These past few weeks I’ve been spending my inworld time immersed in a MOOC (massive open online course). I plan to blog about this experience soon. But now I want to finish a project I began weeks ago, a show-and-tell on my visits to the University of Sheffield (UK) Infolit iSchool in Second Life® (SL). I read about this island in the schedule of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference.
I was unable to attend the VWBPE conference but read the abstract links with great interest. Innovations in virtual teaching and learning are on the rise, and among them are U of Sheffield’s blended learning approach to a first-year course on information literacy, one that interweaves face-to-face learning with Blackboard, web-based resources, and SL (Ridvan Ata and Sheila Webber’s presentation slides are available on the web).
Because one of my teaching goals is to offer a blended learning course that includes virtual world activities, I visited Infolit island as soon as I could – and was quite impressed with what I found. Each of my three visits were necessarily short but adequate, I hope, for offering this illustrated preview of what you’ll find should you make a visit.
Infolit iSchool is the SL home of U of Sheffield’s Information School and School of Education. It’s clearly a working and meeting space for students and faculty. There’s a warmth and charming whimsy to it that made me feel right at home. It feels loved.
Infolit is different from most SL university sites I’ve visited in that I didn’t come across any sit-style classrooms. Instead, I found an abundance of team and small-group work areas, along with project displays and informal places to chat and relax. Plus there are student residences – very cool!
Along with “nine SL mini-islands, designed for the students’ information problem activities” (abstract), the island has at least three areas for conferences and full-group discussions: the Skybox Conference Platform with exhibitions; the tree house, “a major venue for events, discussions and entertainment” (balloon whisper); and the Sakura House with a conference suite on the ground floor (not pictured).
I applaud Sheila Webber (Sheila Yoshikawa in SL), Information Studies faculty member and Director of the Centre for Information Literacy Research, for creating a wonderfully vibrant student learning space, one that uses Inquiry Based Learning. The balloon tour ends with this message: “Feel free to explore the island further!” I’m glad I did.