When you say "educating foreign language teachers", do you mean train them to teach in SL or offer them general teacher training i.e. a methodology course?
The phrasing of my question was vague on purpose...
I am mainly interested in experiences and insight on running "methodology" (I do not like this term) courses on SL.
No, I haven't - I have only been involved in things specific to SL. I'm not sure that SL would be a very easy environment for general teacher training - too many potential distractions. As far as SL stuff is concerned, it often seems to me that there are more people training teachers than people actually teaching, but I know I must be wrong about that :-)
The only training that I do in SL is training teachers in the basics of how to use the Viewer. I have done this face-to-face in workshops at the last three EUROCALL conferences (2008, 2009 and 2010), and I'll be running another workshop at EUROCALL 2011:
I prefer face-to-face workshops as I can get so much more done in a short space of time, and those participants who know a bit more than the others can help the slower ones. In my experience half a day is enough to get most people started, but at this year's EUROCALL workshop participants will have a full day so that we can talk a bit about approaches to teaching in SL. I intend, for example, to look at "virtual tourism" as a way of exposing students to different languages, and to look at SL quests, as on The British Council Isle.
Offering general training courses, however, is not such a good idea in my opinion. There is too much ground to cover, and this is best done in a training college, combined with placements in a teaching institution. It is, of course, worthwhile for teachers to meet from time to time in SL and exchange ideas about approaches to language teaching - call it "methodology", if you like.
Hmmm - Quote "I'm not sure that SL would be a very easy environment for general teacher training - too many potential distractions."
Then how can we defend language training in SL? ROFL - No offence, but I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I read that one.
I think that running teacher training courses would be very interesting and just as valid as teaching language learners. Especially if it meant weaning future teachers off some of the traditional teaching methods. :-p
One project that I've got in mind, but not started yet is to use SL as an environment for letting teacher trainees practise sex education. In the near future, all teachers in Sweden are going to have to be able to teach 'sex och samlevnad' (sex and living together), and it's very difficult to work out an ethical way of getting trainees to experience what this is like if you're going to use real pupils!
One idea is to give young women the experience of having adolescent boys ask them how many men they've slept with and young men the experience of having a 14 year-old asking over-personal questions, like "do you think this dress is nice?" (when she's got something low-cut on!). It'd also be great to use the work Mats Deutschman's been doing with voice-morphing to allow them to really 'change sex' to see how they get treated.
Another, similar, idea is to give teacher trainees experience of rowdy or difficult classes (imagine how much fun that'll be for their trainers!). The main point with both these activities to have trainees experience what it's like, rather than just reading about it.
Another training idea is to use SL to train nurses in communicating with patients. One problem is that nurse trainees tend to look down on the experience their university-based teachers have, at least once they've been out on practice in the hospitals a few times. Their nurse trainers, however, could change their appearances and personalities very easily, in ways they can't do IRL. Imagine, however, an exercise where the nurse trainer looks like a 60 year-old man who's complaining about stomach aches, but is too embarrassed to tell a 20 year-old woman that he might be suffering from prostate problems. Since nurses are often the conduit for communication between patients and doctors in Sweden, the net result IRL is often a prescription for pain-killers and/or anti-depressives. It'd also be quite easy to have their practice nurse mentors in on the session too, to give the nurse trainees on campus feedback directly from the field.
The problem with implementing these ideas is, of course, 'lecturer-resistance'. However, there's a sort of ketchup-effect at work, and we've been doing a fair bit of shaking recently, so I'm expecting it 'all to come out at once' in the near future!
Just tell them "Resistance is futile."
If you need someone to be rowdy please let me know, I can be very disruptive, as for sex education - sorry - I'm British, the nearest we got to sex education was how to put a condom on a banana.
Hello everyone! What about news of using learning English in SL lands.