Analysis of Fall 2013 Second Life Evaluation
A total of 110 students completed a written evaluation of Second Life (SL) near the end of fall semester 2013. Of these 15 were in honors Bio 101, 55 were in Bio 102 (3 classes), 15 were in Env 121, and 19 were in Bio 253. Of the 55 students in Bio 102, 6 mentioned that they had completed additional SL activities in either the Bio 101 or Bio 102 labs.
The 89 students had completed at least one of 8 biology activities in SL. The Bio 101 students had completed the Mendelian Genetics and Eukaryote Natural Selection activities. The Bio 102 students had completed the Testis/Ovaries activity (50 students) and Forest Ecology activity (17 students). Five of the Bio 102 students mentioned they had completed the Tissues activity in Bio 102 lab and 1 student mentioned they did the Photosynthesis activity in their Bio 101 lab. The Env 121 students reported completing the Macromolecule activity (15 students) and the Mendelian Genetics activity (14 students). All 19 of the Bio 253 students said they did an activity in the tower on Genome Island. These activities were spread over 3 sims (locations) in SL. The Mendelian Genetics activity and tower activity were conducted on Genome Island. The Testis/Ovaries activity was conducted on the island of Ohio State University, Medical Campus. The remaining activities were conducted at NOVA’s Campus in SL.
Almost 60 percent (57%) of the students reported they had no problems loading the Firestorm program and getting an avatar. This ranged from almost 80 percent for ENV 121 down to just below 50 percent for Bio 253. Of those reporting problems loading the Firestorm program and getting an avatar about 20 percent mentioned the program ran very slowly on their computer and 5 percent could not load the program on their own computer. Firestorm crashed the computer of about 5 percent of the students. Each of the remaining nine problems that students reported were only mentioned by one student.
A little under half of the students (49%) reported no problems in getting to the right location in SL to carry out the activity. This ranged from 67 percent for ENV 121 students down to 30 percent for Bio 253 students. Seven problems in getting to the right location were mentioned by the other students. About 20 percent of the students had problem figuring out how to move their avatar. About 10 percent reported that they found the worksheet confusing. About 5 percent of the students found the program running very slowly (lag) and an additional 5 percent reported that they landed in the lake at NOVA Island and did not know how to get out. The remaining problems were each reported by less than 3 percent of the students.
Only 22 percent of the students found no educational value from the SL activity and only 11 percent said they really did not like SL. This ranged from a low of 12 percent for the ENV 121 class up to almost 35 percent for the Bio 253 class. The remaining 78 percent enjoyed some aspect of the SL activity. Almost 30 percent said it made learning fun and over 20 percent said they enjoyed working in SL. The Env 121 class led both the other classes in these categories. A little over 6 percent reported they liked exploring with their avatar. About 5 percent said they enjoyed the graphics associated with each activity and both the hands on aspect of learning and the game like aspects of SL were appreciated by a little over 3 percent of the students. So about 80 percent of the students are benefiting from the SL activities.
The students were asked how the SL activities could be improved. Just over 14 percent of all students said no improvements were needed. This ranged from over 20 percent of the students in Env 121 and Bio 253 and just under 10 percent of the students in Bio 102. The Bio 102 students mainly had issues with the Ovary part of the Testis/Ovary activity, which offers a tour of these organs. Just over 20 percent of the Bio 102 students had trouble with the audio on this activity and just over 5 percent thought the tours moved too fast. Just over 14 percent of the students in all classes found the worksheets unclear. About 7 percent of the students in all classes had problems with the program being slow and sometimes crashing. A little over 6 percent suggested an orientation of how to move and function in SL would be very useful and just under 4 percent thought the activities should be more interactive. Encouragingly, over 4.5 percent of the students thought there should be more SL activities to complete.