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INDT 501 – Week 11 – Reflection

There is no doubt that the definition of literacy has changed. We used to think of being literate as being able to read, but in today’s world, being able to read words is only one part of literacy. Teachers who do not embrace this are doing their students a disservice. I have been teaching for more than 10 years, and I pride myself on being pretty technologically integrated in my classroom. The problems come when your school, administrators, and other teachers are not quite sold on the idea. Not to mention budgets issues with not having enough equipment at your disposal all the time. Nonetheless, it is more than possible to overcome these small hurdles and to integrate the students’ virtual lives with their classroom experiences.

I first heard about Second Life on a documentary on PBS Frontline called Digital Nation by Rachel Dretzin and Douglas Rushkoff. In it, Rushkoff talks about how some companies use these virtual worlds to bring employees together from all over the world. The employees who used it talked about how it allowed them to feel as though they were all truly meeting, in a more intimate and comfortable way then just a conference call. I was intrigued and immediately started playing around with Second Life.

Just as an aside if you haven’t watched Digital Nation – it is worth the time. Great documentary!

While I have never used Second Life as an educational tool myself, I can definitely see major pros and cons to using it in the classroom. There are virtual places already there for students to explore, and teachers can use them to enhance lessons, and help students collaborate with each other. The class can also create their own virtual space for gathering and learning together.

Teachers can take workshops in Second Life to learn the tool and how to apply it. Author Steve Dembo asserts, “Conducting professional development workshops within the virtual environment allows teachers to collaborate “face to face” when meeting in person is not feasible. The personal connections associated with such interactions make the virtual world an ideal medium for distance learning with colleagues who may be overseas or in an adjacent county, ” in his article, Virtual Worlds for Educators.

The idea of making a personal connection even across space makes this type of learning very attractive. But there are some possible pitfalls as well. This is a place where students and teachers can become too involved. I think it is possible to go overboard and even to become obsessed with this tool. The virtual world of Second Life is enormous, and people can become overly attracted to the idea of living virtually. It sounds a little like science fiction, but this is part of our new reality. It’s both exciting and scary. …But I’d say mostly exciting!!


Dembo, S. (2008, October 1). Virtual Worlds for Educators: Second Life Creates a New Dimension for K12 Learning and Collaboration. District Administration.

Dretzin, R. (Director). (2010). Frontline [Documentary]. USA: WGBH Educational Foundation.


~ by bwebber on .

INDT 501

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