Does Second Life have a place in higher education?

I have read a lot of literature about Second Life and how institutions of higher education are beginning to incorporate this into education.  It scares me a bit about opening this up to students and makes me wonder how universities will regulate this and what policies to protect the university need to be created.  How much liability will universities have if students are harrassed and what implications will this have for education?  Right now, I have more questions on this subject than I do answers.  I would love to hear from other schools who have instructors who are using this for their courses, such as how they are using it.  Does the university support this (technical support or instructional design support)?  Have instructors run into any issues in using it?

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4 Comments »

  1. Hi…
    At the University of Houston, departments are forging ahead without any policy external to the guidelines by Linden Lab.
    Guidelines including an age requirement and no “griefing” creates a fairly benign and unhostile environment.

    If you have not spent any quality time in-world, I suggest a 60-90 day trial. Some of your concerns are addressed in-world without a quickly-outdated-ivory-tower policy. During the trial period, join a few Groups (particularly educational) and ask members about the presence of harassment.

    Groups provide an example of in-world comfort and protection from scary mean avatars. Plus avatars can “block” contact from others, similar to any Web 2.0 application.

    Try a guided tour by a friendly avatar. You will find more answers to your questions while in-world.

  2. instructtech said

    Hi Fiyah,

    Thanks for your comment. I have been in-world a few times, but still have a lot to learn. I appreciate your suggestions. How are your instructors using Second Life as an instructional tool? Do ya’ll hold live meetings within Second Life? I attended a presentation at a conference given by group from Texas who said they hold their Texas Blackboard Users’ Group Meeting in Second Life. That’s what first peaked my interest.

    Thanks!

    Amy

  3. Shawn said

    Check out Scott Moore – http://ancienthistory.typepad.com/ancient_history_ramblings/2008/10/pkap-sl-meeting.html and Bill Caraher’s work – http://mediterraneanworld.typepad.com/ , especially ‘PKAP’. Scott and Bill are archaeologists, and you’ll find a lot of archaeologists working in SL at the moment. I write on the subject too, just search my blog for second life. http://electricarchaeologist.wordpress.com

    Hope this is useful,
    Shawn

  4. instructtech said

    Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for the great information. I am definitely going to check these out.

    Thanks!

    Amy

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