November 29, 2015

Virtual worlds revisted

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Ramaswami, R. (2011) Is There a Second Life for Virtual Worlds? Campus Technology, September 1

Palomäki, E. (2009) Applying 3D Virtual Worlds to Higher Education Helsinki FIN: Helsinki University of Technology

The article in Campus Technology provides a thoughtful and well-researched overview of the current state of virtual worlds in higher education, drawing heavily on Eero Palomäki’s master’s thesis, but also on several other sources.

Some of the conclusions:

  • don’t try to replicate a classroom: do what can’t be done in a classroom
  • it’s hard work: there are technological and pedagogical challenges in making virtual worlds work in higher education
  • cultural issues: the ‘capitalist, real-estate view of the world’ in Second Life clashes with higher education’s culture of collaboration and sharing
  • effective training for both instructors and learners in how to operate in virtual worlds is essential
  • high level IT support is essential
  • find a niche: certain areas lend themselves to virtual worlds; others don’t
  • motion capture is needed to provide more ‘realism’

Virtual worlds aren’t dead yet then, but definitely need more development if they are to become mainstream in post-secondary education


  1. Thanks for your post Tony.

    Nice to see still some interest towards my thesis. And it was nice to find the Ramaswami article. I’ve been working on a virtual chemistry lab project after my thesis, you can find more information for example in our EDUCAUSE workshpo page (, from the proceedings of NBE2011 ( and our project home page: ( We also had interesting experiences using the chemistry lab as an environment to teach foreign language to university students.


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