Camelot and the mists of Avalon

The title of this talk alone by Heike Philp was enticing enough for me to choose it but as I had taken part in an AVALON project in the past, I was interested in finding out about CAMELOT, (CreAting Machinima Empowers Live Online language Teaching and learning) a new EU-funded two-year project aiming to create a teacher training course for language educators on how to create videos in virtual worlds (machinima). First of all, Heike explained that the word machinima comes from the gaming world = machine + cinema, and then, as an introduction to what is possible, told us about machinevo, a five-week course where teachers – some who had never been in a virtual world before – had learnt how to make films in a virtual world. Declaring that this skill was not beyond being taught in a five-week course, she showed us films that the teachers had made. She went on to say that people had been leaving virtual worlds like Second Life because mobile teaching is taking over, but now, as video production is trendy at the moment, there is a growing interest in making films in these worlds, although they are probably more for adults than teenagers who find Second Life boring. In these films teachers and learners record their real-time conversations in virtual worlds to produce creative and inspiring videos, and once they have practiced conversations with the films, they can log onto Second Life, go to the country and speak with native speakers. Heike was very enthusiastic about how a virtual world can help language production in that it opens the learners’ world to native speakers: because there are real people behind the avatars they can have real conversations. Some films are being made at the moment and she is looking for people to take part in a field test to use them to find out if they appeal to students, and also eventually for people to take part in a pilot course to learn how to use virtual worlds for video production. If you want to find out more: