What Is It?
Second Life is a three-dimensional (3D) virtual world that allows a user to create a 3D representation of himself or herself (called an avatar) to explore and interact with various lands, buildings, objects and other avatars. Users can create or purchase their own lands, objects, custom clothing and even custom animations and other modifications. Various kinds of events and activities occur in Second Life, depending on the particular “island” a user visits and the other avatars inhabiting the island.
Who Uses It?
Second Life boasts a large variety of users. Nearly nine million have signed up for an account to date, including many businesses (Coca Cola, advertising firms, etc.) and universities (UNC and Ohio State among them). Second Life also includes virtual representations of real life that may not be entirely appropriate for education (casinos, opium dens, nightclubs, etc.). Recently, more universities have begun using Second Life as a teaching resource, including Harvard Law. Several resources already exist for educators interested in exploring the possibilities of Second Life, including the New Media Consortium which provides spaces and resources for faculty to try out.
How Does It Work?
A Second Life account is free. To use Second Life, software must be downloaded and installed on the local computer. Here’s the basic process for getting started in Second Life:
- Create a Second Life account. Go to http://secondlife.com, and click “Join Now”.
- Download and install the Second Life application (read system requirements here).
- Once you’ve installed the Second Life application and signed in, go to the “Orientation Island” where you’ll learn how to modify your appearance, communicate, and navigate within Second Life. If necessary, use this link (not a weblink -this is a SLURL – a Second Life URL)http://slurl.com/secondlife/Orientation%20Island%20Public/97/155.
Things to Consider Before Using Second Life
- Second Life’s environment is far from controllable or private. Share content at your own risk.
- Second Life requires relatively new and fast hardware to run properly. Older computers may not be able to handle the application.
- Second Life poses a substantial orientation/learning curve for both faculty and students. Expect to spend more than a few hours learning how to control avatars, communicate with each other and interact with objects.
- Except for specific areas (such as the “teen” islands or grids), Second Life does not censor behavior, language or content.
Uses as an Instructional Technology
- Second Life is a world yet to be fully explored by social scientists, behaviorists, and others interested in culture, communication, and even architecture.
- Second Life presents the possibility of creating 3D representations of historical sites, which could be used, among other things, for exploring “What if…?” scenarios.
- Students can create simple, efficient 3D models and make them available to others in Second Life. Second Life offers possibilities for scripting actions, interactivity and functionality of objects, avatars, and events.
- Meet with students in a virtual classroom; take a virtual field trip; chat with students and faculty from other countries.
The content on this page was derived from webpages maintained by the Duke University Center for Instructional Technology