Teaching Project Management with Second Life

Teaching Project Management with Second Life

Marc Conrad
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-545-2.ch019
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Project Management is a field of intellectual and pragmatic enquiry that is inherently inter-disciplinary. It typically involves the integration of areas such as: project scoping, time, cost, and human resource management, whilst the management of effective inter-team communication, project risk, and procurement aspects are all central to the discipline. To try to cover all of these areas within a single university assignment presents somewhat of a challenge. This chapter demonstrates that the deployment of a Multi User Virtual Environment can indeed encompass these areas in an effective manner, both from learning objectives, realism, and assessment points of view. The chapter has emerged from the experience of three years deployment of Second Life as an integral part of a unit on Project Management, offered as part of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses within the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Bedfordshire. Examples illustrate the work that has been produced by the students of these courses.
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At the University of Bedfordshire, UK, Second Life had been used in 2008 for the first time to address the Project Management knowledge areas as learning outcomes within a unit on the postgraduate level. Since then, the assignment has been repeated with slight variations both on the postgraduate and final year undergraduate levels. The more experimental experience from the first year has been published elsewhere (Conrad, Pike, Sant, & Nwafor, 2009) where the focus was on the suitability of Second Life to be used for an assignment of that kind (which is by now established, also in view of many other teaching and learning activities within virtual worlds including those discussed in other chapters of this book). Also, in that paper, a particular emphasis was made on the aspect of large student numbers of up to 800 that needed to be accommodated. The main findings were that institutional support is essential (still, many teachers have to put pressure on their IT departments to allow access to Second Life from within their institution) and that students do appreciate the use of Second Life in teaching or at least do not object to this. In particular the ‘steep learning curve’ that students have to master in order to get an avatar and to work within Second Life does not seem to constitute a real problem. If at all, issues are rather with Second Life itself as it does not scale well to large student cohorts. In the long vision an integration of virtual worlds within a virtual learning environment such as Blackboard or Moodle, as it is for instance piloted in the SLoodle project (Kemp & Livingstone, 2006), might therefore be desirable and is henceforth recommended.

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