There is a weekly meeting in Second Life for people who are involved in research in the Virtual World. As these meetings tend to be at 10pm or later, I rarely get to them, but yesterday evening I made a point of going to Jeremy Kemps’s presentation on how he has introduced 1100 information science students to Second Life over the past year.
The context is a distance learning course with a large number of units introducing many different electronic resources of which Second Life is one – students are also introduced to Web 2.0 technologies including social networking and blogging, to Elluminate, and a range of other resources. The students never meet face-to-face.
A background to the course is available on these slides.
Basically students have a choice between learning about Second Life through a short video, reading some selected papers and answering a quiz, or learning about Second Life at first hand by registering an avatar, undergoing a brief induction and undertaking a quest inworld which includes pasting an image of their avatar on the university social networking site. The majority of the students choose the second option and this is being refined for the next cohort with additional quests and more attention to orientation; instead of relying on the generic induction offered by Linden Labs, Jeremy intends to use a well-designed and staffed orientation space such as Virtual Ability.
The work on this course is supporting Jeremy’s doctoral research which is focusing on what motivates students and stimulates flow.