Two key reports released on Second Life and education / non-profit sectors

The first is entitled: Best Practices from the Second Life Community Convention Education Track 2007 and was prepared by Cathy Arreguin, MA Educational Technology.

Get the report here or further details on it here


The second is Best Practices for Non-profits in Second Life – Fall 2007 by Rik Panganiban.

Get the report here or further details on it here


If you work in either the education or non-profit sector these are well worth a read.

Griffith University in Second Life

Griffith University, located over 5 campuses in the real world between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Queensland, is yet another Australian tertiary institution entering Second Life. It could be considered their sixth campus.

The island presence of Griffith University is the brain child of Jason Zagami, a lecturer in the School of Education and Professional Studies. One of Griffith’s e-learning fellowship recipients, James has chosen to initiate their presence in Second Life as a means of exploring e-learning in a way that promotes a more social experience. A full explanation of his goals can be found on the External Relations page.


The island involves a number of areas for small group tutorial and class sessions along with a large North East Research Zone and another one called the South East Zone.

I’ll check back with the Griffith presence as it evolves. Deakin University has a Second Life presence in development right next door to the Griffith build so the Australian university contingent is a burgeoning one.

Check it out in-world

Social Science and virtual worlds – 2008 is the year

If you’re kicking back and planning your intellectual stimulation for next year, this post on Terra Nova is worth a look. Education and social science have strong communities in virtual worlds, particularly Second Life.

We’ll be covering developments in those areas as always. If you know of some great work being done, let us know!

Growth of Australian educators in Second Life continues

One of Second Life’s intrinsic strengths is its education community and the Australian contingent of educators is well and truly up there. Three new presences are on the horizon:

1. Jokay Wollongong’s two Jokaydia islands are developing well – expect a launch in the new year with an accompanying profile here on TMJ.


2. Right next to Jokaydia is an island called Riverina. It’s apparently going to be developed by Riverina TAFE – we’re hoping to catch up with someone from that project in the near future.


3. Finally, Koala Island is in development by Swinburne University of Technology. Again – we hope to get more details soon.


There’s quite a list of Australian tertiary education presences in Second Life now. Notice how nearly all of them are the ‘newer’ universities. The sandstone universities like the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney are conspicuous by their absence.

Education & Non-Profit Organisations in Second Life

One of the problems we encounter in this information age is the enormous quantity of information encountered each day and the danger of overlooking the bleeding obvious.

Checking out the home page of Second Life every now and then to see what is happening can throw up some interesting gems. If you’re like me that may be every blue moon, but this week I happened to notice over in the right side margin an item labelled; “Education & Non-Profit Organizations“.


A perusal of this link will show there is an enormous wealth of information, web and SL based resources for those interested in either setting up an educational or non profit presence in SL. Or for those looking into the opportunities that SL offers in various educational areas.

At the educational level a click on the More… link towards the bottom of the page opens the wiki listing a pretty full list of universities and other education providers in SL.

A quick scan down the list shows that the “Australian Film TV and Radio School: Sydney, Australia” but no others from our neck of the woods. Perhaps its time for someone from the Australian Universities we have featured here on SLOz to pay a visit and add their details…

La Trobe University Island

Since July, another Australian university has been developing a presence in SL – La Trobe University. As others have done, La Trobe has chosen to purchase an island and it is a quite dramatic build with a coastal plains style area at the teleport point and soaring ridges behind.

The current main lecture theatre is called The Moat and not too far away, nestled in a small valley, are the under construction “Social Areas”.


This is still a work in progress, a key and important element we have noted in a recent post on Australian universities developing presences in SL.

Of special interest is the faculty that is driving this particular SL presence – the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The diversity of faculties that underpin SL builds by Australian universities is especially heartening as it highlights, to some degree, the use of Web 2.0 technologies being explored beyond computer science courses.

The person to contact in-world is Flossy McMahon, (Dr Kay Souter), Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Doubtless we will see some interesting teaching and learning developments.

Check it out in-world.

Assisi in SL

In my recent research on foreign language areas in SL, I came across Assisi. It was launched a few days ago and on my initial wanderings amongst different world areas I missed this excellent replica build of the Saint Francis’ Basilica in Assisi.


To quote from the notes and in-world press release:

“The Basilica, built with original proportions and sizes, is unique in its quality and details, and in its interior churces avatars can enjoy many renaissance paintings of Giotto, Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti and many others.

Every painting has a caption explaining the brief details, just by clicking on it. It’s also possible to wear an HUD (Heads Up Display), built by Wedoit too, to have a complete virtual visit, accessing textual and audio informations about the paintings. The device is currently available in italian and english languages only, and it is distributed at the two entrances of the churches.”

The detail and effort that has gone into this particular build is quite impressive. Add to that the use of Audio and HUD and the SL visitor has a unique experience in culture and language not often found.

It’s possibility in structured lessons from; language to architecture to cultural studies to art to history is not to be underestimated and perhaps examples one of the fundamental ways in which SL may be headed in supporting educational RL world.

Further info can be found here.

Check it out in-world

The “Eavesdrop School of Languages” Approach

As indicated on Saturday night’s posting, the interest in the use of voice technology is being canvassed. There has been a recent flurry of activity by educators interested in using the voice and audio ability of SL to enhance lessons in learning a foreign language. The approach to learning languages seems to take the form of eavesdropping in areas and cityscapes from various regions around the world.

This approach could have some interesting ethical and pedagogical issues. It would seem to be university language courses that are utilising the idea of organising field trips to various cityscapes and “eavesdropping” on inhabitants going about their daily business in their native tongue.

What would prove interesting is if private language colleges and teachers started to offer guided experiences in this way.

To this end I paid a visit to one popular area for those interested in learning Italian. That of Mantova – Italia – Italy.

Being in Australia you need to check the relevant timezones so as to encounter people in this area. But, at the time I was there a number of people dropped in and used the SL talk option. The quality and clarity of sound was quite good and I can see how this method could be a major resource for immersing learners in relevant language lessons and experiences.

For those interested in finding out more about language learning in SL you may like to take part in the Festival of European Languages, September 26 on Belle Isle.


Belle Isle Europe Map with Landmark posts for various cityscapes and areas for “eavesdropping” on native languages for that particular country.

From the information sheet provided by the organisers:

8am SLT (4pm London) Welcoming
9am/5pm Russian/Baltic states/Finnish
10am/6pm Eastern Europe/Greek
11am/7pm Italian/German/Scandinavian
12 noon/8pm French/Belgian/Dutch/
1pm/9pm English/Spanish/Portuguese

SL Education vs Personal Beliefs

We have been tracking the growing number of educational facilities setting up presences in SL. Many have been active in setting up and conducting both courses and specific lectures in-world.

A recent email list posting amongst SL educators raised the issue of a student declining participation in the SL portion of coursework due to “personal beliefs”. The ongoing thread has covered a number of possible scenarios and reasons behind such a refusal and this may be a good thing given recent postings here about under-age content and use of “mature” areas when setting up a presence as an education provider.

Given the emergence of SL as an exciting and different medium for the delivery of courses and syllabus content the issue of not being penalised for refusing to participate in in-world coursework is a new and never before encountered tension that educators may have to deal with in a formal policy manner.

It has been discussed amongst educators that both strict Islamic and conservative Christian students object to graphic representations of the human body. As one educator stated, “In this case, SL would certainly be a religious problem.”

For SL based course-work it may mean requirign strict body and clothing forms for students when participating and locked areas for course particpants only.

A wander through either the Australian or Foreign Universities currently engaged in SL has shown most people in casual dress. But if a student were to choose the form of a furry or other such form, would it distract from the lecture, offend other students or in some way draw a code of conduct indiscretion under SL or the University’s guidelines?

Then again, maybe the term “hippy” may need to be rephrased to encompass fippies (furry), aippy (age-play form) or mippy (monster style students).

Victoria University joins the class

Recently, Victoria University established a large holding in SL.


It is pretty obvious that Victoria University is taking a ‘from the ground up’ approach to their SL presence. There is none of the polish or professional builds we have seen with other Australian or other Universities. In fact, there could be said that this presence is akin to that of the MIT area that was set up some time ago. A lecturer and student led development aimed at learning by doing.

Visitors may at first blush be dissapointed at what they see. Objects and items such as sheep and chickens, helicopters, vehicles and bits n’ pieces floating either in water, in the air or strewn about the land. Buildings that look like they have been grown one atop the other or blocks of grey granite style cubes pushed together in a very haphazard fashion.


How refreshing! It is heartening to see SL being used for this kind of activity in an age where education institutions are expected to perhaps display polished and “marketable” product. Victoria University is displaying education in the raw. Experimentation, trial and error and cooperative learning enterprises. It should prove worthwhile watching how this initial offering in the Sl world evolves.

Check it out in-world


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