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Indiana University

Completed project: Second Life Faculty Learning Community: Exploring teaching and learning with Second Life

Primary UITS contact: John Gosney

Completed: August 13, 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. Additional "building" continues to be performed on the IU Second Life teaching island (IUSL). The island can be reached "in-world" by searching on "IUSL".

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 listed above.)

  • 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 http://world.secondlife.com/place/ad50ecb7-4f76-091c-3187-7706eb19e0fc.

  • 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 findings

  • January 31, 2013: Final FLC report due

Accepted applicants:

  • 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
    Lecturer
    Department of Health and Human Services
    School of Nursing, IUN

  • Ashley Hasty, Ph.D.
    Lecturer
    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 experiential fashion.

  • 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 assignment.

  • 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.

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.

Project team:

  • 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