Saturday, March 28, 2009

Virtual Theorists Project: Second Life Gets Freud & More in 3D

Dr. Freud
Location: Virtual Theorists' Project, Montclair State University

In a required graduate course in Counseling Theories, Edina Gumbo's students don't just read about Freud, Jung, Adler, and Rogers. They build their offices and make a model of the Freudian personality: an iceberg where one confronts the Id making demands, the Superego saying no, and the Ego playing mediator.

The students, Edina, and AJ Brooks spent a year making this project come to life. I had a sneak, hush-hush preview a few months back. You can visit the project for edification or to use in a class. The landing zone provides a map to the entire complex.


Visit Freud's office and chat up the Freud-bot. I told Doctor Freud of my childhood nightmares about a chimp that made me hold its sweaty little paw. The Freudbot was flummoxed by me, especially my question about billable hours.

Visit the offices of Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, and Alfred Adler to learn about their work. All three offices have note-card givers for information about their theories.

Visit the Iceberg. Freud's office leads to this marvel, and I plan to use it when I next teach Freud in our interdisciplinary first-year course at Richmond. It is open to other classes.

One begins below the water, in the realm of the subconscious, and walks up from the infantile cravings of the ID (represented by insistent teddy-bears):

The Id

Inquisitive whispers: Read to me!
Frustrated whispers: I want to stay home!
Angry whispers: Give that back!
Hungry whispers: Feed Me! Feed Me!
Inquisitive whispers: Read to me!
Happy whispers: Let's Play!
Greedy whispers: Buy me that car!
Angry whispers: Give that back!

Until one comes upon the watchdog of the Superego (represented by Lego-like cops). I vaulted the gate, hoping they would chase me.

Welcome to the Iceberg of the ...

The build will be there for future classes, who will add details and also make simulations related to other theorists.

So what did Edina's students say about building and using the simulations? They noted that it was more demanding, but more rewarding also. We quizzed them at a post-tour Q&A:
  • "SL made the theories come to life and were much easier to understand"
  • "the time applying the theories was effective"
  • "The fact that everything was so 'visual' really helped me"
  • "We were forced to apply the theories because of SL. Made learning it more well rounded."
  • "building in SL emphasized the need to do further research beyond just reading the text book"
  • "I feel that it was good using SL because it made us have to read and learn these things on our own. We didn't have to rely on the professor telling us everything"
  • "I think it was a very creative way to learn what we needed-- more than just reading and presenting in class"
Not everyone craved such active learning: students had the option to switch from a hybrid class to a traditional face-to-face class. Some did during the first week. One participant noted that the hybrid class meant "a lot of work outside of class to familiarize ourselves with 2nd life-setting it up, getting avatars" and another student added "and a lot of time building and searching for objects."

Theorists Project

Those who enrolled in Edina's section show how powerfully simulations can change educational practices. All it takes is dedicated faculty, supportive I.T. and administration, and a lot of time.

And just maybe some work by Linden Lab to add some Reality Principle to our avatars' Ids. Consider this photo from the VWBPE conference: I think the Lindens must have put in a default "stare at breasts" anim in male avis. I need a Superego HUD!

1 comment:

Scott Merrick said...

Greetings from ISTE Island's Blogger's Hut! This is to note that your wonderful blog has won the popular vote as April's "Blog-o-the-Month" at ISTE Island's Blogger's Hut! Congratulations. There'll soon be a post announcing the win at Oh!VirtualLearning! and you may feel free to grab the image in that post to modify to your liking in case you wish to use it on your blog. Cheers!