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The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 44: Istanbul University]


The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 44: Istanbul University]

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Professors Tuncer Can and Irfan Simsek from Istanbul University use the virtual universe of Second Life with hundreds of students every day.
Why? They would probably cite the fact that SL empowers students from all over the world to rise above their own expectations: “The freedom that students have through their avatars and their ability to create worlds in the context they need in the classroom can not be found anywhere else!” is their paraphrased credo that keeps coming up in conversation.

For almost 10 years now Tuncer and Irfan use Second Life to train English teachers in the physical classroom and via remote instruction: students collaborate in role-play, do homework or film Machinima to use as custom supplemental materials.

But Tuncer and Irfan don’t stop there: Educational technologists who study to become advisors on digital learning platforms in other schools and universities, examine the advantages [and pitfalls] of using SL in the classroom by designing proof of concept games for math instruction and climate change.

Istanbul University with its 200.000 students is the city’s oldest university, founded in 1453, and a perfect example of how Second Life can work in education - when used by passionate teachers who are embracing the unique affordances of a world where boundaries collapse and cultural exchange is not only possible but an essential feature.

As the buzz about how VR is going to revolutionize education is growing, it may be useful to remind ourselves: there is a digital world out there, used by countless educational institutions day in day out, ripe with possibilities and not going anywhere!

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Thanks to Tuncer and Irfan for their diligent collaboration and all the wonderful students at Istanbul University, especially Ogusz whose acting skills are just fabulous, in RL and in SL.
Thanks to Guelcin and Sare for being an important part of the story as well as Caglar and Said for great fun filming the Machinima sequence.
Thanks to Phil Thoma, Yvonne Abbel from ZDF Digital Lab and Lilou for helping with the sequence shot at Lichterfest in Frankfurt.
A very special thanks as always to our in-world team of background actors [please tag yourself via the comments] and the indispensable Marianne McCann for outstanding production design.


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