Virtual Japanese Lessons – Skoolaborate

This past Wednesday we had our second virtual ‘Survival Japanese’ lessons on the Skoolaborate Islands. This one went a lot better than the first. We are trying to repurpose an existing socializing seating object that randomizes pairs of avatars. It’s actually quite slick, but lacks the flexibility we need for this type of exercise (especially when the students are not balanced in numbers). The students all sit down on stools before the object is activated:

The instructor then sets the amount of time each pair of avatars are together. The first session week before last we used five minutes for each pairing. This time we set it to three minutes. Once activated, the stools are teleported to floating platforms in pairs:

As you can see from the outfits, these two avatars are paired correctly. The Modesto students all downloaded lessons from the Skoolaborate Wiki prior to these exercises. Every Kyoto avatar had three phrases they were going to teach. Here is an example from one student:

Each pair of students had three minutes to work through the proper pronunciations of their phrases, being guided by the Kyoto student. While flying around observing, the pods were spaced just right to eliminate any sound carrying between conversations. The spacing of the pods occupies a very large area of the sky above an island. Here’s a shot from roof level looking up at the student pods during the language lessons:

While this is very promising, we continue to have issues with this scripted object. We cannot guarantee that only mixed pairs will be made, too often we end up with two students from the same school, or even worse a single student isolated by themselves for three minutes with nothing to do.

What we need is a device that has two groups of different colored seats. One school sits in one set of seats, the others take opposite seats. When the pods are floated and avatars teleported we always get proper pairings of students. What would be even better is if you have uneven groups that the object could make three way pairings when the number of students do not match up exactly (for sake of the lesson, identifying in advance which group was teaching so there were always only one of them in a group).

If anyone in the Second Life community knows of a scripted object like this, and can point us in the right direction so we can acquire one, we would be very interested. If this sounds like a project any developers want to take on, drop me an email at and we can talk. We are so close to what we need for this, it’s frustrating not being able to make this do what we want for these types of lessons.

We would also be interested in the experiences of anyone else who has attempted these sorts of lessons in Second Life using pairings of students. We like this concept, as it takes away the wasted time and confusion of a ground based seating arrangement that requires the avatars to get up and relocate after each lesson.

Drop us a line.


2 responses to “Virtual Japanese Lessons – Skoolaborate

  1. James Fullerton

    Owning an island in TSL, Sparta Island, for the past 18 months has allowed me to experiment with instructional pedagogy and read about others attempting to create a model for instruction in this virtual world – mostly though I’ve disappointed. Until now.

    This idea about using pods in SL that facilitate collaborative learning is a great idea with many variations. Thanks.

    Souther Lehigh Middle School

  2. Pingback: New Speaking Pods Have Arrived « PacificRim Exchange

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