Oh yeah, I’m a Texas Longhorn and proud of it (plus I miss TexMex something fierce). So when I found out about the Texas Distance Learning Association I was quick to see if I could speak at their 12th annual conference.
Texas schools, community colleges, and universities enjoy a well-earned reputation in distance ed. I lived in Dallas when the Dallas County Community College District gained national acclaim with their satellite farm back in the day. It was an impressive array of large dishes.
DCCCD also has a presence in Second Life that is run by the Second Life passionate Montse who is associated with David Anderson of the eLearning Guild. Both have helped push what Second Life can do on the education front.
Texas State Technical College is pulling off a major paradigm shift with their work in Second Life as well.
This year, Linden Lab is pulling out all the stops to help make Second Life and even better tool for educators. Here are some highlights form 2008. And I continue to evangelize what SL can do to help learners.
Texas was a great place to get educated, no doubt. As a wannabe geologist, it made sense to study in Texas and the state universities offered a solid education in that field. It was a big move for a French Canadian and meant leaving a budding fencing career (a good move since a fencing instructor is not in very high demand). And I met Dr. Fred Fifer, my graduate department chair who probably does not realize the extent of his influence on me, even to my passion of creating rich media to engage eLearners. His focus was that every learner is worth reaching and that instructors need techniques that are within their reach.
This means solutions that are either free or very inexpensive. He had developed a “green box” of easy to assemble goodies that would allow even the poorest school districts to prerform meaningful and engaging science experiments. His equipment consisted of string, pennies, old prescription bottle, film canisters (back in the pre-digital days), and so on.
I’d like to think that my approach would do him proud as I use those tools that are typically free and easily available. Whether it’s Moviemaker or iMovie (both free and already installed) or free tool like WavePad and Second Life.
Free? Second Life? Well it can be and yes, it does make it easier if you have land, but you can do land one week at a time for a few dollars if need be. Or you can find people, like me, that offer a sandbox type space, and temporary land for projects.
See you at the end of the month, or maybe on the gulf coast of Texas in April, can’t wait to get some real TexMex and be among some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!
Hook ’em Horns!