Laural McCallen and Lori Galli
Since February 2008, we have been engaged in online learning, collaborating and networking globally with educators via Linden Lab’s Second Life (SL), a Multi User Virtual Environment (MUVE). We first learned of ISTE’s presence in SL, when attending a webinar presented by Kathy Schrock. She shared how her district has purchased server space in SL to create a sim, Lighthouse Learning Island, where they meet virtually to provide teacher professional development.
We immediately created a second life account and began our journey. Since than, we’ve attended national conferences virtually via SL (NECC 2008, ISTE 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012, SLEDDcc, and Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conferences), attended weekly speaker sessions, networking socials, tours of educational sims, and made many new friendships networking with educators globally..
We envisioned the potential of using this 3D environment to meet virtually supporting our learning groups. We also want to share information of events that our teachers would be interested in attending. So, we created a group called SLEEC (SL Educator of Escambia County) and began sharing this environment’s potential with out colleagues and district curriculum specialists.
In August of 2009, SLEEC Island, our professional learning virtual campus, appeared on the grid. We are using this ubiquitous space for our district Technology/Project Based Learning Groups to meet as well as for district professional learning series offering inservice points for teachers. We also host an annual Virtual Innovative Teaching and Technology Summit (coincides with our district face to face conference of the same name) each year.
In August of 2011, TEC Island (Teens of Escambia County) was established as a private closed sim in Second Life where teachers and students can engage in authentic projects correlating to their curriculum standards. ECSD will soon be adding an additional virtual campus for students younger than 13 years of age on Dreamland Metaverse.