Here’s a slightly modified/mockified version of a recent Chronicle article. Some deletions. My additions in italics.
College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined. The fifteenth student was required to return to K12 education to have the rest of the curiosity and spirit beaten out of her.
“We’ve taken great steps to make sure all that spirit is gone by 12th grade.” Lamented Ms. Demeanor, a local principal. “I don’t know what could have happened. We failed her. There’s nothing else I can say.”
When Catheryn Cheal, assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, was designing a course on learning in virtual worlds, she thought the best way to research the topic would be to immerse her class into one such world. Her thought was that the “motivating factors identified in games, such as challenge, curiosity, control, and identity presentation” would help the course along.
“Of course she wasn’t thinking,” writes Ms. Demeanor. “How could they adapt to such an environment when we’ve spent so many painstaking years doing just the opposite? Where were the tests? Where were the lectures? She could have killed them.”
While the interactive style could be fun, Ms. Cheal’s students worried they were having too much fun. Students demanded that Ms. Cheal bring them to a classroom to read PowerPoints to them as they hastily scribbled notes or stared vacantly ahead. Other students insisted they turn in long complicated papers on virtual worlds based entirely on second-hand research.
In her recently published study, “Student Perceptions of a Course Taught in Second Life,” Ms. Cheal wrote that the 15 undergraduate students enrolled in the course raised concerns that too much “play” in the assignments inhibited learning. The students also cited problems with the program’s slow speed and with challenges acclimating to virtual life.
“I haven’t had fun in school since kindergarten,” claimed one student. “I don’t want to break that string. Besides learning new things is hard. It’s not like I use technology everyday.”
Although Ms. Cheal admits that the sample size was small, she warns others to be careful when designing new courses that may use a similar approach.
“While there is potential for interactive and engaging education in virtual worlds, those possibilities may be negated if students feel lost with a difficult interface and hardware problems or if students characterize the virtual world as a venue for play incompatible with learning,” she wrote1.
“Exactly,” blasted Ms. Demeanor. “Don’t take risks or push these students. They can’t handle it. Stay with what you, and they, know. Play it safe. The system has proven it works. Don’t mess with the system!”
Actual author is above with a link to the real article.
And the funny thing is, I don’t even like SecondLife.
1 Ms. Cheal was unavailable for interview but was able to respond to written questions from a re-education camp where she is said to be “recovering nicely.”