Second Life

 I was unable to join in the synchronous session this week, but did see the many comments being made about the session later on Facebook. It sounded very confusing!

A friend of mine loves Second Life, so I figured since my schedule has been so nuts this week I would ask her to show me around. I’ll be honest, she logged in with me there and I watched her and played around using her Avatar rather than creating a mini-me 🙂 I think my reactions to Second Life sound a bit similar to some of the other postings I’m seeing, but at the risk of sounding redundant and judgmental based on a very small sampling of Second Life, here are my thoughts:

I think the idea is cool, but it reminding me SO much of SIMS 🙂 I was an avid player of SIMS when I was much younger and have to say I missed it when I saw how Second Life worked. In that sense I wondered how distracting the “game” element of Second Life might be for teaching purposes. I also wondered how serious older or returning students would take this type of tool for online learning. Many of my online students are full time employees who already have a career and a family and are using their online coursework to advance in their current career or move into another one. I then decided to ask my mother, whom I have mentioned before is in a graduate program that is fully online through a state university, what she would think if her instructor proposed a Second Life session during one of her units. She said she would prefer something more academic and voiced her concerns about having to log-in and virtually learn a whole new game in order to participate in a class discussion. She felt a discussion board for a group of students her age, regardless of undergraduate or graduate level, would be more beneficial and be received as more professional coming from the instructor. These reactions confirmed my fears that the “game” element would interfere with any other tangible benefits I might hope to pass on.

I do wonder, however, if for a younger group of students, say freshmen and sophomore, if Second Life would be helpful and even preferred. I think younger students would enjoy it more than older ones might, at least given my experience with both groups, but I am still suspicious of how much they might actually learn. I do not teach those groups online though and so my concern right now with Second Life is its practicality in my current courses. I honestly think I would lean more towards an Elluminate session over a Second Life session because I do not know what I would accomplish in a Second Life session that I could not accomplish in an Elluminate session. Elluminate also seems easier to access, whereas the learning curve for Second Life seems a bit steep.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greg Walker
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 20:55:53

    Aloha Erica,
    thought you might be interested in what John Rogate and Marjon Klapwijk recently presented at a Sloan conference- Second Life is Dead – Prepare for an OpenSim World.http://sloanconsortium.org/conferences/2011/aln/second-life-dead-prepare-opensim-world
    “Linden Labs and Second Life are rapidly becoming a dying entity. Schools are flocking to alternative Virtual World solutions. Now there is a low/no cost and secure alternative to Second Life. OpenSimulator is a rapidly spreading alternative. Virtual Worlds are coming.”

    Here is the website.
    OpenSim (http://www.opensimulator.org).

    Greg

    Reply

    • ericaduran
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 22:31:53

      Greg,

      Thanks for passing this on. I went and checked it out and like the limited amount of space one can utilize in OpenSimulator. It also feels like the learning curve for this one might be a bit kinder than Second Life perhaps because it is simpler.

      I still feel this is a type of environment suited for certain audiences and learners, but the dividends may become obvious to me yet 🙂

      Erica

      Reply

  2. librarian05
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 22:29:14

    I echo your thoughts. I guess everything is not ideal for all setting….I envision this application more for freshman in an academic library setting. It was my first experience with Second Life but I wondered if I could tailor the setting in a form of tour.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: ericaduran

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