Hello, I am one of the founders of the PacRimX project, and a longtime resident of Second Life. My real life name is Stan Trevena. I was a BETA tester when Second Life launched. I am the Director of Technology for Modesto City Schools in Modesto, California (USA). I have a long history of exploring, playing, and writing about computer games and online MMO’s.
My counterpart in this project from Japan is Chris Flesuras III, originally from Modesto, California. Chris teaches English in Japan. This blog chronicles our development of the Pacific Rim Exchange island on the Teen Grid of Second Life. This blog is intended for other educators interested in the SL environment for instructional purposes.
Feel free to email me if you have any suggestions or comments for the blog.
Disclaimer: Because I mix links and references to both the main Second Life grid, and the Teen grid, it is entirely possible that navigating through some of the links provided may get you to content not intended for students. Once you leave this blog, you are on your own as to where you end up. I am documenting this project from my perspective. In the process I will be expressing my own views, beliefs and opinions. These are not intended to be those of my employer or of Kyoto Gakuen High School in Japan.
The Pacific Rim Exchange program grew out of a dinner conversation between a group of teachers in my district and a visiting group of teachers from our sister school in Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Gakuen High School). We were discussing the possibility of setting up video conferencing between our schools so that our future exchange students could interact prior to their exchanges, possibly getting to know each other a bit, and maybe if we were lucky they would learn a little of their host country’s language before their exchange. Because of the time difference between California and Japan (17 hr difference between PST and Japan), video conferencing is not really practical because of the limited windows of overlap between our school days.
The time zone challenge lead to the genesis of what is now known as the “Pacific Rim Exchange” (PacRimX). I’ve always believed that these virtual worlds hold great promise in providing learning environments for education. I suggested that we use Second Life to overcome the time differences between our students. After a lot of discussion and explaining, we decided to build a private island on the Teen Grid. This group of islands (now up to four) are a place for our students to communicate and collaborate with each other in building a place where they can share their interests, cultures and languages. They will be building a small community in this virtual world to bridge the gap between our countries.
So many people that I’ve talked to about this project have suggested that we blog the creation and progress of this project, since only those involved in the project will be able to visit our private islands. We will use this blog to record the founding and history of the PacRimX island, and also chronicle other projects that spin off of this project (possibly with other virtual world platforms).
I will also be using this blog to share our experiences and all of the resources and links that we come across that might be helpful for others in the education community that are setting out to explore this strange new virtual world for education. I will try to keep it interesting, informative and even funny at times. So check back and look in on us from time to time. I think this is going to be a lot of fun.
UPDATE: In August of 2008 the Pacific Rim Exchange project merged with the Australian based Skoolaborate project. Skoolaborate is the single largest ‘school based’ global cultural exchange project on the Teen Grid of Second Life. After our first year our teachers and students wanted to reach out to others from around the globe, and this partnership was the logical next step for our project. We are proud to be a part of the Skoolaborate global community and we look forward to contributing to the success of this project.