A cooperative effort between the product development team at Angel Learning and the SLED (Second Life Educators community) has produced a virtual experience within the popular Second Life virtual world designed for educational experimentation. The Island, known as "Angel Learning Isle," will open to the public May 15th.
"Angel Learning Isle was built specifically for experimentation in the use of virtual collaboration technologies in online learning," said Ray Henderson, chief products officer, Angel Learning. "Our first goal was to create a place for faculty and learners new to Second Life to get their bearings and practice new navigational and communication skills."
A key first stop for faculty and students on Angel Learning Isle is "SLED Orientation Garden." Created in collaboration with the Second Life Educators community, this space introduces basic navigation and camera controls to new users. "The SLED Orientation Garden is the perfect place to take faculty or students who are new to Second Life for a first experience," said Brett Bixler, lead instructional designer & manager, Instructional Support and Research, Educational Technology Services, The Pennsylvania State University.
After gaining basic navigational skills Angel Learning Isle contains spaces to practice those skills. Standing on a virtual boardwalk educators simply press a button to generate a virtual classroom complete with slideshow tools. In the "SLED Educators Gallery" instructional designers and educators will find a variety of tools created by members of the SLED community along with instructions on how to copy them for their own use. A "hub" experience lists other islands built by educators for those interested in touring Second Life.
For those who want to build their own tools or spaces in Second Life Angel Learning Isle offers the "SLED Sandbox." Similar to the Orientation Garden, this area informs instructional designers and educators on the basic principles of building objects in Second Life. "Newbies to SL can immediately learn the basic grammar and manipulation of building blocks called prims," said Sarah Intellagirl Robbins, SLED project manager for the project. "Building virtual dominoes and toppling them over may seem odd, but it's a great way to learn construction and the basic physics within SL."
Angel's interests in Second Life also include creating a future presence for extending the Angel learning platforms. "Teaching and learning technologies are constantly evolving," said Christopher Clapp, Angel Learning president and CEO. "We see it as part of our mission to lead in the discovery of how to best use new technologies for learning. I'll suggest the Angel community stay tuned. We hope to learn from this experiment how we can meaningfully connect our learning platforms to this new collaborative space."