As part of IT 860 we learned about Second Life and how it can be used for education and learning. I have been a resident of Second Life for about 2.5 years and I am so amazed by the potential impact on education. Second Life is a 3-D virtual community imagined and created by its residents. It has a real economy, property ownership, and avatars (powered by people) that engage in many interactions and activities. This is my avatar Crystal Zhangsun:
Our assignment for this part of the course was to participate in a symposium showcasing our research. We were assigned an alcove area on the Golden Eagle1 Island where we put up 5 slides explaining and outlining our research. Participants were then invited to come and walk around and ask questions. Our alcove (see picture below) was set up with our photograph where participants could click and get a bio and they could click the title slide on our podium and get a handout. We were not sure how the symposium would go or if anyone would come. We were pleased that we had over 50 participants who attended, looked at the alcoves and asked questions. It was fun to talk to the various people who came by. They were all very encouraging and supportive of what we were doing.
I think the symposium provided one example of the uses of Second Life in education. It is a great venue for sharing ideas and learning from each other. I spoke to a teacher from France which is pretty amazing. Classes and workshops can be designed that encourage collaboration and participation by students in a global context. Students can meet and interact with students and teachers around the world without ever having to travel. I can also see Second Life being used to as a way to conduct online classes. It does create a sense of presence and community that one would not get from Blackboard. I think SL teaching as opposed to the Blackboard environment has the following advantages:
- Appeal to today’s visual students
- Collaboration between campuses, disciplines, students/nonstudents
- Distributed learning
- Sense of Presence and connectedness
- Social Networking w/ global reach
Needless to say, this was favorite assignment. I think Dr. Mark did an outstanding job preparing the alcoves, uploading all the materials and training everyone (of course I may be a little biased…).