Career Exploration Using Second Life

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Exploring Culture and Career Using 'Second Life'[edit | edit source]

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Grade Level: College Freshman (optional for HS 12th grade)
Subject: Career Exploration
Sub-Subject: AVID, EOPS Counseling, Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, etc. (sub-subjects will requires lesson-plan editing)
Length/Duration: roughly 1 week pre-discussion and planning, added to 42 hours on Second Life (minimum)
Technologies Used: Second Life, Internet, Photoshop Elements (optional)
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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Career exploration is a necessity for both high school-aged and college-aged students. At times it is difficult for a person to know exactly what a career is like or just if s/he has an interest in a topic unless s/he gets to experience it first. That experience is unfortunately not something that comes by easily in real life due to
-a lack of a program that offers such opportunity to students,
- community unemployment levels,
-community industry variety,
-or available student guidance and/or low self-esteem,
so why not do it virtually?

The following lesson is an extensive 'career shadowing' process for students. In conjunction to this lesson of career exploration is also cultural exploration. Seeing what career you wish to follow is a wonderful experience in itself, but is that experience going to be different based on your physical appearance? In finding themselves, their values, their personality, skills, and interests, students are encouraged to ask themselves as they search, "does the online experience differ from the real-life experience when it comes to dealing/working/socializing with others and if so, how?" and to individually compare what they see in life to what they will experience virtually in completing this lesson.

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Goals and Purpose[edit | edit source]

The purpose of this lesson is to use college/career ready standards in addition to or instead of career shadowing. The desire is to offer goal setting skills, life exploration, and career search.

It's been researched that the online setting lacks "triggers of differences", that a person's race, culture, language, gender, etc. is ignored thereby implying that there are such cultural triggers in real life. This lesson will have students explore careers using a specified avatar and to record any experiences they had based on the looks of the avatar. This lesson may result in a real-life versus online-life differences (pros/cons) when looking for a job or choosing a career.


Definition(s)[edit | edit source]

'Triggers of difference' according to Merryfield are described as "When they [teachers] hear a Chinese accent, see a Jordanian woman's head cover, observe a Brazilian's body language, smell curry on an Indian's breath, some Americans automatically register a consciousness of difference that may trigger discomfort, stereotypes, xenophobia, or recognition of their own ignorance of other cultures. The triggers of visual and aural differences often subconsciously make people uncomfortable or otherwise constrain people's abilities to listen, interact, and learn from others" (Merryfield, 2003, p. 160).

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Lesson Steps[edit | edit source]

Quote: "Closed online environments provide a secure place for people to take risks, share personal experiences, admit to the realities of prejudice and discrimination..." (Merryfield, 2003, p.158).

After having picked a variety of career categories (variety depends on class number and personality test results), the teacher will break the class into either groups of 3 or 5, where each person will represent a particular race or cultural group. Note that this lesson plan may be used both as a project in career and life success as well as a case study.

Pre-step: Students will be offered a pretest, a questionnaire of sorts in order to gauge their "self-concepts". Students are then set up and signed up to Second Life before starting the Second Life project. With the avatar of a specific ethnicity, students will walk/fly/teleport to different settings and locations in Second Life for a least 1-2 hours a day on three separate occasions. During this time, students will visit specific locations (given by teacher) as well as miscellaneous destinations of their choosing. Students are to keep a journal where they are expected to catalog their experiences.

The goals are: (1) to shadow a potential career, (2) to be exposed to career options, (3) to observe the type of treatment each avatar receives from its wanderings and (4) whether or not the student's perception of him/herself changes depending on his/her avatar.

Teacher study: Further experiences in Second Life during the project will continue to be recorded by each student. The teacher may also choose to keep a record of student behavior throughout the project using a "behavior checklist." Doing this will allow the teacher to observe whether or not the students' virtual experience of using "superior" versus "inferior" avatars affects their self-image since according to Merryfield's text "Like A Veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online", the virtual experience lacks "triggers of differences" while PBS's 2008 Frontline report "A Digital Nation" mentions how positive self-concepts attained from one would argue, superior, avatars in the virtual world, carries to real life. After the project, students will repeat the "self-concepts" test followed by a self reflection.

Step 1. Students complete the Self Concepts Questionnaire.

Step 2. Complete a personality test (either Copes, Cops, Caps [for Interest, Values, and Skills], ASVAB, or Myers Briggs) in order to get an idea of careers that would match the individual.

Step 3. Select with teacher encouragement, at least three job categories and locate areas/businesses in Second Life, that fit the careers options chosen.

Step 4. Complete an entire length of training/internship/course or at least 42 hours online. This will be recorded by offering the teacher a series of pictures (be sure that date/time are included in image) of exploration completed at the approved training posts, along with login hours for proof.

Step 5. Complete outside research. For each job selected, find the pay rate, level of education necessary, duties etc. In doing the research, students are required to interview a professional in the careers they are exploring and virtually experiencing. Suggested interview questions will be provided by the teacher and the professional being interviewed may be the career 'mentor' (person training student(s) on career) on Second Life or a person within the community.

Step 6. Have each student present/report back to the class their findings, experience, level of difficulty, and career goals set based on online experiences.

Step 7. Students retake Self-Concepts Questionnaire.

Step 8. Only now do students discover that the teacher recorded behavioral and/or self-concepts changes (if any) of students while continuing the project. Teacher presents students with the data recorded and opens the floor up for discussion in regards to the presence or lack of 'triggers of difference'.

TO DISCUSS: (1) Were students of differing avatars treated differently from one another during their Second Life career exploration? (2) Does the 'real world' versus Second Life provide people with more, less, or the same amount of prejudice in the workplace? (3) Should 'triggers of differences' deter me from persuing a particular career option? (4) What advocacy groups, programs, and/or businesses offer support for persons of varying ethnicities in persuance of 'nontraditional' career options?

For the questions students are unable to answer, the teacher will provide them with prompts, suggestions, and contact information for that community.

Step 9. Reflect back to values, interests etc. fulfilled by the job exploration as well as the overall experience and what was learned from personal exploration and what other students with different avatars went through.


Activity Details[edit | edit source]

The class will break into groups of either 3 or 5 where each student within the group will possess an avatar of a different ethnicity. This may also be done with a focus on height, clothing, hair, or any other physical trait or look that can constitute a trigger of difference.'

Click Here to learn more about this process.

A teacher created questionnaire may be offered to students that ask such as questions as:

Rating from 1 to 4 where 1 is Not True, 2 is Moderately True, 3 is True, and 4 is Very True, answer the following...
(1) On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.
(2) I feel I have much to be proud of.
(3) I'm always apologizing for things.
(4) If I can't do something well, there is no point in doing it at all.

Otherwise, students can be guided to take the test online on such sites as:
a) How is Your Self Esteem? at Queendom
Length: 79 Questions > > Click Here
b) How is Your Self Esteem? at Psychology Today
Length: 79 Questions > > Click Here
c) Self Esteem Quz at Self Esteem Awareness
Length: 15 Questions > > Click Here

Before getting started with the project, it is important to get a feel for one's surroundings. For this reason, students will be encouraged once they sign up to Second Life and create their Avatar, to explore a series of at least 8 locations during 3 separate 1-2 hour long sessions on their own. The initial exploration will take place as a group guided tour with the teacher.

>> Night Club
>> Fraternity/sorority house or meeting place
>> University or college setting
>> Church or religious setting
>> Store or shop (2 different types such as a grocery store, a department store etc.)
>> Office environment
>> cafe (or area of socialization thta is similar to cafe)

Date: ...
Time (start and end times): ...
Second Life image(s) of session (print screen image for example) ...

- Location description and rating: ...
- What I saw: ...
- What I heard: ...
- What I learned: ...
- How the experience affected me and why: ...
(ex) "The online discussions are like a veil that protects me and Yang; I feel safe..." (Merryfield, 2003, p.146).

A. Myers-Briggs Online
The Myers Briggs test is a known personality test whose "...customized report will assist you with career planning, goal setting, making decisions, time management, understanding your social interactions and much more!" The link above is one that offers the test through "Your Life's Path", a career counseling and consulting firm. Please note that the test is available at several online locations including

B. ASVAB Career Exploration
As described on the site, "THE ASVAB CAREER EXPLORATION PROGRAM is a career planning and exploration program that combines a multiple-aptitude test with an interest self-assessment and a wide range of career exploration tools. And it's FREE to participating schools!"

- Angola University (Animation, DJ'ing, Realtor, Achitecture). Opportunites are further described in a separate section of the lesson titled "Angola University"

Some good lists can be found online on the Kent School District site, at Aspire Oregon's PDF list, and the American University in Cairo webpage. Examples each site offers for questions are:
1. What is the typical entry-level position(s) for this job?
2. How important is it to have the "right" degree or courses to have a chance to develop a career like yours today?
3. What are other qualifications that you as an employer/employee consider important?
4. Does your organization offer summer or part-time employment (or volunteer opportunities) for students who are looking for related experience?
5. Can you suggest other work/volunteer experiences that would be advantageous to have?
6. What is a typical day like for you?
7. What do you see as the pros and cons of this type of work?
8. What are the qualifications and educational requirements for this type of work?

In the presentation to the class before writing the reflection piece, students are to present the following information:
I. Experiences on Second Life
II. Ultimate career goals
III. How to obtain goals
IV. Education necessary for career option(s)
V. Income possibilties
VI. Pros/Cons of career observed

Refer back to step 8 'to discuss' under the LESSON STEPS category of the lesson plan for teacher-driven discussion questions followed by the following questions below--of which the first is from one posed by Devers in his chapter 5 dissertation discussion "Students perspectives and learning from a cross-cultural online course: the influence of a critial pedagogical approach", and a few others to take the discussion a step further...

(1) What did I (the student) learn in a cross-cultural online environment such as Second Life.
(2) What did I (the student) learn about my chances of career success/opportunity in an online environment?
(3) Did my career choices or interests vary when training or exposed to options in the online environment? Did it help be to think 'outside the box' in respect to career possibilities?
(4) Did the exercise widden my understanding of the career?

The teacher may offer a evaluation for students to fill out about the process. The evaluation can either be teacher created or use Survey Monkey.

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Angola University[edit | edit source]

What's available career exploration-wise...
Real Estate Agent

Classes at the Angola Virtual Learning Center are free all classes on in-world subjects will continue to be free, and language classes are free first 4 weeks. AVLC is here for those in sl who are new, and want to learn to navigate sl, learn building basics, and language learning. Also, starting test preparation courses soon.

If you are interested in taking classes @ AVLC, Please leave an IM or notecard with Nzingha Dreddmor.

AVLC is very newbie friendly!!

Coordinates: Pooch Deezul, Gream (210, 163, 1501)
For other awesome lesson plan ideas, click here!


Reflection[edit | edit source]

(I) Explain what you believe was the purpose of the project and answer in detail: How have you and your classmates' personal views about the future, about life, your values, interests, goals, and about success (in any environment) changed throughout the course of the Virtual Project?

(II) How does what you learned in school connect with your career choice?


Alternative(s)[edit | edit source]

(1) Teacher may pick a set of careers for the entire class and supposing the class picks five careers, divide the class into five groups but students are still expected to complete the research and training independently.

(2) School may chose to purchase land and create its own settings rather than to use what is already there, and then use the space to post student findings, experiences, and reports in the Second Life land location for public availability.

(3) Accumulate written student presentations to post online on a secure site such as wikiversity as a record over the years of career choice information which may be used for a school organized career fair or virtual fair.


References[edit | edit source]

1. Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education (pp. 256-270). New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

- The text discusses science as being the perfection of knowledge. It implies that perfect knowledge is attainable through quality method in explaining subject matter. Topics learned should be on a critical thinking level (where connections have been made) rather than a list of facts or data.

2. Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom (pp. 169-193). New York, NY: Free Press..

- The text discusses helping both teachers and students grow, that just having knowledge (list of facts or data) is not enough in regards to teaching. In regards to the culture of teaching in the United States, it is mentioned that rather than turning to teachres, we turn to politicians and businessmen.

3. Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171..

- A central focus of this lesson plan, this text gets into how online environments camouflage physical or the more explicit cultural differences, thereby allowing 'freer' discussion.

3. Devers, C. J. (2009). Students’ perspectives and learning from a cross-cultural online course: The influence of a critical pedagogical approach. Ph.D. doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign.

- The chapter of this dissertation details a similar finding to that of the Merryfield text. It looks over a course where students were monitored with respect to their reactions to the online setting and cultural triggers.

4. Brown, J. (2008). Tinkering as a mode of knowledge production [YouTube]. Retrieved from

- This online video confirms the need for experience a.k.a. tinkering throughout the process of learning.


Other[edit | edit source]

(1) "Research Companies and Careers Through Job Shadowing". It's an online article discussing the benefits and steps of job shadowing.
(2) Project Shadow by Grossmont. It describes steps to consider when job shadowing.
(3) Job Shadow, a free online resource. "Job Shadow is an academically motivating activity designed to give kids the unique opportunity of an up-close look at the world of work and provide the answer to the commonly asked question, “Why do I have to learn this?”."

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