What is Second Life? (continued)

The virtual world is rich with social events as well. Part of the attraction of Second Life is that it provides and opportunity for people from all over the world to meet and interact with each other. Concerts, nightclubs, campgrounds, conferences, weddings, sporting events, support groups - all of these are available to users at any time of the day.

Virtual worlds were popular among members of the online gaming community for years before Second Life came on the scene. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft and EverQuest have provided some of the favorite platforms for gamers to play out their virutal battles and fantasy quests.

However, Second Life is not a game. There is no specific objective of participating in Second Life. Linden Lab simply provided the framework for residents to make it into whatever they want. This freedom to participate in the virtual world on one's own terms has attracted many people from outside the gaming community to Second Life who might otherwise be uninterested.

Among those who have joined the Second Life community are educators. Along with primary and secondary school teachers, academics from higher education have begun exploring the educational possibilities of Second Life. From community colleges to Ivy League universities, the academic world is entering the virtual world.

In an article in EDUCAUSE Review, Sarah Robbins-Bell, a Ph.D. candidate at Ball State University who goes by "Intellagirl Tully" in Second Life, wrote "Educators and educational institutions need to understand that virtual worlds, like other social media, are here to stay and that these exciting forms of media are not a threat to formal education."

Not all academics are as enthusiastic as Robbins-Bell. Some see technical and legal challenges that may pose challenges or barriers to its use in higher education. Still, it seems the conversation about Second Life is likely to be a part of the academic discussion for some time to come.

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References

Don Clark. Virtual world gets another life. The Wall Street Journal,April 3, 2008, p. B10.

Lucia Graves. A Second Life for higher ed. U.S. News &World Report January 10, 2008.

Second Life. What is Second Life?

David Kirkpatrick. Second Life: It’s not a game. Fortune, January 23, 2007.

Kevin Maney. The king of alter egos is surprisingly humble guy. USAToday.com, February 5, 2007.

Adam Reuters. Second Life development shops pull in big business. Reuters/Second Life. November 22, 2006.

Sarah Robbins-Bell. Higher Education as virtual conversation. EDUCAUSE Review, September/October, 2008, pp. 24-34.

News

11.28.08 - Second Life has everything... including colleges (Allentown Morning Call)

11.24.08 - University uses Second Life for nurses training (The University Daily Kansan)

11.18.08 - Column: Get a (second) life (The Brown and White)

Is there a Second LIfe for teaching? (guardian.co.uk)