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Second Life Discussion Event Dec 2009

Page history last edited by christa appleton 14 years, 6 months ago

2009-10 LDI project Evaluating the Educational Value of second Life

As part of this project a number of events are scheduled to take place in Second Life starting December 2009


Event 1: Social event

An informal meeting for education professionals in Second Life to facilitate introductions and networking.


Event 2: An educational Discussion

Topic: Virtual Worlds are they the Future? A discussion in Second Life about education in Second Life

Prior to this event an agenda posing questions to help frame the discussion and a link to the main reference document; Eduserves' Virtual Worlds snapshot ( http://virtualworldwatch.net/2009/06/22/early-summer-2009-snapshot/)was sent to attendees. The meeting took place on our JISC island plot, an interesting discussion ensued. The following details the structure of the discussion (agenda questions, in bold) followed by my introduction and a brief summary of  attendees comments and our conclusions. Also available are links to the discussion chat and a video recording of the meeting in Second Life (kindly recorded and edited by Lauri Showler).


 Q1 In teaching and Learning where are we now? 

"Every university in the UK except one (the University of the Highlands and Islands) has members of staff who have developed, or are developing, something in a virtual world– though that ‘something’, and the use and educational relevance of it, varies extremely widely.”

  • Some universities have just pockets of interest & limited activities.
  • Others have substantial investment and development with regular activities.
  • Use is growing steadily rather than rapidly

Information quoted from the SL snapsot report

Attendees are using Second Life to provide real life scenarios for practice (e.g. midwifery and medical practice at Worcester University) Socialisation and collaborative work (e.g. Open University).  

Q 1b - Is Second Life worth the effort?

Attendees felt that if the difficulties of access could be overcome Second Life offered a unique opportunity in sychrnous teaching and learning not provided by any other medium. This quality is difficult to quantify and demonstrate to others if they are not prepared to try the medium themselves but can be summed up as immersive presence in world.

Shailey reported that the Open University  had made use of Second Life to offer an element of (virtual) face-to-face interaction as part of their distance learning package along with forums, blogs, wikis etc, Interestingly they found that  student contributions in the forums etc was richer due to the sense of relationship established in Second Life. This was true student to student and also student to tutor. On another OU course students use second Life to support their own self directed student meetings and found that their team work improved and decision making was quicker. These students found they preferred Second Life for this module to other means such as IM or Skype.

Q1c What does Second Life do best?

The presence via an avatar in a negotiable 3D environment brings together a visual and auditory connection, communication and ambient sounds (that help re-enforce the sense of being there), with movement, activity and interaction which can be extremely engaging and therefore motivating. Second Life is best used as part of the teachers on-line toolkit where it can be employed to good effect selectively, to provide variety and interaction with peers or objects that would be difficult in any other way; e.g. observing and treating extreme medical conditions.

Examples of Good Practice

Other successful uses discussed include e.g Role play- Disaster Management strategy, Coventry University, Islandia. Visualisations (e.g. World War 2 SIM), detailed exploration of a resource that would be difficult to visit and examine in detail e.g Sistine Chapel, Vasser island. For tutors taking students in to Second Life it is important to offer support, advice and guidance, ensure you provide adaequate orientation at the outset and begin with simple tasks that help build interaction with the environemnt, peers and the tutor. For orientation look at NMC Orientation Island, the Learning Curve and Help Island. To try building skills or examine items from your inventory try island sandbox areas, usually use is free. For early activites consider treasure hunt style where students find objects or information to solve a puzzle or for some reward. Bluesky recommends allocating a small amount of linden dollars to get students atrated in their Second Life as an incentive and reward for completing tasks. It is also a good idea to provide some freebies for their inventories, perhaps clothes and useful items for their course.

Q2 Where do we go from here?

Continue to meet and share our experiences regularly, more examples that evidence good practice are needed. There is a need for more direct research of virtual worlds to provide realistic evidence of any value and establish the place of virtual worlds in the modern educational landscape.

Events that will help the progress of virtual worlds are improved infra-structure in order to meet system demands

Interoperability with other tools, some are already in existence such as Sloodle

Q3 What developments do you envisage to further enhance Virtual World environments in the future?

Improved gestures particularly to indicate listening, agreement & disagreement among avatars, voice synchronicity with lips, more realistic avatars  and environments. Although improved graphics is a double-edged sword while it ma improve the overall quality of the interface and meet with the approval of gamers it will put further demands and strain on institution networks and budgets in term of machine quality. 



Event video recording


 Chat from event


snap shot from this event


For more aout the LDI 2009-10 project: Evaluating the Educational Value of Second Life 2009-10




Using Second Life in tyeaching and learning ; an elearning models best practice event held in 2007


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