April 23, 2014

From Second Life to authentic educational Virtual Worlds?

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Young, J. (2010) After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds Chronicle of Higher Education, February 14

This excellent article looks at how educational institutions seem to be moving away from Second Life to create virtual worlds that focus on the specific needs of teaching and learning. Interestingly, Young notes:

It turns out that virtual worlds are at their best when they look nothing like a traditional campus. Professors are finding that they can stage medical simulations, guide students through the inside of cell structures, or pre­sent other imaginative teaching exercises that cannot be done in a physical classroom. But for that, they need more control than Second Life gives them.

The article suggests that there is still a long way to go before virtual worlds have the tools and functionality needed for education. Ominously, it even raises the question whether:

‘the very notion of virtual worlds is flawed. Maybe 3-D online environments are just one of those technologies that sound cool but never fully materialize, like personal jetpacks.’

Early days yet though – but definitely bleeding edge rather than leading edge. This article is well worth reading in its entirety at http://chronicle.com/article/After-Frustrations-in-Second/64137/