University of Hertfordshire Virtual Second Life Campus

I’m making this post mainly for posterity. One of my first tasks at the University was to create a virtual presence inside the multi-user 3D world ‘Second Life’. Whilst it’s somewhat past its prime, during its hayday, Second Life offered many people an opportunity to become accustomed to 3D environments. It included editing tools within the client program and allowed people to collaborate to create vast virtual settlements.

During the time I used it as a platform for teaching students, much was discovered with respect to best practice. The aspects of ludology involved (friendly competition) between groups of students lent itself well to removing the fear of failure and made for a highly memorable experience. The video below shows the visual form of the virtual campus which has now ceased to exist since the lengthy period of funding (6+ years) for hosting has now expired.

A memorable experience was teaching a group of Malaysian students remotely using Skype. My screen was shared and projected on to the classroom wall and, as questions were asked, the students would, one by one, come up to the front of their classroom so I could see them. While it’s not the most practical use of video conferencing, it was an interesting experiment to see how we could handle communication differently.

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