Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Educators Expand use of Second Life in Ontario

The IT Business site reports on the surge of teachers using Second Life to teach students at public and post-secondary schools.

The article cites two people who are leading the charge into virtual worlds. One of these is Ken Hudson, managing director of the Virtual World Design Centre at Loyalist College in Belleville Ont. Here is a video of the program he developed that simulated a Border Services training program:

According to Hudson, student grades improved dramatically after using the virtual world program.

The other person cited in the article is Mark Matchen, a teacher at Stephen Lewis Secondary School in the York Region District School Board. Matchen taught an entire course on introductory computer programming in Second Life and also applauded the success of the course and its components.

“Instead of giving the students dreaded chapter questions,” he said, “I set up a blog and each week the kids visit it and enter their responses.”

Nice to see positive coverage from the IT press, in Canada at least. Techy folks are not always the best friends of virtual worlds. Something about protecting legacy systems, maybe, or a feeling that virtual worlds are too light-weight to be taken seriously by the oh-so-serious folks who keep the computers humming in the office.

IT Business Edge, for example, reports that virtual worlds are “cool, but not compelling for business:

“Virtual worlds aren’t getting much love from CIOs. According to a Robert Half Technology survey I mentioned in an August post, 84 percent of CIOs said they weren’t interested in virtual worlds.”

Their argument is that there is no return on investment for the technology. Others would beg to differ, of course, including Justin at Rivers Run Red, as he explained in my recent interview.

Suffice to say, however, that the technology is still on the earlier parts of the curve when it comes to the IT folks. And that if you want to encourage virtual world adoption, wander around the rest of the office, find yourself an evangelist, and bypass the IT guys entirely.

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