I recently sat down with Dan Holt (Sl: Profdan Netizen) of Lansing Community College to discuss his first term of teaching writing with SL (Fall 2009).
Dan’s an experience teacher for both creative writing & composition (academic writing–a better name–for my U.K. readers).
We had a wide-ranging discussion and I learned a great deal; Dan avoided some of the errors I made my first term, in 2007, in a similar course! Notably, he spent time in-world before bringing in a class of students.
Here are some notable points from the transcript of the interview:
- Work with students throughout the orientation and first hours
- Educate yourself and administrators before going in-world with students
- Anticipate resistance from administrators who think online courses should be primarily asynchronous
- Find a key ally (as I did at Richmond)
- Exploit SL’s low overhead costs. These make it attractive for hybrid and online courses at community colleges
- Address concerns about SL’s content and “addiction.” First to Dan (and me), fears bout SL are no different from concerns about the Web in the 90s. Second, showing off good educational uses and content of the world can convince some doubters
- Find colleagues. Dan has had a little more success than I have recruiting other faculty. I attribute this to the different environments: Richmond’s publish-or-perish pressure can be a disincentive for tenure-stream faculty to experiment with technologies
- Measure your class against others not using SL. Dan’s students did a little better in a comparative assessment.
I look forward to talking to other teachers about their first semesters in SL. The complete transcript of Dan’s and my chat can be found here .