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The Uncommunity :: Blog :: Can someone explain Second Life to me?

June 11, 2007

I'm usually branded geeky. I have a Flickr account, a del.icio.us account, a Facebook account, and various other odd bits of social software that I use reasonably frequently. I do my best to maintain a couple of blogs. I can program tolerably well in several languages. I can write HTML and CSS. I contribute to a couple of open source projects. In other words, I'm no slouch when it comes to this IT lark.

I have never got into playing computer games. There's lots of reasons for this - but one of the main ones is that I can't be bothered learning how to play a game. The reward/effort ratio isn't high enough to motivate me. I find exactly the same thing with Second Life. Why bother? In fact, I find Second Life even worse. Why bother in particular as the effort I expended would get me spending more time in nirvana for narcissists.

My lack of interest in these sorts of things clouds my judgement about how useful they might be pedagogically. Students have no problem immersing themselves in games. So, if there are any SLers out there... what's the point?


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Posted by The Uncommunity - Miles Metcalfe


Comments

  1. There are a lots of things that are good and bad about Second Life. After a year in there, I'm still finding new good and bad things every day. Is it a game? Well, it's a game in the same way that life is a game.

    As an artist and designer, Second Life provides me with fantastic opportunities to rapidly prototype ideas, practice being creative, and show off to some of the 7 million residents. It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a demand for skilled designers who can build virtual things for people, and people are prepared to pay real money for this. Whether these people are sadly misguided in their love of the metaverse or not, there are jobs there for my design students. I also think that there are lots of other reasons why MUVEs can be good places for education and personal development to happen, but others articulate these reasons much better than I can.

    Have a look at:

    http://www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Educat

    This is some blurb from that page:

    "Second Life provides a unique and flexible environment for educators interested in distance learning, computer-supported cooperative work, simulation, new media studies, and corporate training.

    Second Life provides an opportunity to use simulation in a safe environment to enhance experiential learning, allowing individuals to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes. The ability to prepare for similar real-world experiences by using Second Life as a simulation has unlimited potential!

    Students and educators can work together in Second Life from anywhere in the world as part of a globally networked virtual classroom environment. Using Second Life as a supplement to traditional classroom environments also provides new opportunities for enriching existing curricula.

    For a fantastic summary of Second Life focusing on educational and serious applications, please check out Real Virtuality in your Second Life and beyond. If you'd like to learn more about the history of Second Life, take a look at the SL History Wiki. For a comparison of Second Life and other virtual world platforms, check out Oz Spade's Virtual World Comparison Page."


    Ian TrueloveIan Truelove on Monday, 11 June 2007, 12:24 UTC # |

  2. I'm a big SL skeptic. I like games, I'm a big gaming fan. And I do lots of elearning and Web 2.0 things, but SL always leaves me with a big "so what?"

    One particular way of looking at this is through the lens of media: can you apply McLuhan's tetrad to SL? I don't think it changes things enough. It LOOKS different, but its a Hot media in a Cool world - immersive is out, ambient and omnipresent is in.

    I'm sure its got some uses. Everything has. But I don't think its worth quite as much attention as the ed tech community is lavishing on it.

    JMO.

    S

    Scott WilsonScott Wilson on Monday, 18 June 2007, 13:55 UTC # |

  3. Scott - thanks for the comment, particularly the McLuhan reference. I certainly agree.

     

    Ian - thanks for the pointers, too. Until Scott's comment I was still thinking I was missing something obvious. You'll forgive me, but the quote from Simteach left me quite cold. What exactly were the benefits again?

    Now I'm intrigued to see what the SLers make of SL-education. 

    Miles MetcalfeMiles Metcalfe on Thursday, 21 June 2007, 14:34 UTC # |

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