There’s a chance you’ve never heard before about Second Life, the three-dimensional virtual world in which people can fly around, buy new skin-colours, make a living by sitting in easy-chairs or do all the other things “normal” modern people do these days…but probably you’ve heard about it. In the offline world Second-Life has quickly become an umbrella term for all the whacky, off-beat activities that an avatar can dream of.
But did you know that there are serious projects going on there to use Second Life as an educational platform? We found an interesting article today about a group of people pioneering new technologies in SL. It raises a few important questions, surely one of them is that while building learning environments in cyberspace, one should never try to “replicate the physical experience” but transfer core ideas from offline to online classrooms without being afraid to create completely new modes of interaction.
“When teaching concepts related to hardware and software, you might be tempted to create very-realistic models in Second Life. While this might work well for some learning objectives (like service training), it can be frustrating for avatars to interact with detailed user interface screens or hardware models that are to scale. The Second Life controls often do not allow for certain actions (like pulling a lever or right-clicking a mouse) and novice users might not be adept at focusing and zooming on objects. Consider your learning objectives and user limitations when assessing the scale of 3D objects and presentation of user interfaces.” – Adventures in Second Life