SOTUNKI: An Island Of Education and Adventure


Heidi HEIKKILÄ


ABSTRACT
Last year some of the teachers of Sotunki Distance Learning Centre set out to find a new approach to teaching different subjects in Upper Secondary School. We wanted to do this by using social media and finally decided on using Second Life. I think social media like Second Life can offer a lot to our students who study via internet and rarely meet each other or their teachers. In Second Life students can meet their teachers, guidance counselors and fellow students face to face and in real time. This brings more interaction to the learning process and gives the students a chance to get to know each other. Also the interaction in Second Life is slightly different – it gives us teachers a different kind of chance to get to know our students better in a more informal way. There were many decisions to make when we first started building our school. We started by deciding on whether we wanted to have a traditional school building with traditional classrooms in it – and decided against it. Why repeat the real world in Second Life? What is the point of using a virtual world if not to benefit from the possibilities that the real world does not have? So we set out to do something new and extraordinary: instead of a school house we have a mountainous jungle waiting for explorers, and instead of classrooms we have lots of different innovations customized to fit the virtual world. It is important to us that students want to explore our island and learn while exploring it: learning can be a real adventure. I chose the course of history of literature as my project because Second Life has wonderful tools for creating historical settings. Building a pathway came naturally too: the history of literature is linear by nature; a pathway is its natural form. There are plenty of time periods in literature that have distinctive styles but I could not include them all. Finally I decided to build information points for eight different stylistic periods.

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