Peggy Sheehy is a trailblazer. Sheehy is a media specialist at Suffern Middle School. Her daughter nagged her for months to check out a project she was working on, so one day Sheehy created an account in Second Life. It didn’t take long for her to see the potential of the 3D virtual world in a classroom. She took the time to acclimate herself to Second Life then developed a proposal to buy a series of private islands for her colleagues to use as a tool for learning.
Now, before you begin to say BUT WHAT ABOUT…, Sheehy has already thought through it. She has a system in place to complete a comprehensive background check for any adult allowed on the schools private islands. There was training for teachers before the students ever saw the virtual world. The students went through comprehensive training that clearly explained what is appropriate behavior on the island. Sheehy said she only had to suspend the rights of one student temporarily. The kids realized right away how special an opportunity it was to be apart of the project and have been very careful with their behavior.
Stepping beyond the fear of disaster, Suffern’s Second Life presence has yielded projects as varied as a mock trial based on Of Mice and Men and an Entrepreneur Project. The feedback from teachers and students has been affirming, and the staff continues to find new ways to move their students into the virtual classroom.
Interested? Here are a few sites that might give you some direction.
Special thanks to the Lower Hudson Regional Info Center for connecting us with Peggy Sheehy at their tech expo.