Eggshell BurksEggshell Burks came to Second Life in early January of 2007.  After being in Second Life for about a year, she began looking for fellow educators in SL and found the Educators Coop.  At the time, the Educators Coop was offering land parcels and many opportunities to learn more about teaching in Second Life.  Eggshell joined because, although she was teaching for a small school district in Washington State, the school wasn’t quite ready to add Second Life into their curriculum.  Eggshell was implementing Second Life into the classroom on her own and could use some support, which the Educators Coop members were more than happy to supply.  With the help of the Educators Coop, she was able to continue doing her research and tap their resources of teaching and learning in virtual worlds.

Eggshell Burks is an English and theater arts teacher at the high school level.  She quickly saw how well Second Life lends itself to production and production-oriented people.  Eggshell had been teaching for 19 years when she moved from Seattle to New Mexico and was finally afforded the luxury of experimenting in Second Life with her students.

shakespeareTo begin, she went through the University of Washington’s virtual worlds certification series last year.  She then went on to learn to design immersive learning environments and today she teaches Second Life skills to students so they can create their own learning.

For example, Eggshell entered one of her immersive displays in a US Federal Government contest in Second Life.  The guidelines were to submit builds that were learning/training in nature.  In Eggshell’s build, students can use several forms of media, can collaborate on the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, and ultimately make a machinima of themselves reading as avatars and acting out the roles.  There are even costumes in the tower, students can link to Zeffirelli’s balcony scene on YouTube by clicking the balcony railing, and all of the scripts are on notecards in objects.  Eggshell’s innovative presentation won her third place in this competition.  Congratulations Eggshell!

standingIn addition to her work in Second Life, Eggshell Burks also works in Teen Second Life with the World Affairs Council by teaching building skills and designing an immersive environment based on Afghanistan.  Eggshell got her start in Teen Second Life by first working with a company called Red Llama who hired her to teach SL skills to teens in a community center in Seattle.  Red Llama had been working off a Gates Grant for technology in low income communities.  So, Eggshell underwent the rigorous screening process to get her avatar into Teen Second Life.  In order to teach in Teen Second Life, one must be affiliated with an education group, submit to a background check, and are limited to only one sim.  After her work with Red Llama, Eggshell went on to work with Youth Ventures on Global Kids island working with incarcerated youth on individual projects before finally ending up with the World Affairs Council working with youth on council topics.

When asked how she deals with the inevitable Second Life learning curve, Eggshell stated that you simply must build the curve into your lesson time frame.  You must be prepared that people aren’t going to know the simplest things and you have to take the time to teach them the basic skills, or people will quickly become frustrated and think negatively about Second Life.

studentEggshell’s favorite part about teaching in Second Life is the amazement expressed by students when they seen the potential for their own learning in Second Life and the potential for their own creativity. For example, Eggshell met a student who was doing his senior project in Second Life.  His teacher had set him up on Ed Tech Island where he’s building above the sim a futuristic hydroponic greenhouse to show eco/food sustainability.  By manipulating the environment, this student can test all of the variables affecting the greenhouse without having to build it in RL.

When not teaching youth in Second Life and Teen Second Life, Eggshell also offers her skills to adults interested in learning.  She teaches adults – usually University of Washington students – how to build in Second Life.

Eggshell Burks got her SL name through total free association.  She had just made her avatar and had no inclination that she would actually be staying in Second Life.  That morning, she had eggs for breakfast and it was the first thing that came to mind, so she named herself Eggshell.  The last name was at the top of the alphabet on the Linden list and thus Eggshell Burks was hatched.