Yesterday was the day this term's Business Talking course finished on Kamimo Island. The students had Assessment 3 to do which is a 'group presentation'. This time they could present about anything they wanted to, but the group of three's presentations had to be linked in some way. For example, we started (as usual) with the far eastern group at 3.00 pm), which happened to consist of a Kazakh studying to be an architect at Beijing University, a Swede working for Citibank in Shanghai, a music teacher living in the south of Sweden and a Russian exchange student who's actually here in Kalmar (it's odd teaching students you could meet face-to-face if you wanted to!). They put on a great series of presentations about links to China, with the Russian detailing the many centuries of relations between Russia and China; the Kazakh talking about the way foreign students are catered for in China; the Citibank employee talking about the delights of Shanghai; and the music teacher using the experiences of a colleague of hers (in Sweden) who is Chinese - and a music teacher. I.e. they each got to talk about something of great interest to themselves, but they found ways of linking their presentations together.
One interesting addition to the toolbox of ways of assessing performance is that I gave each group 10 marks/student (out of 100) to allocate to their own performances in preparing for this group presentation. The idea is to reward them for work done on preparing for the big day … preparation which I couldn't possibly monitor myself. As usual there was quite a range of marks being given, with all the students being really challenged by the task of evaluation their own performances.
It was an intensive day for me (I didn't get home until 10 pm). I had Assessment 3 marks and feedback to write, and then each student got a mail with their feedback and final grade, a form to apply for a course certificate and a link to the course evaluation (thank you Survey Monkey!). We'd already done some general feedback at the course meeting, but I want to also give the students the opportunity to say what they think after they'd received their final mark.
And just to add spice to life, 30 minutes before the far eastern group showed up, a representative of my university's Student Union turned up at my office. They'd heard about Second Life and wondered if they could use it as a place to give support and advice to distance students! After a quick cup of coffee, I was able to hand over the headphones and let him talk with some real distance students (Shanghai to Kalmar is quite a way!). I do hope I haven't frightened him away … it'd be real fun to have a student union presence on Kamimo.
I've still got one or two assessments to carry out. There've been people ill and away on business trips. But most of what I've been doing today has been preparing for the influx of (probably) about 45 students on the spring 2010 version of the course. I'll be able to divide them into groups … but it's going be an interesting challenge to handle groups of 20-25 students at a time in world. Dr Bryan Carter, from the University of Central Missouri, and I will be linking our students up again, and we're going to try to devise ways of getting our students to keep their contact going all through the term.
It feels really good, though, to be able to start thinking of this course in Second Life as a 'mainstream' course.