EDTECH_001_2.jpgSession 1: How Building Supports the Construction of Knowledge

Audio recording of Session 1 and 2
Do teachers have to build to teach in virtual worlds or Second Life? Technically, no. You could rent a classroom space, sit and chat, and never create a thing. However, choosing not to build in Second Life as an aspect of effective teaching and learning is like choosing to just chat about science lab projects--we learn by doing!

We are still in very early stages of research on the use of virtual worlds to support learning and knowledge development. Virtuals worlds are a unique form of technology in that they allow the student the opportunity to learn by literally constructing their knowledge in 3D representations such as objects, places, buildings, and interactive media. You may be familiar with learning theories such as behaviorism, constructivism, and cognitivism. With the emergence of social networking technologies and virtual worlds, educators are giving attention to learning theories of connectivism and constructionism. Papert defines constructionism as, "...a mnemonic for two aspects of the theory of science education...From constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. Then we extend the idea of manipulative materials to the idea that learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product."

In Second Life, learners have the ability to construct anything they can imagine, depending on their building and scripting knowledge--either by doing it from scratch, or by learning where to locate the resources to support their building needs. Teachers in virtual worlds must not only consider pedagogy, but also the use of effective design and building opportunities to support instruction. To learn more about design of the physical virtual environment to support social learning:

Today we will tour and discuss design features of various educational builds in SL. The SalamanderWiki defines various types of builds based on learner engagement and content areas. You'll begin to consider a variety of purposes of educational builds, and how sim design can support or hinder achievement of those purposes.

Check our Resources page for more information on developing basic building & design skills.


  • Identify various options for meeting educational needs through design and build of the virtual space
  • Establish ownership of land plot and building rights
  • Develop baseline building skills through modification of prims and scripts
  • Learn use of permissions and group-owned prims

Today's Activities

  • Introductions, create landmarks, and set picks
  • Tour a variety of educational and non-educational sims
  • Identify various design options for educational settings
  • Tour Prudentia, buy plots, discuss class building in private and public spaces

Today's Building Projects

  • Basic building skills assessment
  • Create a t-shirt or customized t-shirt (to add school logo see Robin Wood's TShirt template & tutorial or ArtRage tutorial). If you don't have Photoshop, use a free online tool called Pixlr to follow Robin's tutorial to create your own custom t-shirt!
  • Create a gift bag with school logo and hovertext
  • Make items available on plot and test permissions

Tips & Tricks

  • Understanding the X, Y, and Z axes
  • Duplicating on object: shift/drag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMh1eY1fueE
  • Linking/unlinking objects
  • Hiding slides to improve slideshow viewing performance
  • Creating, coloring, and hiding hover text