Peaks and troughs of a Second Life

July 20, 2007

Name : Maggi Savin-Baden

Age : Young enough to have climbed 36 4,000 metre peaks before I had children.

Job : Director of the Learning Innovation Group and professor of Higher Education Research, Coventry University.

Salary : Not enough to keep me in wine.

Practical training/education : I began working in higher education in 1986, but have also run my own consultancy business. My main research and writing has been in the field of problem-based learning.

Working hours and conditions : I tend to get into work at about 7.30am so I have a bit of space to think and write. When I'm in Coventry I go home about 4pm to have some family life, but often catch up when the small ones are asleep. I'm doing an MSc in digital technologies in my spare time, working on it in the evenings.

Number of students you teach : I teach first-year research methods, which is hugely enjoyable, largely because they hate it and I see it as a challenge to get them interested. I teach on the master's programme and also have a few PhD students.

Biggest challenge this year : Getting Coventry's Second Life Island up and running. It has meant working across all departments, dealing with designing buildings and working with staff to develop imaginative and pedagogically sound ways of starting courses and learning in Second Life.

How you solved it : I am not sure I have yet. It seems to fill my every waking hour - partly because of the projects connected with it and the launch of the Island and the courses in September.

What university facilities do you use? We have a fabulous physiotherapist in the sports centre who unlocks my back after too much time writing.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I am a member of an academic reading group and also socialise with others who have passion for debate, share pedagogic interests or are mad enough to be studying part-time.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally and how do you cope with them? I suppose people who ask long, involved and ego-centred questions after a talk. I try to be pleasant, choose a bit that I can answer, and move swiftly on.

Best excuses for bad behaviour you have heard : "I didn't realise I was replying to a whole discussion list." You'll find this is part of the vice chancellor's new initiative.

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