I’ve been trying. Really trying. I just can’t find a way to “get” what all of the SecondLife hype is about. I mean, yeah, it’s cool. It’s fun. It’s a really interesting and diverse metaverse. It’s a blast to create and buy stuff, and customize an avatar, and fly around islands. I get that part of it.
But, for education, it largely doesn’t change much over the existing and available tools. I could see it if you were working on a collaboratively designed architecture project. Or perhaps some theatre or alternate reality exploration of literature.
But what I (still) see as the primary use of SecondLife in education is to compel people to sit in rows of chairs to watch a screen at the front of the “classroom”. Some classrooms have innovated – no roof. But, underneath it all, it’s still didacticism with chalk-and-talk replaced with stream-and-chat. I checked out a hybrid event today – a “traditional” web-enable streaming video conference, simulcast into SecondLife.
In this screenshot, the back window shows the “conventional” webcast of the presentation. Streaming video and audio, at full resolution. The front window shows the SecondLife simulcast, with attendees sitting nicely in rows, watching a lower fidelity, smaller and distorted version of the same webcast.
Sure, in the SecondLife version, there was opportunity for interaction between participants. But that could have easily been added through a chat or IM group. And much of the interaction involved “how do I sit down?” and “how to I give my avatar breasts?” rather than discussing the presentation.
Much of that is a result of n00bs learning the environment, and that is to be expected. But I’ve been in several SecondLife sessions over the last week, and none were what I’d call compelling or innovative educational pedagogies.
I still don’t get SecondLife, as it is typically used for education. I’ll keep trying, though.