Does anyone remember the movie Lawnmower Man? When I think of virtual learning, that’s what comes to mind. The main character of the film (Jobe) is able to learn in a virtual environment and ultimately become quite intelligent (among other things). The biggest difference? It’s virtual reality as opposed to a virtual environment. I found that there are some virtual reality learning environments out there, but Second Life is not one of them. Young shares his beliefs about educational institutions that once rejoiced in the opportunities of Second Life are now looking for an “exit strategy” in his “frustrating” article. “The virtual world has not lived up to the hype that peaked in 2007, when just about every day brought a new announcement from a college entering Second Life. Today, disenchanted with commercial virtual worlds but still convinced of their educational value, a few colleges have started to build their own, where they have more control.” Young goes on to explain that “Moving around in Second Life can be so clunky that some professors and students have decided that it’s just not worth the hassle. I regularly get stuck between pieces of virtual furniture, wander around aimlessly looking for the person I’m trying to meet up with, or lose patience as I wait for my online avatar to walk between virtual classrooms. If all you need to do is chat with far-flung students, there are many easier ways to do it.” Sounds challenging to say the least.
It’s not all bad though! Walsh makes some great points in his article 10 Examples of Useful Second Life Resources for Educators, stating “SL’s ability to echo many real world interactions opens the door to emulate many kinds of constructs and processes, such as conducting business, or doing architectural design…” “Second Life has the potential to play a variety of interesting roles in the educational process and can provide a more interactive experience than the average web site or tool, but it requires more of an investment in time to learn and use than many other web based tools require.”
Walsh, K. (2009, July 6). 10 Examples of useful Second Life resources for educators. In Emerging EdTech. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/07/10-examples-of-useful-second-life-resources-for-educators/
Young, J. R. (2010, February 14). After frustrations in Second Life, colleges look to new virtual worlds: The hype is gone, but not the interest, and professors think some emerging projects may have instructional staying power. In The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/After-Frustrations-in-Second/64137/