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Second Life Education

Updated on February 29, 2008

I attended a meeting last week at the community college where I work, and was surprised to hear a co-worker start talking about Second Life. Few people in the room even knew what it was, so she explained that Second Life is a virtual world on the internet. I jokingly asked if she had a Second Life account, expecting her to say no. But she surprised me by excitedly announcing that she will open an account as soon as she decides on what her virtual name will be. I asked, again jokingly, if she would be living her “second life” while at work. Her response? Most likely, all of us will have access to Second Life on our work computers.

Apparently, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has bought a private island in Second Life. The SBCTC is building a virtual classroom clinic for a nursing practicum—apparently, you can practice inserting an IV into virtual patients in this classroom. The clinic is supposed to be amazingly realistic, down to the smallest detail.

Second Life Lecture
Second Life Lecture

A huge allure of Second Life Education is the ability to build virtual state of the art facilities for students to access. Schools and non-profit organizations are offered discounts when purchasing their islands. These islands can be kept available only to faculty and students, or opened up to the general Second Life public.

A New Method of Distance Learning

An advantage of using a virtual classroom like this makes it easier for non-traditional students to attend class. Students can attend lectures, work on projects, and use it as a virtual library or research facility. Teachers can broadcast their lectures on Second Life, either live or prerecorded.

For example, the SBCTC Second Life clinic could make it easier for a parent of small children to complete classes because a lot of practice can occur from home online.

There are some disadvantages to distance learning courses. Honestly, nothing beats true hands-on experience. As well, distance learning courses are not good for classes that encourage group collaboration. In fact, an important part of education is learning how to work with diverse groups of people.

Second Life in Class

These islands aren’t only used for distance learning, but also implemented in more traditional classroom settings. Students can be given assignments that involve using virtual classrooms and labs. For example, math students can use Second Life to build complex models of the concepts they are studying. Elon University built The Second Life Planetarium, and students then wrote astronomy shows for the planetarium.

The possibilities of what educators can do with Second Life are endless. A drama class can perform plays in front of virtual audiences. A business class teacher can assign students to run a virtual business based on models learned in class. A civics class can run mock governments, experimenting with different political philosophies.

I think the opportunities for Second Life education are endless. It can’t replace the role traditional education plays, but it makes a great supplement. What do you think of this virtual view of education? Would you be interested in taking a class on a Second Life island, or have you? Please share comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities


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    • locoling profile image

      locoling 7 years ago from Second Life

      I have a new language exchange club in the Second Life. I think, it is a great opportunity to learn language without travelling, paying, etc. The club name is LOCOLING. The club is open to all nationalities in all languages and free! I am hungarian and I am learning english and french. Also I am "playing" Second Life for 3 years. I have a blog about the eLearning, where I try to collect all of the schools in Second Life, first the language schools. So I think, Second Life is not too bad if you know, what would you like to do.

    • Youniverse World profile image

      Youniverse World 8 years ago from USA, New York

      Nice video :)

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      Sounds like an interesting take on classroom settings. Virtual reality comes of age. I might be fun to experiment class in such a setting. I like the best part of this--you can take the class in the comfort of your home.

    • profile image

      Katie 9 years ago

      I play secondlife for fun but have talked to a few researchers for education purposes. It is indeed a game but if you use it persay for college students you have to trust that they will take it seriously. It is a great way to learn hands on how to do things. The buisnesses on Secondlife, even though it's just a game, are extremely professional, even the clubs. Parents could even use this to teach their kids the value of a dollar, there are properties you can rent weekly so you have to learn how to manage your money. SL can be a great learning tool when applied well. The different pieces of land have privacy settings as well so you wouldn't have to have random people just teleporting into your class.

    • grshelton3 profile image

      grshelton3 9 years ago

      I have tried second life, but how do you get through the avitar design stage. It started to become confusing to me.

    • Rik Ravado profile image

      Rik Ravado 9 years ago from England

      Stacie I recently published a hub about SL with a particular interest in education and learning. I was a little cynical but having just joined and spent around 2 weeks in SL I really think is has tremendous possibilities (but I have lots of reservations too).

      I'll put a link to your hub from mine - I'd be interested in how things develop for you with SL. I work for a training company who are beginning to wake up to SL. Good stuff!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I'm not sure if I would really like it for myself be honest.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      I do agree that it could develop into somethign cool and interesting. It would be worth a try.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      Well, the video is just one aspect. Universities and colleges are seriously implementing it into their curriculums. My co-worker said she couldn't believe how real and professional the nursing clinic looked. It definitely has its downsides, but could develop into something really cool.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      It does sound interesting, but the video just made it out to be like an educational game to help you with your studies. I think it would have to be something to try.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I think it all depends on how you look at and use Second Life. Many people use it for fun, but I'm impressed with the educational aspect of it.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      This sounds interesting, but I'm a little iffy about it. It looks like a game...