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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Distance Learning Site by Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger

Photo: Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger, BellaOnline's Distance Learning Editor summarizes, "Did you know that universities are beginning to research the benefits of using virtual worlds as a means of classroom instruction?" 

One such web interface is called Second Life (SL). Second Life provides a 3-D, model-based, user-generated content platform for users to interact with one another in simulated environments (worlds) through the use of avatars. Users (residents) are drawn to SL because it offers a novel way of interacting with others using an entirely fictitious identity that the user produces. Consider SL as a second world where you have another life with the ability to do anything you can do in the real world and more. Initially, SL was created for social interaction, allowing opportunities for users to connect with other like-minded people. Similar to most interactive games, there is a bit of a learning curve to SL, and navigating can be a challenge. It is not a game that you play with the goal of achieving the highest score. It is best not to view it as a typical game but rather as a world in which you explore, interact with others, and learn from your experiences. You are in the driver’s seat, and it is up to you to make things transpire and allow yourself to achieve suspension of disbelief. Doing this increases your enjoyment of the experience, much like reading a romance novel or watching a scary movie. 

Second Life - The Largest-Ever 3D Virtual World Created By Users 

Since the launch of SL, institutions are beginning to take a second look at SL’s capabilities and how they can be beneficial. Corporations are now utilizing SL for virtual teaming, scientific research, virtual tours, and virtual role-playing. In the educational field, creating virtual classrooms to enhance distance-learning environments is just one way some universities are evaluating and implementing SL. Schools such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stanford have developed university tours within SL for potential students to visit the campus virtually. This is a great first step that introduces SL to students, allowing them the opportunity to learn about it firsthand.

Additional resources

Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger is a self-proclaimed geek girl leading an information technology web team for a research and technology organization at the Boeing Company.  She is a doctoral candidate researching internal corporate social media strategies and contributing editor for the distance-learning channel at BellaOnline – The Voice of Women.  

Second Life (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) 

Source: BellaOnline and Second Life Channel (YouTube)

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