Archive for the ‘Second Life’ Category

Today, many colleges and universities are building their virtual campuses in Second Life. They are exploring the use of virtual worlds for the delivery of a wide range of courses, professional development activities, educational and social events.  Like many colleges and universities, Penn State World Campus has built an island in Second Life for their online learners to connect with Penn State and each other outside of their courses.  It is interesting to learn that The Pennsylvania State University is taking a step further.  Academic advisers at Penn State World Campus are now required to be available for meetings with students in the virtual world each week.  While Penn State students on the real campus get to meet with their advisers face to face, online Penn State students who never set foot on Penn State campus can now do almost exact same thing.

With Second Life, student can visit Penn State anytime no matter where they live.  Students can meet with their academic advisers in Second Life in the Advising Center on PSU World Campus Island for walk-in appointments or by appointment in Second Life.  I think this is one of many great examples of using emerging technologies in education.  I expect that more colleges and universities will follow the lead of Penn State by offering academic advising in Second Life to their students.

Adcademic Advising at PSU World Campus

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CNN Enters Second Life


I talked about educational uses of Second Life yesterday.  Well, let me expand on this topic one more day.  Second Life is not only used by colleges and universities to provide their students with an online 3-D virtual reality world, it is also used by many corporations to provide online training, orientations, and other activities.  On November 12, 2007, CNN open an I-Report hub in Second Life.  CNN asks its real-life audience to submit their own SL I-Reports (user-generated content submitted from cell phones, computers, cameras and other equipment for broadcast and online reports) about events occurring within the virtual world.  By having a presence in Second Life, CNN hopes to learn about virtual worlds and understand what news is most interesting and valuable to their residents. It will be interesting to see how successful is the CNN’s I-Report hub in Second Life and the impact of these types of activities in journalism education.

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I talked about Second Life in my blog in October and I am excited about the potential of using Second Life to provide an online 3-D virtual reality world in education and training. Today, more and more colleges, universities, and corporations are building their virtual campuses and training facilities in Second Life. We, in education, should explore the potential of 3-D digital world in teaching and learning. Second Life could be a valuable educational tool for teaching the digital natives.

To learn more about Second Life, I recommend an outstanding wiki “Second Life in Education” created by Jo Kay and Sean FitzGerald. Their wiki provides a detailed list of educational uses of Second Life and many useful resources for teachers. Also, Jo Kay and Sean FitzGerald produced an excellent video “Introduction to Second Life, ” an introductory digital story/slideshow on Second Life and it’s Educational Possibilities.

Another outstanding video I recommend to watch is “NMC Campus: Seriously Engaging.” This is a promo produced by New Media Consortium (NMC) to provide an overview of the NMC ‘s virtual campus built in Second Life.

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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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