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Examples of typical teaching situations

Page history last edited by k.jauregi@uu.nl 9 years, 7 months ago



On this page you find some examples of how to handle typical teaching situations in a virtual world. Most examples are taken from courses that were delivered by Euroversity network members in the virtual world of Second Life. However, we think of this section of being insprirational no matter which virtual environment you are using.


Basic skills training

Make sure your students learn the basic skills (e.g. walking, camera control, teleporting, chatting, ...) - so they can participate in the activities.

There are several places in Second Life that are dedicated to learning those basic skills e.g. Oxbridge University (http://world.secondlife.com/place/0fb0bfe3-f925-8589-e702-3a4ef556b78e) or Help Island (http://secondlife.com/destination/help-island)


Check out the destination guide, section "Help & How to" for more: http://secondlife.com/destinations/howto


Here are some more ideas on how to train basic skills in an "isolated" way:


Torch relay

Form pairs or groups and solve certain tasks: run to the tree, come back, than run backwards, ...


"Simon says"

This is an old game children love to play at school, but also adults like to play it.

Have your participants follow your instructions. Like when you say 'Simon says: walk to the tree and sit down, only those who follow your instruction correctly are in the game. Those who fail are out. The game is getting faster and faster. that is great for improving listening skills and is especially fun for younger students who love moving around.


"Musical Chairs (or Going to Jerusalem)"

Put a set of chairs in a row and let students run around as long as the music plays (or as long as you sing, or until a gong is heard ...) - then each student needs to find a seat; there is one seat less the number of people. The person who hasn't found a seat stands outside the row.
Winner is the last person who was able to sit down.



Getting to know each other

At this point, we assume that the students have already mastered the basic skills: They can speak, hear and move their avatar around - time to start the real teaching!

Just like in real life, the groupmembers should introduce each other.


Just talking - library, campfire, etc

The easiest way is to find a nice space like here at the campfire (or any other space creating a warm atmosphere) and talk to each other:


Two old ladies meeting in the library

Informal meeting on EduNation Island in Second Life


Discussion in the Ivory Tower at UWE in Second Life


Having a chat before the class session begins.


+ no special skills needed

- little usage of the virtual environment



Using objects that tell something about a person


This option makes a bit more usage of the affordances of a virtual environment, e.g.


the "sculpture garden":


Here each student is asked to pick the sculpture s/he likes best - of course afterwards s/he has to explain why s/he picked this sculpture; hopefully there would be some relation between the scultpure and the person, so the group gets and keeps some mental association.


Alternatively (if you don't have a sculpture garden), you can set up a table or place a selection of objects in the sandbox ore anywhere, where you can rez things.


A present for you

Another way of getting to know each other is a game created by Tilly Floss in SL on Jadawin.

Each participants chooses one of the object displayed in the centre of the room.

Participants take turns to choose an object i.e. books, a little elephant, a clock,  a candle holder etc.

Everyone then has to explain to the group what his/her choice was and why the person has chosen this specific object.
For example:

I chose the alarm clock, because I am always rushed of time. I always want to be punctial and

hate to be late.  

Each participant can keep the object. There is only one issue that two people (or more) have chosen the same object. They might have different reasons for this, but only one person can keep the object, the others can choose another object if they wish to.


Speed Dating

Arrange two facing rows of chairs; tell students in advance to think about questions they would like to ask other people in the group, for example where they come from, about other languages they speak, or hobbies, pets and interest, likes or dislikes etc. Instruct the participants to have some little gifts ready in their inventory to give to their partners. This could be anything - including interesting landmarks.
With the sound of a gong people sit down opposite to each other and start talking or texting with each other via the 'IM' function. After the sound of a gong everybody gets up and mills around until the gong sounds again and people sit down again, hopefully oposite another partner and interview each other again. You can have 4 of 5 rounds depending on the number of participants.


The arrangements for speed dating in this picture were to have an inner circle and an outer circle and when the music stopped or the bell rang, pairs were supposed to interview each other.  As this didn't work out the way it was expected, we suggest to use the version with chairs as explained above.


Smaller activities / games


Small games can be used for various occasions: Let's look at some examples:


A good icebreaker at the beginning of a class could be a board game or quiz game.

Check out e.g. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/products/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search[category_id]=&search[maturity_level]=G&search[keywords]=boardgame

to get an idea of what is out there on the market!


Simple self-made quiz-games can be used as introduction to a new topic,e.g.:


... or "Call-my-bluff"

Showing a short videoclip to explain the right answer is always appreciated by the students :-)


Sorting cubes on fields is also simple to put up and very effective:

In this example, the students are asked to sort the cubes according to their pictures: half of them belongs to the northern part of Germany, half of them to the southern part.

You can make your students practice vocabulary in a similar way.


Using the Opinionator to lead into a new subject.
People have to state their opinion by walking int the appropriate sections in the opinotator.
Different opinions will be discussed when everyone has positioned him- or herself.








Note: Playing a game at the beginning of a class makes it easier for late-comers to catch up (in other words: they didn't miss too much)




Presenting something to the class is a typical situation in the classroom: Either the teacher presents something (teacher centred) or students present something to the class.


For your presentation you can use a simple board where you upload pictures to.

You can get a Simple Presentation Board created by Leslie Laci Coy on the Second Life Marketplace for free.


Remember to have a fallback solution if the board does not work correctly or some students do not get the sound due to their media player settings: Make the video or presentation available somewhere in the internet and post the url in local chat!




The PRESO-MATIC Turbo Presenter is also used quite frequently. It is not free, it costs 95 Lindon Dollars on Market Place.










Discussions / Teamwork

Discussion will be a frequent activity - also in a virtual world.


Take the freedom to nicely arrange the environment - fitting to the situation or topic.

There are many locations that you can use for free: beaches, campfires, forests, auditoriums, coffee-shops, zoos ...


Building groups

How can we manage a group finding process in a virtual environment?

We can support it by the environment!

At this "octagon" stage each wall is a multimedia wall. First we asked each student to pick one wall and present his/her topic.

Then students can place tokens to those topics they like best (this gives a first impression about preferences).

Finally each student moves his/her avatar to the topic s/he wants to be part of.



Separation of groups

In many cases you will want your students to discuss topics in privacy. There are various ways to get this done:


Put them far away apart, so they don't hear each other:

+ easy

- high milage for the teacher's avatar

- if you use a platform with sound parcels (e.g. OpenSim), people might not hear each other although they are standing next to each other (which is not very intuitive)


Teleport them to different locations.

+ individual location, fitting to the topic of the students

- picking them up when time is over (make sure, students listen to IM !)


Use some ready-to-use-solution, e.g. the "skytables", where you can individually "shoot up" the chairs of the same color (plus the avatars, that are sitting on them)




If the group wants to take notes of their conversation, we recommend either to use text chat or some web-based community tool, that can either be put on a screen (e.g. Google-docs).



Discussion facilitators

There are severals ways how to solve the common problem that missing body language makes it more difficult to know who wants to say something, to stop people from talking, etc.


Speaker token

Give a token to the next person who should speak; having the token also makes it clear for the others to see, who is currently talking.



"Wear" a questionmark if you have a question.





Knowing what your students think - collecting feedback

As you cannot read the faces of your students, you need other ways to collect their feedback.

The easiest way is to use text chat:

Ask a question an everybody can type the answer at the same time.


Question: "How are you today?"

Answers coming in local chat: "fine", "ok", ":-(", "headache", "loud outside", ...


Another possibility is to use notecards:

Write your question on it and ask students to either hand it back to you or drop it into a "postbox" by the end of the session.


Then, you have the option to use tools, that support voting: Students answer the question by clicking on the option of their choice.

(A special case is the opinionator, which was mentioned before, as it supports "voting by the feet")



This "vote master" displays the question as hoovering text and shows the number of votes for each option via the size of the bar and as number.




Meeting people from "local" communities

Something that makes virtual worlds extremly attractive for teaching (e.g. for languages) is the possibility to meet other people: native speakers of the language that you want to learn, experts of the field you want to study, artists, actors, business people, ...


Check out who is there

Use Second Lifes search facility to check out which groups are available.


Join a community event

(again: find them via the search function)





Fieldtrips & Roleplay

One interesting activity that you can do in many virtual worlds, especially in worlds like Second Life, is to go to other places. In Second Life there are many places that offer themselves for educational purposes.

Check out our page on destinations for more inspiration: Destination guide




Roleplay fits very well to the way virtual worlds are used. There are several roleplay-scenarios available (see e.g. Second Life's destination guide, category "roleplay"), but you can also set up your own one.

Roleplay at court: students have to explain their alibis.



Historical roleplay

The 1920s Berlin Project: http://secondlife.com/destination/1828

Ancient Rome: http://secondlife.com/destination/245

Renaissance Island: http://secondlife.com/destination/renaissance-island

Medieval: http://secondlife.com/destination/-realm-of-usk-14th-century-wales






Virtual worlds are great environments for projectwork.



Creating machinmas (movies that are created in virtual worlds) is a great way of doing creative work.

This is a nice example:




TV-Shows can easily be transferred into vitual contexts:

as mentioned above: 1,2 or 3 show





Creating exhibitions of topics of the student's choices.


Business plan

Setting up a business plan can involve several steps that are valuable training opportunities for developing language as well as business skills.


Comic book

Ask students to shoot pictures in-world and compile them as comice-book (e.g. using PowerPoint).



Collaborative building is a great activity with various educational aspects: teamwork, communcation, architecture, ...






Special situations


Restart of regions

From time you time some maintenance is done by the hoster of the virtual world. In Second Life this is manifested by messages like "your region is going to be shut down in 5 minutes". In order to know this a bit earlier: check out the grid status (link).

Make sure your students know how to handle such a situation, e.g. tell them, if this occurs, then they should teleport to a predefined location, they should turn on their skype for further instructions, etc.


Region limitations

Regions usually have limitations concerning the number of avatars that can be in one region at the same time as well as "weight" of avatars; the weight of an avatar is usually defined by the number or prims of the avatar.



Griefers are people who find a pleasure in distressing and harrassing others. They use great variety of methods to upset groups, communities or individuals. Ways of griefing can be spamming, shooting, firing bombs, cluttering areas with boxes or huge displays.
Trapping users or fire people into the air, slow down people's movements or create unbearable spooky noises. 

Some griefers come around in gangs, others use animal avatars or appear as frightening creatures. Others might look normal or pleasant and are difficult to identify as griefers. Some use voice chat, others just text.

Griefer sometimes appear in the group as a normal avatar, sometimes grieferappear with an animal avatar.

Remember: Griefers cannot really harm you, however some people feel insulted and insult may have a psychological effect on people. If you are bothered by a griefer the best thing to do is NOT to respond. You can block the griefer with a right mouse clic. This way you won't hear or see him and not read his or her text. Tell anyone you  know about the griefer and report him or her if you have not the possibiltiy to ban him or her.







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