Do I need a second life?

I was down in London yesterday giving a talk at the Heads of E-Learning Forum meeting on virtual worlds. There were also a couple of interesting presentations on Second Life from Steve Bennett from Hertfordshire University and Fiona Littleton from the University of Edinburgh. I was glad to see some more innovative uses of Second Life beyond the recreation of lecture theatres.

From these talks, for me, there seem to be four main pedagogic reasons to use Second Life:

  1. To create a sense or presence, place and community and engender emotional learning. While this is intuitively sensible, I’d like to see more research evidence of affective learning in SL.
  2. Three-dimensional visualisation. But do other subject-specific tools do it better?
  3. Simulation.
  4. Students as builders.

I would like to think that Second Life (and other virtual worlds like it) have the potential to add to the student learning expereince (once all the technological glitches are sorted out) but would like to see more examples of innovative use that is rigourously researched.

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