Schedule: 2009-09-12 (12:00 - 12:45)
Parallel Session 3 (Room A-32)
Title: MUVE, Moodle and a Microblogging Tool: Blending technologies to prepare international students for language and life in the UK
Authors: Julie Watson, Ann Jeffery
Abstract: M3, a project blending a MUVE (Second Life) the Moodle VLE and a Microblogging tool (Twitter) , set out to explore the use of emerging technologies within the context of a pre-arrival online course for international students coming to live and study in the UK. The objective was to create an immersive learning experience for students by adapting and extending some of the Moodle course activities ( ‘learning objects’, vidcasts and discussion offered through the VLE) for use in the virtual world environment of Second Life. The project also aimed to gauge the educational potential of the microblogging service, Twitter, in linking students together during the course for both social networking and vidcast discussion purposes.

A technical aspect of the project was to develop Twitter plug-ins or ‘blocks’ for Moodle allowing students to view a Twitter feed from within Moodle. Work was also needed to adapt existing course resources and activities for in-world use in a designated course area within Second Life. The M3 project then explored the combined use of Moodle, Twitter and Second Life with three separate sets of learners/users. These were: a group of students - professional and experienced teachers from countries outside the UK - learning about the educational use of new technologies on a face-to-face Masters course at the University of Southampton; international students on a pre-arrival course delivered wholly online through Moodle, who were preparing to come to the UK ; an external group of educators and practitioners taking part in JISC Emerge conferences.

During and after user engagement in the project, data was gathered from questionnaires, interviews and observations. A number of practical factors impacted on participation levels of different groups but the affordances offered by these new technologies were widely appreciated even if the technologies themselves can still present challenges for new users unless significant levels of support are given. Their scope for enhancing social presence within a learning context was found to complement students’ interest in meeting people and sharing pictures and personal information, and reflects their own use and interest in Web 2.0 technologies. The developed Twitter blocks for Moodle and Second Life learning resources are being taken forward and future projects building on these outputs are planned. This presentation will present the M3 project and its findings. The Moodle online course and Second Life learning resources will also be demonstrated.
Keywords: Second Life; Twitter; Moodle VLE; international students; ESL
Main topic: Research in new language learning environments
Biodata: Julie Watson is Senior Teaching Fellow in eLearning in Modern Languages at the University of Southampton. Her interests include the development of reusable learning objects and associated tools (authoring tool, repositories) and development of online courses. She has been involved in two projects exploring the pedagogic potential of Second Life. Ann Jeffery is Project Officer for the M3 Project. Her interests include Second Life and other emerging technologies.
Type of presentation Paper presentation
Paper category Research & Development
Target educational sector Higher education
Language of delivery English
EU-funded project No