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Monday, December 20, 2010

CULTURE: Alpha Virtual Learning Center - Shon Charisma Reporting...



I am a big fan of using virtual spaces for educational purposes, and when I learned about the Alpha Virtual Learning Center, I knew I had to check it out first hand--and I'm so glad I did.







I recently talked with AVLC's Director, Nzingha Dreddmor about the goals of Alpha Virtual Learning Center and where they see the future of the center moving. What I learned fascinated me and illustrates that even though many see SL as a game, a place to just live out fantasy, real, tangible, great things can also occur.

Both Dreddmor and AVLC's Dean of Students Diatoma Clarity have real life experience in education. Real-life cousins, both have worked for years with younger children in daycare programs, summer camps, and preschool, and Dreddmor has done homeschooling and tutoring in high school. Both are committed to education and having come into Second Life just a few weeks apart, quickly asked, "How do we make this [Second Life] work for us?" Their first SL building was a school. They loved the SL platform and attended classes there and traveled to libraries and museums, and found that it would make for a great platform because there is the hands on experience like the traditional classroom.

Making SL their home, Dreddmor and Clarity started Alpha Virtual Learning Center, which offers many courses that are connected with Second Life. For instance, there are courses in becoming a DJ, gesture making, and scripting. They are also very connected with and want to continue to be connected with the new residents of
Second Life, aiding them in traversing the lands of Second Life.



AVLC Director Nzingha Dreddmor


The campus consists of a main office, where cultural displays are located, among other things. In addition to the main office, there are the classrooms which are set up the same way, no matter the class. I talked to Dreddmor about the classroom setting and how their virtual classes operate, and one thing she was quick to point out is that unlike some virtual learning spaces where learning seems to be done more through correspondence than through a traditional model, AVLC classes are big on students and teachers alike being hands-on in the experience.

According to their website, the AVLC system of educating is "different in that it is accessible to everyone regardless of your schedule. Our campus and resources are available 24 hours a day, and staff is available 18 hours a day. There is always help available from willing, and real individuals. Our staff consists of qualified educators and we use quality, relevant materials.

"Classes have scheduled times, and with the exception of being virtual, are presented in the same fashion as a class you would physically attend which would include an instructor and other students, Classes may be in text, but most are done on voice, where instructor and students are able to talk to one another."

On the grounds of AVLC, there are Alpha robots ready to hand you landmarks and class schedules. There is also a group where you can learn more about upcoming classes and events pertaining to the center; you can get that group information from Nzingha Dreddmor or Diatoma Clarity.

As Dreddmor and Clarity continue to build AVLC, they have their eyes on the next goal of their virtual education journey: a high school. The high school will have both a virtual and a physical space, the physical space being located in Georgia and replicating the one in Second Life. And we're talking all the bells and whistles of a traditional high school. They will be going for accreditation and have received support from those in the real world that will aid in making this goal a virtual and real reality starting in January 2011. "Right now," Dreddmor said, "we are dealing with the U.S., but we hope to expand globally, too." The high school will be a Godsend for those students who, for whatever reason, might not be able to attend a physical school. When asked about the population they wished to reach, Dreddmor stated that home-schooled children and high-risk students were at the top of that list. In world classes will be starting in January 2011 with French and English classes.

Ultimately, says Dean of Students Diatoma Clarity, "we want this to grow positively. We need support, people that want to help Alpha to grow. We're looking for positive, motivated, dedicated people to make it grow--business minded, goal-oriented and want to see things happen in Second Life and in real life. To go beyond Second Life is this vision."

You can learn more about AVLC by heading there [now] and by checking out the [website].

Next week, I will be writing about Alpha's Kwanzaa event that is taking place on the 28th of this month. It will be an all day of event featuring speakers, workshops, dance performance, fashion show, and much more! If you'd like to learn more about the event before next week, contact Dean of Students Diatoma Clarity and/or Director Nzingha Dreddmor. They are looking for sponsors for the event, and for just a few Lindens, you can support a worthy cause and get your business featured! Text file of the sponsorship form is available below. You can copy/paste it into a note card and submit to Clarity or Dreddmor!

~~~
Angola Virtual Learning Center
Sponsorship Letter Request Form
AVLC is making plans for our first annual Kwanzaa event. The success of this event is credited largely to our sponsors, who lend their names and financial support to the event. The money we raise goes to the support and daily maintenance of AVLC which is a free school to all its participants!

By participating as a sponsor, your organization will benefit from extended exposure through SLmedia campaigns and promotional efforts directed toward the supporters of AVLC. For a small donation, you'll be able to enjoy excellent exposure to this important segment of your target audience.

We have three levels of sponsorship packages:

Silver 100-500L: Your business will receive for the week free advertising at the school on our ad boards that will be accessible in each class room on four different levels

Gold 501-1000L: Your business will receive for the week free advertising at the school on our ad boards that will be accessible in each class room on four different levels, and 20prims to set up in our main floor show room where the events will be held for the full week of Kwanzaa

Platinum, 1001L+ Your business will receive for the week free advertising at the school on our ad boards that will be accessible in each class room on four different levels, 50prims to set up in our main floor show room where the events will be held for the full week of Kwanzaa, and a seminar room dedicated to your business for participating as a Platinum sponsor!


You can select the level of participation that best meets your needs, and be secure in the knowledge that your sponsorship fee will be used to help AVLC in our future events and school functions to come!

We're counting on your support, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please return your sponsorship commitment form to Diatoma Clarity or Nzingha Dreddmor.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to support the efforts of AVLC and make a difference in our SL community!

Sincerely,

Diatoma Clarity
Special Event Coordinator
**************************************

Platinum Sponsor $1,001L+ ___

Gold Sponsor $501 - 1000L ___

Silver Sponsor $100 - 500L ___

Please copy/paste this into a note card and send it as well as your LOGO and LM to Diatoma Clarity.

Again thank you for you participation in advance!

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