In English, what I did was a bit of pedagogical explanation - drew rationale from constructivist learning, and reiterated the whole digital native thing - explaining that education can and must teach the students using the tools they know and relate to - (their brains are different!).
I then drew connections to the existing curriculum giving examples of content that would be enhanced by using the technology present in the virtual platform. (see previous post for some of that). Once I was given the OK I contacted Pathfinder Linden who heads the educational division of Linden Labs and together we generated a quote for three private islands; Ramapo, Suffern and Rockland.
I should mention here that one concern my administration voiced was the inevitable "safety" of students online in an "uncontrolled" environment. This was why we decided that rather than establish our teens on the teen grid, we would have to, at least for now, keep out islands private. This means that once the students enter in the fall, the islands will be "no on-no off". My students will only be able to travel our three islands, and no one other than my students and teachers will have access to the islands unless it is granted and set up by the governess, (Your's Truly!)
Although I don't consider this the most beneficial experience for my kids, I will take what I can get for now! The potential of the cultural exchange available through open interaction on the teen grid is something I will work toward.
So, after some weeks of emails and stalls, I was informed yesterday that the islands are now up on the main grid, and I have access to them through my account - there they are under My Land. Ramapo, Suffern, and Rockland....OH MY!
I eagerly teleported over and let me tell you I felt much like I imagine Columbus did when he landed -- only I was TOTALLY alone- no natives, no trees, no NOTHING! I faced a large expanse (larger than I could have imagined) of dull green land. Each island has a mound type thing toward one end - that I suppose might end up being cool - but I walked/flew around totally overwhelmed. NOW WHAT!?!?!
I have a rather rich life in SL - and have made many friends and networked with many educators - but I realized that what I need now is builders! I need a team to help me create my vision. AND I AM OUT OF MONEY!! Chatting with some folks about this - I realized that I needed to start with a plan - something that I could at least direct volunteers to in order for them to understand where I wanted to go with this project.
My basic vision is this: Island # 1, SUFFERN
- Suffern Island will be where the kids first enter SL. This island needs to accomplish a few things. It must serve as orientation for the kids (an abridged version of the orientation island we all went through when joining SL is what I envision-the kids will grasp it in a heartbeat!)
- Suffern is also where the kids can practice some basic building/scripting and just get comfortable with the tools and the environment. As facilitator, I can pass on my (limited) knowledge, but my experience has always been that the kids will zoom right past my skills in a nano second and start to amaze me! This will only be the case though, if they are challenged and motivated which brings me to the second requirement for Suffern Island;
- IT MUST BE AMAZING! The kids need to be stimulated and intrigued by what they initially see when they enter SL or they will just lose interest! This is where my prefab buildings will just not cut it, and that is why I am desperately seeking volunteers to come in and make this place amazing! I am hoping that al of the creative talents in SL will see this as an opportunity to stretch and design/build that idea that has been waiting for an opportunity! All this AND contributing to the future of education---what more could you ask???
- Ramapo will be where the students go to "demonstrate knowledge" or simply put - to do their projects. For example - if I work with a teacher who is working on a unit studying the Holocaust, this is where the students can go to build a museum or to create works of art reflecting their responses to a particular subject, or design and build an ancient Greek temple - you catch my drift? I will work with the teachers to "build a better book report." Act it out, build it, write it and publish it here - the potential is limitless!
- So what do I envision on Ramapo - maybe a few basic structures; a library where the kids can publish, perhaps a gallery, but mostly I will leave this island to the students to design and evolve.
- The kids will not have immediate access to Rockland but will have to "earn" it by completing a project successfully either with a group or individually.
- I am even imaginging and "Ellis Island" experience to gain access to Rockland.
- Rockland should have all the games, skateboards, powerboats, malls, clubs, etc. Now, some of it has to be there already - but there should also be room for the kids to develop entrepreneurial projects, and their own creations!
Please contact Maggie Marat in world and also join the group I have established: Ramapo Volunteers.
Thanks in advance -