EIL 587:  Virtual Worlds and Beyond:
Teaching Language in Today's Networked World

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Instructor:  Randall Sadler rsadler@uiuc.edu
Spring 2009 Office:  FLB 3054
Class Time:  Office Hours: 
Location: Mailbox:  FLB 4080
 

Overview of the Course:

Randall RenoirVirtual Worlds are three-dimensional (3-D) computer-based environments that can be used for a wide variety of purposes.  One of the most familiar is WoW (Worlds of Warcraft*), which is most traditionally not used for education….unless your education is focused on swords, maiming, and killing elves and ogres. 

However, other Virtual Worlds, such as Second Life, There, Active Worlds, Club Penguin, etc. have a different philosophy.  These worlds tend to exist as primarily social environments, with (at least in some) most of the content created by the very people who “live” there.  This means that these worlds can have rich social environments with activities ranging from those similar to WoW, to VW-based language schools.

In this course, we will explore the potential of VWs for language learning, focusingCartoon--first second life on Second Life, but also looking at a number of other options. 

Over the course of the semester we will critically examine these VWs, explore schools that already exist in them, and create our own content (teaching tools, buildings, artifacts) in Second Life that we could use to teach language.

In addition, we will also examine how Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) technologies that exist outside of VWs can be integrated (or used separately!) to enhance the language learning process in VWs.  These tools will range from the most basic (email), to Discussion Boards, Blogs, Wikis, Internet Telephony, video conferencing, etc.  As we become familiar with these tools, we’ll use them to create practical activities/lessons.

Over the course of the semester you will read a number of articles pertaining to the use of these technologies in language classrooms.  These articles will range from mostly theoretical (not too many of these) to purely practical in nature.  However, it is important to note that this course is not mean to serve as a foundation in the theoretical foundations of CALL, CMC, or any other acronym related to technology in the classroom.  The class discussions and assignments will reflect this practical philosophy. 

My assumptions about the course—and you!

1.  Some of you have lots of CMC/VW experience—excellent!

2.  Some of you have no CMC/VW experience—excellent!!

3.  You will help to shape the direction of the course.

4.  A good deal of the course will be held in workshop format.

5.  You will do a lot of work with partners for some projects/activities.

5.  We will have a good deal of technological disasters over the course of the semester—not excellent, but expected!! 

Other required materials:

·         A USB drive

·         A spirit of adventure and a willingness to experience both joy and disaster!

Computer skills needed:  None, zero, and zip!


*Others would call WoW a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).