Exploring current usesÂ of Virtual World tools in educational applications
Over the next fewÂ weeks I want to catch up withÂ what's been going on in the fascinating world of “virtual world” tools (like Second Life) and how these tools are being used in educational applications.
Second Life remainsÂ the “gold standard” in Virtual World applications, but there are many otherÂ VW tools available, and we will consider some of those in our exploration. When I first experimented with Second LifeÂ a year or so ago, the laptop I had at the time was pretty old, and it could not support the demands of this resource-intensive environment. This led me to conclude that widespread adoption of this type of tool would lag a bit, as the average computer at the disposal of students and educators gradually catches up to these requirements. I now have a new computer, and willÂ see how the app performs on it, but first I want to research what some of today's educators areÂ doing with these types of tools.
I found a “SLeducation Wikipages” site, whichÂ provided examples of manyÂ educational uses of Second Life over the last few years, grouped into over 40 categories [ed note – as of 03/22/10, this site seems to have moved or been removed, so I can no longer provide a link to it]. I borrowed heavily from this resource and compiled the followingÂ sampling of applicationsÂ mentioned there:
- The New Media ConsortiumÂ Campus:Â ThisThis YouTube video provides an overview of the NMC Campus, and someÂ insight into Second Life. is the largest educational presence in Second Life. The NMC CampusÂ supports events, classes, demonstrations, art exhibitions and learning experiences. It was established in 2006 and continues to provide virtual spaces and experiences for educators and artists around the world.
- Second Life Writing – ENG104 at Ball State University: Sarah Robbins of BSU used Second Life to teach an English class focused on writing for academic research. The course was a hybrid course with at least half of the class time spent online.Â This online article discusses the project.
- Really Engaging Accounting: Robins Hermano uses Second Life to teach a financial accounting course at the University of Central Florida titled “Really Engaging Accounting”. The aim of the project is to engage students in what is normally a very non-engaging course and ensure they develop basic accounting literacy. This Slideshare presentation provides some insight into the project.
- Thomson Netg Training: In 2006, Thomson Netg offered training in Cisco and Microsoft Certification, business development, and sales and customer service skills via Second Life. The company used Second Life to run live classes, to provide mentorship and to offer on-demand training with individualized media and streamed audio and video presentations or podcasts. Their aim was to use the unique qualities of a shared 3D space to allow students to interact with technology demonstrations and to enact elaborate role plays (the project ended in 2007 when Thomson Netg was acquired by SkillSoft). This brief article discusses the project (unfortunately, the associated video has since been removed from YouTube).
- Self-paced Learning – Ohio University Campus Learning Kiosks: This kiosk was developed in 2008 as part of a blend of learning resources for students in a “Managing in the Innovation Age” course. Since then several other kiosks have been developed including Ohio University Libraries Orientation and ‘Ask the Techies' which provides useful IT tips and information. These kiosks are now partÂ of a larger set of features incorporated into Ohio University's Second Life Campus. ViewÂ thisÂ promotional YouTube video to learn more about Ohio U's robust SL presence.
These are just a small sampling of the many examples in the above mentioned SLEducation Wiki, and there are so many others that be can found with a quick webÂ search and a little reading. Some of the other education related applications of Second LifeÂ that I came across includedÂ language labs, holding ‘virtual' office hours, and leveraging the many virtual resources (like museums,Â libraries, scientific modeling, virtualÂ tourism, etc.) available in these environments.
Next week I'm going to look into education applications like these onÂ Virtual World applicationsÂ other than Second Life. After that, I'll jump into one (or more) of these environments and see if I can get a sense of where things stand today in terms of the resources required to use the tools productively.
As always, don't hesitate to offerÂ any comments, observations about relatedÂ experiences, questions, etc. Thanks.