Saturday, 19 January 2008

Interim results interviews

90 Avatars were invited to participate in an in-world interview. 2 refused and 22 did not respond to my invitation. I stopped pursuit of 30 potential candidates after I finished the 50st interview.
The approach of the interviews was based on the notion of 'likely effectiveness' and led by the assumption that educational users of SL will judge its likely effectiveness expertly in terms of a combination of (a) SL’s potential to be effective, (b) the perceived costs of achieving that potential, and the (c) perceived rewards or fringe benefits in applying that effort to achieve the potential. The interviewees were invited to meet 'physically' in-world at a chosen place. We used Instant Messaging (IM) for privacy reasons and sat down in a comfortable way to illustrate the illusion of a Real Life(RL) interview. The questions were presented as Notecards.
The questions of the 30 to 45 minute interview were based on Bernie Dodges' equation Power = Attention * Depth * Efficiency. First respondents were asked to score the different variables in 'an intuitive way, without too much reasoning'. Sometimes this lead to discussion about the approach and questions, overall almost all interviewees agreed to the method.
Then participants were asked to elaborate on the reasoning behind their scores and stimulated to 'write what they thought as in thinking aloud' about the beliefs, assumptions, experiences and expectations about SL as an environment for learning and teaching. The average scores for the variables Attention, Depth and Efficiency were respectively 7.58 , 6.75 and 5.98, which give a total score of 30.59 for Power. The table shows quite a gap between the lowest and highest score.
The standard deviation between the scores is considerable.I acknowledge that the numbers are not large enough to give a sound statistical result and from start rated the qualitative outcome more important than the quantitative.
Most participants praised the attention value of Sl, but also warned that there is much distraction. One responded that it had taken considerable effort to create a classroom atmosphere, whereas some appreciated the freedom and open environment as stimulating for learning. Creating your own avatar, making decisions about looks and personality was regarded as trivial as well as very important. I feel that this aspect is very much underestimated. Many pointed out that depth strongly depends on a sound educational concept and the use of SL without it is without meaning, where others stressed the importance of playful exploration and labelled this as extremely meaningful.
Efficiency strongly relates to age, both in real life ( younger than 18 or older) as in Second Life (time spent since birth). Many felt that the learning curve for mastering the SL - client was steep. Reading the transcriptsmy impression is that it is considered much more valuable to explore the possibilities of Sl from a perspective of playful, explorative and natural learning than to try to establish a real life school atmosphere. More detailed information from the 250 pages transcript will be published here the coming months.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Assuming I understand the research you've done thus far, I'm wondering if your approach can be applied to focus specifically on educators that have already conducted learning activities in Second Life. Use a modified version of your interview protocol to engage educators in an in depth discussion of the learning activities they've facilitated: preparations they made, the goals/objectives for the activity, what learners are expected to do, perceived benefits of the activity, any evaluations or feedback obtained from learners, etc.

Basically, through interviews, gather instances of faculty evaluating direct and specific application of Second Life for learning. Estimate the learning power of Second Life using information gleaned from those interviews.

SL: Topher Zwiers