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Second Life in Education


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An introduction to Second Life in education.

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Second Life in Education

  1. 1. Exploring Second Life as an Instructional Tool Staci Trekles Milligan Clinical Assistant Professor School of Education, Dept. of Graduate Studies Purdue University Calumet
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>What is a virtual world? </li></ul><ul><li>Social Learning and Collaboration in Virtual Worlds </li></ul><ul><li>Why Second Life ? </li></ul><ul><li>Explorations with Real Students </li></ul><ul><li>Potential Uses of Second Life for Instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Potential Pitfalls and Problems </li></ul><ul><li>Resources and References </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is a virtual world? <ul><li>A virtual world is like a game, but there is no story or set rules </li></ul><ul><li>Instead, it is more of a place for open roaming, socializing, exploration, and building </li></ul><ul><li>Users take control of an avatar to interact within the space, which is usually a vast 3D landscape </li></ul><ul><li>Some virtual worlds available today: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Second Life ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whyville (for teens; ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ActiveWorlds ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QuestAtlantis (for kids; ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EntropiaUniverse ( ) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Avatars <ul><li>Avatar : A digital representation of yourself; this is the “character” that you control in the virtual world </li></ul><ul><li>The term comes from Hindu mythology, as the name for a temporary body used by the gods when they visit Earth </li></ul><ul><li>Was a term first applied to computer representations of the self in 1985 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Imagine… <ul><li>Virtual field trips </li></ul><ul><li>Model and systems analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting with colleagues/students and having meaningful dialogue with body language and visual aides – without leaving home or office! </li></ul>
  6. 6. Social Learning and Collaboration <ul><li>Many of us already know the power of social learning, both informal and formal </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual worlds offer terrific opportunities for teamwork and collaboration that go beyond the everyday, and beyond campus walls </li></ul><ul><li>For example, watch this demonstration of NASA’s CoLab Mission in Second Life: </li></ul>
  7. 7. Why Second Life ? <ul><li>Second Life is by far the most popular digital world available today </li></ul><ul><li>Millions of people “inhabit” Second Life, and there are literally thousands of different “islands” to visit within the Second Life landscape </li></ul><ul><li>Fully 3D and highly interactive, you can not only meet with others but you can also purchase, create, and manipulate anything you can imagine </li></ul><ul><li>Built-in advanced scripting language allows for unlimited flexibility, and many developers already have interesting resources available freely </li></ul><ul><li>Example of this is “Sloodle”: </li></ul><ul><li>Sloodle merges Moodle CMS with Second Life for an interactive classroom experience </li></ul>
  8. 8. Structure of Second Life (SL) <ul><li>Consists of “islands” that you can teleport between at will </li></ul><ul><li>Residents (members) can join groups, which may give them access to new things or events </li></ul><ul><li>Islands, building, and item access can be restricted to members of certain groups, or to certain individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Currency of the world is the Linden Dollar, and Lindens can be purchased with real money at the current exchange rate (yes, it has a functional economy!) </li></ul><ul><li>Only paying members can own, buy, or sell property </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life is limited to adults 18 and over, but there is a Teen Second Life just for younger residents (no adults over 18 allowed unless it is an educational space) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Quick Travels through SL
  10. 10. Exploring Second Life in the College Classroom <ul><li>Students in my EDCI 566 (graduate – Instructional Applications of Multimedia) were asked to visit SL from an instructional perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Their task: explore as much as they wished (including a few educational sites such as ISTE Island and EdTech Island), and collect “field notes” </li></ul><ul><li>After two weeks they reported on their experiences, shared their notes, and reflected on the instructional value of SL in a discussion forum </li></ul>
  11. 11. Exploring Second Life in the College Classroom <ul><li>2 male, 4 female </li></ul><ul><li>Age range: mid-20s – mid-40s </li></ul><ul><li>Only two students were self-described “gamers” (1 male, 1 female) </li></ul><ul><li>3 of 6 have children at home who play games regularly </li></ul><ul><li>At least two women had not had much exposure to electronic gaming at all </li></ul>
  12. 12. Exploring Second Life in the College Classroom <ul><li>No one had ever spent time in Second Life prior to class, so we spent part of two different sessions exploring SL as a group </li></ul><ul><li>First session: students logged on for the first time, went through tutorial and got acclimated to the controls </li></ul><ul><li>Second session: Feeling more comfortable, they explored together </li></ul><ul><li>They eventually came across someone in-world who was willing to give a “guided tour” of Vassar Island, and answer the students’ questions about SL for a while </li></ul>
  13. 13. Vassar Island (Vassar College)
  14. 14. Student Impressions <ul><li>Most students enjoyed their time and found SL useful, but they were also quick to point out problems as well </li></ul><ul><li>Many found that moving around and controlling their avatar was a bit more difficult than expected </li></ul><ul><li>They tended to judge the people they came across in-world by appearances, and spent a lot of time updating their own appearances to match their personality </li></ul><ul><li>Some were hesitant to interact with others for fear of “creepy” people </li></ul>
  15. 15. Student Impressions <ul><li>“ A social place, a place for exploration, a place where anything is possible and things can be created, manipulated, reinvented, etc.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ More fun to talk to a person rather than type to a computer screen” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Great that you can’t ‘die’ like in other video games – takes the fear away for people who don’t play games much or don’t play all that well!” </li></ul><ul><li>One student mentioned the issue of “fitting in” and how SL allows one to easily make your appearance fit with a setting - in doing this, you are in effect “following the herd” as you might in real life, promoting less individuality </li></ul>
  16. 16. Potential Uses for Teaching and Learning <ul><li>Many ideas came up, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discovery learning activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual group/class meetings (especially when face-to-face is not possible or practical) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teambuilding and problem solving exercises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sales, classroom, presentation, other interpersonal skills simulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Construction, math, engineering activities with building tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer science/programming with script building capabilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual field trips (many real life locations have been re-created in Second Life) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multicultural and sociological studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign language learning </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Potential Problems <ul><li>Bandwidth – SL demands a great deal of network resource, and cannot be used well on slower connections </li></ul><ul><li>Computer speed – SL also performs best on a relatively new, fast machine; performance will be unacceptable on older systems </li></ul><ul><li>Technical issues – Occasionally things do not work as expected, such as voice chat and avatar commands </li></ul><ul><li>Screen space – the bigger the monitor, the easier it will be to play SL </li></ul>
  18. 18. Potential Problems <ul><li>Individuals with disabilities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vision-impaired users will be unable to use SL without assistance from another person; there is no in-world support for screen readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobility-impaired users may be able to navigate adequately depending on the nature of disability, but support for some assistive devices and voice command is likely not available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning disabled users will have varying levels of success with SL as there are a lot of visual distractions in-world, and potential for frustration is high; however, some LD users may also respond extremely well </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Cost <ul><li>For educational institutions wishing to purchase their own space in Second Life, the price is about $837 + $147.50 monthly (see ) </li></ul><ul><li>Educators wishing to use private space cost-free for one semester can apply to Campus: Second Life ; see: </li></ul><ul><li>Many colleges already have private spaces including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ball State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IU </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>San Diego State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full list: </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Thank You <ul><li>Questions? Comments? More ideas for using virtual worlds in the classroom? </li></ul><ul><li>Anastasia Trekles Milligan </li></ul><ul><li>School of Education </li></ul><ul><li>Purdue University Calumet </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  21. 21. Resources <ul><li>Second Life official site: </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life in Education wiki: </li></ul><ul><li> sites tagged with “Second Life” and “education”: </li></ul><ul><li>A full glossary of virtual world terms: </li></ul>
  22. 22. Resources <ul><li>Second Life examples for education: </li></ul><ul><li>SLURL: Browser-based linking to worlds in Second Life: </li></ul><ul><li>Sloodle Project: </li></ul><ul><li>Get a Sloodle demo site: </li></ul><ul><li>The Seven Wonders of Second Life: </li></ul><ul><li>Top 20 Educational Islands in Second Life: </li></ul>
  23. 23. References <ul><li>Brown J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review,. 43( 1), 16–32. </li></ul><ul><li>Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. </li></ul><ul><li>Gee, J. P. (2005). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. E-Learning, 2(1). 5-16. Retrieved July 12, 2005, from . </li></ul><ul><li>Graetz, K. A. (2006). The psychology of learning environments. In D. Oblinger (Ed.), Learning Spaces (pp. 6.1-6.14). Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE. Retrieved July 16, 2007, from . </li></ul>
  24. 24. References <ul><li>McGee, P., & Diaz, V. (2007). Wikis and podcasts and blogs! Oh my! What is a faculty member supposed to do? EDUCAUSE Review, 42 (5), 28-41. </li></ul><ul><li>Mollman, S. (2007, July 27). Wii + Second Life = New training simulator. Wired . Retrieved September 6, 2007, from . </li></ul><ul><li>New Media Consortium (2007). The horizon report, 2007 edition. Austin, TX: New Media Consortium. Retrieved October 24, 2007, from . </li></ul><ul><li>Prensky, M. (2004). Digital game-based learning. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House. </li></ul><ul><li>Rice, J. W. (2007). New media resistance: Barriers to implementation of computer video games in the classroom. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16 (3). 249-261. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Further Reading <ul><li>Rymaszewski, M., et al. (2008). Second Life: The official guide. San Fransisco, Ca: Sybex/Wiley. </li></ul><ul><li>Weber, A., Rufer-Bach, K., & Platel, R. (2007). Creating your world: The official guide to advanced content creation for Second Life . San Francisco, CA: Sybex/Wiley. </li></ul><ul><li>v3Image (2007). A beginner’s guide to Second Life . Las Vegas, NV: ArcheBooks. </li></ul><ul><li>Heaton, J. (2007). Introduction to Linden Scripting Language for Second Life . Heaton Research, Inc. (More available at the Heaton website: ) </li></ul>