Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Trends in Education 2009 & Teens in Second Life

Odd how trends come and go. When I was at the New Media Consortium meeting this past summer the teachers seemed a little shy around Second Life - almost as if many of them had been burned by it, or were uncertain of it - that the shine had gone off a little. But increasingly, the signs are that the uptake by education of virtual worlds continues. Shifts to openSim and secure servers might soon be matched by comparable offerings by Linden Lab, giving the IT/security folks some relief (and letting them get some hands on the tech - always critical to keeping them on side).

Case Western’s VP of IT spotlights ten trends for education in 2009. Among them, Second Life:

” Initial exuberance and hype led to hundreds of universities experimenting with 3D Virtual Worlds three years ago. The user-generated universe requires new pedagogy and curriculum considerations. Academic technologists and the education community has learned a lot over the past several years. Look for new functionality and education-centered technology capabilities over the next year. The net result should be an exciting and provocative set of new collaborative capabilities to help enable more campus control and flexible tools for learning. Dust off your avatar and get ready for one of the most important collaborative learning platforms to make inroads in the year ahead.”

Teen Grid to Merge with Second Life
Philip Rosedale today announced that the long-term plan for the Teen Grid is to merge it with Second Life. He said that there are too many missed opportunities by partitioning the kids off on their own Grid.

Photo: Daniel Voyager’s Flickr Stream

Now, he put no time line on it, but on the one hand he’s right about missed opportunities: there are challenges for middle schools, for example, in overcoming the “wall” between TG and SL. Say you want to bring a builder or educator from the main grid - it’s too cumbersome in most case.

But there are policy implications for the change. It brings up all sorts of issues around age verification, how to rate content, and how to enforce. I found the discussion of this in Plurk fascinating. Blue Linden, representing I’m sure his own opinions rather than the Lab, chimed in to support the idea.

The chat is lengthy but go have a read. My favorite comment was perhaps from Blue, who responded to concerns about having “immature teens” roaming the main Grid with:

“BlueLinden: I will have to argue that many of the adults on main grid are more imature than teens. Teens on TSL turn 18 and move to main grid and a week later IM me to say “OMG BLUE…I thought this was the MATURE grid!!!!”

Ah well - we’re all children of knowledge, right?

But as an education trend to watch, the merging of the Teen Grid with mainland would probably rank right up there, at least within Second Life.


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