Cynthia Davidson, Stony Brook University
1 A colleague suggested to me that an institutional raison d'être needs to be found before individual instructors and students can benefit from Second Life, and I agree because Second Life is not something one masters as an add-on in a week to an already full course curriculum—it has implications for use well across and even beyond the curriculum. Local and occasional use of the program may not do any damage, but is likely to fail as an effective educational platform. This is my reason for connecting it with ePortfolio learning, which has similar implications and also needs system-wide support to achieve its fullest potential. For more information on the documented benefits of ePortfolio learning, investigate the Making Connections project at Laguardia Community College in New York. Also see Kathleen Blake Yancey’s “Electronic Portfolios a Decade into the Twenty-First Century: What We Know, What We Need to Know” from Peer Review (Winter 2009), cited in this article, and “Postmodernism, Palimpsest and Portfolios: Theoretical Issues in the Representation of Student Work” (College Composition and Communication 55.4, June 2004).
2 I prefer the inter-participant feedback system developed by Jane McGonigal for Urgent EVOKE over a simpler system of assigning points to a build (1-5 stars, for example). Urgent EVOKE, a social innovation web-based game, allows participants to rate each other’s contributions for characteristics (collaboration, creativity, knowledge share, resourcefulness, sustainability, courage, entrepreneurship, local insight, spark, and vision). The points (called EVOKE Powers) accumulated in each category appear in the participant’s profile. Specific assignments (called Missions) contribute more heavily to specific characteristics. For example, the accomplishment of a mission called Food Security is worth points from the game for local insight, spark, and vision after completion, but individual players may continue to assign EVOKE Powers to a contribution in whatever category they see fit. The game defines EVOKE Powers as “the core skills, abilities, and talents that make successful social innovation possible. In other words, they are the key social innovation superpowers.” There’s nothing to prevent customization of such a system to award “rhetorical superpowers,” some of which are already embedded in the EVOKE system (such as knowledge share, creativity, vision), or other general or discipline-specific powers.
** Special thanks to Sandra Stelmach **
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All photos by the author unless otherwise indicated.