After much discussion over the past four months we have made the decision to merge our Pacific Rim Exchange project with the Australian based Skoolaborate project. Our islands have been relocated to their new locations, our founders avatars have been moved over, and we are now at the stage of getting permission slips for our new students that will be participating in the project. We are very excited about this new partnership and the opportunities it will bring for both our students and teachers.
Kyoto Gakuen has been working with Skoolaborate in parallel with PacRimX for their junior high school students over the past year. These relationships lead to discussions of a possible merger between the projects. We gave a presentation on ISTE Island last March about the PacRimX project. A group of attendees stuck around after that talk discussing how we might pressure Linden Lab into starting an Education Grid. That is obviously not happening anytime soon, so we are taking the matter into our own hands. We believe that the Skoolaborate project is now the largest private global project on the Teen Grid of Second Life
Since our merger with Skoolaborate, another partner has joined up and they are awaiting their background checks. This other partner is the Global Challenge. They have approximately 2,000 students participating in their program. Their project seeks to engage international teams of students in solving global issues. They have a very interesting program and will bring a whole new dimension to the Skoolaborate project.
We are really excited about this new partnership. There are partner schools in many different time zones. This will give us so many more opportunities to have our students communicating and collaborating with their peers from around the world. Having a private project on the Teen Grid of Second Life is like being a ship in a bottle adrift in a large ocean. We needed to find a way to expose our students to more cultures and to more diversity of opinion, and this partnership will do exactly that.
Westley Field, Director of Online Learning at MLC School Sydney, founded the Skoolaborate Project last year. He drafted this press release that we were going to use next week at the Virtual Worlds Expo. They had so many press release submissions that they could not print them all in the daily news publication. Since this will not be published there, we are finally making the official announcement of our partnership with the Skoolaborate project. We will continue to keep this PacRimX specific blog, in addition to the Skoolaborate blog.
In 2007, MLC School launched a virtual world initiative called Skoolaborate. Recently both the Pacific Rim Exchange project and Global Challenge have partnered with Skoolaborate joining with 17 schools from across the Globe to make it the world’s largest ‘school based’ virtual worlds project. Westley Field, Director of Skoolaborate, believes that it is the collaborative and philanthropic nature of the project that has struck a chord with schools.
Claudia Linden, Head of Education for Linden Labs described Skoolaborate as the “best model I have seen for international collaboration”.
Schools collaborate using a variety of online tools and environments to share experiences, thoughts and ideas from around global understanding, social and environmental education. Westley says “that with Skoolaborate we aim to create awareness and understanding that will lead to the improvement of education for all”.
Skoolaborate acts as a vehicle that promotes global awareness and understanding, through creating a visual world – in this case a school – that young people can enter as characters or avatars and then actually join online classes (wikis and LMS) and discussions (blogs). Most importantly it uses tools and environments that motivate and engage students in their learning. Immediately after the Skoolaborate launch, interest was sparked from other New Zealand, Singaporean, Taiwanese, United States and Australian schools. Recent interest has come from Chile, Portugal and the UK.
A cyber entrepreneur and teen second life builder, 18 year old Mike Mikula from Milwaukee Wisconsin, found the site and persuaded MLC School to engage his skills to build the virtual school on the site. Using the plans drawn up by award winning Sydney architects Lippmann Associates, for MLC School’s new junior high school being built in reality now, Mike and Ed Lippmann video chatted their way through the construction. Mike was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal in their “My Virtual Summer Job” article. Mike has since visited Australia, worked with Ed and has begun negotiating future plans.
Stan Trevena, Director of Technology for Modesto City Schools and co-founder of the Pacific Rim Exchange project says “This is the next logical step for PacRimX. Our student’s want to reach out to other students from around the globe and the Skoolaborate project is the single largest ‘school based’ cultural exchange project in Second Life. We are proud to be part of the Skoolaborate global community and look forward to a long and rewarding partnership for our students and teachers.”
Schools interested in joining the Skoolaborate project can get more information here.