Page 14 - Summer09

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It doesn’t look like your traditional classroom,
but it’s one that William Woods University is
now utilizing. Second Life is an Internet-based
virtual world imagined and created by its users.
Participants discover a fast-growing digital world
flled with people, entertainment, experiences
and opportunity.
Now, thanks to
Dr. Linda Davis
, professor of
management information systems, WWU has
brought this new learning environment to students,
taking them beyond the boundaries of the campus.
An online 3D virtual world, Second Life enables its
users, called residents, to interact with each other
through online replicas of themselves called
"avatars." They can meet and socialize with
other residents, participate in individual and
group activities or travel throughout the world.
“Second Life is a good educational tool—frst,
because it appeals to students and, second,
because it engages them in a way that they have
never been engaged before with a textbook,”
said Davis. “Their avatars are actually in the
environment, interacting and receiving pictures,
videos, text and voice. It hits all realms of learning.”
Across the country, universities are now signing
up to use Second Life, where individuals can visit
prominent educational institutions and organizations,
participate in distance and fexible education, view
presentations and discussions, and watch
historical re-creations.
The frst WWU virtual lecture took place in
Second Life on Jan. 27. Students in Davis’
class met in an outdoor arena on the Information
Society for Technology Education's "ISTE Island."
After students conducted research, they discussed
technology issues and various uses of Second Life in
education and business.
During the semester, students visited the Sistine
Chapel, Virtual Harlem and Camp Darfur. The
camp showed a realistic simulation, complete with
readings, true-life accounts from survivors, and videos
and sounds of the horrors of Darfur. Students then
met in the camp to discuss their experiences.
Companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard
and IBM use Second Life’s environment for various
business and educational ventures. Fortune 500
companies are beginning to recruit from
Second Life.
According to
Dr. Sherry McCarthy
, vice president and
dean of academic affairs at WWU, the use of Second
Life as an educational tool connects students to the
course information in a unique way that allows them
to participate in their learning rather than just
receive information.
“This is student engagement in learning at its best,”
she said.
At any one time, Second Life has approximately
15 million people from around the world logged on.
WWU Uses
Virtual World
Enhance Learning, Engage Students
During WWU’s frst ever virtual lecture
in Second Life,
Dr. Linda Davis
felds questions
to the students about the value of Second Life
for education and business.
By Tara Boehl '09