I joined EDtech in Second Life tonight. It may serve as a valuable resource for teachers like myself, but I was less than impressed when in this PG rated room, I overheard an X-rated, let’s say, “simulation” taking place. For myself, that is the biggest concern of this virtual community, the content that sometimes slips through the cracks and gets filtered out for all to see, or in this case, hear. For educators who think real life does not offer enough opportunities to practice their profession, there is Second Life, an Internet-based virtual environment that counts thousands of educators among its enthusiasts. Second Life bears a passing resemblance to an online game, with users represented by digitally drawn characters, called avatars, that can interact and engage in a vast array of activities. But a growing number of K-12 educators and groups have come to see the 3-D virtual environment as having educational potential that is very real (Science Daily, 2009).
Hundreds of leading universities and school systems around the world use Second Life as a vibrant part of their educational programs. Linden Lab works enthusiastically with education organizations to familiarize them with the benefits of virtual worlds, connect them with educational peers active in Second Life, and showcase their in world projects and communities (Second Life Grid, 2009). For the thousand of high schools and middle schools wanting to use Second Life, there is the teen site, Teen Grid. where only teenage players can socialize. When teenagers turn 20, they must automatically leave Teen Grid and join the Second Life “real world.” Studies produced by Northwestern University show that most teens are chatting and interacting with their real life friends, or friends of their friends. In the virtual world we have found ways to follow the trends of teens. In our own world where we often find it difficult to find out information about what’s going on in our own teenagers life, this study is phenomenal!
Online chats and virtual worlds, than often are recreated in historical relevance, help students become proactive in their learning. Most people, even educators, think online learning doesn't require participation or engagement with course material. But in "Second Life" there's real-time interaction, which means students need to engage in the discussion -- much as if they were sitting in a brick and mortar classroom (CNN, 2006).
Wong, Grace. (2006). Educators explore second life online. Retrieved September 25, 2009 from, http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/11/13/second.life.university/index.html
Northwestern University (2009, February 14). Tracking the digital traces of social networks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/02/090213161031.html
Second Life (September 2009). Second life grid. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://secondlifegrid.net/slfe/education-use-virtual-world