Guttman Instructor Receives PSC-CUNY Research Grant for Hybrid Course Study

June 26, 2014 | Academics, Research

Guttman Instructor Chet Jordan was recently awarded a $6,000 PSC-CUNY Research Grant to incorporate Second Life, a 3-D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create, into the Foundations in the Humanities course that he will teach during the Fall I 2014 session. This hybrid-online course will ask students to examine the thoughts and writings of different philosophers such as Thoreau and Descartes within the context of visiting different parts of New York City. Jordan’s Philosopher’s Journey assignment will ask students to visit locations such as Roosevelt Island and the Chelsea Market and selected worlds within Second Life. Students will write one reflection based on their experience in the lived environment of New York City and another on their journey through Second Life.

This pilot program will consider how the integration of a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) into an experiential course assignment impacts student learning, the relationship between a real-world experiential activity and a virtual one, and the relationship between student perceptions of a MUVE and their learning experience. Is learning different in the “real world” vs. the virtual world? Second year student Austin Ochoa will be a Virtual Teaching Assistant for this course to provide students with technical support in using the Second Life platform and serve as a virtual guide (avatar).

This study focuses on the development and assessment of a pilot program that will inform the potential integration of the multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) Second Life into a hybrid-online course. Guttman Community College is committed to ongoing assessment of both student work and institutional effectiveness. In order to capture student learning and evaluate underlying technology literacy abilities, this pilot program focusing on an individual assignment will provide clarity for the college. Secondly, the assessment of student learning in this context will give faculty an opportunity to visualize the benefits and challenges of the platform before attempting to incorporate it into their course. This study will also elicit feedback from students directly related to their experience with working in the MUVE. The results from this study will be presented to the college’s Center for College Effectiveness to help determine whether Second Life or a similar MUVE should be integrated into the hybrid initiative.

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