Using Fiction to Develop and Assess “Real Life” Character

Long ago and far, far away ….. we used the virtual world of Second Life as a platform for developing and practicing desirable, pro-social personal traits.

At first, I created a sister site, the Temple of the Jedi, in the virtual world. Members of the online Jedi site of the same name would meet synchronously to practice skills such as listening and conflict resolution. Practicing hospitality and coalition building and having synchronous communication removed some of the advantages of asynchronous communication, which allows a person to walk away, reflect, and pick words very carefully. The aim was to help prepare students to deal with real-life conflict, which often happens in a moment without time to prepare a careful response.

Later, groups merged and became the New Order of the Jedi, sharing a common training program unique to the group and to the ways in which people can interact in a synchronous, virtual environment.

Fast-forward a decade or more to the International Jedi Federation’s trials at the annual, in-person gatherings. While that sort of in-person Jedi Trials is a wonderful idea, many people are excluded because of limitations of travel, particularly by air.

Hence, I am tossing out an old solution that may be of use again: Jedi training and testing via virtual world. I am posting our old Second Life curriculum with notes about how the virtual was meant to reflect the “real” and provide not only the opportunity to practice and grow …. but also for assessment purposes.

Keep in mind that Second Life turned out not be ideal, but possibly nothing ever will be. There is also potential for using other virtual or augmented reality platforms for a similar purpose, especially as these tools improve and become more accessible to a broader user base.

MTFBWY

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Barbara Z. Johnson

Barbara Z. Johnson is a professor of computer science at an undisclosed small, liberal arts college and also has taught in education and media arts/game development departments at several universities. She is also a sci-fi/fantasy geek who researches the educational uses of video-games, fan-fiction, and online simulations. Currently, she is researching science education in Minecraft.

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