The second session went well. Splitting the group (as per the plan on the earlier post) helped give the group’s discussion some order, without draining away room for improvisation, interruptions and ad-libs.
Again, having 3 of us was really valuable. We did swap these unofficial roles but to some extent Caroline positioned herself within the group and thus helped to keep the discussion rolling and on track, Martin was asking leading questions and I was doing quite a lot of herding and one-to-one (IM) queries.
Towards the end of the session there was quite a lot of positive, spontaneous feedback – that it was the best week of the course so far, and queries as to whether the next part of the course could be in Second Life as well. We’ll know more from the entries and reports that the students enter on their regular VLE (Blackboard) as it’s not very likely that those who have found it unsatisfying or anxiety provoking would say so during the class.
While the session was certainly structured, it still had almost a party atmosphere – a sense that the students were motivated and excited about virtually meeting up. This is something that came out of the interviews after our sessions last term – Andrew found that the full-time students compared SL with face-to-face situations, to SL’s detriment, whereas the part-time distance students found the simultaneity and social immediacy of SL very compelling.
We are planning a follow-up interview with Caroline (the course tutor) and to interview students.
Here’s a picture of our ‘stage’ as the students begin to arrive. The rug was just pulled out of the inventory library and then made bigger and redder using the edit menu – easy!