Friday, September 24, 2004

Campus Life Comes to Second Life 

Wired News: "It's not unusual for teachers and students to use an online environment like a chat room to meet. But Delwiche and a few other college professors are taking advantage of Second Life's fully three-dimensional virtual world and are the first to teach classes in a world where the students can fly, change body types at will and build fantastical structures that can float in the sky.

Second Life's 'online environment tends to be a little less stuffy than the real-world classroom,' said Delwiche. 'Suddenly (the students) got to adopt these ridiculous avatars and interact with each other in a completely different context. They had a lot more fun.'

Delwiche and professors like the University of Texas at Austin's Anne Beamish have for months been working on developing classes inside Second Life with Robin Harper, senior vice president at Linden Lab, the metaverse's publisher. Now the company, in an attempt to attract more professors wanting to experiment with this ultra-unorthodox teaching method, has formalized an outreach program to universities called Campus: Second Life.

...In order to help teachers bring their classes to Second Life, Linden Lab donates accounts for each student, as well as an acre of land in the metaverse for the teacher and students to work and build on. Afterward, anyone wishing to stay a member can do so at half price.
To date, in addition to Delwiche and Beamish, professors from San Francisco State University, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Vassar College have used Second Life in their courses.
Delwiche said it's an opportunity to show his students a different side of the digital media they hope to be creating in the future.
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