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Online Higher Education in Second Life?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the virtual-school-rooms dept.

Education 67

XxtraLarGe asks: "As both a technician for my college's Distance Learning program and as an avid gamer, I have been tasked with investigating Second Life as a possible way for us to extend and enhance our online classes. I've done a lot of research, reading about what other schools have done. While I personally think it is a really cool idea, I am somewhat skeptical of the actual practicality and value of what seems to be a glorified chat room. I'd like to hear from others about their education experience in Second Life, particularly if you've been involved in setting up any online classes or taken any online classes. What sort of training would be required for the faculty, and is it really worth it?"

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Does your school want to be taken seriously? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455205)

if so, consider the fact that you guys will look like total boners if you offer classes in a video game. I don't care if that sounds ok to you, accept that you're weird and think how it's going to sound to anyone who is in a position to hire anyone for a real job.

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (3, Interesting)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455215)

I don't see why this has been modded down.

Second life is a game, education is not. Get the education through known (quantifiable) channels before playing with games.

Employers can be finicky about all aspects of your education, someone who gamed their diploma will struggle even if they are the best for the job.

And what if... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455311)

Employers can be finicky about all aspects of your education, someone who gamed their diploma will struggle even if they are the best for the job.


And what if it is a school for videogaming? (Programming and Animation in particular, such schools exist).

Anyway, in my experience. employers for technical jobs care about competence more than education. And if they are competent, they can tell if you have the stuff or not by the end of the interviewing process. They won't care if you did your classes standing on you head if you are good.

So I wouldn't be turned off just because a student learned through a game (a top freshman or sophomore Naval pilot trained on a Microsoft's Flight Simulator a few years back to win Naval contest that only juniors and seniors won before... can't seem to find the story right now). I remember also a Discovery Channel special where they showed surgeons being trained on a video game.

OTOH, the worst classes I have ever taken were online classes. Impersonal, the teacher (in English anyways) seems to grade papers harsher without a face to put to it, lacking in clarification or time the teacher can devote to your question, and all around sucky for areas you aren't naturally good in. No social interaction, etc.

So I would ask: does this make sense and how exactly will it help students? Is this just eye candy? Will it put up barriers for education? (I know nothing about 2nd life - Windows Only? Does it require too high end of a computer to run comfortabley?) Make that a consideration. Is the professor going to struggle with this? Could this money be spent in a better way or would it be better not to spend it at all? Is it easy? When your semesters are only 14-15 weeks, you don't want to dick around for a week or two getting things running on either side. Does it or doesn't it make sense? It should be really that simple.

Re:And what if... (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455645)

And what if it is a school for videogaming? (Programming and Animation in particular, such schools exist).


I can't see how having the school _in_ a video game would help with either. You could use a video game as an illustration or assignment, maybe, but having virtual avatars dicking around in a virtual world? Seriously, how's that going to help?

So I wouldn't be turned off just because a student learned through a game (a top freshman or sophomore Naval pilot trained on a Microsoft's Flight Simulator a few years back to win Naval contest that only juniors and seniors won before... can't seem to find the story right now). I remember also a Discovery Channel special where they showed surgeons being trained on a video game.


Except those are very specialized simulators, extremely close to the real thing. I can't see how playing any game would help programming in the same way. If you play MS Flight Sim, you might actually learn something about airplanes, but if you click around a virtual classroom in Second Life, all you've learned from there is to click around in a game. Maybe a valuable skill for something else, but it won't make you a better programmer no matter how you want to slice it.

Additionally, SL does have the dubious reputation among many people of being basically a 3D cybersex game, and of pink flying penises. Deserved or undeserved, I'm not discussing that at this point. Just that it has it. So while many employers could maybe live with getting your courses online, many _will_ be turned off by such an association. It's basically on par with saying that you got your education at the local brothel. You know, one of the hookers also was good with computers and stuff.

OTOH, the worst classes I have ever taken were online classes. Impersonal, the teacher (in English anyways) seems to grade papers harsher without a face to put to it, lacking in clarification or time the teacher can devote to your question, and all around sucky for areas you aren't naturally good in. No social interaction, etc.


I'm not sure putting a silly avatar on it would help that horribly much. Or not enough to offset the other problems.

So I would ask: does this make sense and how exactly will it help students? Is this just eye candy? Will it put up barriers for education? (I know nothing about 2nd life - Windows Only? Does it require too high end of a computer to run comfortabley?) Make that a consideration. Is the professor going to struggle with this? Could this money be spent in a better way or would it be better not to spend it at all? Is it easy? When your semesters are only 14-15 weeks, you don't want to dick around for a week or two getting things running on either side. Does it or doesn't it make sense? It should be really that simple.


I'm guessing it would take a lot more than a week or two, including dealing with disruptions, pranks and whatnot. The pink flying penises aren't just a wisecrack, that's just what happened to someone's press release in SL.

Plus, I see it as more work for the teacher all semester long, if they actually want to simulate all the advantages of a real school. Just seeing the teacher standing there isn't going to do much.

Re:And what if... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457891)

Lets get this straight, Second Life is not a game. It's not WoW. It's a 3D virtual environment. You can play games within SL, but itself is not a game, but a platform. You can play games via IRC, but no one calls IRC a game, right?

g. I can't see how playing any game would help programming in the same way. If you play MS Flight Sim, you might actually learn something about airplanes, but if you click around a virtual classroom in Second Life, all you've learned from there is to click around in a game. Maybe a valuable skill for something else, but it won't make you a better programmer no matter how you want to slice it.


I take it you've not heard of LSL, the built in scripting language. From the LSL Wiki http://www.lslwiki.net/ [lslwiki.net] //From the script library //Writen by Strife Onizuka //http://secondlife.com/badgeo/wakka.php?wakka=Lib raryTextureSwitcher

float time = 30; //give me a value if you want time based shifting otherwise set to zero

integer total;
integer counter;

next()
{
        string name = llGetInventoryName(INVENTORY_TEXTURE,counter);
        if(name == "")
        {
                total = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_TEXTURE);
                counter = 0;
                if(total = total)
                total = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_TEXTURE);
        llSetTexture(name ,ALL_SIDES);
        if(total)
                counter = (counter + 1) % total;
}

default
{
        state_entry()
        {
                total = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_TEXTURE);
                next();
                llSetTimerEvent(time);
        } // touch_start(integer a) // { // llSetTimerEvent(0); // next(); // llSetTimerEvent(time); // }
        timer()
        {
                next();
        }
}


That changes textures on a prim, it can easily be altered to do so by touch or by chat command. Slap this in a prim and it's a simple slideshow tool.

I'm guessing it would take a lot more than a week or two, including dealing with disruptions, pranks and whatnot. The pink flying penises aren't just a wisecrack, that's just what happened to someone's press release in SL.


If the host of the event had been competent, the attack wouldn't have happened. Turning off the creation of objects would have done the trick. Such attacks don't happen very often, the only reason that one was notable is because it was done to Anshe Chung a Land Baron who is disliked in certain segments of the SL community.

Your ordinary educational/scholarly event wouldn't experience such a thing.

Re:And what if... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457421)

Second Life is open source, official clients exist for Windows, OSX and Linux. It does require good 3D hardware but will run (sluggishly) on at least some integrated graphics chipsets.

Re:And what if... (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459665)

Last time I checked it did not run on most Vista computers. Should be available Real Soon Now.

Re:And what if... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460827)

SL on Vista with ATI cards is still a problem that was just mentioned on the blog, don't know about Nvidia

  .

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455351)

Teaching "through the glass window" is not a very effective way to do so. It is hard to get a student motivated to sit in front of the computer for the purpose of teaching them. The student must have the self-discipline already if they intend to succeed here, even for a correspondence course.

It is more obfuscation than necessary.

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456915)

Second life is a game, education is not. Get the education through known (quantifiable) channels before playing with games.


It took me a lot of grinding, but I finally levelled up in my scripting skill! ;-)

Seriously, SL is just as much of a game as IRC or Slashdot is. You can play a game through it (by posting chess moves for instance), but that doesn't really make it a game in itself.

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457291)

I disagree.

Education happens when people learn, and people can learn in a variety of ways that do not involve sitting in a chair with your fellow students. There have been online telecourses for a while now, and video courses for much longer (I took a physics class in college where all the lessons were on a cable channel). To say that Second Life is a game and that's not a forum where education can occur really pigeonholes Second Life and ignores one of the key ways people learn - interacting and building relationships.

Now, if they were talking about Galaga, I would be right there with you. But this is a game where you enter carefully designed virtual environments. The way to win, if you need to think of it that way, is by building relationships with others in non-linear scenarios, where there is no start and end point - you are talking with other people and it's really only as much fun as the other people around you. The game is fully of social networking tools like buddy lists and groups, and there are numerous ways to communicate including IM and local area chat. So, to be clear, you can think of it as a game, but this is more like a 3D communications tool.

Look at the places which have emplolyed Second Life as a tool for the classroom and you get my point. The adjunct campus of Harvard's Law School uses Second Life as an alternative to going into the classroom. You can still 'talk' (chat) with people in a forum where there is a projector, other students asking questions, etc. No one is running around with guns in an FPS, this is an exchange of knowledge. You can download a transcript of what was said (your notes) for future review, and this is really a way of building trust. You know what your others have said, who knows what they are talking about, and have a record of other people's thoughts you can refer to at any time. In some ways, this is better than being in a classroom and recording the lecture. There are other places doing this under different disciplines, but the model is the same - people are there for a reason which is not to play games, they have the opportunity to carry on a dialogue about the subject and high trust relationships are built between the participants.

As a closet philologist, I have to point the Socratic Dialogue here and say that learning groups such as this have more to do with the original 'high impact' style of learning that what most classrooms do here today. If you consider the fact that so many university courses are taught in lecture halls with hundreds of people and no chance to interact with the professor, people in SL probably have an advantage over others in these kinds of settings. Having someone show you what they are talking about and giving you the ability to ask questions is so much more effective than being subjected to straight lectures in crowded rooms it's not even funny. On a sim, you can fit maybe 40 people, so there are guaranteed limits to class size that a lot of people find more appealling.

The point: SL is not a game like Unreal, Galaga, Mario Bros, or most of the other things we think about when we are saying the word. It has an environment that is totally geared to the exchange of knowledge and, based on the current realities of the university system, may be more effective in promoting learning than other some traditional alternatives that exist today. There is no reason why it should be categorically dismissed as an educational tool except the preconception that game -> playtime. It has its uses, just like any other tool, and educators can get results based on the way it is implemented and the effectiveness of the instructor. In some varieties of courses, I am certian there are limitations to how effective it can be, but I fail to see how it impedes learning.

If the people at Harvard use it for their law school, how are employers going to have anything to say? Maybe they will be impressed to see someone taking advantage of technology to get a better education. FWIW, I have been out of college for almost 10 years, held some fairly important positions inside and outside of IT, and no one has ever questioned whether that physics course I took was in a classroom or on TV.

M

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455327)

I have to agree. From what I have seen of Second Life, that and "higher education" do not belong in the same sentence. Second Life is where the people who are too retarded for other games go to "play".

Seriously, I tried to play it once and within five minutes of creating a character I had one female avatar offer to go offline and have "sex via instant messaging" for cash and another try to sell me some random crap that I didn't have a clue about. Needless to say, I deleted the game and never played again. Not to mention, the graphics and interface were not all that appealing.

I'm not a big fan of MMOs as they tend to be incredibly tedious and repetitive and pointless, but Second Life seemed to take that to the extreme. How about instead of offering higher education in some idiotic virtual chat room, people can just log into a website and watch videos or listen to lectures and participate that way? Or even better... they could actually go to an actual school for an actual education.

Or maybe I'm just stupid.

But not stupid enough to waste my first life playing Second Life.

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456749)

if so, consider the fact that you guys will look like total boners if you offer classes in a video game.
Yeah, I'd hate for us to look like Harvard or Stanford [simteach.com] ....

Re:Does your school want to be taken seriously? (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18465653)

consider the fact that you guys will look like total boners if you offer classes in a video game.
I would also ask them to consider the risk of the classroom being attacked BY flying boners.

My god (5, Insightful)

bobetov (448774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455255)

Ok, so Second Life is cool. It's waaaay trendy. It has the sexy.

But it is chat. Only chat. Chat that you can't archive, that is done with word bubbles, and without a moderation system. What on earth would make you think that this would be a good platform for instruction?

Additionally:
- It's a beast on the requirements side, you need a ton of 3D horsepower and a fat network pipe to use it effectively
- Large groups of avatars clustered together hammer the client, turning things into a 4fps slideshow
- Server uptime has historically not been stellar, though that may have changed since I was involved
- It's distracting as all hell - your students will spend all their time customizing/scoping out each others' avatars

Please, for the love of pete, get over the hype on Second Life.

Re:My god (5, Informative)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455343)

If I met someone who acquired their education via Second Life, I would laugh hysterically at them. Then I would toss my spare change into their tin can and while I continue on my way to work.

Re:My god (2, Insightful)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456865)

If I met someone who acquired their education via Second Life, I would laugh hysterically at them. Then I would toss my spare change into their tin can and while I continue on my way to work.


So what exactly would make you feel so superior? I would hope that the prestige of one's education is based on its quality, rather than on where you got it.

Here in Spain we have the UNED, a distance university. I think it's the spanish university with the highest number of students. You can pretty much study everything at home, although newsgroups and forums are available. By your logic, acquiring an education in USENET and web boards must be really funny as well.

If they decided to open a place in SL, it wouldn't stop being what it currently is, would it? The exam certainly wouldn't get any easier. While I have my doubts regarding whether SL would be an improvement over forums, I think such a thing could be tried quite successfully.

Re:My god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460149)

No, look buddy, you just don't get it. No offense meant to you; your reasoning is solid, but it's fucking Second Life we're talking about. You really ought to check out Second Life Safari on Something Awful if you want to get an idea of what SL is like.

It's a pile of weirdoes, Furries, Goreans, and faux child molesters. And that's not an exaggeration fueled by Second Life Safari or hype. I started up a Second Life account to see what the hoopla was about, and it's ridiculous. Take a Stone Age client that runs at 10fps on my almost cutting-edge gaming machine, and combine it with a whole community of people with the ability to give their darkest fantasies shape and then share them with their own kind.

Even if the school built their own little niche out in the boonies, there's almost nothing preventing a pack of kiddy diddlers or Furries with giant virtual horsecocks from moving in next door and gallivanting around. The school would have to recourse to buying out huge tracts of land to insulate themselves.

WORST FAD EVER

Re:My god (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464543)

Consider the fact that a $200 video card attached to a new-ish PC is pretty much REQUIRED for SL to not totally suck ass, we can assume that people using it have slightly more resources than your average hobo.

Re:My god (4, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456319)

Instruction is just chat, also. I fail to see how that's any different.

As for archiving, there are linux-based scripts to intercept the text chat and store it. So no issue there, either.

It's not THAT bad on the client side. If you don't get crazy and build a complete model of your real building in-game, you should be able to get quite a few people in the same area without issue.

Server uptime is questionable at best.

It IS distracting for sure.

Getting your slideshow to work can be an exercise in profanity.

And people can just wander through uninvited, unless you make everyone part owners and use special scripts to keep others out, etc... A real pain.

How do I know this? I used to go to the RoSL (Rubyists of Second Life) weekly meetings to listen to them talk about the cool Ruby stuff they were working on. Why don't I go now?

Because the idiots that staff Second Life can't fix my account and don't want to even talk to me about it. They had numerous security breaches, and on the first one, made everyone reset their password. Mine won't, it just gives an error and tells me to contact support. Email support claims they can't help other than to send the same broken url that's on the website. The phone support always does one of the following: disconnects immediately, puts me on hold forever and disconnects at the recording, puts me on hold forever and PROMISES they'll contact me and let's me record a message and then doesn't contact me, or goes into an infinite loop and won't let you do anything. I don't think there even ARE live people on that thing. I've certainly never talked to one in 6 MONTHS OF TRYING.

Seriously. If you have ANY issues whatsoever, you can kiss your precious class goodbye.

That's the real reason to stay far, far away from Second Life for anything non-trivial.

Re:My god (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458169)

There are better ways to do 'just chat' online though, than Second Life. IRC - which has very light requirements will fill this requirement fine.

Re:My god (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458519)

There are better ways to do 'just chat' online though, than Second Life. IRC - which has very light requirements will fill this requirement fine.

The advantage of using second life is that you can provide visual examples.

You could accomplish the same thing, however, using Sauerbraten. You would need some custom additions to do much other than pull cubes around; building is a VERY slow process and cloning objects etc is somewhat nonintuitive. But it allows in-game collaborative building, and it doesn't cost anything. Garry's Mod would probably be better but it's $25 or so to get cheaterstrike and garry's mod.

Re:My god (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466549)

Have you tried opening a new account and contacting the helpstaff in-game? I have a friend who works there as a programmer, and she ends up doing support-type duty semi-regularly. Yeah, you might get someone miles away from anyone in the offices whose sole job is "helpstaff" - or you might get someone sitting there in the office, who can have a look at the account database and frob a few settings directly.

Re:My god (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18471197)

No, I have completely lost any faith I once had in their support staff. I just received a letter this morning that was sent to attempt to maintain their 24-hour maximum response time. It was a form letter, and it is weeks later. Yes, closer to 24 days than 24 hours.

Re:My god (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456645)

It's distracting as all hell - your students will spend all their time customizing/scoping out each others' avatars
Whereas a hallful of students in their late-teens/early-twenties wouldn't be leching over each other in real life?

Then again, not so likely if we're discussing a real-life CS/IT/Videogaming degree with more than its fair share of pasty-faced under/overweight male geeks. :-)

Re:My god (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456801)

But it is chat. Only chat. Chat that you can't archive, that is done with word bubbles, and without a moderation system. What on earth would make you think that this would be a good platform for instruction?

Chat can be archived, you can access a log in SL (ctrl+H), and it can be moderated. If you own the land you're speaking on you can kick people out, ban them, or make the land accessible only to people on the allow list.

- It's distracting as all hell - your students will spend all their time customizing/scoping out each others' avatars

You can make your talk be in a place that's not distracting, and people don't mess with their avatars all that much. I've looked the same for more than half a year so far.

Re:My god (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457115)

The logs are also saved to plaintext files, you don't need to use the SL app to access them. You can also grab screenshots of whatever visual material is presented.

Re:My god (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457659)

I agree that higher education in SL would be a joke. Though I do feel obligated to point out that chat in SL can indeed be easily archived. Just open up your chat history window, select all the text from that session and hit Ctrl-C (copy). It will copy to your clipboard quite nicely.

One thing that you didn't mention that would also be a HUGE potential problem are griefers. They are not quite as common in SL as people think (they generally prefer harassing clubs and tend to avoid discussion/education/art&culture type stuff). But they are a potential problem. I've seen a few SL classes and discussions griefed by jerks trying to sell stuff, annoy people, crash the server, etc.

Re:My god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18459915)

"Large groups of avatars clustered together hammer the client, turning things into a 4fps slideshow"

I wanna know where you were, or what you saw, that required a 4fps *slideshow*. Most slideshows are like 4spm (slides per minute) at max.

Hell, what chat on a line by line requires more than 4fps with *avatars* no less. What, you won't be satisified unless it's 120fpm so you can do some virtual frag'n? Sheesh.

I will agree that Second Life may not be ideal, and won't reach the specs say using something like an immersive 3d doom4 or any modern day gaming engine, but unless that's already available now without the high costs of development, Second Life seems the best alternative, esp. if you can just buy up some land and populate a server and suck up a cpu exclusive for a class of 20 some people.

Re:My god (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#18463371)

It's distracting as all hell - your students will spend all their time customizing/scoping out each others' avatars

I don't know about you, but when I went to school in first life, I spent a lot of time scoping out female avatars... I'd much rather leave my room to go to class if it means that I'm more likely to get laid!

Re:My god (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464511)

It's more than chat. You can show LIVE VIDEO in Second Life. You can stream LIVE AUDIO in Second Life.

If you were teaching something like architecture or carpentry, you could show full 3D models to students and allow them to view the models from any angle, copy the models, modify the models, etc.

For an online-only class, Second Life could be better than WebEx or whatever other crap we have out there. Especially in certain domains.

By saying it's "just chat" you prove that you aren't qualified to comment on the subject.

Well... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455271)

Well, if nothing else, at least once a day your virtual classroom could be invaded by giant, flying lessons in human anatomy.

slashvertisment (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455273)

seriously how much is second life paying slashdot to post all of this crap?

Re:slashvertisment (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456845)

seriously how much is second life paying slashdot to post all of this crap?
If they're getting a kick-back, I hope I get some too! Did you even read the summary? Why would somebody from Second Life say they were skeptical if it would work, or if call it a glorified chat room?

Why not? (1)

webax (1034218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455323)

I've never played, but I've heard that Second Life is built on scripting. If you have the ability, get people together and script all the necessary things like chat logging to create a good classroom environment: white board, pseudo-textbook, tests etc.

Forget trying to teach people, you could probably even make a profit off it by charging people admission. I'm sure even if the concept of learning was useless, you'd make money just based on novelty.

And I wouldn't worry about lag too much, its not like people go to class in real life much, how much less will they do it in a virtual world? But as long as you keep hammering them with reminders and some sort of "diploma" for their completion of stuff they will probably show up for exams.

Best of all, since it'd be the definition of contributing to the world of second life you'd be able to trade the money you make off lucrative virtual colleges into real world cash. Its not like you have to worry about paying off any accreditation board (yet) for all the PhD's you hand out to the highest bidders.

Re:Why not? (1)

Bloodmoon1 (604793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456075)

Why not?

Because it's retarded.

I'm all for innovation, but if I was a student at wherever this guy works, I would be incredibly pissed off that any amount of time was spent even talking about this idea. College tuition and fees are already unnecessarily high pretty much everywhere, and crap like this, which at least two people had to have spent time on the clock talking about and this guy has apparently spent time "researching" (Read As: Playing Second Life) on the student's (and possibly tax payer's) dime, are part of the reason why. Though, in all fairness, this is probably the single dumbest thing I have ever heard come out of a college IT department.

"Distance Learning" is already kind of stupid, as a big part of the college experience is learning how to interact with other people in a meaningful and productive way that simply cannot be done via chat rooms and message boards, but god damn. I'm actually going to elevate this to the dumbest thing I have ever heard come from any college anywhere.

Also, as just about everyone else posting to the topic seems to agree, this idea is, in fact, so retarded that it could possibly damage the reputation of whatever school is looking into it. Just the mention that it was even on the table could be painful for the school. Even by the standards of the borderline diploma mills (DeVry, "University" of Phoenix, etc.), this idea is beyond moronic.

The only thing I want to know is where this guy works, so in that I can stay way the hell away from wherever it is.

Why not?-Eye of the beholder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18457131)

""Distance Learning" is already kind of stupid, as a big part of the college experience is learning how to interact with other people in a meaningful and productive way that simply cannot be done via chat rooms and message boards, but god damn. I'm actually going to elevate this to the dumbest thing I have ever heard come from any college anywhere. "

Well by that logic telecommuting is "kind of stupid" too since a big part of that is "learning how to interact with other people in a meaningful and productive way". Maybe the problem is that distance learning will cut into people's "let's get wasted and trash the place" face time, all on their parents dime.

Re:Why not?-Eye of the beholder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18462469)

Yes, telecommuting is also kind of retarded. Unless you're a hitman or something, I honestly can't think of a good reason that you shouldn't see your employers and coworkers from day to day, though I believe the probable loss of social skills isn't going to be as profound as what would occur from missing out on the college experience.

But no, the problem with distance learning isn't that it cuts into wasted and trashed time, it's the loss of those useful social skill. I can get just as fucked up at home as I can at college, and in fact I can get even more trashed at home as it's cheaper and I can get better stuff. Also, distance learning is subject to the loss of useful in class time where you actually have a captive professor to answer your questions. Instead, you get message boards and emails where it can take days to get good answers back and sometimes they just never come.

Overhyped (4, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455337)

SL is so extremely overhyped right now it seems like the new Internet of the late 1990s. People even have conference chats in there, and now we need to have schools in there as well? Get a grip guys, and focus on the quality and results of your work. Doing your work in a new and cool way isn't always better you know. The only ones who will profit from the hype is the Linden 'family'.

Re:Overhyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18457183)

Exactly.

SL is not a content delivery solution. The reliability is just not there nor is even a fraction of credibility. As a recent graduate I would have laughed and then found another college if classes were offered in Second Life. I would like it degrades the reputation of the college and thus devalues my degree even if I had taken "real" classes. I have taken a couple of online classes however those are not even remotely like what is being proposed here. Just a thought but what happens when a class or the "college" is vandalized with the aforementioned flying pink penises. I see the entire prospect of a "real" college setting up in SL to be a total and complete PR disaster given the reputation of the game.

SECOND LIFE IS NOTHING MORE THE A MARKETING LOADED GAME!

Re:Overhyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461433)

so in other words, the people who are in Second Life aught to worry about getting a life in the real world.

Second Life is what YOU make it (3, Interesting)

Wax_and_Wane (558470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455353)

Having taken part in the initial beta of the Second Life voice client starting two weeks ago, I can say that when voice capabilities come to SL they will certainly make it more useful to educational purposes. The system they are testing already works well and allows for 3D stereo sound. I realize that this alone does not make it perfect for education, but it does mean that it will not simply be a "glorified chat room" much longer.

I think attempting to bring learning systems to SL does have merit. The tools actually are shaping up and aside from the universities that are already in SL, I know of a few other educational offerings that are being developed now that could demonstrate value for educators and students.

I think that this type of immersive long-distance multiuser education is here to stay. Whether it will gain public acceptance during the platform life cycle of Second Life really depends on whether innovative educators keep coming into the virtual world prepared to push it forward. So if you are looking for a polished educational software platform to set up and get rolling quickly, then SL is not for you yet. On the other hand, if you want to be a pioneer and expand your thinking on how virtual worlds can fascilitate education then you should invest a little funding in SL and see what you can make of it.

Re:Second Life is what YOU make it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18457805)

Man, voice chat (VC) is *SO* controversial in SL right now. I never would have thought it would evoke so much emotion (guess a lot of guys out there are pretending to be girls and don't look forward to getting "found out"). I literally got kicked out of a discussion a while back for even admitting that I *liked* the idea of VC.

Glad to hear it works well, though. Maybe when it's actually implemented people will stop bitching about it. I suspect those with something to hide will always resent it. And it will probably put more than a few "escorts" out of business (when clients start wondering why that sexy girl avatar won't use VC). But ultimately it will prove useful to a lot of people.

Re:Second Life is what YOU make it (1)

Reverend99 (1009807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18468569)

But what exactly does this offer that any other online conferencing system doesn't? Hell you can just use Microsoft's netmeeting or webex or skype, or if you're a large enough organization host your own online conferencing system. Are you also going to be charging money via SL? Having students pay in Linderman dollars rather than just using good old fashioned real life currency? I cannot find any benefit of using a themeless online role playing game to host virtual/distance learning. Unless you want to be able to recreate those fabulous high school days by having online cliques where your former nerds can become the second life jocks and become big man on virtual campus. "Hey all, after class we're going over to Doogies to try on different virtual body parts. LOL."

Online Classes (1)

dasheiff (261577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455581)

Part of the advantage of online classes is the idea that students can read the materal at their own convience and communicate though email and postings. Having a live chat can be useful but is unnecessary to have every week.

Someone to cooperate with you (3, Informative)

Andabata (778566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456095)

Look beyond the hype and anti-hype. Second Life is a great platform for cooperation, and it is not just about chat.
People can build things together without having to know 3-D instructions of 3-D software. People can program in a C-like syntax, event-driven. It has produced a great result in beginning programming classes, since students have been able to produce enticing results from their first 'for','while', or if... And they find an immediate use for maths (3-D movement) and for lots of algorithms.

For instance, my undergraduate students are producing in Second Life "products" that behave as if they had RFID tags and are now developing a traditional Windows application for managing e-mails sent by those "products" - without actually having to acquire RFID tags. And they are just beginning their programming.

On the other hand, one of my PhD students is trying to integrate Second Life with teaching management software like Moodle or like our in-house system. There is an open source platform for accessing Moodle content from Second Life (Sloodle), but not the opposite.
I think you two could exchange interesting view. Get in touch.

Re:Someone to cooperate with you (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457973)

For you first example, yes it has a programming languages that is built to allow people to learn it easier. It contains fundamentals of programming that can be applied elsewhere. This is a legitimate way to use SecondLife to teach a class something. It doesn't have anything really to do with CONDUCTING the class in SecondLife, it just happens to be the language environment of choice for the project.

Building products in SecondLife that act like RFID is interesting, but with what applicability? None fo the code or models they create can be used for anything. And you can simulate RFID many ways without dropping an entire virtual chat room on top of it. Besides, it's the same case as the first example. SecondLife just happens to be the tool of choice, not the tool of conducting the class.

Your last item relates pretty directly to what the poster was asking about, but it is no surprise that you have no detail there. This is VERY typical of everyone I know of who is looking at the learning applications for the SecondLife environment. It sure does look cool! And saying "Let's bring everyone together as a class virtually in SecondLife!" sounds really cool too. But no one yet has come up with any reason why SecondLife is the way to go. All I've seen are really great reasons NOT to. It is absolutely not the kind of platform I'd want to have ANYTHING critical based on, and if you take away SecondLife and replace it with any multi-user 3D simulation, it's been done many times.

SecondLife is not an innovative product because it brings together people in a 3D world allowing them to interact. If it were innovative for anything it would be the user created content side of things. And that went off the deep end LONG ago.

I do not think people should stop looking for great new ways to use widely available technology to support learning and other serious endeavors. I do think that when it comes to these serious endeavors that we should practice a bit more self-control with what we say so that we don't create a vaporware trail that ultimately prevents anybody from finding a truly good use of it. I was so NOT interested in implementing a PodCast-related solution for a particularly large client because NO ONE on the team that was chanting the buzzwords had ANY idea why we should do it. Yet they spent hours upon hours yammering back and forth about how we needed to dedicate resources to it.

Okay, so that reply strayed a bit, but I think it's all somewhat related.

Re:Someone to cooperate with you (1)

Andabata (778566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458613)

As for the students and the RFID simulation, there are two great pluses:
  • the products look like products and the clients look like clients and are really close by or clicking on product, it's not a Web page equivalent or a "let's all pretend that this text is instead...";
  • The students will develop a Windows application for managing data arriving from sensors. That the sensors are virtual has little to do with the top layer of the application, changing it to real sensors has major impact only on the bottom layer of logic.

Regarding the why Second Life and "nothing new", I agree: in technology terms, there's little new. Just like in technology terms there's "little new" to blogs or podcasts or many other things.:-))

But there is a fundamental difference: before, a couple of people with no CS background could not dream of "hey, let's meet in 3D on-line, make a 3D model together and even invite others to cooperate or comment on it". Before SL, ActiveWorlds, and other systems, it would simply be too much to learn for anyone outside CS. Now, it's like a blog: simple, quick, doable. That's why so many users use it.

Bad Idea (TM) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18457287)

Second Life in its current form is not suitable for any serious business (or education) for the following reasons:

1. Unplanned outages. These have been there from the start, but for the past 3 months or so it has been horrible. Expect at least 2 to 3 days a week where no work can be done due to the fact that people can't log in, can't get to the assigned location, can't chat properly because their chat lines are coming out in jumbled order or not at all.
2. Griefers. SL is so full of these it's going to kill it off soon. The flying penisses are not a joke from some journalist and they are not the only griefer tool by far. The prime target to aim these puppies at is anything that takes (second) life too seriously. I'd say that makes serious education the #1 target.
3. Huge performance trouble on the backend, with asset servers that looked meager a year ago when there were on average 10000 concurrent users online. At this point the number of concurrent users goes over 30K every single day, and as soon as they hit 20-25K, any use of inventory items will become impossible. This includes opening scripts and notecards (the SL equivalent of books), building stuff, accessories for your avatar, etc. To make it clear, this happens /every single day/ and this fact alone will make any form of serious education completely impossible.
4. Total impossibility to get any form of compensation for lost items, work and/or time. Linden Labs, the company behind SL, is not interested in what you lost. The best you'll get is a quote from the EULA, if you are one of the lucky few that get a reply at all.

SL is barely suvivable as a form of entertainment at the moment. Using it as a platform for business or education is complete idiocy. Have a look at the Linden Labs SL blog and read the comments to the post relating to technical problems and outages. You'll see what I mean.

PS: I've been playing SL for about a year.

Re:Bad Idea (TM) (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458369)

Are you running the same SL I am? I remember the inventory troubles I used to have when SL hit over 10000 simultaneous users. They don't happen now even when it hits 30000. The client used to crash in the 1.10 days when I tried to run anything else, firefox, notepad, anything. Nowadays I could even run GIMP (I'm running the Windows version)

As for griefers I have this to say: What griefers? Maybe I don't hang in the places griefers do but I don't see them. Besides, griefers tend to avoid cultural/educational events.

Re:Bad Idea (TM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18459439)

> Are you running the same SL I am?

Apparently not. In the past two weeks (14 days), the SL I visited had:

1. 2 extended (> 2 hour) unplanned outages of the whole grid.
2. 3 extended unplanned outages of a sizable number (at least 100) of sims.
3. 3 rolling restarts of all the sim servers (which in an educational setting essentially means an outage too, unless you're willing to hop sims trying to stay ahead of it. Education on the run so to speak).
4. 3 extended periods (> 4 continuous hours) of widespread (> 50% of the users) inventory failure.
5. 2 days with NO teleportation problems (that means 12 out of 14 days with significant problems yes).
6. 2 extended (> 4 hour) planned outages.

All of these outages are recorded in the blog and on the various forums.

I'm guessing you are connecting to a (nearly) empty test server.

Re:Bad Idea (TM) (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464877)

Planned outages (the wednesday downtimes) don't bother me, the unplanned stuff does, but they tend not to last as long as they used to, so that's an improvement.

Rolling restarts tend not to take too long, I don't consider them a major annoyance.

As for the recent reported inventory stuff, I haven't experienced that at all. Someone was reporting issues in a group IM once about their problems and everything was just fine for me. I'm using the First Look viewer

The client does need more work, but each newer major version has worked better overall than the previous one for me..

I don't do the Beta Grid, it's useless to me for what I do in SL. If I was a serious scripter/builder I'd think differently.

second life is not enabling for education (3, Informative)

borgalicious (750617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457319)

Having held two seminars in SL - at the request of other players - as well as doing the same in a real university I think I can fairly comment on how lacking SL is as a teaching medium.

The seminars were a "101" style introduction to a scientific subject. I prepared for it much as I would have any presentation. I made my standard dull yet structuring powerpoint slides, exported them as jpegs and scripted a slide viewer in LSL. The seminar was well attended, drawing 20+ attentive students to each two hour seminar. I had built a classroom facility that allowed all to sit close enough to me to be "heard" and able to see the slides. The seminar consisted of about one hour of me "chatting" through the slides and an hour's worth of Q & A. The slides and the chat transcript were made available and requested after the seminars.

Here were the advantages: it allowed people from any internet equipped, English understanding country to attend. It did communicate the information fairly well although it was a little taxing to IM chat continually and substantively for that long. The attendees were quite interested in the subject and were extremely polite; as far as I could tell, most were probably more focused on the chat and slides than on other avatars. Given the format, if I had to do it again, I'd have streamed audio from me to all of them and used the IM-style chat for receiving questions.

I needed two thing that I wouldn't have needed outside SL. The first was a sergeant-at-arms to watch for and ward off the disruptive "griefers" that uniformly invade any significant gathering of players in SL. The second was an assistant to ensure that questions were vectored into me as it is difficult to raise a virtual hand or grant the floor to a questioner.

I also was using something that in no way enhanced the quality of the seminar: SL. The slides could have just as easily been on a web page, and the dialog would have been equally well served by any generic multicast chat service. There is no inflection or gesturing that I'd have done in a real world seminar; I doubt anyone even looked at my avatar as it was sitting and IM-ing. Chat is about as narrowband a communication medium humans have ever used, and the incredible amount of bandwidth required for the 40-person-hour seminars would have been just as well served by IRC.

With the possible exclusion of 3D models for demonstration, SL affords absolutely nothing to the teaching or learning; indeed, the seminar was significantly slowed by the medium. Furthermore, these seminars were at least a year ago. These days, I'd have had to use a private simulator to ensure that 20 people could attend and the extremely overburdened "content" servers may have difficulty in getting the next slide image to the 20 attendees in the time it takes me to chat through one. The only way I have seen SL used as an effective teaching medium is to teach others to use SL itself.

SL has a discount for educators (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457339)

If you're planning to acquire a whole sim, then you can get a nice discount on it.

I'm not sure if a whole sim would be needed though, but they have advantages over normal land as you get a lot more control over them.

Slogan (2, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457499)

"Get your degree without leaving your parents basement!"

Dangerous Campus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18462651)

Yeah, but on how many college campuses are you in danger of being attacked by giant flying penes?

Well, outside of NJ. And they don't fly, even if they are dicks... :-)

Short answer... (1)

MasterGwaha (1033282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457879)

...no.

SL Still Only Half Baked (2, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458597)

In itself having online classes in a 3D virtual setting like Second Life is a good idea. It is surprising just how much more of a connection seeing and interacting with others in such a manner brings compared to text only. Integrated voice should serve to deepen the immersion and effectiveness of using SL as an online education platform. The real problem though, is that Second Life is not quite up to the task yet and the kind of hardware that students would need to run it well is not that widespread yet.

The hardware issue makes me think that while Second Life is not, strictly speaking, a game, it would be a good idea to create an optimized client for game consoles like the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. These two consoles have the raw computational power and graphics capabilities that should make for a smoother in world experience. Plus, game consoles are standardized platforms that are widespread and easier to support than PCs at lower cost to the user. Sony's virtual world project Home (beta soon [homebetatrial.com] ), may point the way for Second Life on a console.

In a lot of ways, Second Life is glorified chat. But don't forget, in the early days, AOL made a lot of money off of mere chat. And now chat and online forums, etc. are being used effectively for online instruction. So it's just a matter of time and technology before many of us will be taking our seats in a 3D virtual classroom, hopefully free of flying male anatomy!

Online learning and Second Life (2, Informative)

Don Philip (840567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458761)

There are a couple of points here. First, using Second Life (SL) as an environment for learning brings it under the general heading of online learning about which there is a rich literature already and which deserves some attention on your part. A readable introduction to this topic is Palloff and Pratt's "Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom", or Harasim et al. "Learning Networks : A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning On-Line " for a more scholarly treatment.
          Second, there are two basic kinds of online learning: asynchronous environments and synchronous environments. SL would fall into the latter category, so that is where you should focus your attention.
          Third, there is a literature on using MOOs and MUDs (the predecessors of SL and other virtual worlds) for educational purposes. This is also a good place to look for what works and what doesn't. Lynn Davie and Jason Nolan are two researchers who have written about this. As well, Edward Castronova's book, "Synthetic Worlds" also deserves a look for a general introduction to a variety of aspects of the current crop of virtual worlds.
          Fourth, whoever is using SL or any other online learning environment should be made aware that online learning of any type proceeds differently than face-to-face classes. One of the biggest mistakes that an instructor can make to to try to port their f2f class directly and without change into an online environment. There is a learning curve, and there is information on what works and what doesn't (see above.) They need to look at it.

It can work (1)

FishCalledOscar (691194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459853)

I got a law degree via distance learning and am now a patent attorney. Any type of distance learning will turn off some employers, but so what. It worked out well for me.

You WILL need voice. In my lectures, the prof talked while the class messaged. SL has the goods for doing that.

It is easy to establish a group and restrict parcel entry to that group. You can also restrict object rezing and such to the parcel owner. There are lots of trespass bots available in SL that will eject intruders and intruding objects. If any flying pricks do manage to appear, they will likely be from folks in the class - and it's easy to figure out who.

However, SL will work for lecture and demo only. There is also lots of out of class reading and test taking. SL doesn't (yet) have a capability for that type of stuff. No big deal, it sounds like you've already got that covered outside SL.

I suggest setting up a ventrillo server until SL voice is released.

Otherwise, go for it. No need for an in game class room, just stand around in a parcel. The rest is eye candy.

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460503)

Due to a medical error that happened 20 years ago during vaccination, I can say that this is my second life. And, during my study at the university, I often used free online educational materials. So, no news.

Some Viable Alternatives... (1)

Sodade (650466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460899)

I strongly agree with all the comments explaing why Second Life wouldn't be a good tool for online learning, but I was hoping to read some well informed detail about viable alternatives. I was thinking that something like Groove or Placeware would be a good platform for building a real online school, but I don't know enough to talk about it with authority. Anyone?

Alternatives (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464213)

SL seems it should be useful though the best I've seen has been billboards to teach SL prim building, and an outdoor class on fountain making which was chaotic but neat somewhat. The teacher can pull out models from his or her inventory to show. I do have a serious problem with all the skankiness in SL (I avoid it all but it fills up the search dialog). There are beautiful places however, so a private island seems the answer there.

There are other systems perhaps. I have not used it but Squeak (language) has an online moo type graphic system with hyperportals, avatars, animation, joint editing of a document, simulations, etc. and it is aimed at education from young children and on up. I do not know how easy it is to build things. It would seem that a custom SL client might also be a very attractive way to use SL, but I don't know if I could trust a course to it if you can't run your own server. But yes I can say that I have learned useful things in those two examples in SL above, the online book and the live class.

If anybody knows other real alternatives post here.. I have had an off and on idea of building something for this kind of situation myself (custom software) but perhaps there is something out there. Of course for test taking there is, so it would seem the OP wants an interactive class. So long as everyone is sitting, no craziness is going on and people aren't chatting in class it might be useful. I also believe you can stream from a website now.. I'd be interested in seeing a tool that lets you do this from your own computer, not just prepackaged streams. I was wondering if a SHOUTcast [wikipedia.org] stream could get through to SL and then I found this link [secondlife.com] , the answer is yes. It would definitely be cool if you could get each participant a similar voice stream and mix them on the server.. anybody?

Anyone know of other richer virtual worlds for education? I know mainly of experimental things, like a gardening simultion for children in a CAVE environment.

Re:Alternatives (1)

teachingIn3D (1081503) | more than 7 years ago | (#18528223)

Whereas AC and others have pointed out some obvious issues with SL & online ed, I have to agree with those who have pointed out some of the benefits of virtual worlds for learning and note that completely ignoring these is a bit short-sighted. The SL for Learning question is less a technical one (though, clearly, technical issues are present) and more of an implementation/philosophical one. The "on the Internet no one knows you're a dog" approach in SL does not support the development of the kinds of relationships between and among students and instructors that we know is essential for effective learning, no matter the environment. Trusted identities, safe spaces, ubiquitous access to layers of expertise, multiple ways/opportunities to connect and to communicate -- combined with useful, relevant tasks to complete among a community of learners -- these are the hallmarks of effective online learning, and nearly all of them are missing from SL.

Truthfully, it is the lack of innovative educational approaches within these environments that is the real barrier. Teaching the same way in a new medium and expecting there to be a difference (e.g, lecturing your PPT slides in SL to seated, attentive avatars) does seem pointless. But any insights into higher ed online as a result are equally irrelevant, as they don't tap into the real value of tools like SL in online higher ed -- that is, the ability to change the ways we teach and learn so that the skills, knowledge, and affects developed in higher ed better mirror those necessary to succeed in RL.

My colleagues and I have been teaching graduate students in a 3D virtual world for 5 years now. We now have approximately 1300 citizens in our world. All of our courses, all of our content, and nearly all of our interactions with our students and with each other are embedded within the virtual world. Our world is a modified Activeworlds-based world, rather than SL-based, so that we can address the very issues noted throughout this discussion, namely:

  • Private world -- no flying male members, griefers, or sex shops;
  • Low tech footprint -- our world runs well over a modem, on older computers (both PC and Mac), and is accessible via screen readers;
  • Media that matters -- small-group VoIP chat rooms to support team-based learning; streaming media tutorials; whiteboard and file sharing to support project-based coursework, etc;
  • Real names -- you are not a dog in our world -- you are you;
  • Content-rich/Interaction-driven -- Our virtual world is not a game; it is a social environment designed to foster networks of expertise that develop as real people attempt to solve real problems through communication, collaboration, and shared resources;
SL exists to solve a different problem than the one we developed our world to solve (namely, to give our off-campus/online students a better sense of presence and to facilitate the kinds of serendipitous, out-of-class learning experiences that make higher education special). But SL is only peripherally relevant to the broader question of the effectiveness of higher education in 3D virtual worlds. People at Harvard, NC State, Univ of North Texas, and numerous other universities are using these technologies in innovative and effective ways. And, IMHO, SL and AW are simply bridge technologies -- they will not emerge as the platforms for HE in 3D, much like Compuserve and Prodigy did not emerge as the platforms of the Web.

(keep your eye on Croquet (http://www.opencroquet.org) ...)

For more info on our world: http://www.lesn.appstate.edu/aetz [appstate.edu]

- SB

Some basics you should know going in (1)

djcatnip (551428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18465629)

Just take a look at this wiki on education uses of second life [simteach.com] . Lots of institutions are investigating Second Life, and you can probably learn a lot from what the New Media Consortium is doing with Higher Education institutions like Ohio University.
  • Get an island with your educational discount. People who don't do this are subject to all the said griefers from the other posts. Plan on asking for a modest budget, and get your own island. You can completely control access very easily, and you won't have problems with problematic visitors for very long.
  • Shoutcast/streaming audio and streaming quicktime media is functional today. I don't think I need to go into too much detail here, the benefits are well documented. The added benefit to viewing videos on a webpage versus SL is that you can view the same video at the same time with multiple people. So you can go and watch some educational videos with people and chat with them about the materials.
  • voice chat with be functional in June 2007.

As a student (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467581)

As a student having experienced both traditional lectures, distant learning, and e-learning, I would be very interested in learning through Second Life, and I believe that it could help me to better retain the material in my long-term memory. Remember, though, that users are the creators of the SL universe, and therefore the designers of an SL educational programme must have a good understanding of SL in order to fully use its capabilities.

Positive experiences with SL in the classroom (1)

carbonel (1080165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18484663)

Hi, I have been using virtual worlds in college classrooms for the past four years. To date, I have used Everquest, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, and Second Life, with varying degrees of success. In all of these instances, the benefits outweighed the disadvantages. A paper on my preliminary findings was published in the JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, and is available online at: http://www.ifets.info/journals/9_3/14.pdf [ifets.info] . You might also want to check out the first-rate work of Constance Steinkuehler, Lisa Galarneau, and James Gee, as well as the discussion group for Second Life Educators.

This semester, my students are using Second Life effectively in a course teaching concepts associated with new media, interactive marketing, and public relations. Check out the student's work at: http://www.trinity.edu/adelwich/metaverse/students .html [trinity.edu] . Previous examples with SL and other virtual worlds are posted at http://www.trinity.edu/adelwich/games/students.htm l [trinity.edu] , http://www.trinity.edu/adelwich/mmo/students.html [trinity.edu] and http://www.trinity.edu/adelwich/worlds/students.ht ml [trinity.edu]

There is clearly a significant amount of hype surrounding virtual worlds such as Second Life. Challenging such hype is both useful and important. However, in reading through this thread, it seems that most of the critics have not really used Google to search for information about the wide range of thoughtful experiments with virtual worlds as a teaching tool.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that Second Life is a panacea for all educational woes, and I'm not aware of a single educator who makes this claim. It seems equally unreasonable -- not to mention close-minded and unimaginative -- to suggest that Second Life is completely useless as an adjunt to time-test methods of instruction.

I encourage anyone who is monitoring this thread to take a closer look at the thoughtful and self-reflective work that is being conducted on this topic by educators around the world, and am happy to field questions -- either via e-mail or in this forum -- about my own experiences with virtual worlds in the classroom.

Professor Aaron Delwiche
Department of Communication
Trinity University
adelwich@trinity.edu
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