Second Life Article

Greetings readers …

While browsing through my local newspaper, The Plymouth Herald, I found the following article about Second Life. I spoke to James Garnet who is the Head of the newsroom and gained permission to reprint it.

It is awesome that Second Life has found a place in schools and I hope there are many more utilizing it for good reasons such as this.

Pupils lead a double life

    Pioneering virtual world project sends literacy levels soaring

AN AWARD-winning virtual world computer game is being credited with helping city secondary school children improve their reading levels.

Teachers at Stoke Damerel Community College said 80 percent of the Year Nine students involved in the Second Life pilot scheme had hit their Key Stage 3 target for the subject within a term – against a target of three terms.

The media teaching project is based on the popular internet game and won the virtual world/gaming award at last month’s regional Media Innovation Awards in Bristol.

Children created their own online world, called Drake’s Island, via the Second Life site, and each has a virtual character who carries out a series of tasks.

Teachers have online characters too, to enable them to monitor the work.

Pupils are divided into groups, with some using 3D modelling to build things while others are producing a film and documentary.

Treasure chests have been created on the island which link to a blog where pupils can write about their projects and island life as part of their literacy studies.

They can also access the site from their home computer using a login and password.

The project will be rolled out to more pupils across other subject areas such as ICT and leadership, humanities, science and maths.

It has even attracted attention from as far afield as the Czech Republic and Lithuania, with teachers from those countries visiting the college to find out about using the Second Life website for educational purposes.

The school said the 24 pupils taking part were so passionate about the pioneering approach to learning that many chose to miss their break to turn up early for the weekly one-hour lesson, which would now be extended to an after-school club.

Media advanced skills teacher Darren Towers said the project was breaking new ground by helping children learn and giving staff a chance to assess its use as a teaching tool.

“So much has been written about the negative effect video games have on youngsters, but here we’ve utilised a cyberworld to show such a format can be used very successfully for both academic learning and improving social and leadership skills,” Mr Towers said.

This article was written by William Telford, a reporter at The Plymouth Herald and appeared on page 18 of the Wednesday April 8, 2009 issue.

I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to The Plymouth Herald for allowing me to reprint this.

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