Although initially sceptic and frustrated with the learning curve, I am starting to realise how Second Life can be beyond awesome for learners. Let’s face it, we all learn and many of us loathe the necessity due to the form that the learning takes and the lack of control. Mention a lecture and most of us cringe. You can’t pause a lecturer and you’ve got to be there in those cold, hard seats, listening… Too bad if you’re deaf or have a preference for visual or experiential learning styles.
So what makes learning in Second Life different? Virtual classrooms can be attended by a global audience, and students can learn from their safe environments, but these are features in every form of distance education. Let’s examine the benefits of the learning opportunities in this virtual world compared with those of traditional education environments and distance learning.
- The sense of immersion makes it an ideal tool for role play and re-enactment.
- Scavenger hunts create an interactive method for learning vocabulary, for instance. Surely a faster, more effective, and more interesting way than learning by rote.
- Guided tours of replica real world places that students would find difficult or impossible to visit in reality. The Sistine Chapel, or a scaled model of the interior of a Dell computer are just 2 examples of such destinations.
- Albeit via an avatar, learning by doing is highly productive.
- Collaborative development is fostered in Second Life. Educators can join groups and network with others for professional development. Collaboration and exchange is stronger and more immediate than other communication methods such as blogs, forums, or email.
- Simulation possibilities can provide understanding of what it is like for others in the real world, and aid in our preparation.
- Immersive self paced tutorials and quizzes can be carried out in virtual space, and results fed into a database.
Play these pertinent YouTube clips below.
A brief overview about Second Life and how educators may be able to use it in their classes.
- 2007. Educational Uses of Second Life
- Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOFU9oUF2HA [Accessed May 8, 2009].
- 2007. Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities
- Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMGR9q43dag [Accessed May 8, 2009].
- Second Life – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life#Education [Accessed May 8, 2009].