University of Southern Queensland is first Australian University presence

I don’t think the electrons had finished spinning when I received comments / emails from Sean FitzGerald and Decka Mah that there was indeed an Australian University that had an SL presence.

And what a presence!

The University of Southern Queensland in conjunction with the Queensland Government have an entire island in-world at SL.

Terra Incognita Visitor Centre

Terra Incognita is a dynamic and intriguing mix of colour, sound and areas aimed at exploring online learning environments within the SL world. It is worth a look because it is currently setting the standard for showcasing Australian tertiary education in this new medium.

One of the striking features is the fact that the developer team, led by Decka Mah (aka in RL as Lindy McKeown) have gone for a design theme that does not mirror the RL USQ. This is something that the USA universities currently in SL seem to have done – Ohio Uni for example.

What will be intriguing to see over the coming year is how USQ makes use of this experience to enhance learning for it’s students and the teaching experience for it’s lecturers and tutors.

On another level the fact that the Queensland Government have backed this project examples the ideal of the “Clever Nation” ideal espoused some years ago.

A visit to Terra Incognita is well worth the effort. You won’t find it by doing a search in SL, as I found out… 🙂

Uni Degrees Way Above Zero!

Second Life will undoubtedly affect the way in which tertiary education is delivered.

I say this after doing a search of the term “university” on SL the other night. Whilst the usual mish-mash of results occurred, what was extremely interesting was the number of universities that had established a serious presence in SL.

As yet there is no Australian presence, however I would not be surprised to see some of our premier universities such as the 2006 Commonwealth University of the Year, University of Wollongong, showing up there some time soon.

The prospects for distance education courses are an obvious dimension that SL would substantially change in terms of costs, lecture material, communication and student / lecturer interaction. However, it also begs the question as to whether the idea of on-campus and off-campus course structures could, would and will change.

A perusal of the search results on SL show that some of the universities; Rockcliffe University, Ohio University, San Diego State University (the top three by traffic numbers) are exploring their presence and the kind of options they can offer current and prospective students. As the front runners, other universities (competitors in the world market place) may find themselves playing catchup at a cost.

Assuming that the global market is just that, we will no doubted see these SL campuses of Real Life (RL) centres for learning providing fully recognized programs at competitive rates.

The effect that will have on Australia’s HECS scheme, and indeed, the funding and viability of universities in this country is a definite area of concern, if not interest.

Teaching Science? – The SL Science Center is for you.

I recall an article bemoaning the lack of scientists in Australia – too many MBA’s mayhap 😉 – so for those of you interested in a different perspective on gathering resources for teaching, a visit to the SL Science Center is definitely in order.

A range of displays and interactive exhibits as well as links to various other SL Science landmarks not to mention URL links around the center make this a must see.

I was especially impressed with the weather map just inside the first building when you TP (Teleport) in. It would be great if our own Australian BOM site could have such a visually impressive representation of weather!

Just do a search for “Science Center” and you will find the place and the group dedicated to the maintenance and development of this valuable area. It would appear to be an international collaboration too. Would be great to see some Aussies represented.

The creater, Troy McLuhan has his own blog subtitled Explaining Science with Second Life. He certainly would and could be classified as a pioneer in exploring the ways and means of enabling science education to be delivered in a way that motivates further investigation by aspiring students and teachers. Both the Science Center and Troy’s blog would certainly be a good inclusion for prospective science teachers as a SL Field Trip and browser read respectively.

Of course, the downside is that you can’t share this with classes in schools (unless you are very, very brave – or stupid), though the URLs are obviously easy to bookmark in a browser and pass on to students.

Given the “mature” dangers associated with SL the challenge in the near future for both Linden Labs and content providers is how to overcome the inherent dangers when such worthy SL areas are sandwiched in areas that contain, let us say, adult content…

Education and SL (A Brave New World)


This is my first post here and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and observations of SL in the education arena.

Here in Australia today we saw the opposition leader Mr. Kevin Rudd flag education as his first biggy policy announcement in his quest to unseat Mr. John Howard as Prime Minister.

A curious choice but not a bad one given the changing face of education in Australia and the flagging fortunes of this nations manufacturing sector in the heat of increasing Asian competition and the inability of local firms to compete due to labour costs (to name one factor).

So, where does SL fit into all this? Well, over the past decade governments across Australia have spent millions of dollars plonking computers in front of students in the K-12 sector of education. And, in the past 2 to 3 years there has been another big spend in enabling students and teachers to access the internet and have email addresses.

Whilst this has been going on developments like SL have appeared which current Government (State and Federal) Education policy, well, quite simply, have not even considered and, in fact, have denied access to at school level.

In SL we have a challenge to utilise a new form of communication in a way that has educational benefits and outcomes that go beyond anything ever seen before. SL, like Google Earth and Web 2 technology generally will dramatically affect the way education programs are delivered, accessed and credentialed.

And so, I look forward to sharing my thoughts and observations in this brave new world of SL and education over the coming 2007 year.

SLOz Education Writer Announced

I’m really pleased to announce that SLOz now has a dedicated Education writer reporting on education issues and events in Second Life, Graham Sabre:

Graham is a veteran educator himself and has worked in a range of education sectors in Australia. He’s been involved in Second Life the past year and will be spending more time now bringng you education stories. Please feel free to IM him or post story suggestions on our discussion forum

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