I've been in Second Life since 2007, but in late summer 2009, I started messing around with it from an educational perspective when I saw a blog article about Memorial University in Newfoundland winning an award for their work in virtual worlds (link below). I took some of the in-world courses on building, scripting, graphics and 3-D modelling, and browsed around the many interesting and educational ares of Second Life. I could easily see how this could be used to provide fun and interactive learning experiences that today's generation of students would find interesting and attractive. Eventually I acquired some virtual land, and built two "Sheridan" locations with learning areas, a sandbox, a lecture hall, and a lounge area. After giving a presentation to ACES faculty in January, we obtained our own "sim" or island region. I sold off my mainland parcel and moved over to our new island. There are many benefits to having your own island region. Most obvious is the space and freedom to build exactly what you want and what's appropriate for your own institution. Having our own "Sheridan College" island was a huge step in getting this project moving along.
Students attending college and university are now coming in with a different set of skills, interests, and learning styles that were not available or prevalent with older generations of students. Many students have experience playing with virtual worlds (in games such as World of Warcraft) and are very savvy when it comes to role-playing, avatars, and manipulating virtual objects. Second Life has been around for many years (see history of SL) and during that time, many colleges and universities around the world have realized the importance of using SL as a tool for new types of teaching and learning. These new types of teaching and learning are more appropriate for the students that come into colleges and universities today.
Here are some examples of how other institutions have used Second Life in education. Probably the most fascinating is Loyalist College in Ontario, which went from role-playing to in-world simulations ("SLurl"s are Second Life URLs. If you have a viewer installed, clicking a SLurl will teleport you to that location):
Video: Loyalist Canadian Border Simulation
Blog Entry: Learning Inworld - Loyalist Case Study
SLurl: Loyalist College
Additionally, this list seems to be kept up-to-date: Institutions in Second Life - from SimTeach.com
Photos of what I'm doing in SL
See Sheridan in Second Life:
Sheridan College Region
For more information, please email Wendi Jollymore and/or, if you have a Second Life account, feel free to contact me in-world as Wendi Lavendel.
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