Second Life: An Innovation in Higher Education

Second Life:
An Innovation in Higher
Johanna Brams, Lehigh University
Melody Buckner, Arizonia University
Timothy Foley, Lehigh University
Natalie Foster, Lehigh University
Jeff Remling, Lehigh University
Timothy Foley (RL)
Timothy Harlan (SL)
Melody Buckner (RL)
Melody Hazelnut (SL)
Natalie Foster (RL)
Sumo Itano (SL)
Goals of Presentation
• What is Second Life (SL)?
• Other examples of SL
• How and why SL is used
for education
• Costs and time to build in
• Examples of SL at Lehigh
and University of Arizona
• Barriers to overcome and
associated issues when
implementing SL
What is Second Life?
• It is an interactive social network where users engage in a
variety of social and educational activities.
• It is a MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment)
• Can be used as a:
o communication tool
o social network site
o presentation medium
o place for collaboration
Uses of Second Life in Instruction
• Virtual Office Hours
o Set faculty up with an
• Individual Instruction
o Field Trips or Quest
• Topic Driven
o Fireside chat, classroom
o build a community
• Role Play
o Counseling Center
• Assessment Tool
o Create content for
• Use Mentors
o Create learning
University of Arizona: Tour
•University of Arizona Island (a working island)
Orientation Trail (PCC)
Virtual Office (Melody and Tani)
Border Project
Eller Treehouse (preceptor class collaborative project)
Living in the Universe - Chris Impey/Adrienne Gauthier
( (
Fireside Chat - Chris Johnson
Lehigh Island Development & Tour
• University Center
 Blending the old and new
• Discussion Classroom
 Collaborative Learning
• Counseling Center/Hidden Room
 When things must be private and
• Art Tower
 What you can't do in real life
• Disappearing Buildings
 The art of saving prims
• Flexible Theater
 Changing seating at the flip of a lever
• Using the Sandbox
No we don't mean cats
University Center
Second Life .... Bonus life? Virtual reality?
What are people doing here? Why do they stay?
Environmental fluidity
Ambiguity of identity
Creative outlet
What have people created?
Live performances
Shameless Commerce Division
links to RL
Cost to Build in Second Life
Land fees:
Lehigh: Through New Media Consortium (cheaper) for island
256m by 256m (65536 sq m)
1st year: 5540 Annual fee thereafter 4300
UA: We rent the island from New Media Consortium in 2007.
Standard Sim (256m by 256)
Approx. $ 5,000 annual fee
Materials costs:
Lehigh: A couple of drawing styluses. Video cards added about <100
pc in public and media sites as we upgraded. Macs were fine.
UA: Up to the Colleges and Departments
Time to Build in Second Life
Research and initial work later torn down): 200 hours
Core work (4 main people): About 1200 hours* **
Core: 1 grad student, 1 computer science major, 2 design students
Project Manager: Approx 200 hours
*Note that no special staff was hired for this -- this project was part of a normal work load, and
therefore a routine budget.
** These figures represent the initial 2
years of setup. Costs will probably now be minimal for maintenance.
Research (2 Administrators, 1 faculty champion, temp. graphic artist)
UA Built: "A" Mountain, Old Main (200-300 hours), Women's Memorial
(100 hours), ILC, UITS and the Holodeck shell (15 hours)
Pima Community College - Orientation Area
Barriers to Overcome
• Steep Learning Curve
Estimated at about 20-30 hours per designer
Separate class for students
• Don't know where to start
CAD and Maya did not transfer
Learning to build with prims
• Big Time Investment
This is somewhat offset by the design and programming 'apprenticeship'
experience for the students involved in building the island.
o 'Selling stuff' -- might generate some income
o Could be a logical and comparatively cheaper alternative to other distance
learning virtual environment
Barriers to Overcome
• Pedagogical Practices
Not aware of Second Life
Not sure how to implement instruction in Second Life
• Security
participants must be 18+
• Graphic Card Intensive
• Bandwidth
• ADA Compliance
• For Second Life to be successful
SL needs a home base on campus
IT Support
Instructional Support for faculty
Faculty Champion
Suggestions for Faculty
• Don't go alone into Second Life
• Enforce dress code for class
• Post notice about dangers of Virtual Worlds and how to handle "situations"
(offer opportunity for alternate assignment)
• Control first experience for students
 First Meeting - Meet in office with small group (3 - 5) (experiment with
changing appearance, sit down, walking around, flying)
 Second Meeting - Take on a short tour related to your subject area
(assign free exploration of SL before next meeting)
 Third Meeting - Meet in SL classroom discuss problems encountered
in SL
 Fourth Meeting - Create an assignment for groups of students
• For SL assignment - Give detailed instructions and set realistic goals
Alternatives to Second Life
OpenSimulator - setup yourself or pay ReactionGrid $75/month and $150 setup fee for a
SL knock off that is already setup with classrooms and allows controlled access
4% of adults spend time in virtual worlds - 40% own games consoles where they explore
3d environments
"virtual worlds are at their best when they look nothing like a traditional campus.
Professors are finding that they can stage medical simulations, guide students through the
inside of cell structures, or present other imaginative teaching exercises that cannot be
done in a physical classroom."
Not always true...some universities seek to give distance students a feeling of a campus they might not
otherwise see.
Also, familiarity might help students find things...the bottom line is to use the interactivespace -- as
interactively as possible: Don't make a passive site.
Interesting Places to Explore
• Explorer Island
• Second Health
• Rockcliffe University
• Renaissance Island
• Popular Places
• Teaching in Second Life
Thanks for your time
Johanna Brams, Senior Instructional Technologist
[email protected]
Melody Buckner, Instructional Design Specialist for Outreach
University of Arizona
[email protected]
Tim Foley, Director of Client Computing & Library Services, [email protected]
Natalie Foster, Chemistry Professor and Faculty Fellow, [email protected]

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