Project: Second Life Faculty Learning Community: Exploring teaching and learning with Second Life
Primary UITS contact: John Gosney
Last update: January 9, 2013
Description: As students and instructors become increasingly comfortable (and confident) in the online environment, there is a growing interest in exploring new technologies and tools that appear to have the potential of making teaching and learning in the online space more engaging, while at the same time ensuring it remains pedagogically sound. The online virtual world Second Life continues to be considered one such tool in furthering the definition and scope of an online learning environment.
Outcome: The Exploring Teaching and Learning with Second Life FLC includes a specific focus on how online environments, specifically Second Life, can enhance teaching and learning across a wide variety of disciplines/areas of interest. This FLC is intended to encourage faculty to explore whether Second Life enhances or enables our ability to:
- Promote student engagement in an immersive virtual learning environment
- Develop new pedagogies that take advantage of the wide array of options available in the virtual environment (e.g., the ability to "fly", and/or to design replicas of real-world environments otherwise inaccessible in a traditional course format)
- Utilize Second Life in conjunction with other Web 2.0 technologies
- Explore opportunities to collaborate with other institutions using Second Life for teaching and learning
A Second Life Avatar Basic Training Checklist is now available. Many thanks to Gregory Ogle (IUK) for developing and sharing this guide.
Milestones and status:
- August 16, 2011 at 3pm: General information session to be held
via Adobe Connect: https://connect.iu.edu/iusl/
- August 19, 2011 at 10am: General information session to be held
via Adobe Connect (Note: This will repeat information
given during the August 16 presentation, and will use same URL as
- August 26, 2011 at 9:30am: Live "in-world" demonstration of the IU
Second Life island (Note: You will need to create a
free Second Life avatar to attend this session; information on doing
so will be given at the 8/16 and 8/19 sessions). The in-world location
for this demonstration will be at
- September 2, 2011 at 5pm: Deadline for applications
- September 9, 2011: Successful applicants are notified
- January 31, 2012: Preliminary report due on fall 2011 FLC
- January 31, 2013: Final FLC report due
- Serafin M. Coronel-Molina, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Language Education
Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
School of Education, IUB
- Rachel A. Umoren, MB.BCh, MSCR
Department of Pediatrics-Neonatology
Indiana University School of Medicine
- Peggy Daniels Lee, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management
Faculty Chair, Undergraduate Programs
Kelley School of Business, IUPUI
- Evalyn J. Gossett, MSN, RN
Department of Health and Human Services
School of Nursing, IUN
- Ashley Hasty, Ph.D.
Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design
Retail Design and Merchandising Group, IUB
- Adam V. Maltese
Assistant Professor of Science Education
Adjunct Faculty in Geological Sciences, IUB
- Jane Cera
Assistant Professor of Art Education
Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, IUSB
- Lorinda L. Coan, LDH, MS, CTTS
Indiana University School of Dentistry
Dental Hygiene Program
Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
Comment process: Direct FLC questions or comments to John Gosney, faculty liaison for Learning Technologies, UITS.
Benefits: Given that the physical and geographical confines of the "real world" don't apply in a virtual world like Second Life, the opportunities for innovative teaching and learning are extensive. Possible scenarios for exploration might include the following:
- An English professor teaching Hamlet wants her students to better
understand the time period in which Shakespeare was writing. By
touring a virtual Globe Theater and dressing their Second Life avatars
(digital representations of themselves) in Elizabethan-era clothing,
students are able to contextualize their study of the play in a more
- As part of a series of lectures on serious mental disorders, a
psychology professor wants his students to "experience" schizophrenia.
As such, students are asked to visit a simulation area within Second
Life where their avatars experience auditory and visual hallucinations
in a manner not easily (or even feasibly) produced in a real world
environment. Given that Second Life allows for an avatar's "in-world"
actions to be recorded, students are asked to capture their
experiences and then reflect on them later as part of a group
- In conjunction with real-world training, a professor of radiology
designs a virtual lab where student avatars can role play as both
technicians and patients. Moreover, by taking advantage of Second
Life's ability to provide live audio chat, the technician/patient
interaction takes on an enhanced level of realism, and allows for
observation by other students.
- An archaeology professor wants her first-year students to
experience the excavation of a dinosaur fossil on a Montana dig site.
Rather than only show slides of her own experiences at such a site,
the professor has her students visit a virtual dig site in Second
Life, where their avatars can gain a better sense of excavation
techniques and more closely observe the placement of a dig in the
context of its larger environment.
- An engineering professor would like his students to have a better
conceptual understanding of skyscraper design and construction,
specifically the load and vibration factors that impact such
structures. He meets his students in-world at the ground floor of a
virtual skyscraper, where he offers some preliminary remarks; then, he
and his students "fly" to the top of the skyscraper, so he can
continue his lecture in the context of having students observe the
skyscraper's virtual sway.
- A human computer interaction (HCI) instructor seeks to broaden her students' understanding and advocacy for all users. She creates an assignment where student teams will consider avatars with disabilities (vision, hearing, mobility, and cognitive) in the context of Second Life, and consider the cultural impacts, the adaptive technologies used, and the benefits/limitations to the accessibility of available information and interactions in Second Life. In turn, students will use this information to create universal design specifications for virtual worlds.
Related information: More information on the educational benefits of working with Second Life can be found at Second Life Education. Also, an IU Knowledge Base article describing "IU Island" (the IU-branded virtual learning space in Second Life) and a FAQ on how to access the island and other features of Second Life can be found at About the IU Island in Second Life.
Client impact: The primary goal of a faculty learning community (FLC) is to explore a specific topic area or theme as it relates to best practices in teaching and learning. This goal is achieved by providing safe, supportive communities wherein members can engage in research, scholarship of teaching and learning, and service to explore new approaches to teaching.
- Learning Technologies
- University Information Technology Services IT Communications Office
- University Information Technology Services Indiana University campus centers for teaching and learning
Governance: Learning Technologies - University Information Technology Services