Many people are sharing their opinions of the first intercollegiate debate held in Second Life last night at Emgeetee Island. Overall they have been overwhelmingly positive and full of curiosity for the future of virtual debating.
Many students who were involved found the debate interesting because it was in a virtual environment. Many others felt it went very well even though there were a few microphone problems.
Students agreed that the debate was good, and that virtual or no, those who would not be interested in the debate would not be more interested if it was virtual or not. The advantages of attending a debate in second life were clear to them.
First, you don't have to go anywhere, which means you can relax with your computer and attend the debate. The most impressive thing the students in my classes liked was the ability to carry on a conversation during the verbal debate – I call this layered debating, and it's something we mostly do in our heads while watching a debate. In the second life environment, people could carry on their own discussion – "what did he say?" "what's the point of that argument?" in text while the audio of the debate was uninterrupted.
I think this has great implications for teaching. Talk about cooperative learning – but more importantly, students who are afraid of asking questions to the instructor can carry on a side conversation without disrupting the flow of the class and get their friends to help them deal with the question or the problem of understanding.
Here are a couple of first life reactions:
Don (aka Caveman Muricastle) reacts in this interview.
Here's Filip's reaction, he watched the debate in Slovenia. He also has some cool sunglasses I might add.