Monday, September 3, 2007

Summer Hiatus is Over – It’s Time for a Second Life

When I started this Blog last year, I knew that at some point I would want to talk about Second Life. Second Life is an amazing online virtual reality environment. It is simulated 3-D and has the look and feel of a game environment. In my opinion, a virtual reality world like Second Life may become on of the truly significant advances in the way we teach and learn. However, I must admit that I have had some reticence about sharing my interest in Second Life (also known as SL) for three reasons: 1) it is sometimes difficult for some to see the value or utility of this immersive, 3D virtual world, 2) it is not available to all as it requires a decent PC and some networks, including Erlanger's, have SL blocked, 3) finally, it is just simple a bit weird. No. it’s actually very weird.

However, I encourage you to look at SL from the perspective of its power as a learning environment. Second Life has established itself in virtual classrooms for major colleges and universities, including Harvard, Vassar, Pepperdine, Drexel, Rice, University College Dublin, Elon University, Ohio University, Ball State, New York University, University of Houston, and Stanford University. And, there are some significant applications that have been developed specifically for healthcare education.

A great deal of information on educational applications in SL can be found at SimTeach, the official Second Life Education Wiki. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. SL was first opened to the public in 2003. I started with creating my avatar – this is a character one creates to enter SL - on March, 2006 and there were approximately 350,000 residents who had already joined. Today, it has grown explosively and is inhabited by a total of 9,258,210 Residents from around the globe.

Check this out – but not at Erlanger. Look for me by searching for my avatar, Lorenzo Stork.