Winnipeg: MADLaT conference

Am going to sunny Winnipeg next week (think it’s stopped snowing), for the MADLaT 2008 conference, ‘E-Learning Comes Together

I’m presenting in Session 7, abstract below; my presentation might actually match the abstract. We’re using Flypaper to do our multimedia – they’ve been really great, crafting a template for us to use, and helping out with all the fiddlybits.

The Use of Moodle, Virtual Reality and Other Emerging Technologies in Online Classics Teaching

Session Description:

Robert Welch University is an entirely online Liberal Arts university in Appleton, Wisconsin which was approved as a degree-granting institution in 2005.

Those of us who start an online university may believe the theory “If we build it, they will come.” Students may come, but will e-learning come together for them? Once we have set up the online courses and basic communication, we must ask ourselves whether meaningful communication and class participation are actually occurring. Our students find emerging technology appealing, particularly VOIP and user-created content. How can we incorporate advances in communication and the participative web in our teaching practices?

This paper recounts how Robert Welch University evolved from simple document delivery with its Moodle learning management system (html pages, PowerPoint, mp3 files) and basic communication (asynchronous forums and real-time chat) to an immersive learning environment featuring wikis, Skype, webcam, game-based learning, YouTube videos and Second Life in order to make students active participants in their own learning.

All educators face the challenge of how to encourage students to engage with the material, but online educators face special challenges such as how to meet the needs of a diverse blend of non-traditional students and how to foster a sense of community between instructors and students.

At RWU we have come to realize that even distance learners need a social setting for their learning and that students may benefit from the kind of immersive environment which a persistent virtual world can provide. Our students will collaborate online in Second Life as they reconstruct the ruins, practice archaeological field skills and perform the Greek tragedy which they are translating.