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Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education: Learning Made in Second Life

Linden Lab

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Educators from across the globe are gathering together in Second Life for the 13th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference, held March 26-28.

In this time of a global public health crisis and as many educators and conference organizers are looking for online alternatives to replace their in-person meet-ups, Second Life is offering a unique alternative: a sense of presence and community that can not simply be replicated via screen sharing or webinars.

For example, another high-profile conference, MuseWeb, recently opted to quickly relocate some of its sessions to Second Life after its 24th annual event in Los Angeles had to be canceled because of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

In Second Life, conference attendees can experience events through virtual conference rooms, theatres, exposition halls, meeting spaces, and other types of venues similar to a brick and mortar type conference. Many different styles of avatars are ready-made for immediate use and customization options - as you can see in today's video - are limitless to express yourself as you wish.

This week’s “Made in Second Life” video takes a closer look at the VWBPE Conference including an interview with Executive Director Kevin Feenan, known in Second Life as Phelan Corrimal.

“We want to challenge educators to think beyond a two-dimensional space,” says Feenan. “What are you going to do in this environment if there is no ground beneath your feet? How can you truly leverage a three-dimensional space?” 

“It’s a much more dynamic environment than simply going to a webinar,” he adds. “It’s about making those personal connections with other people who can relate to the challenges you are going through in trying to understand something new.”

“People can get together - they can talk, dance, and party (so to speak). As long as their avatar is online, they can pop in and connect with friends [and] new people,” he says. 

Feenan has been a long-time advocate for use of virtual worlds in education through his work with VWBPE and also his role at Rockcliffe University Consortium, an online organization dedicated to the advancement of technology in education.

“Second Life is the most utilitarian application that is out there,” says Feenan. “Second Life is part of the educator toolbox to allow students to experience how to resolve problems by focusing on those particular things that you might not be able to do inside a classroom.

Among the academics presenting at this year’s event are Dr. Michael Thomas, Daniel Dyboski-Bryant, Lorelle VanFossen, and Dr. Robert Furman

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CREDITS:
Video: Draxtor Despres
Learning Made in Second Life Logo: Marianne McCann

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