This was a world first! The final awards ceremony for the netgened project was held in a virtual world, involving reactiongrid in opensim, staff and students from 13 countries, an award winning author, Don Tapscott of “Grown Up Digital”, the founders of the flatclassroom project, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay and Steve Dembo of Discovery Education. The stage was set, the big screen up with slides of the winners of various categories, including the grand winner, winning a $1000 scholarship towards their education. Excitement mounted, dress rehearsals had taken place and avatars started to fly in from everywhere. A wardrobe of gowns and tuxedoes had been specially prepared and countless hours put in by Vicki Davis to ensure that all ran smoothly. Software developers worked around the clock to ensure that the site was stable as there was seating for 200 people.
The ceremonies were to be held at 10am US time, which meant 12 midnight for the three schools involved from Australia – Claire Rafferty ‘s students from Ringwood Secondary College, Erin Neyland’s students from James Cook Boys’ School, Sydney, my students from Hawkesdale P12 College and Steve Madsen one of the lead teachers from Sydney. All teachers showed up and one of my students ‘braved the late hour’ and quickly learnt how to survive in a virtual world. Flurogreen was elegantly gowned in green from the costume department. However, I stayed in my normal avatar clothes as I could not seem to put on the gorgeous pink gown that had been given to me.
It was an amazing adventure of collaboration and virtual team work with all participants working together to help each other ensure that all were comfortable. Unfortunately, an unexpected and increased number of students and attendees arrived, all wanting to change their gear and test out the animations that their avatars would produce. This caused some problems with the stability of the site but the organizers were determined to make it succeed.
At one stage, I became bald, could not sit elegantly, avatars were flying everywhere and I was drowning in some sea surrounding the island. This was a steep learning curve for one who had little interest in virtual worlds, including second life. At times humour burst forth as it was interesting to watch everyone cope with the ‘slowing’ world. As the early morning hours set in, it was time for the Australian contingent to retire to bed, as most of us had to work the next day. To the credit of our Australian students, several made the finalist categories.
Brief Summary of the project Students worked in groups comprising students from other countries to develop a wiki on the emerging technologies as outlined by the Horizon Report 2009, mashed with the 8 netgened characteristics from Don Tapscott’s book, “Grown Up Digital. Don challenged students with discussion prompts and videos. Social networks were established on a joint ning and each student was responsible for completing a video, summarizing what they had learnt. Part of their video included an outsourced clip from one o f the other global students. Students came from the Middle East, USA (including Alaska, of whom some could not upload their video due to a nearby volcano eruption), Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand etc A special keynote address was produced in video format “No future left behind” by Peggy Sheehy and her students.
This highlights the fantastic opportunities and learning experiences that can now be ours, with the use of the emerging technologies.A huge thank you goes to the collaborative effort of all involved in this global project of grand proportions.