Two development booms in Dubai: in the
90’s and since 2002. Before that… not much
November 22, 2007: Dubai Women’s College, Higher
Colleges of Technology, purchased their island.
January 2008: A virtual campus has been created to
provide a ‘safe’ learning environment for students.
What did we learn?
The HCT college system screens web traffic and
blocks sites from student access which are deemed
as inconsistent with cultural values.
◦ In fact, for all residents in the UAE, the UAE’s
telecommunication Ministry blocks inappropriate web
Second Life is not filtered as it is not html based.
Despite the Growth, Dubai is still conservative!
New technologies seen as educational
opportunities for extending and enriching
◦ The ‘risks’ inherent to 2nd Life –> visual material
seen as inconsistent with the cultural beliefs of this
Filtering web traffic policies presented
HCT filters web traffic for its 20 000+ users through
a single IP
This conflicts with a Linden new-account policy of no
more than 25 accounts from a single IP per week.
Train the Trainer Approach
Six students volunteered -- introduced to:
◦ The ‘risks’ inherent to 2nd Life
◦ getting an account
◦ Navigating in a 3D interface
◦ Changing their appearance
◦ Search for things
◦ Teleporting and moving (mini-map and map)
◦ Taken on a tour to four safe locations -- safe in
that they were not adjacent to ‘skin’ images. BBC,
Islam on-Line, NOAA and Weather Island.
The 6 trainers were given L$ 1000 and asked
to find something to purchase and support
their purchase with a ‘need/purpose’. then
share this with class. Unanimously, they
chose to purchase wedding dresses. ☺
Although students are covered within the
walls of their college, they chose to not cover
Teacher Quote: “I had two students who
wouldn’t participate in SL. This was a very
distracting influence for the rest of the class
Xxxx, said her husband wouldn’t allow her.
Xxxx, is very conservative and was not at all
comfortable with [Second Life].
I took a number of students to visit ‘Islam
OnLine’ which contains a model of Mecca.
During our visit another avatar approached us
and said the following:
[3:43] xxx xxx: Tell your student to cover herself
[3:44] xxx xxx: even if it is SL this place still represents Mecca
The student did not argue with the other
person and we moved on shortly after.
◦ To introduce DWC students to other students and
cultures in non-F2F situations where travel is not
possible, and enable interaction. This is intended
to expose student to global issues and broaden
their global awareness.
◦ Female English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
students from Dubai Women’s College join other
college students from around the globe in
international cultural exchanges in Second Life.
During one of the VIE, the corresponding
institution came dressed, representing their
own cultures, so our students dressed
accordingly as well.
As soon as the event was completed, the
Provide students with support in building
objects and setting up businesses on the DWC
Encouraging students and faculty to explore
ideas to extend the use of 2L.
Partner with an on-campus student-run
businesses to create an ‘exchange house.’
Students who do not have a credit card will be
able to exchange UAE Dirham for Linden $.
Using 2L in a conservative Middle East society
exposes many social and cultural dichotomies.
Purchasing our own island permitted us to control
access to a region in 2L were we can control who
interacts with our students, thus providing a ‘safe
There needs to be an opt-out option for students.
2L proved itself to be a VERY effective medium for
exposing our students to other cultures and moving
them a little further along the way to becoming
Dubai Women’s College, Higher Colleges of
Search under ‘Places’ for DWC
This presentation was given at
The Conference for Language Education
in Virtual Worlds