Teaching in Second Life


Second Life, an online 3-D virtual reality world, is currently gaining in popularity around the world. Second Life allows users or “residents” to come together to interact, play, learn, do business, conduct classes, do research, and hold conferences in an online environment which is entirely built and owned by its residents. Residents can engage in rich, sensory experiences, authentic contexts, activities, and opportunities for reflection that form an exciting new domain for a wide range of educational applications including distance education and corporate training. This unique and cutting-edge technology enables teachers to build virtual learning communities for students with the goal of helping students solve real-world problems in an experiential setting. Colleges around the world are opening virtual campuses in Second Life. Today, more than 150 colleges in the U.S. and 13 other countries have built island campuses in Second Life to experiment with virtual learning. Some of these institutions include: Columbia University, Duke University, Indiana University, Ball State University, University of Texas-Austin, and MIT. They open their virtual campuses to attract students who are taking online courses, but miss the “presence” and the sense of community found in a regular classroom.

In order to help teachers bring their classes to Second Life, Linden Lab recently announced “Campus: Second Life,” a program to allow college level classes to use the powerful tools and realistic environment of Second Life as a venue for learning. The “Campus: Second Life” program will give teachers the use of 1 acre of land in Second Life completely free for the duration of the class. This allows teachers to try out Second Life with their classes for the first time at no cost.

Although some teachers are skeptical of the value of the 3-D digital world, the number of virtual campuses keeps growing. I think we should not under-estimate the potential of 3-D Web. This could be a technology with a future for higher education. The Gartner Research Group predicated that 80% of regular Internet users will have a 3-D Web presence by 2011. Perhaps, we should explore the potential of 3-D digital world in teaching and learning. Second Life could be a valuable educational tool for teaching the Net Generation. Second Life provides opportunity to use simulation in a safe environment to enhance experiential learning, allowing students to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
This entry was posted in Second Life, Web 2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Teaching in Second Life

  1. Anonymous says:

    it is really a cool news. do you mind to proide more information about that?

  2. Lou Ellen says:

    When I first stumbled across Second Life, I was very wary of it. I decided to try it out for myself. It took me a while to learn the lay of the land, and I am still learning when I have the time to play around on it. I found my little experience of it to be somewhat exciting. It is a neat concept. The idea of creating an entire virtual world of anything is fantastic. Using this in education seems to be a very fascinating idea towards merging education and the future with technology. With the kids today being born into this technological age, we must start to recognize that we will have to move in that direction as well. Creating virtual classrooms and virtual universities is a unique way to look into distance learning. I can imagine that in the future this will be a beneficial tool for education. The video talked about theatre and art being an interesting avenue. I was especially interested in the 3D modeling aspect. Having done some animation myself, I could see how fun this sort of avenue would be to students in this field. History professors can send their students to see important places. As the video showed, anything is possible. If there is anything that you could imagine up, your virtual self could perform these actions. How amazing for those young minds that are so often starved for imagination because their brains are filled with television images. You must bring what you want to the table, making it totally your vision. I think this could be a very effective way to get different ideas and thoughts flowing, and even as a confidence builder for students.

  3. James M. Thompson says:

    This article is quite interesting but raises several questions. First of all, I realize that there are numerous potential in which Second Life could really be beneficial to many users. On the other hand, I questioned not having the face-to-face interaction. Could Second Life possibly be used for all age groups, such as students in lower elementary schools? I believe that younger students need the face-to-face interactions because it is quite important in their development. Now, when it comes to older children and adults, I believe that Second Life would be great. Again, I question if this tool would be suitable for individuals that are deemed digital foreigners or have a great fear of using technology. If individuals have a high comfort level using technology, Second Life would be a great tool for any organization.

    As stated in the article regarding the percentage of people that would utilize Second Life by 2011 is phenomenal. In the era of competition and globalization, it is imperative for companies to be ahead of their competitors. For instance, employees must attend periodic training, but at the same time they may not be able to take time away from the office. Therefore, Second Life would be great for companies to use in order to train their employees and it can also be cost effective. I can also see the benefit of companies located in different regions of a country or even different countries using Second Life to communicate without actually leaving their office, which is a form of synchronous communication.

  4. Shenetta Booth says:

    James brought up a good thought on classroom setting for students that are 6th grade and under. Do they really need to be introduced to Second Life? As I mentioned in another article, Second Life can be dangerous and very risky for teachers. Teachers have to take out time and do a lot of research. It’s very risky, especially for new teachers that know the technology but only creates just a regular account.

    Teachers have to know the technology first before creating an account and telling students to sign on. They have to click on the link that say for Educators and Non-profit. This way they have restrictions and rules that don’t apply to other worlds. Its’ called Second Life Grid.
    “The Second Life Grid provides a unique and flexible platform for educators interested in distance learning, computer supported cooperative work, simulation, new media studies, and corporate training.
    Teachers can create a safe environment to enhance experimental learning, allowing individuals to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes. Prepare your students or employees for real-world experiences by using Second Life as a simulation.
    Students and educators can work together on the Second Life Grid from anywhere in the world as part of a globally networked virtual classroom environment. Using the Second Life Grid as a supplement to traditional classroom environments also provides new opportunities for enriching an existing curriculum. Many universities and educational institutions are already using the Second Life Grid.”

  5. 陳旭能 says:

    Second Life在其模擬3D提供全方位現場體驗之情境下,使用者可以隨時選擇任何主題並於「現場」學習、交流。而依其名稱—Second Life(我認為較適當之翻譯應稱為「第二現場」)之特性,其在教學之應用上便有其跨越時空、突破實地限制之優點;只要克服頻寬不足所帶來之問題,此項教育科技將確實有效地提高教學效果以及便捷性,使其成為真正的虛擬教室。不過,目前台灣在教育科技的運用程度現況上,Second Life因政府教育單位積極度以及各項配套措施、設備上均較為不足;企業則因投資效益及使用動機等方面考量,在職業訓練上亦較少涉及;故Second Life之發展與應用仍尚待努力,尤其在教學輔助應用上,其教學課程之融入與課前情境引導及課後學習評估等,均有待發展。

  6. 陳旭能 says:

    Second Life在其模擬3D提供全方位現場體驗之情境下,使用者可以隨時選擇任何主題並於「現場」學習、交流。而依其名稱—Second Life(我認為較適當之翻譯應稱為「第二現場」)之特性,其在教學之應用上便有其跨越時空、突破實地限制之優點;只要克服頻寬不足所帶來之問題,此項教育科技將確實有效地提高教學效果以及便捷性,使其成為真正的虛擬教室。不過,目前台灣在教育科技的運用程度現況上,Second Life因政府教育單位積極度以及各項配套措施、設備上均較為不足;企業則因投資效益及使用動機等方面考量,在職業訓練上亦較少涉及;故Second Life之發展與應用仍尚待努力,尤其在教學輔助應用上,其教學課程之融入與課前情境引導及課後學習評估等,均有待發展。

  7. 莊明廣 says:

    虛擬的學習環境有其優勢,可以模擬真實情境,提供學生經驗學習,培養學生問題解決能力,這是真實教學所無法達成的,所以在飛機駕駛、鐵路駕駛上,都會運用虛擬學習。在技能訓練的培養上,必須不斷重覆操作,材料取得、資源使用上,對學校都是一大負擔,如果使用虛擬學習,便可無數次的重覆學習。另外,學習互動上,可以讓時間延伸,不再侷限於上課時間的互動,可以限時間、地點的自主學習。
    上面的這些優點是造成Second Life廣受高等學校、業界喜愛的原因,目前在國外已有不少的學校在Second Life上開課,值得我們關注。
    我認為「校園:第二人生」的設立是school 2.0觀念的施行,這二者之間是有所關連的,他所帶給我們教育效益,值得我們加以探討。站在國內教學的立場,個人從事探究開課,比不上藉由行政力量,進行配套發展,來得有效果。

  8. 莊明廣 says:

    虛擬的學習環境有其優勢,可以模擬真實情境,提供學生經驗學習,培養學生問題解決能力,這是真實教學所無法達成的,所以在飛機駕駛、鐵路駕駛上,都會運用虛擬學習。在技能訓練的培養上,必須不斷重覆操作,材料取得、資源使用上,對學校都是一大負擔,如果使用虛擬學習,便可無數次的重覆學習。另外,學習互動上,可以讓時間延伸,不再侷限於上課時間的互動,可以限時間、地點的自主學習。
    上面的這些優點是造成Second Life廣受高等學校、業界喜愛的原因,目前在國外已有不少的學校在Second Life上開課,值得我們關注。
    我認為「校園:第二人生」的設立是school 2.0觀念的施行,這二者之間是有所關連的,他所帶給我們教育效益,值得我們加以探討。站在國內教學的立場,個人從事探究開課,比不上藉由行政力量,進行配套發展,來得有效果。

  9. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    虛擬實境是人類發展出的另一世界,相關的Second Life或是網路社一些3D虛擬社群都具備著相同的意涵,我也真的親自使用過,很具備創意性與娛樂價值。
    不過個人一直覺得學習須具備動機,若具備強大的動機,則不論學習環境或是學習媒體的型態為何,學習者仍能達到高成效的學習,虛擬環境只是被使用來吸引學生或增加學生的動機,藉由讓學習者深入其中,面對其擬真的情境去主動探求與學習,但是我總覺得是否有需要這樣做?其實人生本來就是終身學習(不論終身學習的論點是否被提出),但是否需要去重新設計出一個與真實環境相似虛擬世界,再讓學習者從現實環境中進入虛擬空間進行學習活動???
    有時候學習者可多思索自己的學習觀,學習本來就是自己的,不論何種環境下,具備自我學習的心態才是重點!!!
    以上看法與大家分享,也期待大家的指教~謝謝

  10. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    虛擬實境是人類發展出的另一世界,相關的Second Life或是網路社一些3D虛擬社群都具備著相同的意涵,我也真的親自使用過,很具備創意性與娛樂價值。
    不過個人一直覺得學習須具備動機,若具備強大的動機,則不論學習環境或是學習媒體的型態為何,學習者仍能達到高成效的學習,虛擬環境只是被使用來吸引學生或增加學生的動機,藉由讓學習者深入其中,面對其擬真的情境去主動探求與學習,但是我總覺得是否有需要這樣做?其實人生本來就是終身學習(不論終身學習的論點是否被提出),但是否需要去重新設計出一個與真實環境相似虛擬世界,再讓學習者從現實環境中進入虛擬空間進行學習活動???
    有時候學習者可多思索自己的學習觀,學習本來就是自己的,不論何種環境下,具備自我學習的心態才是重點!!!
    以上看法與大家分享,也期待大家的指教~謝謝

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