Notes on teaching, role and identity in SL
Andrew Burn

One of the issues that we’re considering in relation to SL teaching and learning is role and identity (in relation to drama theory, performance and learning). It’s clear that the avatar identities of both student and teacher here a different: different names, with more or less serious associations for their owners; different appearances, more or less distant from RL appearances; different competences within this kind of cultural space, both technical and communicative; different conversational and presentational codes, governed by mixtures of netiquette, IM and chat conventions, gaming styles, and so on.

These factors also can be differently set against two points of comparison in such a course:
– face-to-face seminars in classrooms
– and delivery via conventional VLE

Some initial comparisons are set out below. These will be examined through data collected in the sessions, post-session interviews with students, and the SL literature – as well as drama, games and digital technology literature (see, for example, Carroll, Anderson and Cameron’s Real Players?: Drama, Technology and Education)

Classroom
Privileging language
Writing-like speech
RL consequences
Role indistinct from self
Ethnicity and gender fixed
Self in role routinized
Mono-locational
Fixed teacher role
Digression discouraged
High coherence
Defined, conventionalised space (variable)

in comparison to…

SL
Privileging action
Speech-like writing
Role protection
Role distinct from self
Ethnicity and gender unreliable
Self in role spectacular
Multi-location
Fluid teacher role
Digression encouraged
Variable coherence
Defined, conventionalised space (variable)

and

VLE
Asychronous
Writing-like writing
Monomodal
Low visability ethnicity/gender
Low definition of role
Priviledges language
Routinized role
Fixed teacher role
High coherence
No defined space

in comparison to…

SL
Synchronous
Speech-like writing
Multimodal
Ethnicity/gender marked but unreliable
High definition of role
Privileges action
Spectacular role
Fluid teacher role
Variable coherence
Explicit, immersive space.

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