Track: Best Practices Showcase

Title Choice and Play, Versus Structure in Supporting New SL Users
Author(s): Nicole Miller; Justin Allison; Kui Xie
Moderator(s):Edith Halderman
Date Friday, March 16 18:00
Location: Rockcliffe Rotunda
Abstract One of the biggest challenges in using SL is the initial learning stage.  While much literature references the steep learning curve to using SL (Baker, Wentz, & Woods, 2009; Cheal, 2009; Condic, 2009; Luo & Kemp, 2008; Molka-Danielsen, 2009; Sanchez, 2009; Shen & Eder, 2009; Waters, 2009), there is limited research on various methods of providing new users with training to reduce those challenges and to reduce the steep learning curve. It has been suggested that play, creativity, and group activities are beneficial in orienting students to SL (Sanchez, Molka-Danielson). This session will discuss how students were trained to use SL using two different methods. One group was given step-by-step instructions with a user manual and videos to support their transition into SL. The second group was given lots of resource options to choose from depending on how they felt they learned best, including a get started guide, videos, website instructions, and an interactive simulated carnival environment where they could play while learning new skills. Individual training was followed by group training where play and discovery was part of the learning process. These two training sessions were followed by an official class session. This presentation will discuss the nature of the training how the students perceived their experiences in SL. In general, limited skill difference existed by the end of the class session between the two groups, but in almost all areas, the participants in the step-by-step individual training reported higher skill levels at each stage of the process.
Video-
Bio(s): Nicole Miller: Nicole C. Miller, a former middle school teacher, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, with a minor in instructional technology at Mississippi State University. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Education with an emphasis on Computers in Instruction from California State University, Northridge.  Her current research interests include the use of virtual worlds in education, technology integration and middle level education.
Justin Allison: Justin R. Allison is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Instructional Systems and Workforce Development, with a minor in Educational Psychology, at Mississippi State University. He earned a Master of Science degree in Technology Education. His research interest problem-based learning, instructional technology, and online learning communities.
Kui Xie: Kui Xie is an assistant professor in Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development. His research interests include computer-supported collaborative learning, human cognition and motivation, and instructional and technology scaffolding for learning.

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