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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tear Down The Walls: Web 2.0 Extends Class

Just completed the Learning in 3D Class in which students were able to experience Second Life, ProtonMedia's ProtoSphere and several Web 2.0 tools. Graduate students in instructional technology were required to post on this blog, contribute to a wiki and post a machinimia project on YouTube and TeacherTube.

One of the most amazing things to me is the reach of the student's work through the Web 2.0 tools. The reason I wanted students to put content into Web 2.0 tools was really just to give them experience working with those tools, I believe a professional going into the field of instructional technology should have experience using the latest tools and have some level of understanding about the leading edge of instructional technology.

At the time of the initial assignment I really gave little thought to who else would be viewing the material and the potential value it would have to others, I just wanted them to be familiar with the tools.

I was not thinking about (duh) the potential reach of the student's work. The excellent videos they have created have been viewed hundreds of times, the work they have done has been tracked by the blogosphere and individuals outside of the class have given feedback and input to the students and the class(in fact the idea to place content on TeacherTube was from a blog comment by Kurt Paccio. Thanks Kurt, great suggestion)

People like Alan Levine from CogDogBlog commented on the student work.
Let me add another note of congrats for an excellently produced intro to SL video. It even speaks more to the power of a user generated world that this was a student created production.
We've added it to our NMC Video Jukebox at

And people like Cole Camplese...who blogs at Learning and alumni of the program who commented on the student's work. And Bart Pursel another alumni who blogs at Virtual Learning Worlds presented to the class in Second Life highlighting the work he has done in-world. And Hilary Mason, Assistant Professor, New Media/Computer Science Johnson & Wales University in RI contributed to the class by giving us a tour of virtual Morocco. She blogs at 3greeneggs.

The educational implications are staggering.

The 4 walls of a classroom and the virtual 4 walls of educational learning management systems (where only those with a password can get in and view the intellectual contributions of the students) have been shattered. We need to rebel against the confinement of a contained course. Shatter the LMS walls with Web 2.0.

The student's work will live well past the class, it will be shared by hundreds if not thousands a people...well beyond the 34 who are officially registered and it will be judged not only by the instructor but by people who need and want the information. Videos will be rated, postings viewed, value obtained...or not depending on the work (although it was universally high quality...but I am not the ultimate are).

The difference of using Web 2.0 for class administration and coordination is so dramatically different than an academic LMS in the reach of the content. This class was shared and influenced by a community. The students did not work in isolation, they worked under the watchful eye of a community. I am convinced that it altered (for the better) the quality of the work and the focus of the learners.

This "open course" concept using Web 2.0 tools not only has an impact on academic classes but has a huge potential for the sharing of user created content in a corporation. If academic and corporate institutions are not looking at Web 2.0 tools to expand the educational reach of their employees/students and to share knowledge...then they are, sadly, missing out on a huge opportunity.

Here are the blog postings from the class and the wiki address, also you can go to YouTube or TeacherTube and use "Kapp Second Life" to search for student created videos.
Class Related Posts:
Second Life Assignment Has Life of Its Own
Try Before You Buy

So thanks to the blogosphere and to everyone who commented, lurked and viewed the videos...your contributions were a large part of this class and learning community and have made the class a success beyond the walls of Bloomsburg!

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide


Cole Camplese said...

Great work! I love that future instructional technologists from BU will be versed in this space. It is critical to understand that the philosophical foundation of web 2.0 may be more important than the tools ... the ideas that openness and a willingness to be transparent can drive all sorts of real world solutions. At Penn State we are transforming support, adoption, and diffusion of innovation by using these ideals in our design -- and it is changing how we do our jobs in unmeasurable ways.

Great stuff! I would love to come to campus and meet some of the students this Fall!

Anonymous said...

Hi, i was directed to this blog by a fren. Interesting stuff you guys are doing here. I guess with things like Web 2.0, SL... there are a lot of things which can be done (things that few years ago, people can only dream or imagine).

Great stuff. Will drop by often ;)

p/s.... i'm from a land far far away. :D

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks for dropping by and for leaving a comment. Feel free to add one any time!

Karl Kapp said...

Let's make it happen!

Mark said...


You're my new hero man. Not just for doing this class but for the exuberance and enthusiasm that is evident in your post.

I just had to post this excerpt from the wonderful quote by Clay Shirky that is at the top of my blog:

"The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in."

Viva La Revolucion!!!

jay said...

Karl, great post.

Isn't it ironic that it takes an artificial life like SL/web 2.0 to break through the artificial barriers that schools erected long ago to protect students from real life?


Brent G. Wilson said...

I'm having very mixed thoughts and feelings as I begin blogging with first-semester master's students. Many feel unprepared and overwhelmed - not just with the technology but with the expectation to:

- Have something to say in an area that's new to them
- Have a voice in a public conversation
- Care enough about the issues to drive their participation

These are things that come gradually for most students. Here they are though - out there looking for things to say, finding ways to join the conversation, looking for a reason beyond "class assignment" to participate.

One thing we haven't discussed much - my pushing the technology as a near-end in itself. What at the learning goals that drive our blogging requirement? Am I not guilty of the first original sin - pushing the technology ahead of the learning?

My response to that question is, maybe exploring technology's learning potential is a little techno-centric, but we'll never know the learning gains until we try some things out. The risks are there, but the benefits are too - getting out of the weekly readings/discussion cycle that drives most graduate education classes. Asking students to hurry up the development cycle and quickly assume a professional identity - that's an exciting prospect to try out, even if it doesn't totally succeed.

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks for the comment.

I think you bring up some good points. And I especially like your last conclusion. As professors of instructional technology, I think we need to push students into new technologies so they see what they are like and then the students and the professor can have a discussion about the learning values or non-values of the particular technology but...if the students never experience the technology, they will never know its limitations or advantages from a learning perspective.

I wrote a post a while back Kapp Notes: Yes, All Learning Professional Should Blog.--At Least for Month that addressed that very issue. I indicated that I thought someone in this field should blog for a little while to understand when the technology makes sense for learning and when it doesn't. As professors we are in a great position to introduce our students to these technologies as you are doing this semester.

Blogging can be overwhelming especially for someone students. But by making it a class assignment, you can provide guidance, ideas and support that a "lone" blogger may not get. Also, the students can always blog-to-each-other and gain insights into the value of blogging for them or the non-value within the confines of the class (although anyone who wants can read the postings as well, students might be suprised to see who is actually reading the posts or lurking.)

Also, sometimes, newbies can provide great insights and questions into topics that "experts" take for granted. So I think that they do add value to the discussion even when they don't think that they are.

I find it exciting to be blogging and to introduce it to students and I sense that you do too, it is a wild ride and, as you said, it might not succeed but man is it fun!

And, I about constructivism.

Brent G. Wilson said...

I basically agree with you that students in ed-tech programs need to experiment with new technologies. It may not always be the greatest learning experience, but they will be able to tell what works and what doesn't.

It's a paradox though - at least the way I see the field, one of our biggest weaknesses is pushing technologies that aren't ready for prime time. Then we jump in and do the same thing with our own students!