in a computer lab, so they could see who was getting help, when my avatar fell "asleep". Interestingly, it was the staff who were both more impatient, and more demanding in terms of the help felt they needed to get "sorted out"/ just another question while you're here!
As to what roles the helper needs; I think that it's primarily just a good knowledge of the environment - other students could probably help out, if you've identified those students who are familiar with SL (or whichever environment you're using)