A long and exciting summer with Maxwell has taken me away from my daily reading. But I have just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference and learned its just as great as reviews have suggested.
Chapter 3 (The Stickiness Factor: Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues and the Educational Virus) is a really great read and made a real impact in approaching a thread that is currently underway on Internet2‘s Teaching and Learning listserv.
The discussion is about the impact of SecondLife in K12 education. There are real questions about the validity of SecondLife.
After the initial hype of SecondLife (for higher education) peaked, colleges now find themselves in the same rut about really embracing SecondLife when virtual visits never really materialized. A lost leader? Probably.
Gladwell shares the great details from the 1960s around the hot technology back in the day … Television. Yes, television. The “process” to engage learning in the 1960s was Sesame Street. The success of Jim Henson and Frank Oz seemed to focus on their creativity yet overshadowed the amount of deep research and the micro-management of educational research to prove that tech gizmo of the day TV could not only educate kids but actually infect them to learn.
The Blue’s Clues educational show took the best of Sesame Street and did something better on TV, it ran each show five times in a row. Crazy? Crazy like a Fox! Their research showed kids could not all learn the lessons during a single episode so playing it over and over brought kids (up to the age of five) through repetition the lessons designed in the show. And it has been a success ever since.
Gladwell also conveys where Sesame Street was a hit and where it was a miss. While I (somehow) missed the episode where Big Bird changed his name to Roy…the kids didn’t and it proved to be a big mistake for the show.
So can we substitute SecondLife for Sesame Street & the Internet for Television to achieve similar results? Maybe. I believe too many comments regarding this thread focused on the technology. Some have jumped right into the platform issue? Platforms? What platforms? The web is the platform.
I’m not really impressed with colleges that buy an island or develop space in SecondLife. They have completely missed (as Gladwell suggests) the details of bringing engaging content inside their virtual walls. So for now SecondLife for K12 and HigherEd will continue to tip…the other way.