Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today's Second Life CEO Post & Education

I have been too busy to blog lately so I've been keeping a Google doc of links to some excellent news stories published recently on SL. I'm linking to this post today because every link I had saved to blog about is included in the post linked here and more.

Today the new CEO of SL, Mark Kingdon, wrote a post titled "My First Two Months at Linden Lab."

Mr. Kingdon makes strong and verifiable comments on education in SL, which I'm happy to share and which confirms what many educators involved in SL believe. Below is the section from the post linked above on education. The entire post is interesting and a worthwhile read. It includes links to some other recent noteable articles on SL including info on the big topic of interoperability from the IBM/Linden Lab partnership. There are plenty of hard facts in this post. Yes, he shares his enthusiasm and some will say bias as well. But who wouldn't.

Using the virtual meeting environment for education is an even more exciting killer app. Dozens of universities are buying land from us or working with other inworld providers every week and the pace is accelerating. Seventeen of the top twenty universities in the US have land in Second Life.

To keep track with what’s happening in education in Second Life, check out the SLED Blog. A list of recent news stories are below

* The Christian Science Monitor discusses how students from all over the world are able to study abroad through Second Life.
* Government writes how government agencies like the center for Disease Control and Prevention are increasing their presence in Second Life to increase public awareness.
* CNET reports that the San Francisco Exploratorium will be streaming live footage of a Solar Eclipse in Second Life expected on August 1st.
* The Industry Standard reports that Cigna will try to make health education more accessible by creating its own island in Second Life.
* discusses how the British Computer Society has launched an e-learning specialist group in Second Life.
* The Dallas Morning News presents an article on using Second Life for higher education.

What makes Second Life so amazing for these things is the interaction between students and between universities. Voice is the key enabler. With a headset, residents can talk with other residents just as they would in the real world. With the 3D spatial voice in Second Life, residents can walk from one conversation to another as if they were actually hanging out before or after class. Serendipitous conversations just aren’t possible with other forms of online learning, teleconferences or videoconferences.

And since I'm highlighting the education/educators section of this post, I'll go ahead and include a snapshot of one thing that's been keeping me so busy these days. As explained in the post here, many universities are offering classes to students in SL. This summer I enrolled in a 3 credit hour intensified course from the Boise State University Education Technology program. My course is titled "Teaching and Learning in Second Life." And that's what I've been doing the past few weeks. That along with working full-time and assisting a prof from my own university with a course offered to doctoral students in our university's Education Program. More on that next week after my BSU course if completed.

The snapshot above (click to enlarge) I've included here is from my class fieldtrip today to Monash University in SL. We toured the facility and spoke with the owner/builder responsible for the work they are doing there to teach students the Chinese language and culture. It was one of the best examples I've seen yet of effective use of a virtual environment in teaching and learning.

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