Second Life is a 3D virtual space where each player has an avatar that has the ability to explore the world. Second Life is free to use, although you are able to purchase virtual items within the space. Second Life is a tool that could be utilized in the classroom. A caution is the required bandwidth and computer processing power. Second Life is also a community of players. Setting students loose to explore the virtual spaces of Second Life could potentially cause them to interact with elements that may not be appropriate.
Purchase an Island
Second Life allows you to purchase specific space to build and create. This space can be crafted for your students to interact and learn. This space can be set up to have students meet, create, interact and most importantly explore. As the teacher you design the learning environment in the physical classroom. This becomes literally true in Second Life. As an instructor you have complete creative control to set up an exploratory environment for students.
Virtual Field Trips
When it would be impossible to take your class to Globe Theater, Second Life can allow for virtual interactive field trips. Many historical places, museums and locations have been recreated in Second Life. Rather than simply watching a slideshow of images, students can use their avatar to explore, wander, and “touch” things in the virtual environment. This can be significantly more enriching and immersive.
Students in your face to face class are able to use Second Life in a variety of ways, however, Second Life can have some positive benefits for students enrolled in a fully online class. The classroom can be recreated in Second Life to give students the classroom experience. This would include intermingling with classmates, conversations, sharing and discussion. Getting outside of the traditional classroom structure Second Life provides collaborative space for students to create, meet, explore and engage in inquiry based learning. This gives online students the feeling they are physically together when they are separated by distance.
Machinima is a technique of using video games or virtual worlds to create videos with a storyline that is outside of the game itself. An example would be students using World of Warcraft to have their characters (toons) act out a scene from a Shakespearean play. Second Life can act as a stage for students to recreate historical events, carry on a debate or otherwise demonstrate their learning.