The Metassaince Awaits!
Not only was she involved with Second Life's Teen Grid (when it was up), but she has also been heavily involved with using World of Warcraft as a means to teach kids on their own turf. I could go on and on about the amazing things she's done with WoW, and how she's helped other schools start their own programs, but that's not what I want to talk to you about today.
Today I want to talk to you about the recent presentation she made at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference last week. For those who are unfamiliar with the VWBPE, "the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants in all virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning, and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education".
For a complete transcript of Peggy's keynote, please visit her blog here.
Peggy was one of the forerunners in applying the affordances of Second Life's Teen Grid to children and education. When Linden Labs closed the Teen Grid, she had the choice to give up, or find some other way to continue the fight of bringing education and virtual worlds together. Obviously she chose the latter.
After searching through many companies, she found Pleiades, which "is working towards a world in which learning is affordable, accessible, personalized, and recognized across institutional lines." When coming to a decision, Pleiades wrote Peggy the following letter. I would like to share it with you because it affected me just as much as it affected her. She shared it in her keynote and there are so many powerful and resonant concepts buried in every sentence, I don't even know where to begin. Just give a read, and you'll see what I mean:
“We are approaching a turning point in our mission to restore game-making, the spirit of a curious, boundless imagination, to the formal education of students. The connected, digital world, to those born into it, is not an extension of the telephone, or of the photo album, or of the video game. It is an extension of the self. It is the chosen and natural medium for expression, identity, and exploration. To a contemporary student's growth, online communities, resources, and games are not irrelevant. A school, however, that proscribes or clumsily ignores them, is. As educators—and we count ourselves among you—the onus is on us, ﬁrst to earn the attention of this generation of students, and then to help them ﬂourish and replace us. It is too easy to forget that attention is only skeptically given. We earn it by being elevating, by being inspiring, and above all by being relevant. We intend to be a technological enabler, a point of contact, an Earth on which a new and great ecosystem of education will lurch, ﬂower, re-‐make itself, cross-pollinate and blossom into every niche and form imaginable or not yet imaginable. With you, we are going to advance into this unimaginable future knowing only that it owns us more than we own it, and that, like our students, we are at our best when we are fearlessly improvising. Our ﬁrst priority is less to build infrastructure up—we have been doing this for years already—but to tear barriers down. The user interface has been a barrier. The price to play has been a barrier. The restrictions against freedom of information, especially where these have come from a mis-guided approach to creative rights, have been a barrier. Even the idea of a single, immobile and immutable garden for all people and all purposes, has been a barrier. The world we want you to live in is inexpensive, and permits free passage between regions in a loosely-coupled, but searchable and backed-‐up metaverse. It is decentralized, and permits grids to connect to each other no matter who owns them, on terms the grid owners are free to negotiate and agree. It is permissive and operates under the assumption that all content is educational in nature and in use. We look forward to seeing where you, and this generation of students, can take us.
Every time I read and reread that passage I want to jump up and shout YEAH! That's what I'm talking about! We have to look beyond what has been done, listen to how are students are learning and communicating, and learn their language. During the keynote, Peggy spoke about a "metassaince" and once again, I will directly quote her rather than fail to accurately express what she means by the term:
THE METAISSANCE is not a group – it is not a company – it is not a place ‐ IT IS AN IDEA ‐ A VISION – a MINDSET if you will – it’s an attitude – that demands we remember that any virtual community must be part of a larger global community – we’re all in this together –and together we can take learning into the future…
To Peggy, and to anyone else reading this, I am the metaissance. I am here. I am ready. The future is now and class is indeed in session. Bring it.