Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sixth rung - INF506 - Module 3: Second Life

Module 3: Second Life

Prior to enrolling in INF506 I had never used Second Life but was enthusiastic to attempt its use. I recognized that it was created in 2003 by Linden labs (Helmer & Learning Light, 2007), consisted of user-created 3D virtual worlds, was used by gamers but not really considered to be a game (by devotees of online gaming), however I could not immediately see any benefit to education.
After reading the Module 3 notes, I downloaded the game and created my avatar, This process was simple enough and, my first interaction was on Welcome Island where I managed to immobilize myself in a rock while trying to come to grips with a number of the Avatars intricate controls and menus, I was eventually saved by teleporting to the CSU site.
I eventually gave myself the same advice I gave my mature age students, ‘Just play with it”, and found how addictive this social media can be. In all I found the experience to be annoyingly enjoyable for the next hour and a half, annoying because of my continued developing experience with the ‘game’ controls, enjoyable because the concept gives you nearest thing to exploration as you encounter new (man made) worlds and peoples, both educational and imaginative (O’Connell, 2010).
When the invitation came to become involved in a tutorial on the controls of Second Life, I finally learned the correct use of the ‘camera’. Guided by our lecturer we explored the CSU site and learned to control our avatars while observing ‘first hand’ how this media can be used as an educational tool. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity of finally ‘meeting’ a few of my classmates and lecturers; I believe that this method of presenting classes would reduce the dis-connectivity of distance education.
Once a student becomes proficient in using Second Life, the environment may be best used to assist learning by allowing them to become immersed in an environment that stimulates interaction (Dass, Dabbsgh & Clark, 2011). By providing a neutral learning location virtual worlds can provide an environment where students can acquire knowledge, exchange ideas and participate in individual and group activities through designed experiences without risk or consequence (Schoonheim, Heyden & Wiecha, 2014).
 Dass, S., Dabbsgh, N. & Clark, K. (2011). Using virtual worlds: What the
research says. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 12(2) Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/10849925/USING_VIRTUAL_WORLDS_What_the_Research_Says
 Helmer, J. & Learning Light. (2007). Second life and virtual worlds.
 O’Connell, J. (2010). Virtual worlds are genuinely real spaces for learning.
Access, 24(4), 15 – 18. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
 Schoonheim, M., Heyden, R. & Wiecha, J. M. (2014). Use of a virtual
world computer environment for international distance education: lessons from a pilot project using Second Life. BMC medical education, 14(36). doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-14-36

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