Virtual Worlds & Second Life
Overview of Virtual Worlds and Second Life
In today’s world there is another reality, the virtual world. Virtual worlds are at the forefront of utilizing technology for teaching purposes. It is quite efficient and effective to gather people from all over the world on one screen. As implicitly mentioned, distance is no longer a problem. An educator can teach in one city like Chicago, to students on the other side of the world like Tokyo. There is also this “God like” feeling of being able to have a presence anywhere. With the virtual world it seems as if there is no end to what an educator can do.
Virtual worlds can benefit so many people; without they, there may be many inequalities that would continue to exist. For example, there are many students who cannot attend schools because they are handicapped and their handicap makes it difficult to attend schools on campus. With the virtual world we see the price of attending schools costing less. There is no longer the need to spend money on gas to go to class, on practical experience (like for geologist going to study rocks at a certain site now can study virtual rocks), books and clothing to go to school may not matter when everything can be read on the internet or you can attend a virtual class while wearing boxers in the real world and no one will know. This also leads into higher comfort levels which creates a more relax learning environment.
The best benefit of virtual worlds for the purpose of our site is to create the opportunity for students to learn how to globally collaborate with other students from all over the world. This opportunity also give us the chance to develop skills, attitudes, and knowledge that is needed for this interconnected world, a world in which collaboration through virtual worlds can exists in so many different dimensions. Meaning, how we learn in one country can be different in another but virtual worlds can help us appreciate so many cultures; eventually, forming a global culture for all the students to learn from.
One of the greatest limitations through the virtual world is access. There are many students that live in areas not designed for internet connection. There are some locations in which cable internet is still only available but unfortunately cable cannot reach particular places, especially mountainous areas. Once broadband becomes more readily available we can have better access for all students. Beyond access, hardware needs to also be readily available for students, especially students with low social economic status (SES). Students with low SES do not have the financials needed to purchase a computer or a laptop, especially one with a built-in camera, to have internet connection and participate in virtual worlds. When a student has internet connection, his or her next biggest step is to find a platform to experience these virtual worlds.
Second Life is such a platform that creates a virtual world where a student uses an Avatar to represent themselves. The Avatars can chat, talk, use body language to express and communicate to each other. This type of communication is not much different than students attending classes and communicating with students in real classes. What is most interesting is the community that develops from Second Life. Second Life has become a medium that professors value as a learning space to promote education. As it was mentioned, due to learners coming from so many different places, Second Life becomes a platform that education can be most efficient and effective. The spread of different ways of learning can globally be administered through a professor playing an avatar in one world, and this professor can invite his or her students from other virtual and physical worlds to learn. What is also interesting about Second life is that the educator can form the structure of the class. In other words, how the class is designed and structured depends entirely on the professor. There is much control on class structure from the professors. The professor can teach in a classroom structure with desks and whiteboard or in a natural environment where there are rocks and hills surrounding students like the times of Socrates lecturing his students in Greece.
In relation to Socrates, a professor teaching a class about Socrates can actually make an avatar that looks like Socrates and teach the class as Socrates. Plus he can have the students all wear Greek apparel (togas) and have the students interact in a real live discussion on a virtual Greek island. This learning environment brings students closer to “the real thing” while learning about their philosopher.
In Second Life, students can collaborate on projects similar to what they do on blogs or emails but the interaction time is more instantaneous. Plus the collaboration becomes more emotional involved as students experience emotions of other students around them and not just their own. Second Life can provide the opportunity to experience famous art paintings or historical moments that can be replicated by the professor.
Overall, technology in virtual worlds and platforms provided by Second Life connect students to a limitless global society. The virtual world is the next step towards building global citizenship. Virtual worlds can do a remarkable job connecting all citizens into one educational system; therefore, as virtual worlds are becoming more advance, so is the advancement of global citizenship.
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Second Life Destination: Mathematical Art
Second Life and Education
Take a look for yourself!
"Second Life is the leader of compelling, cost-effective virtual education solutions to amplify an existing curriculum or create new models for engaged, collaborative learning." - Wiki, Second Life Education
Change the World
Washington — In his historic speech at Cairo University in Egypt in June, President Obama spoke of a vision to “create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.”
Relating Castells Work on Globalisation, Networking, Urbanisation to Secondlife and the Virtual World
Castells states that, “The network society is a global society because networks have no boundaries (Castells, 2010).” What does this mean forSecondlife? This means Secondlife is fluid between borderlines because it is a network society that can cross any border so long as the user has internet access. Secondlife is a service, a service that advances the knowledge economy and connects us, the world, from the local to global. In other words, Castells in his article “Globalisation, Networking, Urbanisation: Reflecting on the Spatial Dynamics of the Information Age,” looks at how places have relative value in the networked society. For instance, take a look at New York City compared to Boston. New York City has a lot of networking spaces that people from all over the world gather to from great Universities, to parks, buildings, sporting events, Broadway performances, financial centers and so on. On the other hand, Boston, has its prestigious schools and is home to many technological innovations in “biotechnology (Castells, 2010).” It is obvious that Bostons network society is less complex than New York City.
So at what level of network relative value does Secondlife have to such places as New York City or Boston? Would Secondlife be on the same level of network multiplicity as New York or Boston? Secondlife offers everything New York can offer plus what seemingly looks like infinite space. However, Secondlife has not reached the point in which people can all participate in this network society. For instance, I have not seen financial centers like “Wall Street” in Secondlife, although it would be possible to have a “Wall Street by Second Life.” It may sound interesting to move Wall Street to the virtual world; however, moving Wall Street to Secondlife would be up to another generation, a newer generation that is dependent on a network society existing entirely in a virtual world.
Secondlife is then an idealistic place in which the existence of network societies are endless. However, how is the “quality of life” when one networks in Secondlife? Castells (2010) states that “quality of life” is a subjective notion. For instance, Green Silicon Valley suburbs are boring places to live from the perception of a New Yorker but it is the place in which major technological innovations have occurred. Engineers and software programmers who work in Green Silicon Valley do not live in Silicon Valley for the sake of partying at nearby San Francisco bars, they are there for the excitement of work. The same can be said with Secondlife, people who have more time to network in the virtual world and prefer networking online rather than in real life. This is due to people being work oriented and having no time to live their lives in the real world so Secondlife lets people have a comfortable social life that takes less time to participate in than if one wanted to go out to a bar or attend social gatherings in the real world.
Overall, Castells gives us an idea where Secondlife is headed. The current generation of people and past generations before it are getting a glimpse of the future through Secondlife. As future generations become more familiar with the use of technology for networking purposes, we will see an attraction for the use of technology as a platform for new ways of networking. For now, there is a divide between generations who value life in the real world versus the virtual world and as Castell has mentioned, “quality of life is subjective”; therefore, let us expect life in the future to be more virtual and global as newer generations become linked through technological innovations such as Secondlife.
Castells, M. (2010). Globalisation, Networking, Urbanisation: Reflections on the Spatial Dynamics of the Information Age. Urban Studies, 47(13), 2737-2745.