In the past week I have been noticing that all of the thematic elements are really starting to overlap for me. Last night, I got the praxis for this theory. I am exploring the use of Second Life as an enhancement to my developing online intensive English course for graduate students. In the typical path of academe, I had been researching all about Second Life and the various tools that are available to differently abled populations. I have two pages of journal articles, blogs, and wki links. Then while reading for another class on my iPad, I just decided to try out the Pocket Metaverse app that proclaims to be a “mobile version” of various virtual realities. The app allows users to input their login data and select grids from multiple virtual reality platforms. Within 30 seconds of inputting my data, I had an IM request from another “resident.” We chatted for almost 20 minutes and when she found out about my research and my goals, she suggested that I meet the “head” of the Virtual Ability on Thursday to get help on how to achieve my goals.
At that point, it all made sense. I was struggling to type on my iPad, but my “buddy learner” was patient and willing to help me. The way that she communicated with me was inclusive, yet completely authentic. Second Life is definitely what my students need to be able to “test out” the language skills that we are learning in the more didactic portions of the course. It will provide that communicative competence that I was having trouble envisioning in a 100% online writing class where students are geographically and culturally distributed.
I learned more in those 20 minutes of doing than I had in my 3 hours of researching.